Marrakech was my first trip to Africa and a solo trip at that. I did an extensive amount of research before I went and I fell in love with the city. There is so much going on and it can be overwhelming on all the senses, but if you are open to it, Marrakech will wow you in ways you never thought possible. My life is somehow different having traveled through the winding roads of the Medina – but I assure you it is all for the better.
Here are 7 experiences I recommend when visiting Marrakech:
Get wonderfully lost in the Medina
Easily the highlight of my trip and will most likely be yours too. The Medina can be – overwhelming. Knowing that before you enter is probably the best way to tackle it. The winding roads, the salesman that are on the brink of being too pushy, overwhelming scents of spices, being immersed in the food being cooked around you, the motorbikes whizzing by, the beautiful cats – its a lot to take in at once but its also amazing. There are many hidden treasures to be found here whether is through the rugs, lamps, secret garden, amazing food (that is very cheap – I think I got a full meal for less than $5 USD), all the beautiful doors, and in the people you meet. Everyone has a story to tell – be open to hearing it.
*Tip – a lot of the streets of the Medina are not labeled. I was lost for quite some time and it felt like I was walking in circles. I recommend paying attention to street corners when you turn them or you can ask anyone in the Medina for help – just make sure and tip them.
**Tip – it is expected you tip if anyone does anything for you – so keep small bills on hand.
Prior to visiting Marrakech I had heard very mixed reviews about the city, especially the Medina. Everyone has a completely different experience when traveling anywhere – just be open to getting lost and experiencing the culture – which may include some cat calling and very nice salesmen – but I found them to be harmless.
Eat all the food!
I feel like this goes without saying – one simply doesn’t visit Marrakech and not eat everything! There are so many amazing dishes to try so I narrowed down a few of my favorites:
- Moroccan crepe
- Corn on the cob
Ben Youssef Madrasa
Tucked away in the Medina (and it took me a few tries to actually find it due to the winding streets) but worth the effort. This used to be an Islamic college until it closed in 1960, and reopened 22 years to the public in 1982. I promise you will be blown away by the beauty of this historic site. The tiles, archways, design – all of it is gorgeous. Makes me wonder how a college could be so beautiful and close its doors. I would never leave.
Stay in a Riad
Stay inside the Medina for at least 1 night in a Riad – which is typically owned and ran by a family and its a home that usually has a courtyard or garden in the interior, sometimes pools. A stay in a Riad typically comes with a Moroccan breakfast – which will not disappoint.
Explore Majorelle Garden
Located outside of the Medina on a sprawling two and a half acres is this gorgeous garden .. in the desert. Originally owned and designed by Jacques Majorelle for about 40 years and then later purchased by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, where they restored it and lived there. The garden is popular for its vibrant blue walls and building with cacti growing among it.
Drink copious amounts of mint tea
A tradition in Morocco and you will find it just about everywhere. I am a huge fan of tea and this mint tea was fabulous. You won’t have to go far to find it – I can recall being offered mint tea just about everywhere I was – even shopping in the Medina.
Visit Jemaa el-Fnaa
This IS the icon of the Medina. Everything is happening in this square and the streets branch out through the Medina. You will find fresh produce, restaurants and food everywhere, snake charmers, witch doctors, dancers, people of all ethnicity’s and backgrounds telling stories – and most likely, a cultural experience for yourself.
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