Marrakech: my top places to visit


Me and my mom spontaneously decided to escape Vienna cold winter and flew to Marrakesh for 4 nights. Ah, that was the best decision. We fell in love with this city, its warm welcoming people, beautiful colours, Medina streets, smell of fresh spices and oils. We only stayed in Marrakesh and did not have time to explore more of the country, but I know for sure, that I will be back in Morocco one day again. 4 days are perfect time to walk around the city and explore its beautiful places. Here are my favourite spots around Marrakesh. Do not miss those!

1. Medina Alleys
Medina, Medina, no Marrakesh trip could be complete without a walk around Medina, the old part of Marrakesh. Do walk anlot, go into narrow alleys, go into streets with no people, put away your phone, your map, get lost, observe, breath in that amazing Medina atmosphere. Medina is like a maze of beautiful pink alleys going from the main square, Jemaa el-Fna. It is full of vendors selling all kind of stuff: lanterns, silver tea pots, scarfs and shawls, spices, oils and other beautiful colourful things that are so hard to just pass by without buying something.

2. Jemaa el-Fna at night
Jemaa el-Fna is the central square in Marrakesh. I heard a lot about this place, it amuses some people while completely shocks the others. During the day you will find here Snake Charmers, traditional Water Sellers, and men with monkeys and eagles on the chains. All for tourists to take pictures with. In my opinion, very upsetting scene, so I do not have a single picture and was quickly passing by those people. Women sit around with small photo book and try to encourage you to get a henna tattoo, as well as numerous fruit stands where you can get freshly squished orange or pomegranate juice for 1-1,5 euro. Definitely get one of those juices, yamm! At night, the place transfers into mysteriously crowded arena with frantic drumming music, mixed with sounds of the pipe from Snake Charmers and traditional Berber music. The square is surrounded with buildings full of cafes with rooftop terrace, from where you can enjoy the view and observe the life on the square. Here you can also find many beautiful spots for a sunset. The best view of falling sun behind the Koutobia Mosque is from the Cafe de France, but it is also the most crowded place during the sunset hours.

3. Medersa Ben Youssef
Medersa Ben Youssef, an islamic school attached to Ben Medersa Mosque, is one of my favourite places in Marrakesh. Beautiful art and architecture combined with colourful mosaics will blow your mind away. It was once the largest islamic school in North Africa and had to 900 students. Student lived on the site and tourist are welcome to walk all around the building and discover tiny dormitory rooms (some without windows) which accommodated students. The center of the complex has a large pool surrounded by beautiful floor and wall mosaics in different colours. Walls have truly amazing carvings and decorations of the islamic art. The entrance to Medersa Ben Youssef is rather hidden, and we managed to pass it by on our first 2 days without knowing that such a beauty is hidden inside.

4. Jardin Majorelle Garden
Jardin Majorelle Garden – beautiful garden with famous blue buildings, colourful pots and benches, many different kinds of cactus plants and lots of tourist. This place is said to be one of the most popular place to visit in Marrakesh. Jardin Majorelle was a French oriental painter, who was seduced by Marrakesh when arrived here many years ago. Initially this place was build as a artist’s studio in the Art Deco style with walls painted in ‘Majorelle’ blue. We went here right after the breakfast, I guess, as most of the tourists did. The place was packed. Only later we found out, that it was a public holiday. The entrance fee was relatively high, 70MAD (around 7EUR), the highest we paid in Marrakesh. By the way, that blue colour, is just amazing! Go visit the store as well, such a beautiful place with clothes, jeweils and much more in fantastic bright colours!

5. Palais de la Bahia
I really liked this palace, and it had so many cute cats in front of the entrance (yes, I am a crazy cat lady, and I love it). It is a large area of around 8.000 square meters and has more then 160 rooms, numerious Patios (inside courtyard) and Riads (traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard). Do go around all of those Patios, and go inside all of the rooms. Each room has a unique wall and floor mosaics and beautiful ceiling art. Attention to photo addicts: you will find plenty beautiful walls and doors for a photo, and do not big the biggest courtyard of course.

6. El Badi Palace
Another interesting and beautiful place to visit in Marrakesh. And again, I fell in love with the color of those walls. El Badi Palace is actually a ruined palace, and one can just see what had been left after the destruction of war. The place is huge: while walking through the middle courtyard, one can get a sense of how magnificent the palace used to be. Pay attention my cat lovers, the place is full of cats (at least when we were there), some of which were happy to pose for the photo and cuddle with visitors. Do not skip the rooftop on your way back (its to your right when facing the entrance). The view from there is truly beautiful: coral-red building rooftops and mountains at the very far background.

7. Iron Works Souk
We ended up here absolutely randomly, while we got lost in narrow streets of Medina. My app got confused (which is understandable due to so many narrow alleys and turns) and we ended walking thought never-ending market which at some point led us to Iron Works Soak. Basically, it is the manufacturing point of metalworking. Here you can observe the craftsmen and fascinating making process and find many beautiful moroccan lanterns to purchase. Ohh, so many beautiful lanterns! Stay strong, if you don’t have place in your backpack to take one back home.

8. Place des Epices
Place des Epices or Spices Square is relatively small place where you can buy spices, herbs, oils and other beautiful touristic souvenirs. But most amazingly, you can observe locals working on their goods. You can find women sowing colourful letters on straw bags, women sieving plants to make spices and other spices making process I do not know the name of. We went to the rooftop terrace of the Café Des Épices, from where you could see the whole square and observe busy life on it. It was truly fascinating.

9. Rooftop Cafes
We absolutely loved rooftop cafes and terraces. All the buildings in Medina are similar hight, all are coloured in different shades of coral red. You can imagine an amazing view you have when sitting at one of those rooftop terraces. And it is so extremely peaceful, no sound of bikes passing by narrow streets or vendors trying to get you inside their shops. I really loved the place called Atay Cafe Food with beautiful terrace, calm atmosphere and good food. Another place to visit for an amazing view of Spices Square is Café Des Épices. I also heard very good reviews about Cafe Nomad, which is bit higher priced but should also have good food, good vibe and definitely beautiful view.

>>> Tipps <<<

Airport bus 19: Easy and cheap way to get from the airport to Jemaa el-Fna, central square of Marrakesh. Airport bus 19 runs every 30 minutes, preis is 30MAD (about 3EUR) one way or 50MAD return. The stop can be easily found in front of the arrival hall in Marrakesh Airport. Tell the driver your hotel name and bus will stop on the way to let you out. This is a circular route, so for the return journey go back to the same stop you got off at or walk to Jemaa el-Fna Bus station (which is in front of KFC) as we did. It took us around 20-30 min from Jemaa el-Fna to the airport. Bus drives through the new part of the city, which was very interesting to see as a contrast to old Medina part.

Weather: We visited Marrakesh in December and the weather was truly amazing. Day temperature rises to 22-23 on a sunny day, at night it drops down to 10. It was very cold in the mornings and in the evenings, so take a warm jacket and scarf. Summers are very hot in Marrakesh and thus it is a low season with almost no tourist. High season is said to be March until May with pleasantly warm temperatures and small amount of rainfall.

Hotel: We stayed in a new hotel, Riad Sashema. It was a mid-priced place, but it was one of the most amazing traditionally designed hotel I have ever stayed in. Lots of light, beautiful interior design, very friendly stuff and traditional moroccan breakfast.

Food: All moroccan food contains bread, so if you are allergic to gluten, prepare to eat fruits and vegetables only. restaurants and cafes have many meat dishes, lots of avocado dishes, couscous, olives and bread of course. We tried few times vegetables dishes, but were not a fan of those. Traditional moroccan breakfast contains bread, few types of pancakes, jam, butter and mint tea.

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