12 things to know before visiting Marrakech
I’ve done a GORGEOUS amount of travelling and one of my all-time favourite places has to be Morocco. So, I thought I'd share some knowledge about the red city of Marrakech for anyone who's thinking of going. The question is: are you ready for loads of adjectives and travel-writer-esque chat? COME OOONNNN HONNYS. Get comfy...
Morocco...wow what a vibrant place LOL. No honestly, it's so full of colour and life. The contrast between the lively, often too loud, and buzzing city of Marrakech compared to the serene Sahara Desert and remote pinnacles of the High Atlas Mountains means the North African country is perfect for a warm-weather, culture-packed getaway.
On a personal level, I really felt at home in Morocco. The smell of spices and the Berber lifestyle had me hit with early flashbacks of being a tiny tot in Baghdad and Jordan...the simple life. I’m a modern gal through and through (I looove getting a cab instantly and can't imagine not being able to search for literally ANYTHING online) but going to Morocco for the first time last year was so humbling. Everything’s stripped back and very much back to basics in the most incredible way.
What I love the absolute mostest ever about Morocco is it’s only a four-hour plane journey, yet when you arrive there it’s like being transported into another world. Flying over the red city particularly blew my mind. Although, I have to say, if you’re not used to a busy city then Marrakech can be quite intense. It’s go, go, go. Just like the look-where-you're-going-at-all-times feel of Bangkok, you really have to have your wits about you. Donkeys pulling loaded carriages, horse-drawn carriages, cars and mopeds, mopeds, mopeds!
With it being such a busy city, you have to be prepared, so here are my top tips for not completely messing up your trip to Marrakech.
First up, get a banging hotel.
Obviously, budgets vary and I’m not saying you have to go 5* but just make sure you have a pool for a little relief from that African heat. Although the idea of a traditional riad may seem the best shout, be aware that most riads will only have a sort of fountain rather than a pool and there's very little natural light.
We stayed in Palais Blanc and I could not recommend it more. B-A-N-G-I-N-G. It’s in the Old Medina, which really is the better place to stay in the centre – a little less crowded with loads of great spots to eat at. Apart from the beautiful pool area and terrace, each room has a cute outdoor seating area, which can be made completely private by closing the grand curtains, and inside the bathrooms were a traditional clay style. I loved the mix of the old with the new here.
Ladies, cover up
I love getting it all out believe me huns, but in Morocco, particularly Marrakech, it really does make you a spectacle. It’s such a hot city, so make sure you pack lots of light, airy bottoms and loose tops too. It’s tempting to wear a strap top when walking around but staring is a massive thing out there and you’ll soon realise, it’s better to be prepared with what you wear.
Try the street food
Food stalls are everywhere you go in Morocco, from the busy Jemaa el-Fnaa market in Marrakech's centre to roadside pit stops. Expect to see a lot of barbecued meat, fried fish, shawarma, snails and sfenj (their version of doughnuts). Don’t be scared to try it all, LIVE A LITTLE GUYS. It was my first time trying snails in Marrakech and they actually banged so hard. I particularly loved the peppery soup they came in.
LOL my pics look like shit but trust meeee it was all PIFF.
Most people are on a hustle…
…but some are just being friendly. If someone offers to show you how to get somewhere, they’ll most likely want a tip. This happened quite a lot and really, if you need to know where to go, there’s no harm, is there? However, there’s a reason the city is known for being full of scams because you do come across a lot of shady characters.
Knowing French or Arabic really helps
You'll find Moroccans do know some English but being able to speak French or Arabic will get you by better and it'll make haggling a lot more successful too. This leads onto my next point...
Get your haggle on!
Do NOT accept the first price they tell you EVER. I got a market seller down from 600 dirhams to 200 for a moody LV x Supreme tee and even hustled a police bribe down when we got pulled over for speeding. Give it a go…they love it tbf.
Unfortunately, as I said, a lot of people are on the hustle, especially in Jemaa el-Fnaa market. Luckily we blended in quite well with the locals but I did have a weird and scary run in with a woman who grabbed my hand and put loads of henna on it, pretended to be pregnant and demanded I give her money for it (which I did NOT btw). I later found out this is a classic scam in Marrakech. My advice would be don’t even entertain it. If you don’t want what they’re offering, say no and walk off and BE STRONG. They can be so intimidating. The market can be quite a full on experience with monkeys chained up and pick pocketers on road, so I wouldn't hang about for too long.
They really don’t like you taking pics or videos
I had it a couple times where I was recording the street food for the old blog ya know, and the people who were eating or cooking the food would kick off about having their photo taken. The best thing to do is to ask them if they mind you recording beforehand (obvs).
It's not just Moroccan food that bangs
Aside from the hundreds of amazing traditional places to eat in the city, it’s also good to branch out and try other cuisines. We had two Italian meals and they were on point. Le Jardin is huge and has loads of outside seating area, as well as a sunny terrace. We tried some classic Moroccan dishes and spinach & ricotta tortellini, which was UNREAL. For a romantic evening meal, you gotta hit up Pepe Nero – very certi food, wine and such a cute setting.
The oranges are exquisite
I’ve never in my life had oranges or orange juice like it. The oranges are so sweet there, sometimes I had to ask if they’d put sugar in the orange juice (they love super sweet mint tea after all) and on mornings when it wasn't available with our breakfast, I felt cheated – it's such a perfect little morning pick me up.
Bread, bread, bread
You really can’t be on a carb-free diet in Morocco because bread, or khobz as they call it, comes with every meal; breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are so many different types of bread and each one is even more tastier than the last. There's beghrir; a light and airy breakfast bread that has loads of bubbles at the surface, sort of like a crumpet. Msemen are the thicker kind and the Moroccan version of a crepe. Batbout are stove top pittas that are mostly used for sandwiches and these are only to name a few.
Lastly, soak up the culture
Marrakech is home to some of the most stunning mosques, gardens and palaces and has such a rich mix of both medieval landscapes and modern architecture. Not to mention, the busy souks and markets selling everything you can imagine, from rose water, argon oil and fresh produce to traditional Berber clothing and the finest bootleg garms. Two things we never got to experience were the hammams and the tanneries but they're both on the list for my next trip to Morocco, which couldn't come quick enough tbh.
LY Morocco, you lil culture hub xxx