Marrakech Guide- Things To See And Do
If you like chaos Marrakech is the place to visit
When you arrive in Marrakech your senses will be bombarded with sights, sounds and smells which may be slightly unnerving at first. It certainly takes some time to get used to the lack of predictability and sense of direction.
Marrakech has far too much going on to follow a normal sense of logic. Locals seem to wander around the main Djemaa el-Fna open square with no sense of direction or purpose. The place is buzzing and once you meander off the main square their are labyrinth style passageways which seem to more signts, sounnds and smells. Sometimes you need a guide whether you're in the city for a day, or a week.
WARNING: This Marrakech City Guide contains lots of colourful photos of Marrakech and more than 5 suggestions on things to do while you're there.
Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech, Morocco
Rising high above it all is the Koutoubia Mosque
Despite the labyrinth passageways and chaos you're never too far from a view of the Koutoubia Mosque which towers above the low rise buildings of Marrakech and allows you to gather your bearings and direct yourself back towards somewhere of familiarity.
The 70 meter high tower of the Koutoubia Mosque is imposing and a perfect point for the adhan, the call to prayer by the muezzin five times a day. It's name is taken from the booksellers who surrounded the building when it was first built. These were the kutubiyyn .
Sadly entrance to the Koutoubia Mosque is off limits for non-Muslims. However after a few days of listening to the call to prayer you'll likely be impressed by it's magnificence and magnitude.
Watch the sun go down overlooking Djemaa el-Fna
The chaos of Djemaa el-Fna is best watched from one of the many rooftop bars and restaurants which overlook the square. You will not get bored of the view as so much seems to be going on. Look down at snake charmers, street performers and smoke coming up from the open air food stalls while drinking a Moroccan mint tea.
The view is amazing and worth a trip to Marrakesh for- the photo below does not do it justice!
Djemaa el-Fna by night from a roof top bar
Morocco for the adventurous- Head into the Atlas Mountains
From Marrakech on a clear day you can actually see the top of Jebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa at 4167m above sea level.
At the adventurous Jebel Toubkal represents a real challenge and can offer a real taste of Morocco away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech as you climb up the Azaden Valley which offers a look at Berber culture.
Atlas and Sahara Tours offer a great selection of trips into the Atlas Mountains. Whether you're looking for a day trip to experience another side to Morocco. Or looking at challenging yourself with a full ascent of Jebel Toubkal over 2 or more days. They will arrange for a local guide to provide unique insights on your trip into the High Atlas as well as accomodation and food along the trail. A great trip for the adventurous.
Climb Jebel Toubkal while in Marrakesh
Spices in the Marrakech Souks
Bargaining in the Souks of Marrakech
Everyone likes a bargain. Marrakech is a bargainers paradise
To the East of the Djemaa el-Fna the square flows into the souks. Small yet well stocked stores full of everything you could ever want to get your hands on.
Shop (and bargain) for Spices
Spices such as Rass Al Hanout. (The 'head of the meat'), Cinnamon, Cardamon, Cumin, Ginger as well as special Tagine Blends to bring home and try your hands at Moroccan dishes.
More Spices in the Souks of Marrakech
Buy a scarf in the souks
Fancy a new scarf
If you bargain well you can pick up a cashmere scarf for a very low price and the scarf stores have pretty much every design you could wish for to look like a dandy around town.
The Marakech souks are also full of leather goods, household items and stores for everything imaginable. Each shop more extravagent to the eyes.
One of the best shops to view in the Souks of Marrakech are those wall to wall with babouches (Shoes) as pictured below.
Babouches (shoes) in the Souks
A typical riad bedroom- waiting for you
Stay in a Riad while in Marrakesh
Riads are traditional Moroccan houses although their name comes from the arabic Ryad - meaning 'garden'. Their focus on what's inside is a showcase for inner wealth and privacy. From the outside some riads are nothing more than a brick building however step through the heavy iron door and you'll be transported to an oasis in the chaos of Marrakech's streets.
In Marrakech over the a short period of time many older and crumbling riads have been restored back to their former glory to show an internal environment more palatial than it's surroundings would ever suggest.
Many riads have now been converted into hotels, guest houses and restaurants which shows how the popularity and money has flowed into Marrakech as it has embraced tourism.
The blueprint for a riad is a central courtyard or atrium from which many rooms sprout off. This central garden area might contain lemon or orange trees or even a fountain. An oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the Djemaa el Fna and the Medina.
Riads in Marrakech
Djemaa el-Fna at Night- Dine al fresco
Eat under the stars in the Djemaa el-Fna
From the centre of the Djemaa el-Fna you'll see steam and smoke slowly rising. This is from the many food stalls which are set up of an evening selling true local delicacies for your culinary delight.
There's a real hustle and bustle to these stalls which are mainly frequented by locals however everyone is friendly while trying to entice you to their stall to sample the delights.
More Culinary delights in the open air- Marrakech
Tea in Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech
What to sample on the Marrakech food stalls
On the edge of Djemaa el Fna are food stalls which serve snails in a garlic sauce. Very simple and very french- l'escargot.(Pictured below). Great for less than a euro per bowl.
Also worth a consideration is a tasty sheeps head. (Not for the feint hearted) or Pastilla- Pigeon Pie. Made with pigeon meat and spices wrapped in filo pastry and covered in icing sugar- a real local delicacy.
Try the spice cake deserts and wash they down with either a mint tea (local speciality) or the authors personal favourite- Cinammon and Ginseng Tea which has been described on a number of occassions as 'liquid viagra'!
The traditional way for mint tea to be served is from a great height as shown.
During the daytime try a glass of freshly squeezed orange, lemon or grapefruit juice.
Fancy some snails on the Djemaa el-Fna
Further information for Marrakech Visitors
- Eating in the Marrakech Medina: The food stalls in Place Djemaa el-Fna « Visit Marrakech
More great images and information on eating al fresco in the Djemaa el Fna
Do you have any tips for Marrakech visitors?
Please feel free to share in the comments below
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