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Marrakech Morocco North Africa

Updated on October 17, 2014

Marrakech Medina, Morocco, North Africa

Marrakech is an interesting city, so close to Europe and yet so different in many ways. The contrast is particularly evident in the Medina, the old walled city, where motorbikes, donkeys and carts and cars jostle for right of way on the narrow dirty streets.


This is a review of Marrakech, giving tips advice and recommendations: Where to go and stay, hotels and riads and what to do on a short vacation in Morocco.


African Photo Gallery


African Hotel Reviews

Getting To Marrakech, Morocco and Getting Around

We flew with Atlas Blue, from London Gatwick for a mid-afternoon arrival, although Easy jet also has a flight early in the morning.

We took a taxi to our hotel from the airport and agreed, perhaps a little too easily, on a price of 150DH (£12) it turned out not to be very far, in an old unsafe looking car with no air conditioning or seat belts. We were probably ripped off a little, although the return journey in a slightly safer car booked from the hotel was the same price.

Taxis in general are a good way to get around, but convincing the driver to use the meter is difficult if not impossible for some journeys and haggling over a prearranged trip doesn't help much with trips in the Medina often costing about 25DH and 50DH for trips between old and new towns. There are two types of taxis: "petit taxi" and large Mercedes which are more reluctant to go inside the Medina walls or at least to the areas with narrow streets.

It is also possible to rent a horse drawn carriage from near Place Jemaa-el-Fna, the main square. Haggling starts at about 200DH per person for an hour but it should be possible to negotiate down a lot from there depending on the journey etc. to, for instance 200DH for a carriage for up to four people. There is plenty of competition. In an hour you get a good overview of the main sites inside the Medina walls including the Royal Palace, tombs, mosques lots of busy back streets and markets and various other palaces.

Map of Marrakech, Morocco - Map of Morocco, Casablanca and Marrakech

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A markerMarrakech, Morocco -
Marrakech, Morocco
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B markerCasablanca, Morocco -
Casablanca, Morocco
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Places to Stay in Marrakech, Morocco

There are a variety of different types of accommodation in Marrakech from simple bed and breakfast places to grand hotels, but the most traditional type is the Riyad or Riad, which is a word now generally assumed to mean guesthouse, but in fact refers to the traditional architecture, arranged around a central courtyard with four flowerbeds.

We stayed at the Riad Altair, a four star guesthouse costing £363.00 for one Double room for 4 nights Bed and breakfast. Hotel Riad Altair is a very pleasant old Riyad guesthouse with courtyard with alcoves enclosing Arabic style sofas and chairs and an enormous banana tree rising up through the centre of the three storey building to the roof terraces with excellent views of the Medina and a mosque, and comfortable chairs. It is hidden down a narrow street away from the hustle and bustle of the narrow main roads of the Medina. Breakfast in the riyad courtyard was pleasant after a very hot night with noisy but otherwise non-functioning air-conditioning.

More African Hotel Reviews...

Outside the Medina there are some international hotels such as the Meridien, not far from the old city walls, which, while lacking Moroccan character does provide an oasis of calm, cool air-conditioned refuge. This is more of a business hotel and I would not recommend it for a holiday.

More African Hotel Reviews...

Photographic Equipment

Marrakech is the kind of place where a small good quality compact would be useful and rather less conspicuous although the extra creative control you get with a DSLR camera would still be useful.

Here is my recommendation for good quality camera equipment. I have also written a more detailed recommendation of cameras in a separate web-site:

Nikon DSLR Cameras

but here is some good starter kit for top-quality travel photos:

Restaurants in Marrakech

The Medina has a lot of restaurants providing French, Arabic or international cuisine and many bars, although not all serving alcoholic drinks. We were already staying in the Medina so we booked a table with the Riad hostess, at a nearby hotel restaurant, la Maison Arabe.

The food was excellent and atmosphere extremely pleasant and relaxing, but the fixed price of 400DH for a three-course meal seemed expensive especially once the wine had been added. Our meal came to 1450DH or about £110 for soup followed by lamb tagine and crème brule, but we later discovered the European menu and returned for an inexpensive meal the following day, after being unable to find anywhere good nearby (that also sold booze) This was just 900DM or £65 for spring rolls, steak and chips with a bottle of wine. Maison Arabe is also a great place to stop for a drink in the bar and to escape the traumas of Moroccan life.

Restaurant Pavilion near Riad Altaire is another excellent place for dinner. This is a wonderful restaurant in a riyad style with big open courtyard and excellent French food for about 1000DH (£70) for two courses and wine.

Hidden amongst the souks and very difficult to find, there is also Le Foundouk Restaurant, a very pleasant riyad style restaurant where a two course lunch costs about 700 DH or £50. It has a good selection of cocktails, wines and beers.

We ventured out to Gueliz, the new town outside the Medina walls and tried two restaurants there, with rather less success. We had Lunch at the Queen Atlantic restaurant where we sat and ate outside with constant jets of mist to cool us down. This is a modern, fairly characterless restaurant selling reasonable western food at fairly high prices and beer served disguised as orange juice in opaque glasses. We also had dinner at Jakarta Restaurant, which had good reviews, but served terrible food at prices similar to the excellent restaurants in the Medina.

The Medina, Marrakech

Place Jemaa-el-Fna, the main square, was walking distance from our riyad and in fact from everywhere else in the Medina. It is good place to stop for coffee and watch the various activities going on there. The square is a busy place with plenty to tempt tourists, including the entrance to the souk markets, snake charmers and people with unhappy looking monkeys in cages. We went too close to a snake charmer who tried to put a snake on my shoulder just as it did something very unpleasant all over my arm. We didn't pay a tip and made hasty trip back to the hotel for a shower and change of clothing. Later we went looking for an alcoholic drink in Place Jemaa-el-Fna, but none was to be found and even the options for dinner in the many restaurants around the square looked pretty low quality.

The huge Royal Palace in the south of the Medina is not open to tourists, but is an impressive building from the outside. All of the other palaces are open to visitors and worth visiting, especially Bahai Palace, a series of ornate riyads and patios. Le Tombeaux Saardiens near the palace are small, but interesting if you near by. The Marrakech Museum, formerly the Mnebhi Palace, is also impressive from an architectural point of view.

Shopping in Marrakech, Morocco

Souks, The Medina and Elsewhere...

Place Jemaa-el-Fna is where most tourist head for shopping in the Souks. These markets are hard work if you don't like having to barter hard for everything although I imagine there are bargains to be found, if you have the stamina. For many people shopping for souvenirs in the souks is one of the main highlights of a trip to Marrakech. Alternatively go to Ensemble Artisanal for some less hassled shopping and possibly better quality. Expensive hotels also have good boutiques with similar merchandise.

There is not much of interest for tourists in Gueliz, but we went to explore by taxi, starting at Jardin Majorelle and the Musee d'Art Islamique. The gardens are small, but still impressive with carefully laid out cacti, succulents, cycads and other exotic looking plants around a pond, the museum and tranquil tea garden. It is a pleasant place to escape the heat of the afternoon.

Photographic Equipment

Here are a few good digital cameras, but for a more detailed review of the best cameras available: Please read the detailed review here

Summary: Marrakech, Morocco, North Africa

Overall Marrakech is an interesting place to visit for a few days, particularly the Medina. It can be quite hard work and with the exception of the more up market hotels and restaurants everything has to be negotiated. There are plenty of wonderful sights, smells and sounds to keep tourists entertained and some excellent dining opportunities and interesting accommodation.

Summary: Exhausting

African Photo Gallery

I have published a related article on Helium

Recommended Travel Website: Trivago

Trivago is an excellent travel web-site and internet community. Please have a look at their web-site:

Trivago... your travel guide

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    • profile image

      amiref 3 years ago

      Yeah, lens well witten. For Marrakesh is the best and atractif cities in Morocco, it has a special charm and magic mainly in the night. www.palais-rhoul.com/en/

      I advice for who dosen't visited yet, this is your occasion , so welcome at any time and Marrakech waiting you.

    • mayraborcea profile image

      mayraborcea 4 years ago

      I love to travel too! I have been to so many places around the world but I haven't had the chance yet to go to Morroco. My parents have been there and they told me that it is marvelous there! I can't wait to have an opportunity to explore the wonders of Morroco! :)

    • gadifi lm profile image

      gadifi lm 4 years ago

      Nice lens very informative of Morroco

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is one of the things that I like about Squidoo lens'. You can travel the world and you don't need a plane ticket.

    • profile image

      dextos 4 years ago

      this lens give me a new idea and description about Medina, i have never been there but always try to imagine how wonderful that city and crowded with so many pilgrimage. charcoal barbecue grill

    • salsa-dancing profile image

      Salsa Dancing 4 years ago

      Never heard of this city before, thanks for sharing and expanding my horizons!

    • CyclistLiam profile image

      CyclistLiam 4 years ago

      Nic earticle although do you really need to showcase so many cameras in an article about Marrakech? As a viewer it actually makes me want to click away as you're trying too hard to sell me stuff. Especially as most of the Camera's are top level products that a traveller is likely going to know little about.

      The Morocco content is ok. There's certainly more to Gueliz than you make out- the Train Station is a piece of architectural genius and there are so many nice boutique shops and cafes which some tourists will find appealing

    • profile image

      KatherineWakefield 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • profile image

      Badrinath1 5 years ago

      عرب٠تÙس٠ÙÙد٠اشتÙر بتÙدÙ٠اÙض٠خدÙات اÙسÙاحة ÙÙجاÙÙØ© اÙعربÙØ© اÙÙادÙØ© اÙ٠برÙطاÙÙا ÙÙØ° Ùترة Ø·ÙÙÙØ©. ÙÙÙ٠تÙس٠عرب ÙÙد٠بتÙصÙÙ ÙاستÙبا٠ÙÙ ÙاÙØ© Ùطارات ÙÙد٠ÙÙØ°ÙÙ ÙÙÙ٠بعÙ٠تÙرات ا٠سÙرات سÙاحÙØ© اÙ٠داخ٠Ùخارج ÙÙدÙ. اÙاسعار Ù٠باÙباÙÙد اÙاÙÙÙÙزÙ($100 تساÙÙ 64 باÙÙد. 100 ÙÙر٠تساÙÙ 80 باÙÙد. 100 رÙا٠سعÙد٠تعاد٠17 باÙÙد).

      www.taxiarab.com

    • craigmitchell profile image

      craigmitchell 5 years ago

      Thank you for an amazingly helpful lens - I feel like I got more from reading this than I did speaking to any travel agent. Honest and inspiring. I go in October and cannot wait! I'm ready for the hassle and bussle, it's going to be exciting. I just hope I get a bit of relaxation in the riad :)

    • SayGuddaycom profile image

      SayGuddaycom 5 years ago

      I have spent the whole day looking at our great lenses, Andy

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      heretic narrative, be counting my beads in the cell of a certain buy imitrex online. Carmelite convent on the Boulevard of Cr?cy, in Villette. There was atarax online.

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 6 years ago from London, England

      @RhondaAlbom: There were a lot of annoyances and irritations in Morocco, but there were also a lot of wonderfully different sights and sounds, especially when you consider how close it is to Europe. If you are selective about the places you eat and stay and avoid the usual tourist traps it should be a wonderful memorable place to visit. I would certainly go again. I'm not a fan of shopping, but people who are could find Marrakech a very enjoyable place to get some "bargains"

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Great information. I am working on my bucket list (each item gets its own lens) and have included Medina, Marrakesh. I featured this lens. I see you didn't love it, and that seems to be a common reaction from my research, but I am still really itching to get to Morocco some day.

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 7 years ago

      Whenever it is time for an armchair vacation

      Andyâs wonderful lenses are my destination

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by my lenses

      Lizzy

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Andy, OK! I want more pictures -- you see, we were so close to being able to go to Morocco, but hubby got information from some people who discouraged him from visiting. So, our trip to Costa del Sol - Southern Spain remained just that. Quite an interesting lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I would love to go to Morocco! Looks like a great place to visit.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      I can't add anymore places to my list! Its getting too long!

      Someday...

      Great lens

      Lizzy

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      I can't add anymore places to my list! Its getting too long!

      Someday...

      Great lens

      Lizzy

    • profile image

      thesolowriter 8 years ago

      I come back to your lenses periodically to soak up the wonders of your travels. It seems you've traveled to several of the places high on my list of must-see's. And until I do actually get to travel to them, your lenses satiate my itch. Great job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Huh! I see you've been to Morocco! You've been to so many places Andy, it has to be fun to be living the life! A beautiful lens!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 8 years ago

      oh another great lens! you are so lucky to be able to travel to all these wonderful places...to me travel (airports) is not fun anymore, a chore indeed and something we all must endure now. I do hope to be traveling soon again, maybe to Italy and France....thanks for sharing...5*

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Morocco isn't too far from Greece, although I don't know about flights from there. It's probably fairly easy from Athens, but I expect it would take 3 hours even for a direct flight. If you fancy some Arabian culture, I bet Cairo would be an easy flight from Athens, but that doesn't have the charm and slower pace of life of the Medina in Marrakech.

      [in reply to Margo_Arrowsmith]

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 8 years ago

      Never thought about it. You have to stop tempting me to keep adding to the list! Maye when I go back to Greece, just a comparatively short plane ride, right? *****

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Nice lens, 5***** I miss the ease of travelling around Europe. With so little vacation time in the USA compared with Europe, travelling overseas for holidays is not so common. Love the stories, for me unique experiences and photographs make a lens.

    • anthropos lm profile image

      Lamar Ross 8 years ago from Florida

      I have been to Tangiers but not yet to Marrakech. Have to put it on my list. Thanks for joining ”Anything and Everything Travel” Group. We look forward to seeing your other travel related lenses in our group. Keep up the good work. For a categorized list of my travel lenses and other lenses see my Lensography..

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 8 years ago

      Morocco is on my bucket list - I'd especially love to explore the inland areas and see the architecture.

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 8 years ago

      Morocco is on my bucket list - I'd especially love to explore the inland areas and see the architecture.

    • TheBookGarden1 profile image

      TheBookGarden1 8 years ago

      Nice lens! Marrakesh is certainly somewhere I'd like to visit one day!

      You may want to change the title of your 'New Table of Contents' ;)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      Lovely! Welcome to All Things Travel.