"Marrakech is simply the nicest place on Earth to spend an afternoon", so said Winston Churchill.
Postcard From Marrakech
Wake at daylight as the call to prayer floats over the city . Spend your days immersed in the souks and your evenings bedazzled by fairy lights swaying on the desert winds. Hustle your way to the latest exotic nightspot in "le petit taxi" to dance the night away.
So find those flight socks and book those tickets. Pull back Morocco's veil to reveal why celebrity rockers, artists, and high priests of fashion with the world at their feet keep on returning. Is it the world class food? Maybe. Is it the legendary hospitality of the Moroccan people? Perhaps. Whatever it is, one thing is certain. You can expect the unexpected from this land of flying carpets and genies in a bottle. Nothing seems impossible in this timeless, irresistible metropolis.
What's happening in here?
Check out my observations & handy links on what to expect as a foreign woman poking around in this glam & gritty, Islamic city.
Top 10 Things to Do in Marrakech - Fun, Frightening, or Both - Whoa! We're in Jemma el Fna Square!
Don't Leave Home Without One
I took this fantastic little book on my first trip to Morocco. Comes complete with lift out map and is light as a feather. Perfect for carrying around in your back pack or Hermes!
Mysterious music, jabbering monkeys, snake charmers with attitude, its enough to send you running for the hills. Don't despair, we survived and with my advice and a good guide book so shall you!
Print this list & take it with you, checking occasionally to remind yourself if those girlies lived to tell more tales then by gosh, so can I !
- Visit Djemma el Fna - The heritage listed Square - Fun & frightening
- Snake wrangling in Djemma el Fna - Not as frightening as you might think
- Marrakech Hop on Hop Off Bus - Frightening only if you stand up on the open top
- Jardins Majorelle - The gardens of YSL -Frightening Frenchies
- Wander the labryinthe streets around the old city - Fun
- Shop at Zara - Fun & cheapest Zara on the planet
- Immerse yourself in the souks without a guide - Frightening but you just might find Aladdins lamp
- Take a caleche (horse & carriage ride) around the walled city -Fun
- Shop the Gueliz district. A fashionable area crammed with chic boutiques, cafes, and clubs.- Fun, the expensive kind
- Visit the Henna Cafe for a tattoo - Frightening & fun
Sunset over the Katoubia Mosque & Djemma el Fna - The sun goes down, the lights go up. Get ready people. Marrakech is about to perform it's evening show.
No-one tells it better or with more humour than Lonely Planet.
Marrakech By Night
Jardins Majorelle- Majorelle Gardens - Gardens formerly owned and now dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent
Visit these picturesque gardens for a well-earned, relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Marrakech. There is an interesting Berber museum, glorious gift shop, bring the $$$$ and a restful cafe. Go early in summer months as the tourist buses arrive in droves by lunch time. Close to the city centre transport is available on the hop on hop off bus or petit taxi. The traditional "caleche", horse and cart is an interesting, more leisurely mode of transport, though a little whiffy during the hotter months. And DON"T forget your camera.
Terrific Tour Links - Marrakech
- Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours
The name says it all and you need not drive yourself.
- Virtual Tourist - Jardin Majorelle - Gardens of YSL
Reviews and how to's from previous visitors.
- Majorelle Gardens
A serene treat before or after the bustle of downtown Marrakech.
- Virtual Tourist Marrakech Guide
Do's and don't about all things Marrakechi from past, for future travellers.
Take a trip into the desert
OMG! Isn't that the Atlas mountains just there on the horizon? Well I just gotta see that before I go!
Marrakech Adventure and Desert Tours - 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day Trips from Marrakech
Saddle up for some horse riding or buckle up your life jacket for a white water rafting adventure. Whether it's mountain biking or just great food, visit Berber tribes and the kasbahs for the thrill of a lifetime. Climb heroic mountains. Spend romantic nights in the Sahara where gazing upwards at the big sky makes you feel rather small. That's always a good thing for we humans.
- Moroccan View Adventure Holidays
From the thrill of white water rafting down the cascades to camping in the Sahara, Marrakech is the perfect gateway. Watch the great videos up in the left hand corner on this link to witness the fun and hear delighted testimonials from patrons. Warni
- Atlas Mountains Discovery Tours Departing from Marrakech
Excursions designed to suit both the feint-of-heart or more adventurous types amongst you.
- Concierge Morocco
Have the experts do the work for you. Individually tailored trips tp meet your every need.
- Marrakech to Essaouira
Escape the heat and hustle of Marrakech with a trip to the Atlantic coastal town of Essaouira formerly known as Mogador.
- Complete Morocco
Complete Morocco is a bespoke tour operator, specialising in tailor-made holidays for the independent traveller
Practical information - Marrakech
About the Weather, Money & When to Go
Marrakech has a subtropical climate so the weather is always dry and sunny. Temperatures in the summer, and particularly August, can be very high. During the winter, it is warm during the day but gets very cold in the evening.
The monetary unit of Morocco is the Dirham (MAD). Throughout the country it's impossible to cash traveller's checks or use credit cards easily. Euros are the easiest foreign currency to exchange and accepted if you don't have dirhams.
The easiest way to get cash is from an ATM. You can find them everywhere around the city. These can be erratic and don't always dish out as much money as you want, and worse still they close for extended periods during business hours. Be patient, they come around eventually.
Arabic is the official language but French is widely spoken and used. English, not so much.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time of year to visit Marrakech is between September and May when temperatures are cooler. However, July hosts the annual Marrakech Popular Arts Festival which can be particularly lively.
WHEN NOT TO VISIT
August may not be the best time to visit Marrakech due to the large influx of tourists from Europe in particular. It's also really, really hot at this time.
Ramadan could also prove difficult as there is no alcohol consumption allowed and most cafes and restaurants are closed in the daylight hours.
Food and Nightlife Destinations in Marrakech - Made in Marrakech
Hungry? Thirsty? Perhaps longing to see a desert rose or two? Need some tour planning help and can't muddle by in French? Maybe you simply want to relax and find a hamman or spa. Click the click and breathe easy. It's all in here.
Getting around town
The best option is a "petit taxi" . It's always about 30 dirhams no matter where you go.
A toll paying motorway connects Marrakech with Casablanca. see link to Morocco Mall.
A very fast train runs to Casablanca from the "Gare de Marrakech" pictured here. It's worth a visit just to see this most beautiful of railway stations.
Things to Avoid in Marrakech. Way to go Peugeot!
A "How To Guide" for potential drivers. A cautionary tale.
First hire your vehicle. This can be done just about anywhere but don't blame me for anything that occurs afterwards. Next step, embrace a healthy disregard for all road rules.
Here are my survival tips for those with an unhealthy addiction to this adrenalin sport.Ladies and gentleman,start your engines!
1:Close your eyes. A lot.
2:Position your vehicle in the middle of the road and protect this placement at all costs.
3:Make sure your is hand placed firmly on the horn at all times.
4:It is considered precision driving to hit pedestrians and donkey carts.
5: Lane? What's a lane?
6: Stopping at red lights is for wimps unless" les gendarmes" occupy the intersection. (watch out for them, usually at lunchtime)
7:Roundabouts are built exclusively for your motoring entertainment. Hurdle as many as possible as you jostle around them.
8:Cyclists and pedestrians are fair game. They are in your way. Try to run them down. .
9:The finger definitely means the same thing here, meanwhile don't forget that horn.
10: It's fine to make a right hand turn from six wide in the left hand lane. Pas de probleme!
*Avoid the lunch time rush. Moroccan workers are all hungry and all heading home*
Finally, park your Peugeot anywhere. You heard me, anywhere .
Visiting Morocco During Ramadan? - Ramadan dates 2014
Ramadan in 2014 will start on Saturday, the 28th of June and will continue for 30 days until Sunday, the 27th of July.
- All About Ramadan
Want to know just what to expect, what to do and why? This blog explains it all perfectly.
What to Wear in Marrakech - Do I Need to cover my hair in Morocco?
If you find yourself a little confused about what to wear in Islamic countries, join the club.
Morocco and Marrakech in particular has arrived at an Islamic crossroads regarding how women dress. Similar to Cairo, or Dubai airport the full range of choices are on display including ladies draped and veiled being led around as they can't see, to modest Western dress with a loose scarf. Really the choice is yours in Morocco .
After making plenty of my own mistakes my current advice is as follows: If I question the appropriateness of my outfit, then I change it.
You really don't need to cover your hair. Legs, arms and cleavage are another matter.
Do's and Don'ts :
Do try to be culturally sensitive.
Don't worry about covering your hair unless you wish to or are having a bad hair day. Moroccan women? Some do, some don't, they decide for themselves.
Do wear modest daytime attire so as not to offend, particularly if you are heading out of the city where society is much more conservative. Morrocan girls all wear tight skinny jeans and tops, often with a headscarf in cities like Marrakech, Casablanca and Rabat but not in the villages.
Don't wear short skirts and short shorts.
Don't wear skimpy singlets or low cut tops. These garments will almost certainly attract unwanted attention.
Don't worry at all about what to wear to late night clubs. Anything goes once your in. Cover up that clingy low cut dress until your safely inside though.
Do wear a hat, sunscreen and loose clothes to cope with the heat.
What to wear in Marrakech
Where to shop in Marrakech-Moroccan Fashion and Design - from cheap to chic
- CARRE EDEN SHOPPING CENTER
For one hundred years the heart of fashionable Gueliz shopping in Marrakech.
- Beyond Marrakech
Stories of living a life of constant amazement! Twirling the souks of Marrakech, buying handiras and building guesthouse Dar Zohra in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
- Caftan Du Maroc
Caftans made in Morocco. A symbol of popular culture deeply rooted in tradition, the caftan has a place in the movement of international fashion.
- Gueliz District - Zara & International Brands
You all know Zara, the uber successful Spanish clothing chain who changed the face of up to the minute fashion choices at affordable prices for consumers. Even more affordable here.The creator/owner lists in the top five richest in the world today. U
Cheery advice for negotiating the Marrakech souks. ( markets) by Bruised Passports
- A Guide to Marrakech souks
Morocco: The Ultimate Guide to Marrakech's Souks
Visit the Henna Cafe before for decorative henna tattoos & artistic adornment
HennaCafeMarrakech, celebrates the culture of the Moroccan people and gives back to the Marrakchi community who are so welcoming to visitors
Join the friendly staff of Henna Cafe to relax in comfort as they treat you to traditional henna adornments accompanied by a refreshing mint tea or a spot of lunch. Moroccan style of course. Henna Cafe's concept creates a unique experience and a souvenir of your Marrakech trip.
Your support will help directly to fund education and development projects in Morocco.
All profits from the Henna Cafe are used directly to assist local causes, such as education for girls.
Click the link below for contact details:
- Henna Cafe Marrakech
A traditional beauty experience in magical Marrakech
Where to buy all things Moroccan cheap, cheap, cheap
Keep an eye out for local "supermarches" or supermarkets. You can buy tagines pots, "must have" Moroccan slippers & local delicacies at a fraction of touristy souk prices. Acima & Marjane are the names to look for. Acima stores are situated on main streets with tiny entrances opening into an Aladdin's cave of treats.
Planning to stay a few days? - Shop the Marjane
Staying for a few days? Look no further as all your household items are available here at reasonable prices. Shop beneath the rocky outposts and ghostly gaze of abandoned French Foreign Legion garrisons. Great for stocking up on everything from food to tagine pots, rugs and alcohol or anything else you never knew you couldn't live without.
There's a gorgeous handbag store featuring Moroccan leather goods, Western and local fashions, international brands such as Lacoste and Yves Rocher cosmetics and an Arabic style Mcdonalds. Take a fascinating peek at local life. Spells danger for the wallet.
You can buy a Peugeot next door. Don't.
Places to Stay in Marrakech - From Cheap to Chic - Honeymoon in Morocco? Marrakech offers a wide range of honeymoon destinations
- Boutique Souk
Boutique Souk can help you find ideal honeymoon hotels in Marrakech such at the splendiferous Selman Palace Hotel and Spa. Plenty of private rooms are available or private riads if you really want to splurge,. A riad is a Moroccon-style house with a
- Sofitel Hotel Marrakech
The most beautiful driveway in Marrakech, probably in Morocco, probably the world.
- Mamounia Hotel Morocco
Wedding venue for P.Diddy, favourite haunt of Winston Churchill & Sarah Jessica Parker. You're in good company here. Even better, there's a casino...shhhhhh.
- Budget Accommodation -Riads
Grab yourself a cheap riad for the night.
- Peacock Pavilions
Fantastic reviews on every travellers website imagineable. Luxurious décor, thoughtful treatment from the hosts & authentic food say all.
- Marrakech Riad
Treat yourself to well priced, individually themed, air conditioned rooms located in the heart of the ancient medina. Boutique accommodation within walking distance of the must see Jamaa El Fna. The site has an interesting blog and sponsors the Henna
- Riad Ariha
Try this chic and boutique riad, a renovated townhouse in the ancient city. Chosen by Elle UK magazine as one of the best budget boutique hotels in the WORLD. Follow them on FB for extra tips on all things Marrakech. Languages: English, French and G
- Sans Souci Collection Luxury Riads
Sans Souci Collection Luxury Riads. Glamorous, secretive and charming. So say customer reviews. Where too much exotica is never enough !
The truth about smoking
The stigma of smoking is yet to hit Morocco. It's a national pastime. They smoke EVERYWHERE. You may as well join in. A wise Frenchman once told me "Life 'ees short, dull & full 'erv pain so smoke leetle bebe & end 'eet sooner". Ciggies are available in little street stores with an Olympic style logo displayed outside.
If you don't speak French learn to say " Je parle Francais pas "
Non? Then trust me, you need this book!. Your high school French just won't cut it. French is simply not spoken that way out there on the mean streets.
Anyway, it'll be your best friend for sure when you find that must have, good looking, whatever thingy you want for home. Take it on that Paris trip you're dreaming about too! Or Tunisia, or Beirut, or, well, most places actually. Those dam Frenchies are everywhere .
Men, Men and More Men
Proud and urbane, with a European, I wear a scarf, cross my legs and hold my gitane like a girl kind of attitude, impossibly tall men dominate the cafes and streetscapes. Yes, the rights of women are improving, but Morocco remains a patriarchal society, confronting for many women travellers.
Bonjour Madame! - A "How to Guide" on finding a husband in 30 minutes or less.
Bonjour Madame!... Madame?...Excuse-moi Madame? Will you please marry with me?This friendly invitation is extended to Western women on just about every corner.
From school boys to school teachers, all will make you an offer. How fantastic! Just go along with it. Unlike this blog, good guide books are full of sage advice about how to discourage them politely. Why bother? It's completely impossible, polite or otherwise and anyway, why would you want to? Moroccan men are simply charming and full of fun. Better still, they speak French, so who cares what they say, as long as they are saying something. Am I right ladies, or am I right?
Okay, so I look a little terrified in this picture. It's just the socks with the sandals really. This nice man not only offered to marry me but gave me a discount on the flowers too!
Spice up your Life - Spice Market Marrakech
Up, Up & Away - Book Your Flights - Book fantastic fares with award-winning luxury airlines or budget deals with European based airlines
- Emirates Airlines
Book fantastic fares with Emirates, the award-winning luxury airline. I love them & so can you.
- Etihad Airlines
Could you ask for anything more? 600 hours of entertainment & fine dining with 3 meal options. Book now.
- Royal Air Maroc
The flag carrier of Morocco operates scheduled international flights from Morocco to Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.
Formerly Irish owned airline notorious for suggesting they might begin charging passengers Â£1 to use the toilet on their flights. Not true but they are cheap, cheap,cheap
Marrakech is the heart and lifeblood of Morocco's ancient storytelling tradition. For nearly a thousand years, storytellers have gathered in the Jemaa el Fna, the legendary square of the city, to recount ancient folktales and fables to rapt audiences. But this unique chain of oral tradition that has passed seamlessly from generation to generation is teetering on the brink of extinction. The competing distractions of television, movies and the internet have drawn the crowds away from the storytellers and few have the desire to learn the stories and continue their legacy. Richard Hamilton has witnessed at first hand the death throes of this rich and captivating tradition and, in the labyrinth of the Marrakech medina, has tracked down the last few remaining storytellers, recording stories that are replete with the mysteries and beauty of the Maghreb.
Interesting books to read before you visit - As they disappear inside, catch a glimpse into the lives of Moroccan women secluded behind the wrought iron gates a
Moroccan born, Fatima Mernissi is an Islamic feminist and sociologist. The rapidly changing roles of Moroccan women, accompanied by enchanting tales provide a gossamer link to the mystical lives of Moroccan women.
Lose yourself in the fascinating memoirs of a childhood spent secluded behind harem walls of her home in Fez in days gone by.
What time is it in Marrakech right now?
- Morocco time
Check out the time differences here.
Visit Morocco - A Video by the Moroccan Tourism Authority
Don't Leave Home Without These
Plan on wandering the Earth? Doing the trekking thingy? You will need one of these.