Africa has been on our travel list for a while. We decided to start discovering this big beautiful continent with a trip to Marrakech. It was every bit as wonderful as we thought it would be. The desert backdrop and perfection sunsets, dreamily-designed riads and a bustling Medina filled with colorful souks all contributed to an incredible first Moroccan experience. If you’re planning a trip to Marrakech, we have a couple of tips that might help you on your way!
If you are staying in the medina, traveling by taxi can be impossible on some streets, requiring a walk with your luggage. (Not ideal after a long journey and on winding, maze - like walking paths with no street signs.) We strongly suggest you coordinate with your hotel so that you can arrive with ease.
As soon as we arrived, we were lead to a beautiful, dusty-rose colored room with mint tea to welcome us to our new home for the next few days. A perfect welcome with the new ritual we would grow so familiar with. We stayed at a Riad Al Jazira, located on the north side of the Medina.
Where to Stay:
Our accommodations were on the North side of the souks. Although we always felt safe, it is easy to get lost in the souks after dark. After talking to other visitors and becoming more familiar with the area, ideally, if you are staying in Marrakech for the authentic Moroccan, as well as souk shopping experience, we recommend staying near the main square, or nearby the Old Spice Market (also near the main square).
Hotel vs. Riad:
In most cases, our answer would always be a fancy and accommodating hotel over a Bed and Breakfast (aka: Riad in Morocco). The exception being riads in Marrakech. These converted homes are Marrakech to its core. From the beautiful décor to the magazine cover – esq rooftop patios, these riads would rival the nicest of hotels any day. Do your research on this, there are so many to choose from and many have budget-friendly spas that are needed after a day out wandering the souks.
Things to know:
Marrakech is a melting pot for languages, although French and Arabic are the most commonly heard from locals. You English only speakers will get by just fine, however if you don’t have a French speaking pal to bring along, brush up on some French basics. (Duolingo is super helpful!)
You will definitely get lost. That is a fact. Relax into it and wander the Medina at ease. This is all part of the Marrakech experience.
The souks (artisan shops) are a huge part of the Medina in Marrakech. The little shops line the skinny, cobblestone paths and are covered by thatched and metal roofs and in some cases are open-air. Guides are available to “help” with negotiation and directions while you wander, but we chose to forge on alone. (And wouldn’t do that any differently.)
Not gonna lie, negotiating prices is possibly my least favorite and most uncomfortable thing to do, however it is all apart of the Marrakech shopping experience. They expect for you to counter their price, so go for it. Use your best judgement here, but our strategy was to start at a third of their price, and negotiate from there. “You give a little, I give a little!” …a phrase commonly heard by shop owners during price negotiation time. Souks open around 9am and close around 8pm. Also, if you buy as much stuff as we do then you're going to need to ship...We used DHL and recommend it highly! Just find the local DHL office and haul in your stuff and they'll get it home to you. Just make sure you have each vendor wrap up your purchases so they're ready to be shipped. We went ahead and brought several boxes along with us just to be safe but you can also find shipping boxes in the medina.
The restaurants in Marrakech are on point. The food, the ambiance, and the incredible rooftop dining did not disappoint. We weren’t our usual adventurous selves with street food and local market dining on this trip, but we can advise on some great restaurants.
I think our absolute favorite was Terrasse des Epices. The food was amazing with a pretty wide range of cuisine if you start growing tired of tagines.
Cafe de Epices (not to be confused with the above mentioned Terrasse) was a perfect spot to stop for lunch. Great menu, wifi and rooftop dining where you can watch the bustling old spice market below.
Cafe Arabe was fabulous for drinks. While we drank vs. dined at this spot, the menu looked fabulous... and the view was awesome.
Nomad was a favorite of ours too. Incredible views of the little square below, string lights everywhere and Moroccan style decor accompanied with traditional Moroccan food. If Anthropologie had a restaurant, it would look something like Nomad.
Thanks for following along on our adventure! We hope some of these little tidbits might help with your future trip to Marrakech!
Signing off with a favorite travel quote of ours, "I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Oh and you can shop our Moroccan finds here!
Laura & Amanda