Morocco seems to be one of the most Instagrammable travel destinations, which is why I was incredibly excited as I booked flights to Marrakech last summer. I promptly checked out accommodations as well, since we wanted to go over Christmas holidays (peak tourist season) and places get booked early. I guess I’m not the only one who wants to escape the cold.
We settled on the very affordable Riad Espagne right by the biggest market, Jemaa el-Fna. The location of the riad is brilliant but, of course since we went with the budget friendly option, the rooms were small and hot water for showering not always available. Speaking of hot, if you go to Morocco during the winter, wear warm clothes because the temperature changes between +27 in the sun during the day and +7 during the night. You’ll definitely need a set of winter clothes for the night and summer clothes for the day. Hence, layering is key!
Here is a rundown of days one, two and five of our trip during which we explored Marrakech. My next post will give you a tour of the seaside town of Essaouira and the magnificent waterfalls of Ouzoud.
The first night we only had a few hours (due to our delayed flight) so we accepted our host’s recommendation to check out a restaurant called Zeitoun right by the market. It quickly became our favorite – I especially recommend the lamb tajine with dried fruits and virgin mojitos (Morocco seems like the promised land of virgin mojitos – though all the mocktails tasted yummy).
On day two, we managed much more exploration, which started by locating the nearest supermarket. We found it outside of the medina and picked up some snacks on the way to Jardin Majorelle, Majorelle Gardens.
The gardens are absolutely gorgeous and also the perfect relief from the scorching sun. Roam around and admire the trees, flowers and the massive cacti that have been collected from all over the world. Pop by to have a cup of tea at the cafe. We didn’t go into the Berber Museum or the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, which has a display of hundreds of garments from his career, but I’ve heard they are very interesting as well. You can buy combo tickets from the gate for any combination you desire. Just pay attention to the prices – locals get in a lot cheaper than tourists, so don’t be fooled (this applies to other sights as well).
The following two days were spent on day trips, but on our last (fifth) day, we decided to check out two famous palaces in Marrakech. Our first stop was the El Badi palace, which costs 70 dirhams (and is worth it). It is an old palace that is now in ruins but still looks hugely impressive.
El Badi used to be grand palace: it has large pools that sit at the centre of the site and it still boasts a few towers where you can get a panoramic view of Medina. The walls that tower over you are incredible and there’s surprisingly many places you can check out, such as the prison cells and art displays.
The second palace on our agenda was the El Bahia palace, which also cost 70 dirhams to get in. This palace is a much more modern construct that boasts gorgeous blue and white architecture as well as a lush garden. The various rooms can actually make you feel a bit lost, but you can take a minute to orient yourself once you reach the vast courtyard in the middle. Remember to also look up: the ceilings have stunning art work.
Marrakech is also famous for its souks (a massive marketplace). You can find basically anything there: gorgeous rugs, cheap trinkets and crockery for making your own tajine. I do recommend a GPS if you’re prone to get lost because it’s very hard to keep track of your whereabouts in this maze. Unfortunately this is also the reason I don’t have any pictures of the souks: I was too busy trying to figure out where I was going as well as looking at possible souvenir options.
Have you been to Morocco? I’d love to compare travel experiences! And be sure to check out my next post about Essaouira and Ouzoud.