Six Must-Do Activities in Marrakesh, Morocco
Marrakesh is truly the crown jewel for Moroccan tourism and is easily the most-visited tourist destination for travelers. Boasting a vibrant, chaotic Medina; easy access to Sahara Desert tours; a plethora of traditional crafts; and frequent international flights to the its airport, you’ll be swooning over this Moroccan metropolis!
After spending about 10 days in and out of Marrakesh, learning it’s ins and outs while trying to escape the tourist bubble, here are my top six timeless tips for making the most of this crazy, colorful city!
1. Try the Same Moroccan Dish Multiple Times:
I promise you won’t get sick of Moroccan food if you keep trying the same dishes. Even the same type of Tagine will taste different at every single restaurant and food stall- so be sure to try multiple versions of a dish. I had about 20 different vegetable tagines and 10 different vegetable bastillas (aka a veggie-filled pastry famous in Fes) during my month in Morocco. Check out Kif Kif Cafe to try the vegan-friendly tagine and bastilla show below and enjoy a gorgeous view of Marrakesh.
2. Find a Nook, Stand Still and People Watch in the Medina:
It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh’s Medina- in fact, that’s what the city is most famous for! The Medina’s labyrinth of streets, alleys and passageways offer perfect little nooks that you can and should stake yourself out in. This is a also a great practice for folks wanting to discretely take photographs of the busy stalls and shops without drawing too much attention. I used both a Canon 80D and a Canon G7x Mark II to get breathtaking street photos and videos.
3. Escape the Medina to See What Modern Marrakesh is Like:
It’s unfortunate how few tourists, travelers and backpackers never leave the old Medina. We WANT to believe that all of Marrakesh and Morocco inhabit these ancient walled city streets and markets; however, the reality is that many parts of Morocco are quite modern, developed! I encourage you to escape the tourist-focused Medina and explore the newer residential and business districts by foot. Check out Clock Cafe, which is filled with expats and locals alike. You can people-watching from their rooftop or enjoy dinner and a live music performance because there is a music, dance and storytelling show scheduled almost night evening of the week.) Observe hijab-clad women motoring through one of Marrakesh’s many business districts, or local men having coffee and pastries at post-colonial patisseries!
4. Find Tranquility in the Secret Garden:
If you’ve glanced into any Lonely Planet guidebook or online city guides, they almost always encourage you to check out the Jardin Majorelle… well, I’m here to say SKIP that and instead go get lost in the breathtaking Jardín Secret located inside the Medina. This secret garden is one of the oldest riads in the entire city, garnished with ornate tile work, complex water collection and fountains, and beautiful olive and orange trees surrounded by fragrant rosemary and sage bushes. It’s a 19th century islamic garden that will take your breath away and have you forget that you’re hidden in the busy, bustling Medina.
5. Stay in a Gorgeous Riad:
When most folks fantasize about a luxurious vacation in Morocco, heavily instagrammed, tile-clad riads come to mind! A Riad is a typical Moroccan home or palace surrounding a darling courtyard or garden. Marrakesh is VERY famous for them because many of the wealthy families have preserved their historic homes or sold them off to high-end hotels! Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to stay in one of these gorgeous, Moroccan homes. While El Fenn is a well-known influencer hot spot, an equally stunning and less-costly option for travelers and hostel-goers is the Rodamón Riad Marrakesh.
6. Eat Often in the Jemaa el-Fna Square:
No trip to Marrakesh is complete without getting hopelessly lost around the old medina and suddenly finding open space freedom in the renowned Jemaa el-Fna Square! Home to fortune tellers, snake charmers, storytellers, juice stands, spice stalls and bustling late-night food stalls! This UNESCO Heritage site surely won’t disappoint your tastebuds nor will it be costly. It’s truly the culinary centerpiece of Marrakesh's food culture! Prowl around dozens of stalls filled to the brim with locals and tourists alike, chowing down on freshly stewed vegetarian lentils, chickpeas, vegetable fritters, vegan tagines and more! The best part? It will be the cheapest meal you’ll have in Marakkech! No two stalls are the same, so be sure to order the same dishes at different stalls to experience true Moroccan home cooking!
Pro tip: avoid making eye contact with the infamously aggressive hosts in front of each stall, beckoning you to eat with them and be grossly overcharged. Be kind and swiftly inform them that you already ate. Instead, gawk from afar and seek out food stalls that are filled with mostly locals. It is much harder for the staff to overcharge you when your Moroccan neighbor paid 1/4 of the price!
Have you fallen in love with Marrakesh yet? It’s time to tantalize all five senses for a truly remarkable vacation to this Moroccan marvel. If you’re dying to know specific restaurants, hotels, hostels, museums, gardens and shops that i’ve tested, tried, and loved in Marrakech, be sure to download my ultimate Moroccan Hit List via Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/cBzdBkwvb4fvYh417!
Did I miss any hidden gems? Shoot me an email at Piper@VegAroundThe.World OR send me a direct message on instagram (@VegAroundTheWorld) with your must-see spots in Marrakesh!