What to do in Morocco & Marrakesh
Morocco has proven to be an impressively diverse country, which I traveled with two very close friends in November. Besides the cultural clash, the climate is very different to European conditions. For both reasons do not forget to bring long sleeved and warm clothing. Overall Moroccan price levels suit low budget travelers very well, with real bargains depending on your negotiation skills.
The first association coming to my mind when thinking about Marrakesh is CRAZY. The city is split into two main areas. The old, traditional town and so called New Town with worlds lying in between the both city parts.
Marrakesh “Old Town” and the Souks
The old town is characterized by traditional Souks, which are the typical market places as you know and imagine them from movies or documentations. It only has taken us a couple of walking minutes after we found ourselves in the middle of the Souks, surrounded, impressed and truly enchanted by all the different colors, smells and impressions of the spices, fabrics, food, leather ware, arts and so much more.
Read more about an especially happy moment @ the Souk here.
Luckily we did not have any money with us when first walking through the Souks as we were overwhelmed by an urgent need of buying literally everything we saw. The unique atmosphere was also created by the crowds of people and animals all over the place. After the life saving visit of an ATM we slowly made our way through the thousands of booths, with locals and tourists alike, between horses and donkeys and with a constant smile in our faces.
Djemma el Fna, the big square
Once finally reached the Djemaa el Fna, the so called big square, which was our initially planned destination, we got a (short-term) warming coffee on a terrace while be fascinated by watching the big square’s spectacle before we headed towards our Riad (the typical Marrakesh accommodation) because we made the classy beginner’s mistake of being dressed way too cold.
Knowing better the next day we were ready for the next discovery tour packed with loads of layers of clothing and a city map, which was not much of a help after all. 😀
Terrace cafes @ the Souks: oasis in Marrakesh’s hectic pace
When walking around and within the Souks watch out for the pretty, tiny coffee shops, with the majority having cozy terraces to relax and take a deep breath above the Souk’s hectic pace or simply taking a toilet break. We for instance landed in an oasis called “The Henna Café Marrakesh” and enjoyed delicious coffee and fresh fruit smoothies at low prices on the terrace.
The Cafe itself has a lovely and warm atmosphere and the staff treats you like a friend or family member rather than a guest. (Little hint: do not let you talk into a Henna tattoo – this did not work out at all. Better spend your money on drinks or food, which already sounded delicious on the creatively and cute self-made menus.
Joint Majorelle (the Ives Saint Laurent gardens)
On our way to the Joint Majorelle we got lost very, very bad and found ourselves in the middle of Marrakesh’s craziness. It was incredibly loud, crowded, and smelly and there were no tourists in sight any more. After hours (or at least it felt like such a long time) being totally lost we followed the locals advise to take a taxi to the gardens. Packed with fresh fruits, yogurt, olives and bread we assumed to find a place of peace and quietness for an idyllic picnic in there. Unfortunately this was the last purpose the garden served, which was beautiful and worth the 7 EUR entrance fee indeed. Instead of having lunch we went for a walk, took pictures and enjoyed the peaceful feeling in the garden.
Mind the prices for ice cream! While we did an awesome job in saving money for self-made lunch from the market we paid 4,60 EUR (!!!) for two scoops of ice cream, which accidentally happened when we wanted to treat ourselves after regaining our orientation just 200 m in front of the Joint Majorelle.
Marrakesh “New Town”
After the fullest experience in old town and the tourist garden attraction we finally ended up in “New Town”, eating our picnic at a public and clean square. Being in “New Town” feels like being in another country. McDonalds, H&M, fancy restaurants and bars and clubs surround you, making you believe being in any random European city instead of Morocco. Also prices in “New Town” are comparable to European standards, with supermarket goods being even more expensive. Therefore you should avoid spending to0 much time in this part of Marrakesh if you intend to make a typical Moroccan experience.
SURF & YOGA IN MOROCCO
Morocco is also famous for surfing and provides surf spots for any experience level along the Atlantic coast. We spent one unforgettable week in the Surf Star Morocco surf camp, which you should read all about in the separate post.
One of the most impressive, special and maybe once in a lifetime experience is a trip to the Sahara desert. There are several trip offers (departing from Marrakesh) available reaching from 1 night to 1 week trips, group or individual guidance at low or very high end quality and respective pricing. If you decide to go for such a trip you should definitely go for Merzouga rather than Zagora, as the first choice is located in the “real” Western Sahara with the typical sand dunes and desert feeling as you probably know it from pictures or movies. As the desert trip is a real adventure for itself you should read all details about it in a special dedicated post.
Got curious and ready to book your Morocco journey? Find out more about flights booking, the local culture, climate, currency and much more in an extra post.