I’m mostly an urban soul, but inexplicably Marrakech resonates with me like almost nowhere else. This was my fourth time there and I loved it all over again – it’s only a few hours from London but it’s a completely different place.
There were five of us, so we rented a whole riad just for ourselves. This place was amazing: three ensuite double bedrooms, a tree growing in the middle of the living room, a terrace with views over the Koutoubia mosque… perfect!
This was also the first time I stayed around Mouassine/Bab Laksour, an area of the Medina that I really liked.
Djemaa El Fna:
Marrakech’s main square is a Unesco Heritage site due to its amazing atmosphere. The place is always packed with locals and tourists, with anything from serpent charmers during the day to live Berber music in the evenings. It’s easy to spend hours around the many cafes and restaurants simply watching the world go by.
We took a taxi from the Medina and headed to Jardin Marjorelle. Taking taxis in Marrakech can be a painful experience which involves taxi drivers trying to overcharge you in a range of different ways.
But these gardens really are worth a visit. The place was owned by Yves Saint Laurent, but have been open to the public since his death.
The place is beautifully decorated with plant pots in vibrant colours.
Bab Agnaou / Saadian Tombs:
I had never been to Bab Agnaou before. This is a very impressive gate in one of the walls of the Medina, and the area around it was also nice.
Nearby are the opulent Saadian Tombs, a mausoleum beautifully decorated. A short walk away is Badi Palace, with its many stork nests. This is also the area of the Kasbah, with its narrow streets and terracota buildings.
House of Photography:
La Maison de la Photographie was another place we visited on this trip. This is a nice museum in the Medina. There is a wide range of early photographs of Morocco, and you can see how much and how little the country has changed over the past hundred years.
The local food is one of my favourite things in Morocco, with lots of options and great prices. I always stock up on dates, pistachio nuts, olives, pomegranate and other local delicacy.
I also love the local restaurants. Earth Cafe is an old favourite, a veggie place with amazing flavours. Chegrouni at Djemaa El Fna has great food and is perfect for people watching.
Other great places I visited this time were Souk Kafe (great atmosphere), Le Jardin (same owners as the popular Terrasse des Epices), Dar Cherifa (in a beautifully restored riad), Kosy Bar (great local white wine) and Dar Tazi (right next to the Maison de la Photographie). But it’s always good to ask for recommendations, as many amazing places are hidden behind unassuming doors.
But really Marrakech has so much variety and so many options that you’re spoilt for choice.
Day trip to the Atlas mountains:
We decided to take a day trip to the Atlas mountains, and arranged it at the riad where we were staying.
We left Marrakech at 9.30. Our first stop was a cooperative where women produce Argan oil. We then stopped at a market town, which didn’t have a particularly good market AND we were massively harassed the whole time we were there.
We quickly left that behind and drove through dry valleys to reach Asni, a small town in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, where we stopped for a hike. Our local guide took us through Berber villages and the scenic countryside.
After a couple of hours we reached Chez Momo, a guest house ideally located which served a very nice vegetable couscous.
We hit the road back to Marrakech through a different route, stopping to take pictures of the views along the way.
Our driver dropped us back at the riad at around 5pm. The trip cost 120€ for all 5 of us, plus 250 dirhams for the guided hike. Lunch at Chez Momo cost around 15€ per person.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Go: flights from London take about 3h30. They’re not as cheap as they used to be – return tickets with Easyjet cost around £150.
- Stay: staying in a riad hugely improves your Moroccan experience. These buildings often have sunny terraces and beautiful courtyard fountains. Expect to pay around 60€ for a double room in a nice riad – but cheaper places are available from as little as 20€ for a room. After this experience, I recommend staying around Mouassine, which is a great area – close to Djemaa El Fna but quieter than other areas. We stayed at this riad which we booked through Airbnb and is a great place if you’re travelling with a group of people.
Every time I go to Marrakech I discover something new – there’s so much to see and do! I’m already planning what I want to do next time I’m around. I’ve only just left but can’t wait to go back!