Located nearby to beautiful, towering mountains Marrakech is the hustling, bustling market and administrative centre of Morocco. The streets of the city have some of the best sights the country has to offer; head to El Badi Palace for a peek at its creepy underground dungeons, be wowed by the Islamic architecture of the Koutoubia mosque and drive along the pink ramparts that prompted Marrakech’s nickname “Rose City”.
Friend of Skoosh Rosie gives us her tips:
Marrakech-Menara International Airport is located four kilometres southwest of the city. To get to the centre, your best bet is probably to get a taxi which should set you back 30- 60dh (about £2.50 to a fiver) during the day, and closer to 60dh at night.
The Ryad Mogador Marrakech Hotel is regularly well reviewed on Skoosh
There are limited train services but they do provide cheap travel if you manage to get one. The trains go to and from Casablanca, Rabat and Fez with overnight services to Tangier. The main train station is at Avenue Hassan II in Gueliz; upon arrival you can get a taxi or numerous buses into the centre.
Long distance buses drop passengers off just outside the city walls; about twenty minutes walk away from Djemaa. It is possible to get a bus from the main terminal to the centre, or a taxi, which should cost around 8- 10dh.
There are buses all over the city during the day and at night; these are quite reliable but do tend to get pretty crowded so be prepared to stand up during your journey. Petite taxis are beige in colour and can be hailed off the street; they should be charged by the metre and remember to make sure it’s on before you get in.
Grandes taxis are old Mercedes and fit up to six people. They’re usually used to take people to sights a little further out of town and have a fixed fare, which you should agree upon before you get in If you like to travel in style the Caleches might be up your street. These are horse drawn carriages holding up to five people. They have a fixed hourly rate, displayed on the side of the carriage.
The luxury Kenzi Semiramis Hotel, Marrakech
When to Go
The hottest months of the year are July and August but I would say that the most pleasant time to visit the city is in spring. If you are around in early June be sure to check out the Gnaoua and World Music Festival which commemorates the abolition of slavery, and brings people from all walks of life come together to watch the free open air music concerts. Another festival to catch if you can is the weeklong Marrakech International Film Festival in November and December time, it attracts streams of people from the film industry and is a good chance to see some African and Arab movies.
Health and Safety
Morocco is one of the more liberal Muslim countries but you still need to be respectful; don’t show too much flesh, especially if you are a woman, I would save the short skirts for a holiday in Benidorm. Be aware that homosexuality is considered a criminal offence in Morocco so keep public displays of affection to a minimum. There are strict anti-drug laws in Marrakech so if you are offered kif, the local marijuana, turn it down.
Avoid walking alone at night and take extra care if you are a woman. A number of female travellers have reported being harassed by tour guides, so be on your guard. You might get a few men offering you camels in exchange for your hand in marriage; it’s probably best to just ignore them, unless you are particularly partial to a camel or two.
You don’t need any jabs for Morocco, the most common ailment is an upset stomach but as long as you watch what you eat you should be fine.
El Badi Palace
The 3 Star Riad Carina Hotel has great views of El Badi Palace
Originally Sultan Ahmed el Mansour’s residence, this palace is comprised of three hundred and sixty rooms, underground dungeons from the sixteenth century, orange orchards, a large lagoon and four pools. One of the main draws are the nesting stalks littering the edges of the pools, an afternoon at the palace is one well spent.
Opened to the public in 1917 these tombs house numerous royals from back in the day. With enclosed gardens between two domed mausoleums and over one hundred graves decorated with mosaics the tombs are definitely worth the queue.
This Moorish mosque embodies Islamic architecture dating back to the twelfth century. Highlights of the mosque include the three golden orbs, a large plaza, the walkways and gardens.
The best way to see the ramparts is to drive along the outside of them. The salmon pink walls give Marrakech its nickname “Rose City” and were originally used to stop people getting into the city. They are thirty-three feet high with a fifteen-kilometre circumference, and have been round Medina since the Middle Ages.
Itinerary- A Top Day Out
I would start my day with breakfast at my hotel and a cup of the ever-popular green tea with mint before heading over to the Koutoubia mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakech. I would stare up at the minarets with their golden orbs on top and stroll through the surrounding gardens. Next I would wander through the souk market by Djemaa el Fna. I would put my haggling skills to the test as I picked up some keepsakes for people back home, and myself, to remember my trip by.
For lunch I would go to one of the food stalls at the market, lunch is the most important meal in Morocco so I think I would have to try out some traditional cuisine. I might go for a tagine or stick to couscous, as I’m sure to like it. After filling up on lunch I would make my way over to the Sa’adian tombs. Although the queue for the tombs is always long I know it would be worth it. I would walk through the enclosed gardens, gawp at the carvings and elaborate gold designs in the two mausoleums and wander amongst the graves richly decorated with mosaics.
After all that I think I would need to sit down so I’d make my way to a café to have a drink outside in the sunshine. I would watch the sun go down before finding a restaurant for dinner and finally head off to find a bar in the Gueliz area. After a couple of drinks I would jump in a petits taxi back to my hotel ready for another top day out tomorrow.