They call him the Red city or, more gently, the Pearl of the south. And Marrakech certainly lives up to the title. You probably can’t get to know any city in the world in just three days, but you can certainly make the most of it. I’ve been to Marrakech twice, and here are my recommendations on what you should experience when you are in this pearl of Morocco.
First of all, the basics. Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco, and no, it’s not the capital, no matter how often people get confused about it. Rabat is the capital of Morocco. Besides them, from the more famous cities, there are also Casablanca, Fes, and Agadir, which are certainly worth a visit. But let’s get back to Marrakech.
French is more useful than English
They speak Arabic, of course, and Berber. Besides, almost everyone speaks fluent French, which is understandable given that the country was under French jurisdiction. English is not so perfect. You can expect workers to speak English in tourist facilities, hotels, etc. but many others do not. This is one of the reasons why it’s wise to have a local guide.
They speak Arabic, of course, and Berber. Besides, almost everyone speaks fluent French, which is understandable given that the country was under French jurisdiction. English is not so perfect. You can expect workers to speak English in tourist facilities, hotels, etc. but many others do not. This is one of the reasons why it’s wise to have a local guide. You also have to be prepared that they will often try to trick you. Arrange all prices in advance and stick to it. If you use a taxi, make sure you set the amount first and don’t give up. Almost every driver, in the middle of the ride, tried to explain that the price suddenly jumped for no apparent reason.
Bargain – always!
It’s just their style. All prices are set too high, and you’re naive if you don’t lower them. Whether you buy an expensive carpet or a bag of tea, bargain. You will not offend anyone, don’t worry, they expect it. You can lower the price of everything by a minimum of 30 percent and very often by more than 60 percent. Also, beware of fake goods. In Marrakesh, you can buy beautiful cashmere, tan leather, or beautiful thick rugs that are handmade and of the best quality. You can also find all this fake. A local guide can significantly help get you to the right places to shop, but keep your eyes open and watch what you buy.
Visit Medina and the Jemaa el-Fnaa square
There you will find a true spirit of Marrakech. Most of the pictures you see come from there, but be aware that the reality of this place is a little more cruel than the colorful images you can find on travel blogs. You will also come back with colorful pictures of spices, beautiful colors, locals riding bikes, etc. But when you are there, you will see a lot of poverty. A lot of dirt and weird smells will tarnish the picture you had in your head a little, but when you accept that, you’ll realize that you are in an exceptional place and that you are witnessing a fascinating tradition.
Practical advice: do not approach or photograph cobras in the square unless you intend to pay for it. Trust me, as soon as you take a photo of that scary snake, a person will come up and charge you. They will also try to put a snake around your neck for a better picture. But they will by no means understand that you didn’t intend to pay for this image.
Go into the desert
If you are genuinely adventurous, you will go into the deep desert that you have to drive for hours, but the experience is truly magical. Sleeping in tents and the idea that there is nothing but sand for miles is truly magical. Again, get a guide to such ventures, you don’t want to get lost in the desolate desert.
For those a little more practical who only want a couple of hours of wilderness and then nightlife in the city, there are great quad rides. An enjoyable experience of driving through desert areas outside the city where you see traditional Arab life. On our ride, they took us to an improvised cafe in the middle of nowhere, where we met a friendly local and drank the best tea ever.
Spend crazy evenings
Marrakesh really has the most insane nightlife I’ve ever experienced. Almost every restaurant you choose with a great atmosphere will offer the addition of belly dancers to dance around the table or on the table depending on your mood, drummers, great music, etc. Keep in mind that entertainment in better restaurants is not cheap at all, but worth every penny. Traditional food and excellent service are an introduction to the best time ever. And when dancers arrive, men very quickly realize that the money just vanishes out of their pockets. The fun you will taste in Marrakech can hardly be experienced anywhere in Europe.
Safety is not in question
Marrakech is a really safe destination. You will notice a great deal of police stationed at almost every intersection, and cars are inspected when entering a hotel. Most of Marrakech’s income comes from tourism, and they work hard to provide security for their guests. Of course, do not test your luck and keep your phones and unattended valuables when you are in Medina, but this is the case in almost every city wherein crowd you could be left without valuables.
There are many other places you need to see. E.g., the gardens, including the famous Majorelle Garden, where Yves Saint Laurent used to live. Then Palaces and Riads. With the guide, you will find out how the rulers lived and how many women they had. High walls surround the palaces, and for women, all life has taken place within them.
In short, Marrakech is a destination worth the trip. Choose what you want to do and what places to visit, and be sure to take the journey. The experience is unique.