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Marrakech, Morocco Travel Guide & Tips
A city filled with fascinating culture, exquisite food, and stunning architectural design, Marrakech will surely enchant you as a unique travel destination in North Africa.
Dress Code – There are some specific cultural differences when it comes to Moroccan dress code. I suggest packing loose-fitting clothing that optimally covers both your knees and shoulders. Lightweight scarves and sweaters are key, especially since it cools down significantly in the evening.
Drinking – Marrakech is a predominantly Muslim city, so alcohol is not served at most restaurants. If you want to enjoy a glass of wine after a long day of touring the Medina, I recommend picking up your drink of choice in Duty-Free or at the local grocery store.
Currency – The national currency, Dirhams, is a closed currency, meaning it can only be traded within the country. Most exchange centers in the center offer fair rates, but be sure to exchange at least $50 at the airport, as cash is king in this city.
Navigation – As you walk through the maze-like streets of the Medina (old city), don’t be fooled by locals misleading you in directions, as they holler out “It’s closed,” “It’s the last day,” and “The souk is this way.” Download Marrakech in Google Maps prior to your arrival so you can confidently navigate the city.
Language – The most common languages spoken in Marrakech are French, Arabic, Spanish, and Berber. Though most people speak some English, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some French and Arabic phrases.
Where to Stay –
Riad Star – This intimate, boutique hotel was once home to Jazz sensation, Josephine Baker. Step into the all-white oasis to escape the bustling Medina streets, and you’ll truly feel like a star. Their 13 rooms are embellished with incredible detail, from hand-carved wood ceilings, glistening lanterns, to the Moroccan hats and robes available for each guest. An elaborate breakfast is also available each morning in your choice of their open-air courtyard, poolside, or on the rooftop.
Riad Zamzam & Spa – In the northern portion of the Medina is a perfect getaway from the noise of the city. Expect elaborately furnished rooms with hand-woven Berber carpets, a curated blend of French and Moroccan decor, and spacious bathrooms with luxurious showers. This 7 room riad is the ideal escape from the center, yet still walking distance to most attractions. Zamzam’s glamorous space provides an amazing courtyard pool, epic 104-year-old palm tree, and the perfect rooftop equipped with shaded seating and plush loungers (straw hats and towels included). Also, prepare to start each morning with a breakfast spread that includes omelets, Moroccan pancakes, freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade marmalades, and fresh fruits with yogurt.
What to Eat –
Moroccan food is absolutely incredible is not only an experience for your tastebuds but equally aromatic. A popular dish is tajine, a terracotta pot that is used to slow cook a variety of meats or vegetables based dishes over couscous. In addition, considering that Morocco is a predominately Muslim country, alcohol is not readily available. So if you would like to enjoy a cocktail or beer with your meal, be sure to check with the restaurant beforehand to see if they serve alcohol, as many do not.
What to Do –
Ben Youssef Madrasa – A nearly perfect example of Marrakech’s stunning architecture and design, this once architectural learning center is a must see and unbelievable photo stop.
Jemaa el-Fna – In the center of Marrakech, you can find a little bit of everything at this main square, from fresh orange and pomegranate juice, snake charmers, to savory street food.
Souk – This is where I spent most of my time in Morocco, lost in the twisting streets of the Medina’s Souk. From hand-woven rugs, sparkling lanterns, dangling scarves to chromatic spices, every corner is filled with aromas, colors, and movement.
Hamman – For a more relaxing Moroccan experience, try out a Hamman. This traditional spa experience consists of a steam room cleansing with black olive soap, a body scrub and hair treatment. Be sure to go with no makeup, as you will be drenched in warm water and soap.