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Marrakech, Morocco

October 23, 2018

 

What is there to do in Marrakech?

 

Where to stay in Marrakech? 

 

If you want traditional Moroccan stay, book your stay in a raid. A riad is traditional house in Morocco. It is characterized by having an inner courtyard or a garden as the central element of the building. The name comes from the Arab word 'ryad' – garden.

 

Medina- is considered the old city of Marrakech with in the walls. Medina can get quite noisy and the hassle is unbearable since it is located close to Jemaa el-Fnaa. If you want to save a few bucks from having to take a taxi to and from the outter city then staying in the old city will be great for you budget travelers! Just be aware that you'll have a lively stay where all the hassle and bustle takes action 24/7!

 

Ville Nouvelle area or Gueliz- is the heart of the new part of Marrakech(or new city). Gueliz offers an alternative vibe to the traditional and messy and chaotic old medina atmosphere. In the Gueliz area, you'll find tons of restaurants, shopping malls, and stores. We didn't stay in Gueliz but we frequently took a taxi here to eat! The Ville Nouvelle also has many beautiful city parks and the Jardin Majorelle is located here.

 

Palmeraie- If you want more of a quiet luxury stay, Palmeraie is perfect for you. You won't save much money in this area! Palmeraie is quite the opposite of Medina. Its a little futher away from the city of Marrakech(15-20minute drive) but its far away from chaos, crowds, and traffic. Palmeraie offers many pools, golf courses, and Palm Grove is located here, if you want to take a camel ride.

 

Agdal Gardens- If you want a quiet stay but still want to be close enough to the city, stay in an elegant hotel on the edges of the expansive Agdal Gardens. You'll also find a ton international restaurants in this area! This area can get expansive but you'll get the best of both worlds!

Where I stayed?

 

What better way is there to visit Morocco other than by staying in a traditional Moroccan Riad. If you're looking for a Riad that’s close to Jemaa el-Fnaa(The square) but yet in a quiet area, staying at Riad le Jardin d’Abdou is your best bet. Most people that stay closer to the square often have the experience of it being too loud and rowdy! The Riad is about a 23-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi ride that cost about 5-7$ USD from the square. Outside of the Riad is a localized neighborhood but inside is peaceful and tranquility. 

 

You won't find much food selections to eat around but there is a small selection menu in the hotel. If you do decide to eat at the Riad the breakfast is always free, which is outstanding and delicious. The staff was also very attentive and friendly. They even accommodated us with a bed for our 3 year old daughter in our room. If you do decide to do outside activities, the Riad offers to set you up with many different tours and even a Spa at another Raid with a discount.

 

Overall we enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere in our Riad and couldn't have been happier we chose Riad le Jardin d’Abdou.

 

Enjoy your stay at Riad le Jardin d’Abdou and the relaxing atmosphere you'll find in Marrakech. Your book your room directly on Expedia now!

 

How to get to your destination from the airport?

 

Marrakech airport is very close to the city. By taxi it's about a 15 to 20 minute drive from the main square; Jemaa el Fna. 

You shouldn't pay more then 20 DH for a 10 minute drive.

 

How to get around Marrakech?

 

On Foot- Getting around Marrakech on foot is relatively easy if you're not walking far in distance. Most of the Red City's must-see sights can be found inside the walls of the medina. However, many of the street signs are in Arabic, so make sure you carry a comprehensive map or guidebook.

 

Bus-Public bus services are available but there is no set schedule and routes. You can expect most buses to operate daily every 10 to 60 minutes, depending on the line. One-way tickets cost 3 or 4 dirhams (or less than 50 cents) for adults and kids 6 and older.

 

Taxi- Here in Marrakech, taxis are pretty cheap depending on how far you travel. If your traveling locally you shouldn't pay more then 70-80 dirhams($7-8USD). We stayed in the old city which required a 20 minute walk to the new city or taking a 50-70 dirhams ($5-7USD) taxi.  If you aren't sure what you should be charged when taking taxis, ask your hotel staff what the reasonable price is or have them call a taxi service for you. Before getting in a taxi you want to settle on a rate to avoid overpaying. Some drivers will deliberately take you to the wrong hotel because they receive a commission from that property. Others will simply misunderstand you. To avoid confusion, clearly write down the name and address of your destination on a piece of paper.

 

When to travel to Marrakech? 

 

Marrakech has warm weather all year round ranging from 60°F(16°C) to 84 °F(29°C). If your visiting Marrakech to hike in the mountains, Mid March to May is the best time. The springtime is when you'll be able to see the beautiful green landscapes of Morocco. If your visiting Marrakech for the desert, try traveling in Autumn from September to October. The temperatures are pleasant and bearable, unlike the blazing heat beating down on you in the summer. ​

 

Where to eat in Marrakech?

  • Nomad- A beautiful candlelit rooftop terrace. Nomad is very popular. If your planning to have dinner here, make a reservation and ask for a table on the terrace. 

  • La Maison Arabe- is the best restaurant in Marrakech! La Maison Arabe is a luxury medina riad-hotel. Reservations are a must & ask for a pool table!

  • Night Market at Jemaa el Fna- In the square, you'll be able to find street food and a dozen stalls to choose from to eat! We didn't get to try much street food since I was pregnant. I needed to be 100% sure the food was prepared properly, but surely I would have tried some food from the stalls if I wasn't pregnant!

  • Cafe Bougainvillea- This place has cheap eats and good food.

  • Jad Mahal- This dinner club is home to the Red City’s burlesque dancers or also known the Ooh-La-La girls. If you want to eat and be entertained by sexy belly dancers, you'll love it here!

  • Le Salama- Has fine dining and overpriced drinks for a killer view! The views were worth visiting this chic restaurant overseeing the Jemaa el Fna Square! If your plan to dine at night, be prepared to be entertained by the beautiful belly dancers! Be sure to bring a few dollars because they'll be expected to be tipped!

  • Amandine- Good quality pastries that are affordable.

What language is spoken in Marrakech?

 

Arabic but French is a main official language.

 

Learn Basic Arabic.

 

Hello- Marhabaan (مرحبا)

Yes- Nem fielaan (نعم فعلا)

No- La (لا)

Please- raja' (رجاء)

Thank you- shukraan jazilaan(شكرا جزيلا)

You're welcome- ealaa alrahb (على الرحب)

Excuse me- efu (عفوا)

Bathroom- hamam (حمام)

 

 Currency?

 

Moroccan Dirham

 

Check out Google Currency Converter for current rates.

 

Things you should know when traveling to Marrakech?

  • The common English spelling is "Marrakesh", although "Marrakech" (the French spelling) is also widely used. 

  • Dress appropriately when traveling to Marrakech! Overall, guys can dress however they like, but women need to dress more conservatively. When visiting mosques, you need to cover down to your wrists and ankles. For the ladies out there, it really helps to have a shawl/scarf handy in case you need it. You want to avoid unwanted attention as much as possible. Even when traveling with men, I hear of women getting groped, so cover up as much as possible. Traveling in Marrakech I did not experience this but I felt like I did get a lot of stares. Not because of what I wore because I wore nothing but long dresses and always covered my shoulders with a scarf, but because I had so many tattoos.

  • Although you see many tourists wearing whatever they want, we chose to cover up as much as possible to avoid unwanted attention. Even if you’re traveling with a group of guys, you may still get harassed. Some of the girls in our group got groped on multiple occasions even though we were paired off with a male buddy. It was mostly really old men, and it happened more often in crowded places. When visiting mosques, you need to cover down to your wrists and ankles. For the ladies out there, it really helps to have a shawl / scarf handy in case you need it.

  • Be prepared to have cash handy in Marrakech. More established shops will take credit card, but most smaller markets, street vendors, and cabs will not. 

  • ATMS can be a hit or miss! It's not always easy finding one. Make sure you take enough money out at the airport or leaving home before reaching the city. You should expect to take out $50-100USD per day to be safe!

  • Have some change ready for tips!! A good general rule of thumb is 1 DH at a local place and 3-5 DH at nicer places. When going to Jemaa el Fna it would be wise to keep a few coins on you if you're expecting to take pictures of street performers to avoid the hassle of them aggressively telling you to tip them for the picture.

  • Keep in mind that it is a Muslim country, so pay attention to their holidays otherwise you might be there when everything is closed. Also, most shops and attractions are closed on Friday since it’s their holy day. 

  • There are many scams in Jemaa el Fna Square when it comes to booking tours so beware! To avoid getting scammed, book a tour with your hotel or a safe & secure website online.

  • Some people say that the Jemaa el Fnaa square can get aggressive at times as a tourist. As native New Yorkers we're used to the aggressive selling and buying antics so I’ll tell you the method we used to avoid getting swindled into overpaying for souvenirs while shopping! Our first day in the market we refused to buy anything! We asked around what we should be charged and what the prices were that “ they wanted” to charge us. The second coming day in the market, we didn’t ask for the price! We told them what we were WE were willing to pay. Naming the prices that we wanted showed confidence and knowledge! If they weren’t happy with the price we made, we would literally walk away and tell them we could go to the other 50+ stalls in the market. They would chase us down before even leaving their stall to honor the price. We made sure we we’re THE BOSS when It came to buying in the market!

  • Henna Ladies often dressed in full niqab (all black outfits with just a space to see the woman’s eyes). This is purposeful as most aren’t licensed to actually work in the square so they cover their faces so the police don’t see who they are. Their most frustrating business tactic is literally grabbing people’s arms and starting to draw on them so they will be forced to pay them for their oftentimes terrible designs at the end. They charge ridiculous rates for henna such as 200 dirham or more for something small on one hand. In the Jemaa el Fnaa, a henna women grabbed my arm to try a get me to get henna done, but I refused to get any henna done in Morocco. Henna is actually more of an Indian tradition, so to me, it made no sense to get henna done here!

  • Morocco prohibits any drones from entering the country !!! You will get it confiscated upon arrival. You can try and write the government in advance to allow you to bring it through but your chances are slim for approval. Since we traveled to multiple destinations we had no choice but to bring our drone to Morocco. Of course, it was confiscated. They promised us that 3 days were free to hold our drone and any day after that we would have to pay a fee. We ended up paying 20 DH to get it back in cash !!! It actually wasn't easy getting our drone back. When we went to receive our drone, they said they couldn’t find It! My husband literally had to fight with them for our drone back and persuade security to let him in the room full of confiscated drones. There were over 100s of “unclaimed drones” in the room. Lucky we had a case for our drone and we also marked an uncommon nail polish color mark on our drone so we could tell which one was ours. 

 

Is Marrakech kid friendly? Things to do with kids?

 

Marrakech was unexpectedly kid-friendly! Moroccans love young kids! They treat them like their own family and are very affectionate. We had many occasion where we would meet people and they would want to pick up our daughter or even give her a kiss! We weren't expecting this much affection. If you don't feel comfortable with strangers just picking up your child and kissing them don't be afraid to tell them. They won't be offended, this is just their culture but understand we are foreigners.

  • Take cooking classes at The Amal Women’s Center for kids. It's a non-profit association, empowering women through culinary skills.

  • Ludipark- At Ludipark you’ll find bouncy castles, pony rides, a mini zoo, and an aquapark. 

  • Oasiria- Is a water park with multiple slides, lazy river, & pools.

  • Palooza land-is based on a dinosaur theme and has several rides for kids, a 6D cinema, swimming pool, and live shows.

  • Have a tea party- Moroccans love tea so why not make a party out of it! The Royal Mansour offers an afternoon teatime that you can enjoy for 350dirham a person. If you want a less expensive experience visit one of the many cafes in the city.

  • Take a Hot air balloon ride- Kids do have to be 5 years or older but you'll love the adventurous ride.

  • Waky Marrakech is a wakeboarding experience outside the city on an artificial lake. Perfect for older kids and teens!

  • Jarjeer Mules- If your an animal lover you can visit this donkey refuge.

  • Zip lining- If you need a short get away from the city for an adventure, go zip lining to Les Terres D'amanar. At Les Terres D'amanar, you'll actually find multiple activities at this park!

 

"Success is a state of mind. If you want success- start thinking of yourself as a success."

-Dr. Joyce Brothers

 

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