If we excluded this stress, because we can talk about stress, derived from the continuous avoiding requests, refusing offers and possible scams, etc., we would realize that Marrakech, in addition to having a lot of things to see, it has a disarming charm.
What to do before leaving for Marrakech
First useful tip: to avoid wasting time and above all to arrive in all safety (even in the evening) I recommend you absolutely book the transfer service between airport and city that takes you directly to your hotel ->
If you want to discover Marrakech in complete calm and having already purchased the entrances to attractions and tours without risking cheating on the spot, I recommend these tours with English guide that you will surely appreciate:
- City tour with private guide (highly recommended)
It is about visiting Marrakech with someone who makes you appreciate it to the fullest. A private tour allows you to ask any question without feeling embarrassed, so you can fully enter the Moroccan culture! Small thing not to be underestimated: he picks you up directly at the hotel or riad where you will be staying. Not bad!
Other advice: a lap not to be missed is that of Tour between the souks and the medina, this too highly recommended. The souks are intricate and touring them with someone who knows them inside out is highly recommended. I assure you that I needed it!
Excursions beyond the city of Marrakech: the Desert
Staying in Marrakech could also be a great choice to keep it as a base for excursions nearby. Those who travel to Morocco want to immerse themselves completely in situations such as the desert, the fascination of camels at sunset. If you want to try these beautiful experiences I can only recommend you to take the excursion to 3 days in Merzouga (also includes the beautiful Dades gorges) or 2 days in the Zagora desert (at this price it is not to be missed)
Where to sleep in Marrakech? Obviously in a Riad!
Marrakech is a city where silence is utopia. Jemaa El Fna square is crowded from morning to evening.
Music of snake charmers, screaming traders, the Muezzin that 5 times a day calls to prayer, etc. Also, as soon as you set foot in the city you notice that traffic is king. The classic circular sign with the crossed horn that is often found in urban centers, forget it here, they have probably never seen it in their life. I believe that there is also a "code of the horn" because there are those who play it loud, some a little tap, some two ... I think they have different meanings.
Book at Riad Dar Yema o Click here to see all Riads
All this to say what?
To say that one of the experiences to do is get away from the blender called Marrakech and sleep in a riad. The chaos and noises of the medina suddenly vanish and you enter a bubble of tranquility and serenity that contrasts greatly with what happens outside.
Riads are gods square shaped typical Moroccan houses. They develop vertically and were once houses inhabited by entire families. They often have small pools in the central open-air patio, adorned with different types of plants.
The riads are located in secondary streets and from the outside nothing of the interior is visible. Arriving at the entrance there is only one door, once opened you enter a different dimension from the chaotic Marrakech. I was a guest of the beautiful Riad Dar Yema which is located in a secondary street 5 minutes walk from the main square of Marrakech. I found myself great, there is a lot of attention to detail, cleanliness and kindness ... I don't know how many mint tea with biscuits I have been offered! And pay attention to the perfect breakfast!
What to see and do in Marrakech
Like many other Moroccan cities, the imperial city of Marrakech is divided into the old city and the new city. The old city is none other than the medina, a term that you will hear over and over again on a trip to Morocco. There old part and new part they are extremely different from each other and are bounded by the walls that surround the whole medina. Most of the things to do are inside the walls.
1 - Visit the medina of Marrakech
La medina we could say that it represents the basis of Arab cities. In Marrakech it is very extensive, a maze of narrow streets and alleys that sometimes give way to small squares. In the case of other destinations I would tell you that the best way to visit a city is to get lost in its alleys and discover corners and shades of a place that sometimes escape. This is not the case in Marrakech; here, in my opinion, this approach is not convenient.
The places of interest in Marrakech can also be reached independently, but if you intend to "get lost in the alleys" it is better request the presence of an official local guide.
A small clarification on the walls of the medina. You will notice that they are characterized by several holes. The scaffolding used to build the wall was inserted inside the structure itself, when it was removed these holes remained which now also have the function of facilitating the exchange of air.
Discover the medina with this tour recommended . or this one too with private guide.
2 - Visit the Bahia Palace and the Saadian tombs
Place of interest in Marrakech strongly linked to the cultural and historical aspects of the city. As soon as you enter the Bahia Palace seems to catapult into the Alcazar of Seville. The Bahia palace it covers 8 hectares but only a small part of these are open to the public.
The palace was built around 1860 and housed 4 wives and 24 concubines. Stunning décor with a central patio set against much larger spaces, a stunning location within walking distance of the center of Marrakech.
The Saadian tombs are a short distance from the Bahia Palace. In this case there is not much to see apart from being completely speechless in front of the royal tombs. I assure you that you are truly amazed by the luxury of the decorations.
At both the Bahia Palace and the Saadian Tombs the entrance fee is 10 dirhams, almost 1 euro.
Caution: when making the ticket, always ask for the entrance ticket. Often and willingly they do not give it to you and this is not good for maintaining the site of interest. If they don't give you the ticket, they pocket the money.
Source of the information I just gave you: an official guide of Marrakech.
Discover the monuments and palaces of Marrakech with this tour in Spanish (CLICK HERE the tour) .
3 - Relax in the Majorelle Gardens
If there is a place to come back in peace with oneself in Marrakech, it is certainly this, despite the huge amount of anonymous selfies or photos in a thousand postures and with different types of inclinations and shades of blue, the magic tends to vanish.
I Majorelle Gardens are an oasis within the new city of Marrakech. A path between open spaces of water and plants of all kinds that ends near the blue building, colored by the majorelle blue that distinguishes all the gardens. A particular shade of blue which, although intense, contributes to relaxation.
The gardens are relatively recent. They are just over a hundred years old. Built around 1900 by Jacques Majorelle and were subsequently opened to the public a few years later. In 1980 Pierré Bergé and Yves Saint-Lauren, after Majorelle's death in the XNUMXs, bought the gardens and donated them to the city.
I believe the Majorelle Gardens are an obligatory stop to see in Marrakech. They are not in the city center and to reach them on foot from Jemaa El Fna square it takes about 20 minutes, partly between the souks of the medina and partly under the scorching sun in the new city. My advice is to consider taking a taxi if you have problems with the heat. In about 10 minutes it takes you to the gardens and the cost is approximately 50 dirhams to negotiate.
On the way out I went on foot and on the way back, due to the strong sun, I used the taxi.
Caution: do not ask for a ride to the taxis just outside the gardens because they have made a sign and ask for 100 dirhams to the center. I recommend you go back to the main road and hail one of the moving taxis, the price will be lower.
Il cost of entry to the Majorelle Gardens is of 50 dirhams, 70 if you also want to visit the Museum included in the complex.
Council: access the Majorelle Gardens with the stress-free private tour (click for the tour).
4 - Be amazed in front of the Ben youssef Medersa
It was a great discovery. It wasn't originally planned but I'm glad I changed my mind and added it. Beware that to visit it you will pass through the souks of the artisans, so study the road before getting lost in the alleys.
The Medersa is the former Koranic school and it is said to be the largest and most beautiful in all of Morocco. Also in the city of Fez there is a similar one but also according to the guide who followed us to Fes, that of Marrakech is much more beautiful. And indeed it is. Here too, thanks to all the magnificent decorations, you can feel the hidden charm of Marrakech. It is one of those places where you have to stop and simply admire.
THEadmission costs 20 dirhams, at the exchange rate just under 2 euros. Also in this case, it is mandatory to ask for the entrance ticket.
5 - Try the Hammam
I state that I did not take the hammam, the August heat of Marrakech was already more than enough. But the experience in a hammam is an experience to do in Morocco. It is a purifying ritual that is deeply rooted in the Muslim tradition and in addition to covering everyday moments it is also a point of reference in some moments of life such as in the celebrations for a wedding.
Book a hammam -> Recommended experience! Click here to find out how
6 - Enjoy a sunset in Jemaa El Fna square with the Koutoubia in the background
Jemaa El Fna is the main square of Marrakech, you will pass it over and over again. IS a "transformist" square and always busy. In the morning there are certain stalls, others in the afternoon and others in the evening. The square change face for the umpteenth time and an indefinite number of street food restaurants appear. This term is not properly indicated, the stalls in the restaurants are almost identical, they all make the same food and all have their own territory beyond which they cannot bother possible passing customers.
Jemaa El Fna is famous for its undisputed charm which can be admired from one of the numerous terraces of the bars adjacent to the square.
Attention, there is not just one, practically almost all the bars on the perimeter of the square have a panoramic terrace. The most famous and most photographed is undoubtedly that of the "Le Gran Balcon du Café Glacier”From which you can see the sunset and the Koutoubia that watches over the entire city.
The square is a constant thrill, tourists and traders merge into the large crowd, the music of the snake charmers accompanies the setting sun. Marrakech and its square change, the lights give it a touch of magic that you can only perceive from the top of a terrace in the silence between a sip of a good mint tea.
The square of Marrakech is the very icon of the city but be careful not to be overwhelmed and bewitched. The "catch" is always around the corner. Don't get involved with snake charmers or women who do henna tattoos, don't be intrigued by the little monkey that will want to approach you. Everything is beautiful and curious, but each medal has a double face, everything has a cost and so, after the monkey has sweetly greeted you, the less sweetly will the financial request arrive. Either way, be aware of it.
The height is the "way of salvation", do you want to admire Jemaa El Fna square? From the top of the terraces is the best solution, you can also admire the sunset. Marrakech with the colors of the sunset and the Koutoubia in the background gives its best and captivates with its charm.
7 - Visit the Souks
The souks represent the soul of Marrakech, the place where the commercial and artisan life of the city develops. A maze of more or less large alleys with shops on the right and left. There are those who sell costume jewelery, some shoes, some glasses, some food, some lamps, some objects never seen ... in the souks of Marrakech you can find everything.
Go around the souks and shopping between scooters that whiz by at ten centimeters and mules that you have to give way, is one of the activities that you cannot miss in Marrakech.
Even the souks are fascinating and they are even more so in the area of the artisan shops where all the products are processed. From the iron area to the wood area, seeing the craftsmen at work is a pleasure. The problem is that you will hardly be able to linger for more than a few seconds.
In a short time someone will prompt you asking if you need information, someone will ask you what you want to buy, someone else will tell you that you are similar to Moroccans and will try to empathize with you and then be able to be trusted. In short, all very beautiful, if only it were possible to enjoy it.
Despite this, once you have made the call to the behavior of the Moroccans of Marrakech, you will be able to estrange yourself and concentrate on what interests you. But the first few hours in Marrakech will be a continuous daze, especially if you start your approach to the city by visiting the souks.
If you need further information I recommend the Visit Morocco's official Marrakech page.
Is Marrakech dangerous?
This is the question that many people ask. Honestly, after 3 days spent visiting Marrakech, I was overwhelmed by the behavior of the locals, I was overwhelmed by the constant feeling of not being able to trust anyone because this no one would have irremediably seasoned me with partly truthful information and partly of convenience.
Within just 10 minutes, 4 people approached me saying that I was similar to a Moroccan, guessing my city of origin. Each of them had an uncle, a cousin, a brother, in short, someone known who lived in my city. Well, on the fourth I began to doubt. In fact, all 4 ended the conversation by pushing me to continue to the tanneries, since it was the last day of the "festival of colors", it was the last day that those from the mountains were coming to the city ... in short, I couldn't miss it.
To the fourth person, I wondered ...they are all "friars soothsayers"?
Well no, but everyone wanted to take me to go to the tanneries, to the scam of the tanneries. It is not true that there was an event that was repeated only that day, in Marrakech there are some not famous tanneries like those of Fes ... reading on the internet it seems that once the visit to the tanneries is over, a rather large payment is required. The fact is that if they approach you with this excuse, remember to refuse the offer.
So to the question Marrakech is dangerous? You think answer YES, instead I answer NO.
I've never had a moment when I really felt in danger. Marrakech is as dangerous as a normal city. You wouldn't go to certain places and suburbs of a normal city, right? Well, the same goes for Marrakech, just be careful where you go.
Marrakech is NOT dangerous as long as the classic logic of common sense is involved, it is simply chaotic and pressing, sometimes annoying for the reasons I have described in this article.
What do I think of Marrakech?
I resume the considerations of the beginning post ... the problem of this city is the mentality of its inhabitants. It's not about some tourist price hike that can happen in the souks, it's about the general feeling that pervades you while visiting the city. It is too stressed and, in my opinion, it is not possible to be conquered by Marrakech. In the souks, for example, I would have been there for hours, yet it didn't happen like that, I didn't buy anything. I know, one of the characteristics of the Arab peoples is trade and related bargaining, but I'm not talking about that; I am referring to the constant feeling of being scammed which is less noticeable in other cities, although it has been a common thread throughout my trip to Morocco.
Then a I think that Marrakech is one of the most beautiful and original cities I have seen so far, if it were possible to limit that claustrophobic feeling of oppression, I believe that from a tourist point of view it would greatly benefit this fascinating city!