My Top Sights
Bahia Palace – built in the late 19thc, this labyrinth of rooms and courtyards is very Arabian nights, with walls covered in beautiful mosaic tilework, stucco & calligraphy, Open daily 8.45am-11.45am & 2.45pm-5pm. 10dh
Ben Youssed Medersa – was Marrakech’s Islamic school and rebuilt by Saadian’s in the 1560’s – gorgeous stucco and tilework thought to be by Andalucían artists and reminiscent of Granada’s Alhambra. Open daily 9am-6pm. 40dh
Djemaa el-Fna – food stalls a plenty and wanted to taste everything – so atmospheric in the evening with gorgeous smells, candlelight and snake charmers
El Badi Palace – Built by Sultan Ahmed el-Mansur in the 16thc, the ancient walls are now all adorned with storks nests, Open 8.30am-11.45am & 2.30pm-5.45pm. 10dh
Hammam – as a hammam virgin we decided to stick to the one in the hotel and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. In the main I loved it (I’ve been to them since so can’t have been too put off!). I just felt sorry for the therapists doing the treatment as they must have been soaked, also felt a little awkward as they assumed that my male friend and I were a couple so stripping off in front of each other was kind of interesting! Firstly we went into a tiled steam room where we laid on tiled surfaces to relax and open the pores to help release toxins. Then therapists entered the room and applied a scrub to the skin – this felt so rough but by the end of the treatment my skin was amazing – so much dead skin came off. I was then led back to the tiles where the shock of my life occurred in that a bucket of water was then poured over my head – for anyone that knows me this is a nightmare, I just cannot do water in my face. Once recovered and managed to convey the fact that was not happening again, my hair and the rest of my body was washed. They then moved us to another room where I had the most idyllic massage and was luckily given a towel upon finishing to hide my modesty from my friend!
Koutoubia Mosque – saw from outside only but it’s minaret acts as a great way finder when you are lost – just look up!
The Medina – is a wonderful huge labyrinth of 43 districts with haphazard streets snaking off to potential hidden gems – you will get lost – LOTS, and every time you try to look at a map, it will mainly not make sense to kind of go with the flow. There will be lots of locals willing to help as soon as the map comes out but often you will get led to their shop. If in doubt, ask a local shopkeeper. If get really lost, just have some mint tea, take a deep breath and try again!
Shopping in the souks – I absolutely hate haggling especially not knowing what price I should be aiming for. We asked in the hotel and reception suggested go in at one third of the price and you should settle on half the initial price quoted (I tried this and the shopkeeper just said no and didn’t bother trying to haggle with me at all!). Some may find this fun, but I personally just want to see a price and think yes I can afford that or no I can’t. One place I saw a beautiful lamp but had not idea about the price – it was £300 which was out of my price range and no point me even trying to haggle as what I could pay was so little (although I felt really bad as he kept coming after me with lower and lower prices). One place to avoid all this is go to the government run Ensemble Artisanal near the Koutoubia Mosque where prices are a little higher but they are fixed.
Ville Nouvelle – did not find this area so interesting as shops and restaurants that could almost be anywhere – only exploring as trying to find a hammam that had been recommended.
Grand Cafe de la Poste – candles flicker and jazz plays – was the post office in the 1920’s – nibbles included in drinks price – no alcohol served outside
Kosybar, 47, Place des Ferblantiers – watch the sun set behind Koutoubia Mosque from this lovely roof terrace and listen to the muezzin’s call to prayer – a little pricy but good views to soak up the atmosphere and alcohol served
Le Foundouk, 55, Souk Hal Fassi, Kaat Ben Nahid, Médina – quite expensive for Marrakech but I wanted somewhere nice for my birthday so worth it. To say I was a little terrified when I got out of the taxi and was told to walk up the dark unlit alley way is an understatement but suddenly out of the darkness appeared a guy with a lantern who led us there. It was beautiful inside (this was a few years ago so had changed slightly now) and they also have a beautiful roof terrace (not open when I went in a January). Food was delicious – aubergine and mozzarella millefeuille, beef tagine and pastille to finish. Alcohol served.
Terrasse des épices, 15 Souk Charifia Sidi Abdellaziz – restaurant cafe with garden like terrace – great views over the medina during the day, romantically atmospheric by night – no alcohol served.
For next time:
Cooking Lessons – Souk Cuisine – cook in the courtyard of a traditional read and eat the end product
Dar Cherifa, 8 Derb Chorfa el-Kebir Mouassin daily 10am-5pm – hard to find cultural centre in a beautifully restored 16thc road, one of Medina’s oldest & need to ring the bell – art exhibitions & sip tea on the rooftop, cookery courses available
Horse-drawn calèche – from Place de Fouchald around the Medina for approx 45 minutes – ensure agree a price first – around 150dh
Jardin Majorelle – home of Jacques Majorelle and restored by Yves Saint Laurent – now a peaceful retreat & Islamic art museum – daily 8am-5pm
Musée de Marrakech – in a former 19thc palace – beautiful building & courtyard with displays of contemporary Moroccan art & traditional jewellery, coins, daggers & costumes, Open daily 9am-6pm. 40dh
Riad Marrakiss Hotel – great value riad with roof terrace, air-con, en-suite bathrooms and wifi
Saadian Tombs, off rue de la Kasbah – final resting place of Sultan Ahmed el-Mansur sealed off around 1630 and rediscovered in 1917. Open daily 8.30am-11.45am & 2.30pm-5.45pm. 10dh
Hotel Shuttle – if you are staying in the Medina I would highly recommend asking if the hotel provides transfers as can be impossible to find your way around, especially at night
Shuttle Bus departs hourly 6am-midnight making several stops including Djemaa el-Fna
Taxis available taking about 15 minutes