Marrakech, Morocco March 05 2023
The cool thing about living in Europe is how cheap it is to travel. Morocco has been on my list for years, so when I found a roundtrip ticket for €89 to Marrakech, I jumped on it.
Morocco is a beautiful country with lots to do. The food, the people, the museums, the history, and the landscapes are amazing and worth experiencing. At first, I wanted to spend one month in Morocco in order to visit different cities in one go: Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Rabat, Tangier, Chefchaouen, and, of course, Marrakech. However, now that I live in Europe and flights to Morocco are cheap, I will take multiple trips in order to visit the cities on my list.
I stayed in the Medina, but next time that I visit Marrakech, I will stay in Gueliz, which is a posh neighborhood where the Yves Saint Laurent/Le Jardin Majorelle/Musée Berbère museum complex is located. Also, it is a 20 minute walk to the Medina. The Medina is something to experience for a day or two, but it can be overwhelming. Luckily, I know some Moroccans who gave me tips on how to avoid the tourist traps. Gueliz has everything that the Medina has, but at a fraction of the cost and without the copious amounts of scammers who will approach you unsolicited.
Le Jardin Majorelle
The Medina is very touristy and overpriced, but there are many nice museums and sites that are worth seeing. A word of advice, if someone approaches you, do not entertain them. They will try to give you directions, then escort you to the place and demand a tip for being your "tour guide." Google Maps works well in Marrakech, so you do not need a guide. They will also tell you that there is a tannery in Marrakech and will offer to take you there or they will chat you up so that they can take you to a store where they have an arrangement with the store owner. Say no firmly or ignore them and keep walking. In the Square where the snake charmers are, a photo with any of the entertainers will cost you. Give them 10 MAD ($1) for the photo and if they demand more, threaten to delete the photo. Also, there are women who do henna in the Square and will walk up to you, grab your hand, and try to put henna on your hand. Again, be firm, snatch your hand back, and walk away. Do NOT get henna in the Square. They use black henna that is low quality and contains harmful PPD. I went to Henna Louaya and had a fantastic design with high quality henna. The Square is amazing at night. There are many musical acts performing a range of local music, but beware of pickpockets.
Gwana is one of my favorite styles of music in Morocco and the Museum of Music Muassine features live performances of Gwana on Fridays. Mondays is Al-Andalus music and Wednesdays is Berber music. Unfortunately, I didn't find out about these concerts in time to see the Al-Andalus performance
Shopping in the Medina can be overwhelming. Most shops sell the same stuff, so if you don't get the price that you want at one shop, you can go to another. Bargain about 50% less than the initial asking price. Also, most shops in the Medina sell fake or low quality argan oil. I recommend Arganino for high quality and authentic argan oil.
No trip to Morocco is complete without a hammam experience. I went to Alphais Spa, which I highly recommend. I got the 45 minute hammam with scrub, facial treatment, and 1 hour tonic massage for the same price I would´ve paid for one of the treatments in Europe. The entire experience was luxurious and my skin still feels like a baby´s.
U.S. citizens do not require a visa.
Taxis (negotiate price before you get in)
Buses (4 MAD / 0.39 USD)
I recommend arranging an airport transfer with your hotel. €10-€20 is a fair price for a transfer depending on how far your hotel is from the airport. If you are staying in the Medina, expect to pay €10 to €15. Taxis are notorious for scamming tourists. If you need a taxi while in the city, hail one from the street and negotiate before getting in. Do not entertain taxis that are parked in front of tourist sites or drivers who approach you. There are no ride hailing apps that work in Marrakech, so you are at the mercy of the notoriously shady taxis. My entire trip consisted of me walking and taking the bus. I just didn´t have the bandwith to bother arguing and haggling with taxi drivers.
It can take you 20 minutes or three hours to clear customs. If you see that the lines are not long, contact your hotel to let them know to send the driver. When you depart, arrive at the airport at least three hours before your flight. There are four lines that you must clear before getting to your gate. Even if you do not have checked luggage, you still have have to go to the ticket counter.
Maroc Telecom (€20 cash only at the airport for 10GB). There are many SIM card kiosks at the airport, so you can shop around for the best deals.
There are always lines at the ATM´s, especially in the Medina. Morocco is a cash country and few places take credit cards. I recommend using a money changer: Taha Change in the Gueliz neighborhood and ask for small bills for tips (usually 10% of the bill).
Yves Saint Laurent Museum (purchase tickets in advance)
Le Jardin Majorelle (purchase tickets in advance)
Musée Berbère Jardin Majorelle (purchase tickets in advance)
Ibn Youssef School
House of Photography in Marrakech
Le Jardin Secret
Dar El Bacha Museum
Museum of Music Muassine
The Orientalist Museum of Marrakech
Slat Al Azama Synagogue
Church of the Holy Martyrs
Musée du Parfum
Moroccan Culinary Arts Museum (my favorite!)
Heritage Museum Marrakech/Museé du Patrimoine
Ouzoud Falls (3 hours from Marrakech)
Lots of friendly and well-fed cats in Marrakech
Bacha Cafe (go early, can be a 3 hour wait in the afternoon)
Dar L´hssira (amazing falafel)
I know that I spent a lot of time on this blog discussing scams, but I want you to be prepared so that you don´t leave with negative fealings about Morocco. It´s a lovely place and, unfortunately, the actions of a few bad apples that congregate in heavily touristic areas can ruin people´s perceptions. I highly recommend visiting. Come prepared and have a great time!