Africa, Marrakech, Morocco, What to do in...

What to do in…Marrakech

If you fancy a taste of the exotic with the best of a short flight city break then in my opinion you need to look no further than Marrakech. My guide of what to do in Marrakech will hopefully help you get the most out of however long you have planned there, be it 1 day, 48 hours or hopefully for you a bit longer.

Hire a guide for the Souks

You don’t have to have a guide of course as half of the fun is getting lost amongst the souks and trying to find your way out again! However for our first day we decided it might be wise to enlist the help of a local to show us the main areas of the medina in order for us to get our bearings.

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Jemaa El Fna, get your bearings from the main square and hopefully you won’t get too lost

I spent a fair while researching a guide to take us around as many of them seemed to offer a set itinerary and this just wasn’t what we wanted, so when I found Reda on Tripadvisor I was delighted when he suggested we could custom make a tour and that this would be completely private for just €50 a couple. In my eyes this already seemed a bargain, this way I knew we wouldn’t get hassled whilst with a guide, or get pressured into going with an illegal guide in the medina and we would be able to revisit everywhere on our own afterward feeling much more confident. Achraf took us to all the main sights, explained the souks, pointed out the best shopping spots and recommended places to eat which equipped us for the rest of our trip and his advice was invaluable. I’ve written a separate post on our medina tour as there was just to much to cover in this post.

Souk shopping

Achraf and the other half leading me through the souks

Quaranic School

The Ben Youssef Madrasa (Quaranic School) One of the stops on our tour with Achraf

Eat the local cuisine 

This is never a problem for me as I am pretty adventurous when it comes to food, the other half on the other hand can only just about manage a full packet of fajita spice mix! To be fair to him he does get on board with trying new things and we always look to try and eat what the locals eat or sample the cuisine of the region. In Marrakech we loved eating our way through the different tagines and cous-cous dishes and I was particularly impressed by the range of seafood on offer. I wasn’t brave enough however to try anything from the food stalls in the Jemaa El Fna after several of my work colleagues experienced food poisoning a few years ago.

My favourite restaurants were those that had a bit of a vantage point over the medina and souks. Nomad in the Rahma Kedima spice souk has an amazing roof terrace where you can people watch in the market below in the comfort of the cool passing breeze. It also helps that the food and drinks are all tasty modern takes on traditional Morrocan cuisine.

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View from the Nomad roof terrace

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Enjoying a cocktail

Beef tagine at Nomad

Beef Tagine at Nomad

Seafood at Nomad Marraekch

Catch of the Day at Nomad

We also headed up to the rooftop of the Cafe Kessabine for a gloriously simple but delicious lunch overlooking the Jemaa El Fna main square, again another great place to people watch and unlike trying to find Nomad amongst the souk Kessabine is easy to find from the main square. Head to Cafe De France, stand in front facing the cafe and turn to your left and you will spot the Kessabine. It looks nothing from the outside but upstairs on that roof terrace you can while away a couple of hours over smoothies and good food for a price that won’t make any dent on your budget.

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The chicken and olive lemon tagine at Cafe Kessabine

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Kebab Tagine at Cafe Kessabine

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The roof terrace at Cafe Kessabine

For a slightly more decadent experience then the popular but easily likeable Comptoir Darna is an easy way to spend a whole night (as well a fair proportion of your budget). We arrived at about 8pm and were seated for cocktails in the bar upstairs, the staff will look after you like royalty nothing is too much trouble here and after another cocktail they guide you to your table in the restaurant downstairs where you feast on immaculate looking plates of Morroccan fare. Accompanied by more cocktails and entertainment in the form of musicians and belly dancers who will entice you (after dessert!) to dance the rest of the evening away in the club that has now formed where the bar was, it’s a night well spent in my opinion.

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First of many cocktails at Comptoir Darna Marrakech

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Selection of croquettes for starter at Comptoir Darna

Mixed seafood grill at Comptoir Darna Marrakech

Mixed seafood grill

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Lamb Kofta (meatballs) Tagine

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Another cocktail…why not?!

Get out of the Medina

As much as the hustle and bustle of the medina is awesome it’s only natural to want to get out and about to see more of Marrakech. There are so many day trips to take from Marrakech but we didn’t fancy a huge long drive out to anywhere when we were only there for a few days so opted for a little something closer to where we were staying. Having not ridden Camels before, I decided that this would be a perfect way to see some more of the area surrounding Marrakech and after contacting Dunes and Deserts we added some Quad Biking into our trip as well. The camel ride was awesome, they appeared very well looked after and the whole set up by D&D was much more professional than some of the others we had seen in the Palmerie area. In addition to the camel and quads, they also include mint-tea breaks and traditional lunch at a Berber house so you really feel like you’ve got out and about for the day.

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Our Camels ready and waiting for us

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Protecting ourselves against the sun and dust with scarves loaned by D&D

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Camel Train

The safety element side of things is taken very seriously at D&D, I was very happy about this as I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of the going really like fast some of the others on the Quad Bike so our group was split into two to accommodate other slow coaches like me! I was really grateful of this as it meant I could go at a pace I was comfortable with and showed the professionalism of the company. Don’t wear clothes you are too bothered about when doing the camel rides or quad bikes as you will get filthy, it’s inevitable. Ladies I would also consider taking long trousers or leggings to wear as the quad bikes get really hot as the engine is right by your legs, I had to borrow some rather unflattering long socks which made for rather ghastly pictures.

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Looking professional in the helmets

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Before I got moved into the ‘slow’ group

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Somewhere out in the desert

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Water break with some local Berber children

There is so much more to do in Marrakech; visit the Majorelle Gardens, take a cooking class at L’atelier Faim d’Epices, get a rub down in a Hamman (gutted we missed out on this, the majority of them close in August) or do some of the further afield tours into the Atlas Mountains.

This certainly won’t be our last visit and after finding the amazing Dar Ayniwen Villa to stay at (read my review) we think we will be back in the not so distant future.

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