I had Morocco on my bucket list destination for ages and I finally made it out! I have to admit I was a bit nervous about traveling solo as a woman to this particular country but that’s how much I wanted to visit. And I must say it was a challenge, being a woman alone here but I will make sure I post about my experience and tips for all you gals traveling out there. Anyways, it was totally worth it!!
If you are in Spain and coming to Morocco you could take the ferry and then a train from Tangier to Marrakech but flights are about 40-50 USD return tickets with Ryanair usually and the price difference is not worth the hassle or additional time. If you book ahead of time you can get an even cheaper ticket.So I flew out to Marrakech and then from there headed north all the way to Fes.
Marrakech is the number one visited city of course, it is the major economical and tourist hub. It is the busiest city in Africa and of the busiest. As many other cities in Morocco it is comprised of a central medina surrounded by more modern neighborhoods but you come to Marrakech to see the old city, the real city, the city full of culture an awesome street vendors.
Here are some things to do>>
1. Place Jemma El Fna, the old Medina: a huge esplanade filled with street vendors, food, orange juice ( a big thing here you’ll see) and entertainers. The number one must when in Marrakech. Get lost in between the alleys and smallest shops and you will find some awesome souvenirs and the most unique dishes.
2. Souk Epices, the spice market: my favorite!! This market is away from the center of the city in the Mellah or jewish quarter but it is the most unique experience. There is only vendors for spices, herbs and oils and you can spend days here getting into the shops, drinking tea with the owners and trying out some awesome products.
3. Medersa Ben Youssef: the biggest Koranic school that had an amazing courtyard full of green earthenware, a must check out located in the heart of the medina.
4. La Koutoubia Mosque and Cyber Park: Marrakech’s most famous symbol standing 254 ft high in a beautiful terracota color and blue and turquoise tiles decorating it. It’s the tallest building due to restrictions on buildings in the Medina not permitted to exceed pall height. Right next to it is Cyber Park, a wonderful walk free of vendors and full of palms, to take a bit of a break of all the stucco at the medina. Make sure to enter through Bab Agnaou, the main gate and characteristic of the city as well.
5. The Royal Palace is the main palace and tourists are not allowed in here nor take photographs of it, but you can walk by it and by the city wall to see how massive of a place this is.
6. Palais Badi and Bahia Palace; the two major monuments of the Saadian era now stands in ruins but it is still an amazing building of unique architecture. With a major courtyard, pool and gardens with the most unique colors and tiles at the low cost of 10 Dirhams.
7. Tombeaux Saaduebs and Kasbah Mosque: Unique blue mosque, you can’t go in unless you are muslim but you can see it from the outside and from the open courtyard. Right next to it are Saadian tombs which are housed in a mosque like building. You are only coming here for the building honestly, don’t expect much from the actual “tombs”, I didn’t think it was worth the expense to go in but of course that is just me.
8. Jardin Majorelle: a public garden previously owned by french painter Jacques Majorelle and grown by him with exotic plants and vegetable shapes to represent Majorelle’s plant collection. After he passed away it was purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, and they maintain it up to this day. There is a museum in the garden dedicated to YSL.
9. Gueliz: And if you have some extra time make sure to check out the newer part of town, Gueliz located west of the old medina. It is close to Jardin Majorelle and you can just walk around and see the difference in architecture and food around the area.
10. Tanneries; if you are heading out to Fes, you might as well wait to check them out there. The tanneries are far larger and you get a view from high above. But if not, make sure to make it out here and be prepared for the pungent smell.
Where to eat>>
–Kasbah Cafe close to the Kasbah Mosque, head out here for the best coffee and pastries.
–Le Jardin, located in the heart of the medina under banana palms with light lunches and drinks.
–Nomad at the terrace of Place Rahba Kedima
–Cafe Clock for the one of a kind camel burger
–Old Medina/Jemma El Fna, for the best and budget friendly tagine restaurants, the main dish here in Marrakech. There are also awesome couscous salads and many other snacks.
The Sahara Desert; If you’ve already made it out all the way over here, I highly recommend making it out to the Sahara Desert, check out our post exclusively on that adventure. For about $80-110 dollars you sign up for a 2-3 day tour to camp out in the desert. You can check out this tour company Morocco Tours Adventure and contact them for more info.
Check out our following posts on visiting Casablanca, Fes and Chefchaouen.
1. Stay away from Jardin Agdal behind the main palace; it is known to be a dangerous neighborhood even for locals.
2. With street vendors, make sure you are negotiating a price, as in many other countries they will do their best to take as much tourist’s money as possible so start off negotiating a price that is one third of what they are asking for.
3. With taxi drivers, make sure you have agreed on a price before getting on the cab otherwise they will charge you the highest rate. I payed 12 USD for a taxi to drive me around to several locations for about 4-5 hours just so you get an idea. From the airport to the medina you shouldn’t pay more than 50 dirhams.