The Chic Girl’s Guide to Marrakech, Morocco
Ahhh, Marrakech. Marrakech is a place of endless exploration and beauty. It's a city of rich culture, foreign scents, bursting flavors and chaotic sounds. It's one of those places that no matter how many times you visit, you will always feel like you've missed something, like there will always be a reason to come back again and again.
I've been to Marrakech twice – once on my own last year, and once a couple of weeks ago with the Tourism Board of Morocco – and I'm already looking forward to my next trip. Based on the time I've spent there, I've narrowed down my favorite spots in Marrakech for the globetrotting girl who wants to experience the best of the best (and get great photos along the way!).
Without further adeau…
Where to Stay
When in Marrakech, you have the choice of staying in either a large resort-like hotel or in a small riad. I honestly couldn't choose which is “better” between the two – both options are great and offer a completely different experience, so if possible, I recommend splitting your time between the two.
The larger hotels are perfect for more relaxation and pampering, ideal for days that you'd like to spend mornings in the medina and afternoons lounging by the pool. Of the hotels I've been to personally in Marrakech, I highly recommend:
Sharing a photo from my good friend Lisa Homsy (@lisahomsy) as she ended up with some great shots from Es Saadi:
Riads are wonderful because they have much more of a local, homestay feel. They're set in the heart of Marrakech, so are perfect for the days that you want to do less relaxing and more exploring. They also tend to be significantly cheaper than the larger luxurious hotels, but still have great guest services and kind, helpful staff.
I highly recommend:
Here's my beautiful friend Lisa again…
Where to Dine
There are endless delicious places to eat at in Marrakech, but these are my top four recommendations for enjoying great food in a beautiful environment:
Nomade is perfect for breakfast, lunch or sunset cocktails. It's right in the center of the medina on a rooftop, so it provides a perfect mid-day break from the hustle and bustle below. They also have a wide variety of healthy foods with a Moroccan twist (vegan and GF indicated on the menu), which I love. Also an IG friendly spot. ?
Another hidden gem in the bustling medina, Limoni serves up delicious Italian food in a gorgeous courtyard filled with lemon trees.
Italian food in a courtyard filled with orange trees and a water fountain.
photo from TripAdvisor
Moroccan food in the most beautiful riad.
What to Do
Explore the medina
Goes without saying, but exploring & shopping in the medina is a must. The medina and the souks can be overwhelming, so take this advice to heart:
Walk with confidence. Fake it till you make it – even if you're not quite sure where you are, hold your head high and walk with purpose. You'll have fewer vendors talk to you than if you look lost.
Don't get suckered in by every vendor. The souks of Marrakech are one of the only places in the world where I felt totally overwhelmed by the number of shop owners calling me into their shops. I won't lie to anyone planning to visit – they can be aggressive. Just remember that the number one goal of every vendor is to make a sale, so don't stop in every shop you get called into. Walk past them with confidence and either ignore them completely or politely (but firmly) say “no thank you.”
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. The first price any vendor in the medina will give you will be at least 3x higher than what the product is worth. While no tourist can negotiate down to the “local price,” you should still work to shave 25 – 30% off their initial offering. Just keep saying the price you want, don't budge and they'll usually bring it down. If not, walk away and find another vendor selling the same thing!
Head to the desert
A lot of people book a trip to Marrakech and think they can just hop on over to the Sahara for the day… Myself included the first time I went! The Sahara is actually around an 8 hour drive from Marrakech, so if that's something you definitely want to do, I would allot 2-3 days for it.
If you want a taste of the desert without driving all the way to the Sahara, you can drive just an hour outside of the city to what's known as the rock desert. I recommend staying at Scarabeo Camp. It gives you the feeling of truly being in the desert – you can ride camels and bask in the heat all day, surrounded by miles of sand. Plus, Scarabeo is absolutely beautiful and an incredible experience in and of itself.
Here's a photo of my friend Christine at Scarabeo from when we went last year:
Go to a hammam
This is a must-do when in Morocco. A hammam is a type of spa treatment that consists of first taking a hot steam bath, followed by a massage. I've found that the majority of riads and larger hotels have a hammam on the property, but if you're looking to save money or just want a truly local experience, there are a lot of hammams in Marrakech that you can go to for as little as $10.
Visit Jardin Majorelle and the YSL Museum
Jardin Majorelle is where Yves Saint Laurent is buried. It's a gorgeous garden with many types of cactus, gorgeous flowers and towering palm trees. It's connected to the YSL Museum, a museum dedicated to all things Yves Saint Laurent (his life, his designs, etc.).
One tip for both the garden and the museum – get there early! We arrived 15 mins prior to opening and when we came out one hour later, the line had at least 70 people in it.
What to Wear
When posting from Morocco, a lot of my Instagram followers asked me what they should wear in the country, so I figured it'd be smart to include in a blog post.
As it is a Muslim country, Morocco is more conservative than Western countries. That said, from my experience traveling to many different areas of Morocco (Casablanca, Chefchaouen, Essaouira, etc.), Marrakech is a fairly liberal city compared to much of the rest of the country. While I wouldn't go traipsing down the street in booty shorts and a small tube top, you won't have any issues wearing a medium length sleeveless dress. A very safe bet would be a maxi dress with short sleeves.
While we are talking about safety though, I'll quickly warn not to walk around as a woman at night. I've never personally done it, but I've heard from locals that it can be dangerous and should be avoided!
Check out my vlog from my time in Marrakech and Essaouira:
Have you been to Morocco? Dying to go? Let me know in the comments!