Marrakech is a passionate, fever dream of a city that embodies both chaos and charm. Dripping with rich culture and history, this city smoothly navigates from bustling, colourful markets to calm, luxurious palaces. Whether you’re shopping in the colourful, hiring a guide to take you through the frenzied souks, embarking on a camel ride, or listening to the sounds of the medina from a rooftop terrace, the bold, red city of Marrakech is sure to leave an impression on your soul.
Shop at the Jemaa el-Fna Market in Marrakech by Hiring a Guide
This historic, massive outdoor marketplace is one of the largest in North Africa, and is a hot spot for locals and travellers alike. Musicians, food vendors, snake charmers, and dancers all come together at Jemaa el-Fna, some literally performing within a few feet of each other. The colours, scents, and sounds come together here in an irresistible symphony for the senses. Nearby music, the whir of passing motorbikes, and the general buzz of the crowd all compete for attention as shoppers wander past colourful fruits and sweets, and take in the scents of wood-fired cooking stalls, incense, and local perfumes. Smoothly navigate this marketplace by hiring a guide, or adventure into the souks on your own. Embrace the endearing madness of this place and you will begin to feel the beat of Marrakech.
What to Buy at Jemaa el-Fna Market
The variety of foods and goods offered at Jemaa el-Fna is endless. From fruit stands proudly selling fresh squeezed orange juice to tea stalls selling and serving traditional teas, there are plenty of refreshments. The thought and time put into these colourful displays makes it irresistible to pass up delicacies such as olives, pure cold-pressed olive oil, varieties of fresh mint, nuts, herbs, and more. Food stalls offer freshly cooked samples and dishes, a welcome stop for hungry shoppers needing a rest. Hiring a guide in this iconic Marrakech marketplace can be useful if you need some tips on how to improve your bargaining skills. Also to be found in the souks are hand-woven fabrics and rugs, delicate lanterns, and local paintings, all showing the touches of the local artists. The clothing stalls offer styles ranging from western to traditional Moroccan and Berber, and jewellery and accessories can be found in every colour and pattern imaginable. Anything and everything can be found at Jemaa el-Fna.
Don’t Miss Jemaa el-Fna at Night
After taking in the Moroccan sunset from a breezy rooftop terrace, or enjoying a twilight horse and carriage ride through the medina, be sure to head back to the open marketplace of Jemaa el-Fna. As evening arrives, this space transforms. The day performers pack up their equipment, the night musicians show up, and the food stalls start to draw large crowds. Lights begin to twinkle and appear from the surrounding souks. A heavenly aroma fills the air from the kitchens and the cooking frenzy produces clouds of smoke and steam, which appear underlit and magical as they dissipate into the night air.
Find Local Restaurants by Hiring a Guide in Marrakech
Scattered throughout the square is some of the best and most inventive Moroccan food. Hiring a guide is best to receive personalized recommendations, varying from centrally located, popular Marrakech restaurants to side cafes catering local cuisine to budget travellers. Get help finding central restaurants like Argana, or spots just around the corner, like El Bahja, located on Rue Banj Marine. Try the heavenly cuisine cooked right in the ground at Mechoui, the infamous restaurant that has hosted world famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Mary Berry. Mechoui can be found on the far-right corner of the square past Zeitoun Cafe, or can easily be found by asking locals for the well-known owner, Hadj Mustapha.
The History of the Marrakech Medina Walls
Jemma el-Fna is the bustling centre of the Marrakech medina and its old city walls, originally built for protection. Hiring a guide in this beautiful city will ensure you learn all the historical details. While Marrakech was founded in 1062 by the Almoravids, the fortification of the walls didn’t start until 1126. Once construction began, however, the dedicated builders amazingly only took 8 months to complete the project. The walls have since been reinforced and can still be seen today surrounding the medina. The clay and chalk used to construct the walls is a distinct reddish orange colour that earned the city its nickname of the red city. The tallest parts of the walls reach 5.8 meters high and the continuous structure includes several towers and beautiful iconic gates and entryways into the medina.
Tranquil Escapes in Marrakech: Palaces and Gardens
Escape the hustle of the marketplace and the buzz of passing motorbikes by heading to a serene, peaceful setting like the Bahia Palace or Jardin Majorelle. At the Bahia Palace, surround yourself with awe-inspiring architecture. Walk through grand archways, pass by gentle fountains, and admire stunning craftsmanship and tilework. At the Jardin Majorelle, visitors enter an oasis. Originally built in the 1920’s and famously purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1966, this paradise spans over 9000 square meters and is open for all visitors to enjoy. The garden’s vibrant, royal blue walls are iconic, and the same blue is also used to accent the walkways and overhangs. Lush succulents line the ground, delicate greenery hangs from canopies, and tall palm trees tower above. With birds chirping and a stream of water running through the middle of the shady garden, Jardin Majorelle makes for a surreal, dream-like escape.
Dive into Marrakech History: Mosques, Museums, and More
History is everywhere in Marrakech. It can be seen in the architecture, it can be tasted in the food, and it can be felt in the warmth of its friendly, storytelling culture. Hiring a guide is an excellent way to be escorted to the nearby museums and historical sights and to ensure you hear the fascinating stories behind the locations. Visit the once grand and beautiful Badi Palace from the 16th century, which is open for visitors to wander and explore its magnificent, crumbling structures. Explore the Madrasa of Ben Youssef, another masterpiece of a building that used to be a place of teaching and worship. Admire its serene courtyard, its colourful mosaic tile, and its detailed wood carvings on columns and entryways. Also, not to be missed is the historical Koutoubia Mosque, with its iconic minaret looking down over Jemaa el-Fna. It was built in the early days of Marrakech in about 1195 and still stands today, a proud symbol of the red city.
Relax and Detox with a Local Hammam Experience
A wonderfully relaxing tradition in Morocco is to have a hammam experience. Hammam locations vary from simple to extravagant, but all offer a relaxing location for cleansing, whether it be a local swimming pool, or a more luxurious steam room with bath. The cleanse is often followed by optional exfoliation treatments. Many of the more upscale hammam locations, like Les Bains de Marrakech and Hammam Ziani Marrakech provide beautiful, traditional spas, bathhouses, and massage facilities. Plan a visit ahead of time to guarantee an experience at these locations. Embracing the hammam tradition melts away the sore muscles from the day’s adventures and rejuvenates the body and mind.
Experience Modern Marrakech by Hiring a Guide
Marrakech can be experienced in a few short days if needed, but for those extending their stay, there are so many activities to explore. This city has modern activities for thrill seekers like zip-lining, quad biking, and water sports. Hikers and nature lovers can book excursions and treks to the breath-taking Atlas Mountains. Foodies can dine at modern Moroccan restaurants or try their hand at a cooking class. Hiring a guide with Maroc Unique Voyages allows you to reserve your space ahead of time. Exploring the city can be continued in other relaxing and creative ways, such as hiring a bicycle, visiting the park gardens, or opting for a camel ride or a trip around the medina in a horse and carriage. No matter your length of stay or choice of activities, Marrakech has everything needed to make your trip one of a kind.