10 MUST DO'S IN MARRAKECH

After two weeks in Morocco, if I had to pick only one place to return to, my choice would be Marrakech, no second thought. Of all the cities we visited, Marrakech was the most vibrant, fun, photogenic, interesting, busy, with the best geographical location, and with plenty of attractions and activities. Above all, Marrakech is exactly how I pictured Morocco to be, impressive.
By 2020, King Mohammed VI wants Marrakech to be among the top 3 travel destinations in the world. Ambitious huh? Can he make it? I don't know, there is still a lot of work to be done, but the potential is there. In the meantime, I will give him a hand and inspire you to visit Marrakech.

In total, we spent 5 nights and 5 days in Marrakech, it was the first and last stop of our Morocco itinerary, and also where we spent most of our time while in the country. We've had the chance to visit everything we wanted, from the souks to museums and gardens, we had an incredible experience staying in the medina, and discovered some pretty good places to eat and have a good time. Before I spoil the rest of the post, here are my 10 must do's in Marrakech and, of course, some of my essential tips.

LET THE JEMAA EL FNA IMPRESS YOU
The famous square Jemaa el Fna is the heart of Marrakech, and a must. There is nothing like seeing this place for the first time, all the people, the noise, the henna tattoo ladies, the monkeys and snakes, the food and orange juice stalls, the music, the view of the Koutoubia Mosque and the sunset, make up for a incredible and unique experience. Tip: watch the sunset from one of the café terraces around the square (our favorite was Café de France), then go for a meal or a bite in one of the food stalls (we recommend number 1).

VISIT THE MEDERSA BEN YOUSSEF
Probably the most photogenic place in Marrakech. The Medersa Ben Youssef used to be an Islamic college, or Koran school, founded in the 14th century. It is thought to have hosted over 900 students and it is the largest Medersa (Madrasa) in Morocco. Architecture, design and detail lovers will have a great time there.

TAKE A LOOK AT THE SAADIAN TOMBS
In French, Tombeaux Saadiens. It is a necropolis or funerary complex, where tombs with remnants of the Saadian dynasty are found. The Saadian was a very important dynasty in Morocco, known by the Golden Age of Marrakech. The place was discovered in 1917, though it dates back to 1578-1603, it is a small site with 3 big rooms, and a small garden, accessed by a corridor, which entrance is behind the Moulay El Yazid Mosque.

FALL IN LOVE WITH JARDIN MAJORELLE
This incredibly beautiful and colorful garden was originally designed by the French artist Jacques Majorelle between 1920 and 1930. In 1980 it became property of the famous designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. YSL lived for a long while in Marrakech and here is where he spent most of his time, so when he died, his ashes were scattered in the garden and a mausoleum was built for him. There you find also a museum, a café, a YSL boutique, a book shop and the Galerie Love.

GET LOST IN THE SOUKS
Even if you have no interest whatsoever in shopping or bargaining, you need to experience the souks in Marrakech. It is a labyrinth of possibilities and craziness; in case you get lost, just follow the signs leading to the Jemaa el Fna square. Tip: if you want to avoid the busy times, try to go in the middle of the afternoon rather than at night, when it’s the busiest!

ENTER PALAIS BAHIA
The Palais Bahia is the result of the collection of a big old house and a set of houses, work done by the Moroccan architect El Mekki. The exact dates of its construction are unknown, but the building was used between 1859 and 1873, and completed in 1900. Nowadays, the beautiful palace, located in the Jewish quarter of the medina, Mellah, is also used for events and wedding ceremonies.

ENJOY THE VIEW FROM A ROOFTOP
Who doesn’t like rooftops? I know I love them, and there are many in Marrakech’s medina, ideal to watch the sunset, either drinking a mint tea or a Moroccan wine (just remember that it’s not allowed to serve alcohol near the mosques, so not every place has a liquor license).

STAY IN A RIAD IN THE MEDINA
If you want to have a real Marrakech experience, you need to stay in the medina, and in a Riad. One of the highlights of our stay in the city was our Riad, Dar Alif, not only for its cozy rooftop and rooms, but because of how it provided us a very original experience, as we stayed in a residential part of the medina and got to interact with the locals a lot.

HAVE A MINT TEA AND TRY MOROCCAN FOOD
Not that you will have many other options, as mint tea is served everywhere and restaurants mostly serve local dishes. Tagine, couscous and mint tea are 3 things you will, at some point, try while in Marrakech or in Morocco in general. I loved the tea, not only for how heathy it is, but how it’s prepared (sweet) and served. As for the food, couscous is the best!

GIVE GUÉLIZ A TRY
Guéliz is the new part of Marrakech, and if you have the chance to go there (in case you visit Jardin Majorelle, for example) you will be able to make a comparison of both areas. The medina is basically the old town, while Guéliz is more modern, with tall buildings and shopping centers with international brands. It is nice to see and compare both, it’s a different perspective.

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