This week we’re on a bit of a mission to tempt you to put Marrakech on your bucket list. Why, you ask? Only because everything about Marrakech – old city walls, riads, crumbling palaces, noisy souks, skilled artisans – is unique. The ambience lends it a distinct character, different from most African and European capitals. Moroccan people are warm and the food is amazing. This mélange makes Marrakech stand out.
Here are Bruised Passports’ Top 10 things to do in Marrakech :
1 Have the best Orange Juice of your life
Orange trees are omnipresent in Marrakech’s tangled alleys and exotic courtyards. Moroccan oranges are famous the world over, so it doesn’t comes as any surprise that Djemaa-El-Fnaa, Marrakech’s central square, is choc-a-block with vendors selling orange juice. A glass costs 5-10 Moroccan dirhams (approx. $1). A number of juice sellers also sell the juice of deeply-pigmented blood oranges, but charge a premium for it.
We prefer the original – it is refreshing and its crisp, citrusy flavour is hard to beat. We know it’s prudent to carry a bottle of water while sight-seeing but you can skip that ritual in Marrakech. Just head to the nearest cart and have a glass (or four) of orange juice – you will never want to go back to bottled water. Ambrosia = Moroccan Orange juice.
2 Stay in a Riad
The number of hotels in Marrakech continue to increase with the city’s popularity as a tourist destination. But nothing beats the feeling of staying in a Riad – a traditional Moroccan house within the Medina (Old City). Checking into a Riad is probably the easiest way to familiarise yourself with Morocco. Expect walls embellished with traditional Moroccan rugs, shelves adorned with ethnic glassware, and breakfasts served in intimate central courtyards.
Irrespective of what you’re looking for – romantic getaway, luxurious weekend, or backpacking holiday – it is easy to find a riad to suit your budget. We stayed at Riad Al Idrisi, a mid-range Riad and got a cosy little room with a fireplace. Perfect.
3 Explore the ruins of the El Badi Palace
The ruins of the El Badi Palace do not feature prominently on most itineraries of Marrakech – you will find more storks than people in the compound.
The El Badi Palace, literally translates as ‘The Incomparable One’. It was commissioned by the Saadian King Ahmad al-Mansur in the sixteenth century, built using precious materials like gold and marble, and looted and torn-down by his successor. The bare ruins, left-over mosaics, and stark walls have such tales to tell. It is easy to spend an hour or two walking around the complex. Make sure you go to the terrace – the view of the Atlas mountains is stunning.
The entrance fee is 10 Moroccan dirhams (approx. $1). You can enter for free if the disinterested guards at the entrance are not around.
4 Visit the Bahia Palace
A far cry from the ruins of the El Badi Palace, the Bahia Palace is an elaborate architectural wonder. Made in the nineteenth century, it is a stunning example of Arab and Islamic architectural styles. The elaborate ceilings, colourful tiles, and stained glass lamps are gorgeous. Its peaceful courtyard is the perfect antidote to Marrakech’s chaotic souks.
The entrance fee is 30 Moroccan dirhams (approx. $3). More information here.