Just a few weeks ago we came back from our latest trip tot he city of Marrakesh in Morocco. The city was on our list for some time now so we decided to do a short trip here to see if the city really is as interesting as most people say.
We flew to Marrakesh on AirBerlin and arrived on Friday afternoon. We took a taxi into town (prepare for some bargaining as the taxi drivers won’t drive by meter and try to sell the trip at high prices) to get to our hotel, the Diwane Hotel (TRIPAVISOR). The hotel is in traditional style, we liked it here, only lunch and dinner haven’t always matched our taste. But they offered Moroccan dishes beside international ones with every meal which we think was good and authentic. There are better hotels in Marrakesh we bet, but the value here was good.
After bringing our stuff up to the room and relaxing for a few minutes, we decided to walk down the Avenue Mohammed V to get to the Jeema el-Fnaa. The first impressions were quite modern. Our hotel was in the Gueliz district of Marrakesh. The district is known for shopping, design and good restaurants. We passed the new Carré Eden Mall and the Plaza were Avenue Mohammed V and Avenue Hassan II meet. Both places are home to modern shops, stores, cafés and restaurants you also find in most European countries.
We went on passing the Cyber Parc until we reached the Jeema el-Fnaa about 20 minutes later. It is a huge square which is crowded at most times and home to snake charmers, marketers, imposters and people who sell you a ride through the city in a horse-drawn carriage. In the evening there are lots of food-stalls selling local specialties for cheap prices.
We crossed the square and went into the souks of Marrakesh’s Medina. A lot of small shops to by not only cheap tourist jewelry and souvenirs but also local food (such as olives) and traditional fashion.
We decided to come back to the Medina another day as we were craving for some drinks and food. On our way back to the hotel we had a beer at an Asian restaurant called Muraille D’Asie and went on until we passed the local Pizza Hut. We normally hate not to go to local restaurants when traveling but we also weren’t in the mood to search for other restaurants, so we had dinner here.
As we were up early this was also the end of our day, we only got something to drink at the supermarket and relaxed in the hotel for the rest of the evening.
The next day after breakfast we decided to take a taxi to the Palmeraie, a huge palm garden right next to the city. Our plan was to walk through the gardens, unfortunately they are not only huge, but also crossed by big hotel and golf resort complexes, plus all the tourist trap camel rides we decided to let the driver drive us through the gardens. It is definitely an interesting area but not what we liked most in the city.
After that we let him drive us back to the old town, where we made a little stop at the Molay El Yazid Mosque we left the taxi at the Cyper Parc. This park is a real oasis in the city. The city walls surrounding it give good protection against the noisy streets around the park, while the park itself is green, tidy and an invitation to sit down and relax. Not only tourists, also locals can be met here.
We finished our tour here and went back to the hotel where we had dinner and some relaxation time.
In the evening we went out to dinner to one of the best restaurants in town: L’Annexe (TRIPADVISOR). They serve great food here, we had entrecote and hog-fish and loved it. It’s also possible to have cocktails and drinks here. It’s upper price range for Moroccan conditions (we paid about 600 MAD) but it really is worth it.
On our third day we went out to see the Jardin Majorelle. As it was not far from our hotel we went there by foot along a main street and we have to say that it’s city were you can do a lot by foot, it’s not necessary to take a taxi everywhere.
Jardin Majorelle is not cheap (75 MAD entry fee per Person), but it’s a beautiful place. We were lucky to be here early at around 10 am so that the garden wasn’t crowded. It another oasis in Marrakesh. Different local and exotic plants grow here, water is streaking the patches and a small museum of local Berber culture and design is rounding off the experience.
There’s a small café inside the garden and it’s really beautiful. We had some traditional mint tea here before we left the park.
After a break at the hotel we had lunch at the Al Fassia restaurant right around the corner (TRIPADVISOR). It’s a restaurant run by women (which is becoming more common but is not yet normal in Morocco) and serves Moroccon and Arabian food. We actually both decided for the same dish, Couscous with caramelized onions and chicken. It was great, we loved it, you have to try this restaurant when in town!
After lunch we took a taxi to the Photography Museum (Maison de la Photographie). It is a little hidden in the old town but it’s also worth a visit. Pictures from the last three centuries show what Marrakesh looked like in the past and show you how it changed until today. The Museum is in an old Riad with a roof terrace where you can have drinks and meals. We enjoyed the view over the Medina from here.
We left the museum and took a walk all through the Medina and its souks to reach the Jeema El Fna from where we wanted to walk back to our hotel. Fortunately the Jeema El Fna is well-signposted from here as the small streets and narrow alleys of the Medina can be very confusing. We wouldn’t have found the right way this fast even if we have proofed some good orientation in a lot of cities yet. Anyways the signs lead us to our destination and we returned to the hotel after this great day.
On our last day in town we decided to check out the Oliveraie. It is recommended in most guidebooks, but unfortunately we didn’t like it that much. It’s a huge garden of olive groves with a basin in the middle. The basin is a bit mucky and the Pavilion not that exiting, only the background of the Atlas Mountains is great, unfortunately it was a bit hazy so that it was not really visible.
We left the Oliveraie and went down the main street back to the city center. We passed by the Menara Mall, a modern mall which was quite empty this forenoon, but great for us to sit down on the rooftop terrace to have something to drink.
We went along the Pac Lalla Hasna and the Koutoubia Minaret, and back up the Avenua Mohamed V to the Hotel.
As this was our last day in town, we finished it with a great meal at the Casanova Restaurant not far from our hotel, a good Italian restaurant with really friendly staff (TRIPADVISOR).
The next day meant leaving Marrakesh to us. We checked out the hotel and took a taxi to the airport from where we flew back home on Air Berlin.
All in all we had a great time in Marrakesh and will definitely return to Morocco, even if we have a lot of other countries and places on our list. The city is a great combination of modern and traditional styles and architecture and doesn’t manipulating its streetscape by just trying to make it look more European. Beside that we felt secure here and everyone we met was friendly and helpful. We can recommend to visit here without any restrictions.
How to get to Marrakesh:
The easiest way to get here is by plane. There are a lot of charter flights for tour operators from different regions of Europe, besides that there are scheduled services also such as by Air Berlin (via Düsseldorf), Brussels Airlines (via Brussels), Germanwings (via Cologne), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt), KLM (via Amsterdam) or TAP Portugal (via Lisbon). A few low-cost-carriers such as Ryanair, Vueling and easyjet also offer flights to Marrakesh. If you come in from Africa of the Americas, the best connections are via Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc, from Asia Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi) or Qatar Airways (via Doha) might be the fastest way.
From within Morocco you can reach Marrakesh by car or train.
Where to stay?
Marrakesh offers a great variety of accommodations. The traditional Riads are the best way to stay here, but Riads can also be quite expensive as there are a lot of luxury ones in town. Hotels of every kind, from good to cheap can be found here, too, the Palmeraie area is also known for its luxury Golf Resorts. Best is to compare prices with a meta searcher and choose your favorite place (www.trivago.com , www.discavo.de , www.kayak.com e. g.).
Thank you for reading, we hope we were able to give you some interesting insight into our trip 🙂 As always, you can contact us by commenting below or just dropping an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org in case you have any questions or suggestions. Also don’t forget to follow our Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/thealterlookout ) and Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/thealterlookout ) to be always up to date about our blog posts and to see some pictures even while we are travelling.
Hendrik & Jardena