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Visit Marrakech: practical advice for travelers

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Lluís Enric Mayans
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The architecture of monuments, palaces and mosques bear witness to the glorious history of the city. The famous Koutoubia and its minaret rising to more than 70 meters high is the most glaring example. But Marrakech is also a luxuriant setting with its beautiful palm grove and a whole atmosphere in its medina. To visit Marrakech at best, discover all our practical advice!



The renewal of the medina

Marrakech is now completely open to tourism and makes its aura bear fruit by renovating and restructuring its medina, the cradle of Marrakech culture. Populated more and more craftsmen, but also expatriates seduced by riads and other types of alternative accommodation, the old town, once neglected, has once again become an abundance of neighborhood activities. Shopping in the souks is a permanent wonder in front of the pieces of craftsmanship carried out by hands of experts with world reputation.



Stroll in the souks

When to go to Marrakech?

If Marrakech is a city so popular with lovers of idleness and bucolic strolls through its ancient alleys, it owes it above all to its almost permanent sunshine. In summer, the city is crushed by the rays of a scorching sun and the thermometer often flirts with 45 ° C at noon! Despite this constraint, it is during this period that the tourist influx is at its peak. Two good reasons to avoid it if you can afford it! Prefer the seasons of spring and autumn, when the temperatures are milder and the tourists less present. Rainfall is rare in this region but nevertheless slightly more frequent around the months of February and March.





Majorelle Gardens in summer

It is generally said of the climate of Marrakech that it approaches that of the steppes. In question, the great variability of night and day temperatures, particularly evident during the winter months. During this period, the mercury rarely rises above 20 ° C and can drop below zero overnight. Morning outings will therefore require strong clothing to remain pleasant. Finally, know that winter is a busy time, because many European tourists come to visit Marrakech in search of a little comforting heat.

What budget is to be expected for your stay?

In addition to its culture, its geography and its sunshine, Morocco in general and Marrakech in particular, are key destinations because they are inexpensive. The food is very inexpensive and you can eat with a three-course dinner for around 7 euros. Even a couple of tourists with a substantial budget will be able to afford all the charms of high-end Moroccan gastronomy for less than 20 euros, except in palaces of course. If you choose to supply yourself with food directly from the supermarket, the bill will only be sweeter with prices half the price in France. The same goes for transport, with a bus ticket for less than 50 cents and a kilometer by taxi for almost the same price.


The place Jemaa el Fna

The activities are also very inexpensive. Be sure to take into account slight inflation during busy periods. Accommodation follows the same law of supply and demand. Beware of the prices in summer, they can be exorbitant, especially if you plan to stay in a 5-star riad! However, even backpackers in shorts and flip-flops can easily find accommodation with youth hostels that are well represented in the city and very accessible. Finally, visiting Marrakech is also an opportunity to complete your wardrobe with very good clothing deals to find and some everyday consumer products, such as cigarettes, at low cost.




What are the culinary specialties of Marrakech?

The attractiveness of Marrakech is not, contrary to popular belief, only contemporary with the advent of charter flights and online accommodation reservations. A thousand-year-old city, the city has long been a pole of attraction that has enabled it to reconcile the surrounding cultures, a syncretism which is found in particular in the diversity of its gastronomy. Visiting Marrakech is above all an opportunity to taste typical Moroccan dishes, such as, of course, the Méchoui. This festive meal, as simple in its preparation as in its tasting, is an art apart in Marrakech, where spit-roasting lamb meets criteria specific to the region.


Spices, in the souk of Marrakech

Other brand of multiculturalism of Marrakech, the multiple variations of the Tagine which includes beef, lamb, chicken, carrots, various vegetables and dried fruits in various proportions, according to the traditions of each family. The Berber part of Marrakech is particularly evident in its Couscous. Here, it is sometimes very "meaty", sometimes exclusively vegetarian but always just as tasty. Do not miss the famous Tanjia and its cooking under the ashes. Traditionally exclusive to men, its preparation requires a detailed knowledge of fire and its mysteries. Finally, the Pastillas, of Andalusian origin, demonstrate that here the salty and the sweet go together perfectly. Mixing pigeon with cinnamon, you had to dare! The less daring of those who love sweet flavors will turn to Briouats stuffed with almonds, a triangle treat!



In which district of Marrakech is it best to stay?

To visit Marrakech without having to use too much transport, travelers will choose the district of Medina. In the heart of the old town, you will stroll at leisure in the souks and will inevitably lead to the sublime place of Jemaa El Fna. It is here that you will find the most beautiful and luxurious riads in the city, as well as many important monuments. In the Kasbah, the atmosphere is calmer and less saturated with tourists. Here, youth hostels, at less than 10 euros per room in a dormitory, sit alongside guesthouses at intermediate prices and luxury riads.


A fruit stall in the streets of Marrakech

In the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter of the city, you can visit Marrakech from another angle, with its pleasant souk where many herbalists offer their remedies to tourists. The area is also dotted with many jewelry shops, ideal for leaving with a shiny souvenir in your pocket. The more fortunate (who want to spend a luxury stay in Marrakech) will choose the district of Wintering with its many luxury brands, its alleys punctuated by magnificent palm trees and its taste for nightlife, while lovers of idleness will opt for the Palm grove. Fairly out of the city center, this district is not the most practical for visiting Marrakech ... but certainly one of the most conducive to rest with its peaceful setting and its comfortable "resort" hotels.

How to come to Marrakech from France?

At the air level, Marrakech airport is very well served from Paris, Marseille or Lyon. With the emergence of low-cost airlines, visiting Marrakech has never been so easy and inexpensive. You can also leave with your personal vehicle, to board a ferry:

  • Either from Sète, in France, for an arrival in Tangier
  • Either from Algeciras, Spain, for an arrival in Tangier or Tarifa

You will then have to reach Marrakech via the highway. But if you don't want to drive or fly, there is still the alternative of the bus. If you are a fan of slow travel, it is quite possible to take a long distance bus from France. But be aware that to reach Marrakech from Paris, you will have to wait nearly 40 hours!

How to get around the city?

Depending on whether you want to travel inside Marrakech or on the contrary to leave it, different means of transport are possible. Numerous and inexpensive, Marrakech's small saffron yellow taxis are an ideal means of transport for getting around the city quickly. While the drivers are overwhelmingly honest and friendly, avoid picking them up near major tourist sites. The custom is that we leave a tip for the taxi, 1 or 2 Dirham minimum. As a general rule, a taxi does not take more than 3 clients. They catch each other by raising their arms in the street or at stations provided for this purpose.

Horse-drawn carriage ride

You can also travel by bus, but you have to have an adventurous soul and not be in too much of a hurry! Otherwise, you have the option of rent a car, with or without a driver. Thus, you will be able to be free on your travels. Another unusual means of transport, visiting Marrakech is also done ... carriage ! You can go up to 4 or 5 on board and do not hesitate to negotiate the price for your trip. Finally, most connections between large cities can be made by train : it is also preferable to opt for the rail, for reasons of comfort, safety and punctuality.

What are the monuments and curiosities to see in Marrakech?

To take in the measure of the excessiveness of the Moroccan sultans, take a little tour of the ruins of the El Badi Palace. Sixteen years of construction and less than a century of use have given birth to some of the most impressive remains in the Maghreb. A masterpiece of Arab-Andalusian architecture, the Medersa Ben Youssef was one of the largest Koranic schools in North Africa. Home to theology students for more than four centuries, it combines the flashy splendor of marble, cedar and stucco with the rigor of geometric shapes meant to recall the order of the world. A splendor!

Medersa Ben Youssef

About 200 meters from the place Jemaa El Fna, which in itself constitutes an architectural marvel, is the most emblematic religious building of Marrakech, the Koutoubia mosque. The sober and uncluttered structure, desired by the Almohad dynasty, adjoins lush gardens whose fountains and shaded benches are all points of salvation for the exhausted visitor. Further south, not far from the Mellah district, Bahia Palace is of more recent construction but enjoys an equally important prestige. Its gigantic courtyard, with the sobriety of marble, and its gardens planted with orange trees, palm trees and pomegranate trees are surely for a lot in the decision of General Lautey, strong man of the country under the French protectorate, to make it his personal residence. ...


Where to go out and party in Marrakech?

If Marrakech has always been mentioned for the bustle of its nightlife, its reputation has strongly consolidated. Going out at night had until then been confined to the nerve center of the city, the mythical Jemaa el Fna square, its folklore (music, dance, fortune teller…) and its bars and restaurants. Since then, other festive places (lounge bars, nightclubs) have appeared.

Going out at night in Marrakech

Today, the city is one of the most popular with clubbers around the world, with discos like the Théatro or the VIP Room. If you are staying in a hotel, you will also certainly find a lounge bar and a night club to party.

Last practical info: to get out, take a taxi! it is the best means of transportation to get around town during your stay, especially at night. So do not hesitate to visit Marrakech at night to party!

Useful information

Here are some useful practical information to know before visiting Marrakech.

  • Formalities:
    • A valid passport is required. In some cases, an identity card may be sufficient if you have purchased a stay from a travel agency.
    • No visa for European Union nationals.
    • If you have more than a year of license, you will have no problem renting a vehicle.
  • Currency : The Moroccan currency is the dirham (DH) which is divided into 100 centimes. Currencies must be changed in Morocco, in banks or approved establishments (golden sign). You will be given an essential change slip at the end of your stay to convert your remaining dirhams back into the original currency. The easiest solution is to use ATMs. Entry of currencies: you are not required to declare them if they do not exceed 15 DH.
  • Visitor Center : Do not hesitate to consult the site of the Marrakech tourist office, to organize your stay as well as possible!

Travel to the City of One Thousand and One Nights!

Have you planned a trip to Marrakech in the coming weeks? Tell us that in the comments! And above all, don't forget to soak up the history and culture of Marrakech before leaving.

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