Marrakech is a huge tourist city, so naturally every site and blog has its own version of a “Marrakech guide.” I have read through almost all of them in the past few weeks to make sure I was fully prepped to take on this crazy city.. here are some of the top places that I’ve been to and confirm that your time is worth it (and there are more to come!).
I’ll preface by saying it is fairly difficult to find a lot of places in this city just using addresses and Google Maps. Many credible sites list addresses that do not show up at all on Google Maps, so you’ll have to do some Google Map searching.
This trendy restaurant is basically on every list I’ve read, and it lives up to the hype. The food is a modern take on Moroccan, with imaginative starters and tagines, with a focus on simplicity and local fresh produce. The rooftop terrace is hard to beat, especially to catch the sunset. It caters to tourists but in this case, it isn’t a bad thing. I’ve been twice and have spotted families with children, backpackers and chic European couples all enjoying their food.
Earth Cafe (Medina)
The menu is all vegetarian with some vegan options and JUICE (limited though). The food and flavors are simple and delicious. Most of the ingredients come from the owners small farm outside of Marrakech. If it wasn’t 110+ degrees, I would venture out there..
Al Bahriya Seafood Restaurant (Gueliz)
You get to this seafood spot and order swordfish, salmon, sole or shrimp and they grill it or fry it for you on the spot.
The souks (Medina)
There are leather, iron, shoe and spice souks where you should be able to find what you’re looking for. So far I have purchased a few belts, babouches (crowned the must-have shoe of 2016 by Vogue), baskets, jewelry and kaftans.. and I still have a week left to go back a few more times. As you have heard and read, haggling is real and necessary. I’m proud to say that my friends have dubbed me the king of haggling! Ha
33 Majorelle (Gueliz)
The shop is steps away from Jardin Majorelle which is perfect for its clientele. It is well-curated and supports local and emerging designers. I didn’t do as much damage as I originally thought I would, but I’ll definitely be back to make up for it.
Maison De Femmes Artisanes (Medina)
Many shops claim to be run by women but most use it as a marketing message and are, in fact, run by men. Everything in the maison is made by hand by a women’s cooperative and the owner is more than happy to tell you about her operations and how the shop supports women in Marrakech and the neighboring area. From argan oil to baskets, kaftans and jewelry, most everything is unique to the store and you won’t find them in the souk.
Jemma El Fnaa (Medina)
You can’t avoid this one! The largest square in Marrakech, this is where the action is for locals and tourists alike. The activity starts picking up late afternoon, and the energy is full on in the evening when people are out to eat street food and revel in the coolness of night. Warning – it is a lot of fried food and the vendors are super aggressive in trying to get you into their stall. I’ve eaten at 1 and apparently 4 is good too.
The gardens created by artist Jacques Majorelle and revived by Yves Saint Laurent is an oasis in the desert. Tip: Get there at 8am when it opens before the tour buses and school field trips get there. It really does make all the difference. Thank you Sahar for the special tour!
Bahia Palace (Medina)
The palace of “brilliance” is a gorgeous display of Moroccan and Islamic influences. Craftsmen were brought in from Fes to construct parts of the palace, which include a small and large riad and gardens.
Ben Youssef Madrasa (Medina)
Once an Islamic college housing up to 900 students, it is now a tourist site open to the public. The architecture and craft-work is exquisite, truly special. Get there early! We beat the crowd by two minutes, and even then, multiple (loud, obnoxious) groups caught up to us.
This is just the beginning as I have quite a few more places to add, and visit, before leaving Marrakech! More to come.