An overview of Marrakech, best places to visit, why you should escape the city, mint tea, souks and traditional food and architecture
The beauty of flying to Morocco from the UK is the flight is less than 3 hours and you are transported to what feels like a whole other world, culture and way of living. Beautiful sunny weather is guaranteed as well as great food and no doubt a story or two to tell on your return home.
Start your trip off right with lounge access at your airport. We flew from Manchester and hopped into the Aspire Lounge. From as little as £26.99 per person you can enjoy as much food and drink as you can squeeze in before your flight in a quiet and relaxing environment away from the busy airport terminal. Our flight was early so we enjoyed a hot breakfast and a frothy coffee but there is also an array of premium wines, beers and spirits on offer to get you into holiday mode.
Aspire have 25 years experience of operating airport lounges and have mastered their service by offering an affordable but luxurious service.
Marrakech is the most popular city to visit in Morocco and when you visit you can understand why. Marrakech has some of the most stunning attractions Morocco has to offer and of course, the famous souks which is an experience in itself. You are thrust into the heart of the Moroccan way of living and walking amongst the locals throughout your stay. You will be welcomed with open arms and the locals will be happy to see you and hopeful you'll be purchasing some souvenirs from their stalls.
Marrakech musts are:
Exploring the Medina and the souks
Watching the sunset on a rooftop terrace overlooking the main square - Jemaa el-Fnaa
A drink on the rooftop of El Fenn hotel
El Badi palace
5 days in Morocco is sufficient to capture Marrakech in all its glory and also have time to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. If you want to embark on the Tombkal hike or explore the Sahara Desert you will need 10 days minimum, preferably 2+ weeks.
Where to stay in Marrakech?
The options are hotels, apartments and traditional Riads. My advice would always be to stay in a Riad so you get an authentic Moroccan experience. Click here to read about my stay in a Moroccan Riad.
Where to eat in Marrakech?
We really struggled to get into our desired restaurant choices during our time in Marrakech which was upsetting and frustrating. I would advise you to book in advance to avoid disappointment. My recommendations are:
Cafe Clock - comfort food
Pepe Nero - Italian/Moroccan
Naranj - Lebanese
Barometre - French
Il Fenn - Moroccan
How many days in Marrakech?
3 days is sufficient to see what Marrakech has to offer. James and I joined a walking tour during our time in Marrakech and the guide thought only 1 day was enough to see everything Marrakech has to offer. This may be so but it would be a very jam-packed day and would not give you the opportunity to really soak up the history and culture.
Marrakech is extremely busy and especially in the souks you will be shoulder to shoulder with other tourists and the locals so make sure to keep your whits about you. We never felt unsafe during our time in Marrakech but like in any city it's wise to keep your belongings close.
The city is very dusty, hot and humid. In the souks there is constantly carts and donkeys passing carrying goods so be alert or you may be hit or trodden on. After a while the busyness gets a bit much and you are desperate for an escape and some peace and quiet. This is where the day trips outside of Marrakech come in.
Day trips from Marrakech
Trips to Morocco have a whole host of day trips on offer from Marrakech including:
We joined the Ouzoud Waterfalls tour. The waterfalls are the largest in Morocco and 3 hours away from Marrakech. The water falls 110 metres from the top and you will also see Barbary macaques - a friendly local breed of monkey that you can feed nuts and watch jump between the trees.
Trips to Morocco offer a professional and informative tour and your guide will provide you with history of Morocco throughout the day. The falls are astonishing and it is quite amazing that this beautiful natural wonder is accessible so easily from Marrakech. One not to be missed. This is a full day trip with an early start but you will be back in Marrakech in time for dinner.
A night in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains
Dar Tafantant is a guesthouse located in a berber village. Berbers are the descendants of the prehistoric Caspian culture of North Africa and are scattered amongst a number of villages across Morocco. Dar Tafantant is a short 45 minute drive from Marrakech.
The guesthouse sits at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and this stay will allow you to experience life as a Berber and the opportunity to explore Morocco's luscious greenery. The first thing you will notice when arriving at Dar Tafantant is the stunning pool area. The tiles at the bottom of the pool are Moroccan themed and there are Moroccan rugs and cushions surrounding the area. You instantly feel as though you've stepped into a Moroccan oasis.
We were then invited to join an excursion with a group of other guests into the foothills of the Atlas mountains. We were met by Mohamed, the owner of Dar Tafantant and lead to a shaded spot where we sat in a group and enjoyed some mint tea and a Moroccan BBQ. After relaxing for well over an hour and getting to know the other guests and our Berber guide, we set off for a hike through the green pastures and back to Dar Tafantant.
We spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool and enjoying the peace and quiet. This evening we had one of the best meals we had during our time in Morocco. The dishes at Dar Tafantant are freshly cooked on site using organic and locally sourced products. We had Moroccan salads to start, a chicken tagine for the main course and tiramisu for dessert. The food was scrumptious and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
After a well-needed sleep we awoke in Dar Tafantant to a delicious breakfast on the terrace. We were served fresh fruit, fresh pancakes and Beghrir (Moroccan crumpets made with Semolina flour), an omelette, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. We could have stayed on this terrace for hours just relaxing and drinking coffee.
I could not recommend Dar Tafantant enough and would recommend escaping the city to experience 1-2 nights here of ultimate relaxation and luxury.
A night in the Agafay Desert
Another perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of Marrakech is to spend a night in the Agafay Desert. The desert is only around 1 hour drive from Marrakech but the difference in pace makes you feels as though you're a million miles away.
We stayed at Nkhila Lodge which is a unique tented wilderness camp in the Agafay Desert. The camp faces the High Atlas mountains and in the distance you can see Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas mountains. The camp is solar powered and you can stargaze with a transparent ceiling in your tent.
This is an all-inclusive experience and the chefs on site will cook you up some delicious meals during your stay including traditional Moroccan dishes such as chicken or lamb tagine. You will eat outside in the desert with a roaring fire to keep you warm. The temperature drops dramatically in the desert once the sun goes down.
The desert is extremely still and quiet and the tents are spaced out which gives you privacy and makes you feel as though you have the whole desert to yourself. The tents are luxurious and this is the ultimate clamping experience.
An absolute must during your trip to Morocco.
Marrakech is stunning and definitely worth a visit but if you are keen to have a more peaceful holiday then incorporate some day trips and a night in the desert and/or in the foothills of the Atlas mountains into your itinerary. Morocco has so much to offer and Marrakech is only the beginning.
Next post: 5 Days in Morocco