Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco and is a must see on any Moroccan adventure. An imperial city that was built by the Berber empire and is often called the "Red city" due to its pink ochre buildings. It has a population of 928,850 but this is uncertain as the locals told me that they lie about their population a lot and that it is hard to count the nomads of Morocco. Marrakech is a chaotic, spellbinding, mysterious and colourful city and I definitely recommend staying a few days.
What you should know
Two distinct areas make up Marrakech – the “medina”, or old city, which is home to the markets and main Jemaa el-Fnaa square – and the modern city, which is the residential and commercial side of town.
Unlike other cities in Morocco, basic English is more widely spoken and you will find that many shopkeepers and business people are multilingual. Signs and shops are usually written in French or Arabic.
Marrakech is the busiest city in Africa and you can really tell that! Be prepared for the crowded markets and busy streets.
Marrakech or Marrakesh? Both! The official spelling is ‘Marrakech’ and that is how it is written on signs in Marrakech. It is considered the French spelling of the word. 'Marrakesh' is considered the English spelling and technically the real spelling is Arabic which is: مراكش.
Things to see and do
Don't miss out on Jemaa el-Fnaa on your visit as this is the life and soul of the city. This square is in the very heart of the city and right next to the souks in the medina. By day the square serves as a bustling centre where you will find street entertainers - by night the square really comes to life! Locals gather to tell stories, gamble, play games and entertain; food stalls suddenly appear with a million different types of smells and tastes. Pickpockets are rife at night but keeping an eye on your belongings will keep them safe and the locals are extremely welcoming! You can buy things cheaper at night, buy yourself a turtle, charm a snake or get a henna tattoo (watch out for black henna as this can be harmful and is never 100% henna, see here.)
Majorelle garden was designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle during the 1920-1930’s – a colourful desert oasis willed with 300 plant species from 5 continents, which surrounds his vivid blue studio. An interesting place to visit and a really good place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a well deserved tranquil break. It costs 70 Dirhams to enter the gardens and another 20Dirhams for the Berber museum.
Explore the souks
Next to the Jemaa el-Fnaa you will find a labyrinth of colours and smells to overwhelm your senses. The souks are the market stalls of Morocco where you can buy anything your heart desires! Make sure to try your hand at haggling and nab a bargin. Consider hiring a local guide to take you to all the best places - ours took us to Koutoubia Herbal where a kind lady gave us a demonstration of all the different herbs, spices and remedies.
Bahia palace is the old palace which is now open to the public. Inside you can find information of the history of the palace and the royal family. The palace itself is beautiful and has lots of intricate patterns and woodwork, the riad in the centre is a gorgeous garden.