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PLANNING A TRIP TO MARRAKESH


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Marrakech is one of those special places that marches to the beat of its own drum. It’s a place where you’ll find yourself lost (literally at times) in the rich and fascinating culture that calls these bustling streets home.
Within the maze-like medina, souvenir stall owners will yell and hassle you to capture your interest, motorcycles will whiz past you leaving the air thick with the smell of exhaust, frying oil, and tagine spices, young men with suspicious smiles will point their fingers down alleyways hoping to mislead you, and I can’t forget to mention that desert heat!
For a first time visitor, Marrakech can be a bit overwhelming, especially for the senses. That’s why I’ve put together an insider’s guide so that you can enjoy this gem of a city as much as I did. This is how I recommend you spend your time in Marrakech and a selection of the very best things to do while you’re here.

 

SKIP THE HOTEL, STAY IN A STUNNING RIAD EL FENN

 

 

Although Marrakech is filled with many luxury resorts and hotels, let yourself have a more authentic experience and stay in one of the many beautiful riads within the old city. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard and is often centuries old and full of character.
Most riads are nestled within the heart of the medina, making them the ideal place to stay and experience the city, especially if you are only visiting for a day or two. When the medina or the heat becomes overwhelming, a riad provides the perfect tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
During our first three days here we stayed at Riad El Fenn, a secluded retreat hidden down a back alleyway in the medina. This riad is an interior designer’s dream and filled with an eclectic mix of contemporary art and traditional Moroccan charm. My favorite part about this hotel though is the rooftop, which offers stunning views over the rooftops of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains in the distance. Even if you don’t stay here, I totally recommend stopping by to have a drink and watch the sunset down behind the city.

 

RIAD JARDIN SECRET

 

 

For the last two nights, we stayed at the Riad Jardin Secret, which was located in a more quiet area of the medina. If the name didn’t already give it away, this riad is practically a living jungle oasis and has been entirely restored to preserve and celebrate the local artisanal tradition.
Throughout the riad, you’ll find a free spirit, laid back attitude towards life that is both inspiring and welcoming at the same time. With just 11 rooms, Jardin Secret is as intimate and relaxing as it gets. There’s even intricately decorated niches throughout, where guests can let themselves escape life for a while.

 

GET LOST IN THE MEDINA

 

 

If you’re looking to have a real, authentic Marrakech experience then the medina is where I suggest you spend most of your time.

Without a doubt, you will get lost.

The medina is essentially a labyrinth of narrow streets and souvenir shops that all begin to look-alike after making a few turns. It’s almost as if it was designed in a way to confuse, puzzle and mislead any visitor that chooses to enter it. Sometimes you might stumble upon a lamp store hidden away from the crowds or you might wander into a part of the city where you suddenly don’t feel welcome anymore; that’s the beauty of exploring the medina on your own, which can either come with risk or great reward.
So let yourself get lost for a while, sit down for a coffee in that back alleyway cafe, satisfy your sweet tooth with a freshly baked Moroccan pastry, and indulge in all that is simple and distinctly Marrakech.
If you are however traveling solo or worried about getting lost, a walking tour might be a better option for you.

Tip: Download an offline version of google maps in case you start to actually feel lost. Since the sim cards we got at the airport didn’t work this was a huge help to navigate the maze-like streets of the medina.


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