Marrakech Riad

Marrakech Tourist Guide: Best Things to do & What to Avoid

Morocco is a place of endless exploration and beauty, rich of culture, hidden gems and lovely people. It’s one of those places that no matter how many times you’ve been, you will always feel like you’ve missed something, leaving the perfect reason to come back to visit again.

Marrakesh is a city that will confuse you, captivate you, and excite you. It’s a city of ups and downs, you’ll pass through hundreds of different emotions, and I think 3 days in Marrakesh is the perfect timing to discover the city.

While Marrakesh is safe, but it can also be really overwhelming, so travelling here requires being aware of your surroundings at all times. When stepping inside the city, our first impression about Marrakesh was a positive one, with a chaotic and loud atmosphere which felt exhilarating, feeling a bit like being on a movie set!

We are going to help you to prepare your stay with the best things to do, and also the things to avoid and watch out for.

Best Things to do

What to Avoid

Our Favourite Riads

Best Things to do

Marrakesh is definitely a city that never sleeps! Here are our top things to do while visiting the city:

Yves Saint Laurent Museum

Open for just over a year, this museum is devoted to the famous couturier, Yves Saint Laurent.
Inside you’ll discover a large number of clothes and accessories (haute couture), and drawings and sketches created by Yves Saint Laurent.

Opening time: every day from 10am to 6pm (except Wednesday)
Entrance fee: 100 Dirham (£8)

El Badi Palace

It was built in the 16th century to commemorate the victory of Sultan Ahmed Al-Mansour over the Portuguese in the Battle of the Three Kings. The palace remains a cultural and religious reference point in Marrakesh for prayers.

Opening time: everyday from 9am to 5pm
Entrance fee: : 20 Dirham (£1.60)

Bahia Palace

Bahia means “brilliance.” The palace is a major historical monument built in the 19th century and the most visited in Morocco, with 600,000 visitors per year. Built on 2 hectares, plus 6 hectares of vegetable garden, it is a masterpiece of Moroccan architectural.

Opening time: everyday from 9am to 5pm
Entrance fee: : 10 Dirham (80p)

Enjoy a Moroccan Tea

Morning, afternoon or evening, you’ll never see a local Moroccan without a cup of tea in their hand, and if you try it…you’ll understand why! The tea is absolutely delicious, especially if it’s paired with some homemade biscuits.

Ben Youssef Madrasa

It’s the most impressive medieval Koranic school in Morocco.

Opening time: everyday from 9am to 5pm
Entrance fee: 65 Dirham (£5.20) (Closed for renovation until 2020)

Discover and Explore their Riads

What is a riad? A riad is a traditional house converted into a small hotel, usually located in the Medina, built around a central courtyard with a central fountain or swimming pool.

Marrakesh is home to hundreds of riads, and it’s hard to choose only one to visit! All of them are adorable, and each of them have their own unique appearance. So if you are planning to spend more than one night in Marrakesh, we suggest you to book each night in a different riad!

Saadian Tombs

Made of marble and ceramics, they shelter the tombs of the Saadian Sultan, and 60 of his descendants and family.

Opening time: everyday from 8:45am to 5:45pm
Entrance fee: : 10 Dirham (80p)

Jemaa El-Fna Square

The square is always crowded with medicine menmagiciansstorytellersmusicians and acrobats. It’s a beautiful place to walk around the markets, enjoy the Moroccan vibes and buy souvenirs. However, if you have the chance to go to Fes, buy your souvenirs over there – they are much cheaper!

TIP: Be aware of pickpockets, always close your bag and pockets and don’t walk around with your phone or camera in the hand. If you have a backpack, we advice you to keep it in front of you: everyone’s doing this. Pickpockets are sneaky and many.


What to Avoid

While Marrakesh is safe, the most important thing to do is to avoid getting scammed. It’s a very touristic destinations, which makes it a place where many try to take advantage of tourists.

Scams in the Souks

Whether you are shopping for clothes, food, hand-made products, shoes or tea… you’ll always find an alley with everything you need, which is called a Souk, a Moroccan name for market.

Sellers will be friendly and polite, but then will be chasing you down the street until you accept to step inside their shops to try on some products, but don’t accept their offer just to make them leave you alone, because they won’t.

They will firstly start off by offering you a tea, and then make you try products on or give you some samples; don’t accept this offer unless you are willing to actually buy! If you don’t buy it, they might make you pay for the cup of tea, or for the sample of whatever they made you try.

Another scam is when you are looking at the stand of a seller, and they tell you to “come inside to see more”. When you go inside with the stall owner, that’s when the scam occurs; another guy will come inside with you and they will try to stop you from leaving until you buy something. Once again, don’t step inside a sellers shop unless you are interested in buying something.

Tannery Scam

Marrakesh is home to few tanneries that have existed for over 1000 years, but keep in mind that the most famous one is Bab Debbagh Quarter in the north end of the Medina.

Finding your way to the tannery can be difficult, so you can either take a taxi to Place Moukef or Bab Debbagh, then follow the signs to walk from there.

The “tannery scam” in Marrakesh is the most common scam and this is how it works: Men will tell you “no you can’t go down there, there is nothing down there”, but they are most likely lying and you do not have to listen to them.

If you do, they will kindly show you the way for “free”… then they’ll say to you that they have something more interesting to show you first, so you are really excited!

You arrive at the… “tannery”. Not your destination. So you start to tell them you didn’t want to come here, but the only way to get out is to buy a wallet or a bag, the best deal that you won’t find anywhere else.

You understand they won’t leave you until you do, so you buy and you leave, expecting your guide to bring you to the real tannery… but they will ask for a payment for having “guided” you around the tannery.

Pickpockets

In addition to paying attention to scams, you have to also keep an eye on your personal belongings. Markets, souks, streets, alleys, everything is crowded which makes Marrakesh the perfect place for pickpockets.

If you want to look at a map or your phone, find a place where you can have your back to a wall, or a place with no one around you.

If you are paying for something with your wallet in your hands, don’t let yourself get distracted by people around you.

If you look for something in your bag, it’s the same – be quick, don’t get distracted and try to do it where there isn’t many people.

If you walk in the crowded souks, close your pockets otherwise you might have a chance that someone’s hand found the way inside.

TIP: Keep everything in a closed bag, leave your pockets empty, or have zip pockets on your clothes.

Don’t Follow Anyone, Especially When You’re Lost!

If you are told the following, small alarm bells should be going off in your head:


◦ The road is closed
◦ There is nothing down there
◦ I can show you the way for free
◦ That’s not the way
◦ You can’t go there
◦ This place is closed

There is 100% of chance you will get scammed if you listen to them. So just ignore them and don’t be afraid to say no forcefully. If they don’t leave you, don’t be afraid to threaten to call the police. There are undercover policeman around the Medina as well.

TIP: Police number: 19 – Tourist Police: 05 24 38 46 01 or 05 24 88 86 80

Same goes for children, don’t follow or listen to them. A little cute kid might distract your attention by showing you a beautiful drawing he did, while another one will sneak into your backpack, so just be mindful of these things too!


Our Favourite Riads

Dar Saad

The pool, the dinning room, the cosy chambers with chimney, the rooms… in this riad we felt like home in a cosy and chilled atmosphere. The staff are welcoming, helpful, and so kind. There is also a spa, and you can get a massage any time of the day!

La Mamounia

It’s a 5 star spa and palace hotel open for visitors. The entry is free and you can visit it everyday except Sunday, from 11am to 6pm. However, the pool is only accessible for customers.

Yamina 

It’s the cutest riad we’ve ever been in! The rooms and the staff are absolutely lovely and made it perfect stay.

Palacios de las especias

So far our favourite riad by far! As you can see, perfectly decorated with a jungle vibe, and felt super cosy and well looked after.

Goloboy

The most original riad we’ve stepped in. The architecture and intricate details were just mind-blowing!


So as you can probably tell, Marrakesh has a reputation for being rather overwhelming for first-time visitors, but this feeling can be beaten after a little while, you just have to persevere and remember to enjoy yourself! Once you’re there, the city will excite and surprise you in many different ways, so enjoy the stay.
If you have time while in the area, you should definitely make room for a trip to the Sahara desert

All the best,
ourwanderlustory

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