For the past few years, I’ve had a major freak-out ahead of my birthday at the thought of getting older, but this year I wanted to change that so I did what I do best… travel!
Instead of stressing about getting older, I was excited about visiting somewhere new and experiencing a different culture.
Morocco has been on my list for yearsss and given that it’s a very popular holiday destination for British Asians I had never been before. So in January I decided that Marrakech was going to be the destination and began looking for deals. After what felt like an eternity of trawling through Expedia, British Airways and every other damn holiday website I came across a deal for £171 and was sold in an instant!
This is how we spent our 3 days in Marrakech…
1. Jemaa El-Fnaa
The Jemaa El-Fnaa is the square and marketplace in Marrakech’s Medina – one of the most famous, well-known and iconic markets in the whole of Morocco and at the very top of my places to visit.
Whether you go in the morning, afternoon or very late in the evening, this place is buzzing like a bee. You can buy absolutely everything from these markets in which hours fly by. There are rows and rows of food, juice, ornaments, jewellery, skincare, spices – we spent hours walking through them.
I feel like I should give a warning however as the markets are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. The salesmen are all trying to get you to come and shop/eat at their place and can spot a tourist from a mile away so they will come up close, shout and try to crack a joke to lure you in but it can get too much and borderline unacceptable. They shout references from Eastenders to Bollywood films at you and it’s just a liiiitle bit too much!
We were quite firm with them and they did back off eventually but on the first day we were caught very off-guard and it got quite overwhelming.
Aside from that, it is an incredible place full of so much culture and no trip to Marrakech is truly complete without visiting them.
There are absolutely loads of shops indoors as well so make sure you check them all out to get the proper Moroccan market experience. Also barter, haggle and question every single price you’re told as 9/10 times they’ve doubled or tripled the original price. Taxis, clothes, jewellery and even ornaments can all be haggled for.
2. Quad Biking
No holiday is complete without a fun excursion and that feeling of being on a quad bike or jet-ski is incomparable to anything else I’ve experiences. The sheer adrenaline rushing through your body and the thrill is absolutely amazing and a great stress-buster. I couldn’t recommend it enough if you’re going on holiday.
Morocco is home to plenty of excursions from mountain hikes, hot air balloons to historical city tours – there’s something for everyone whatever you’re in the mood for.
After enquiring with a few different companies and our hotel concierge we booked a 2 hour quad-biking experience in the Moroccan desert for 300 dirhams each which is about £23. This included our own quads, a stop in a Berber home for tea and snacks, dune driving and an additional stop to take some wicked pictures.
I’ve done quad-biking in Antalya, Turkey before but this was so much better as we drove for much longer and the route was very scenic! I definitely recommend quad-biking but be sure to shop around for some quotes before booking.
3. Jardin Majorelle (YSL Gardens)
One of the MAIN reasons I wanted to go to Marrakech was to visit the YSL Gardens as I had heard so much about them! Pictures don’t really do the botanical gardens justice as it’s just so beautiful – however there isn’t really much else to see or do once you’re there so it can be a little anti-climatic. But if you’re looking to get your Instagram feed popping and want to see some nature but with a flair of Art Decor then this is definitely a place to visit.
We stopped at Cafe Majorelle which is tucked away amongst all the trees and buildings for tea and pastry which was slightly overpriced but you’re surrounded by such natural beauty that you don’t even mind.
4. SO Lounge
We didn’t venture out much in the evening in Marrakech however we did squeeze in a visit to SO Lounge and as it got pretty chilly in the evenings we were swiftly moved inside with our drinks and there we enjoyed a Moroccan dance performance.
SO Lounge is very plush and boujee for a place that offers sheesha. We felt quite under-dressed especially when we were ushered inside. We were given seats on the upper deck which had great views of the stage. Upon taking our seats, a performance started of traditional belly-dancing and singing which was reminiscent of what you see when going on a desert safari or something in Dubai. We stayed for around 90 minutes till our sheeshas ran out and we were ready to go home.
As you can probably imagine, this place isn’t cheap! You’re paying to hang out and relax in one of the best hotels in Marrakech so it comes with a price tag so don’t be caught off-guard.
5. Koutoubia Mosque
This is the largest mosque in Marrakech and we got to see it fill up to full capacity as people flocked in there hundreds to offer Friday prayers. It is visually stunning from near and far with all the beauty of an ancient mosque by day and night when it is all lit up. It is only a few minute walk from Jemaa El-Fnaa and with it’s high walls and surrounding plush gardens, this great Moroccan landmark is a must-see.
A final place I just want to mention is the El Badi Palace. We were actually looking for Bahia Palace which is the most famous in Marrakech but somehow we ended up at El Badi instead. There was hardly anything to see here as it’s mainly in ruins but some of the original architecture still remains like the looking points, water features and small crevices that have been turned into even smaller museums.
If you’re heading to Marrakech then don’t make the same mistake we did and do route yourself to the right locations 😂.
All in all, Marrakech was quite the experience and in all honesty I don’t think it’s a place I’ll be rushing back to anytime soon. In fact everyone who’s asked me about my trip since returning has heard the same line from me of “it’s okay but I won’t ever go back”.
I love travelling and experiencing new cultures however there was something about Marrakech that just didn’t sit well with me and I wasn’t blown away by the city like I know so many other people are. That being said, I’m still glad I went and got to see it all for myself and tick off another country in the process.