What to do, where to eat and where to stay when you are in Marrakech? Discover our favorite places in this magical city that seems the be drowned in a pinkish haze. Marrakech is red, brown, pink and all hues in between. The harmony created by this uniform color scheme is the setting for a city full of contrasts. The narrow labyrinth streets of the Medina are chaotic and dusty, filled with shouting vendors, zooming motorcycles, bicycles, donkeys, carts and little children. To escape you just have to go up to one of the rooftops, and enjoy the panoramic view of the city that stretch out towards the Atlas Mountains. The Minaret Tower of the Koutoubia mosque is marking the skyline, which is defined by a law that prohibits buildings taller than a palm tree.
M A I S O N D E L A P H O T O G R A P H I E
In the northern part of the old city there are some highlights you should definitely visit. My personal favorite is Maison de la Photographie. It’s hard to find in the small back alleys of the medina, but worth the hassle. This gallery opened in 2009 and is the only photography museum in Morocco. The collection offers a fascinating glimpse of Morocco during the last 200 years, focusing on scenes of daily life. It’s housed in a charming riad, with a bright white courtyard. Don’t miss the panoramic rooftop terrace, to enjoy a drink or lunch with a wonderful view.
B E N Y O U S S E F M A D R A S A
In the northern part of the old city there are some highlights you should definitely visit. One of the most beautiful buildings of Marrakech is this old Islamic college. It was founded in the 14th century and reconstructed in the 16th century. The student dormitories are clustered around a large courtyard, decorated with carved cedar, stucco, and colorful tiles with wonderful geometric patterns.
T A N N E R I E S
A bit outside of the souks, not that far away from La Maison de la Photographie, you can find the tanneries of Marrakech. To be honest, I would not recomend it as a must-see attraction. This neighborhood is quite dirty and people are shouting at you all the time. Anyway, the donkeys were adorable.
L A M E N A R A G A R D E N S
The Menara gardens are a perfect place to visit, when you want to relax and escape the chaos of the medina. They are located a bit out of town, at the gates of the Atlas mountains. The pavilion with its small green pyramid roof was built during the 16th century. The intention of the basin was to irrigate the surrounding gardens and orchards. If you visit this place on a clear day, you will have a spectacular view on the snow covered tops of the mountains. A magical place.
L A K O U T O U B I A
The Koutoubia mosque is the largest mosque of Marrakech and one of the landmarks of the city, located next to the big place, Jemaa El Fna. It’s not possible to visit, but it’s nice to have a walk in the gardens surrounding the mosque.
Last but not least I highly recommend a visit to Jardin Majorelle. Read all about this beautiful garden in this blogpost: http://www.thefreshlight.com/?p=1084!
W H E R E T O E A T
The Moroccan food is intense and tasty, spicy and sweet. You can smell it everywhere. If you have a good stomach you can eat delicious food on the streets, but most of the time, we had lunch and dinner in a restaurant or bar. We were happily surprised by some trendy spots in the old city. This is a selection or our favorite places:
– Nomad is the place to be for a modern Moroccan dinner. The food is refined and the design of the interior and rooftop terrace is contemporary and cool. The staff is very friendly. On the ground floor you can find a little shop. My personal favorite! 1, Djerb Aarjan www.nomadmarrakech.com
– Close to Nomad, you can have a drink at Café des épices. 75, Rahba Lakdima www.cafedesepices.ma
– Le Jardin is the sister restaurant of Nomad and a great spot for lunch or having a drink. Entering a small hidden door in the souk, you will be overwhelmed by the large green courtyard filled with tropical plants. The green walls, and green glazed tiles makes it into a magical place with a lovely atmosphere. 32, Souk Sidi Abdelaziz www.lejardin.ma
– Terrasse des épices is known for their loungy terrace in the middle of the souk. The menu is simple but good. At the ground floor you can find their Pâtisserie, and I can assure you the sweets were delicious… Don’t forget to have a look at the local designer shops at the first floor. 15, Souk Cherifia, Sidi Abdelaziz www.terassedesepices.com
– One evening we tried the food at Jeema El Fna. Chez Aicha was recommended by tripadvisor. Great ambiance, good food and really cheap.
– In the southern part of the medina, Kosybar is the place the be, inculding a restaurant, bar and spa. 47, Place des Ferblantiers www.kosybar.com
– When visiting Geliz, the new part of Marrakesh, you can’t miss Le Grand Café de la Poste. The stylish interior transports you to Morocco’s colonial past. Corner of Avenue Imam Malik and Boulevard Al Mansour Eddahbi www.grandcafedelaposte-marrakech.com
– Al Fassia is considered to be the best restaurant of Geliz. It’s entirely run by women, and the staff is absolutely friendly. Personally I was a bit disappointed you could only sit inside. Reservation is required. 55 Boulevard Zerktouni www.alfassia.com
W H E R E T O S L E E P
Marrakech contains a lot of traditional riads, most of them located in the medina. These old houses or palaces are build around a courtyard, were you can escape the heat and noise from the busy streets outside. We stayed in the magical riad Snan13, which was recently renovated and transformed into a guesthouse. Because I loved this place so much, I wrote an entire blogpost about it here.
To end our journey, we booked a luxury resort a bit outside of Marrakech. Hotel Sirayane was the perfect place to relax after staying some time in the hectic medina of Marrakech. This contemporary hotel was designed by architect Imaad Rahmouini, and is made up of cubist-style blocks surrounded by a huge garden, with palms, olive trees and a swimming pool, overlooking the Atlas mountains.