An eclectic list that reveals the soul of this magical city!
#1 Watch the sunset behind the Koutoubia mosque
When night falls from the many rooftop terraces surrounding the Jemma el Fna, listen as drumming picks up the pace and a giant BBQ party in the square smokes with grilling chicken and beef brochettes. While the snow-capped Atlas Mountains turn to pink in the twilight, Marrakechs ancient square commences doing what it’s done for a 1000 years. Go ahead, descend the stairs and plunge into humanity.
#2 Indulge in a traditional hammam
If you’re travelling alone do it anyway. Experience the centuries-old ultimate body cleanse. Unwind in progressively steamy hot rooms of the hammam, relaxing with a black soap scrub, (that’s olive barrel sludge to you), followed by a four-hands body massage. The treatment is guaranteed to remove your tan and desert dirt, leaving you lighter from loss of dead skin. Take your own towel and dry knickers to change into afterwards. Marvelous!
#3 Get lost in the souks
Then try and find your way out again. It’s fun to discover those hidden back streets and small markets where you’ll never see a tour group. You’ll catch glimpses of things never imagined as existing in the medina. Like a donkey wash? Flop house? 20 cats following the fish seller? Log mill?
#4 Café in the bustling excitement of Jemaa El Fna
Yup people watch. Is it really Branjelina? Sting? People from across Africa and from around the world will pass by, all colours, sizes, and shapes – gorgeous, exotic, poor, disabled. Perhaps you’re sitting in the very same chair where a famous writer sat making notes for novels, or short stories or subversive poetry. Perhaps that tea glass in your hand actually touched Brad’s lips! 🙂
#5 Venture out to the square late at night
The music and drumming can get quite serious after most the tourists have gone home to bed. Caution! For the bravest only please. You’ll be invited to sit in the inner circle of musicians, but be prepared for bodies pressing up against you from behind. Generally it’s harmless, but eventually someone will be proposing serious business or reaching for your wallet.
#6 Befriend a Moroccan
OK mostly they may want to make a few extra dirhams from you. But to take someone up on their invitation home for a meal and to meet their family is fun, and they’ll treat you like a king or queen for the day. You’ll learn a few Moroccan words, and meet lots of kids and extended family, and have the best meal ever in Morocco. Especially interesting during Ramadan.
#7 Buy a good city map
Visit the local market, buy some fresh bread and a tin of Lukus brand mackeral, an apple and some tiny Clementine oranges, some dates and almonds, plus a big bottle of Sidi Ali water. Then rent a motorbike or bicycle for the day and ride around the city walls, or out to the Menara gardens. Just remember that anything bigger than you on the road has the right of way.
#8 Hop on a rural bus to the High Atlas
At the bus stand just south of the Koutoubia mosque (beside the Tourist Police office), you can ride with the locals and go on an overnight excursion to the town of Seti Fatma, Ourika, or Amizmiz in the High Atlas Mountains for next to nothing. All you need is time. You can hop off and visit picturesque villages and artisans markets along the way. Ask the bus drivers for exact bus numbers and schedules.
#9 Friday or Saturday evenings in Hotel Tazi bar
Both Moroccans and tourists mingle in this low life medina bar. It’s relaxed, non-threatening, cheap, and friendly. Great way to chat up anyone.
You’ve done everything, seen all the sights, all the museums, and shopped till you drop. The crowds and the dirt are starting to look tired, and the heat is a bit much – even the riad looks slightly tatty. Time to leave the city and visit the desert, the heart and soul of Morocco. Take a quality tour with lots of stops along the way, try for a minimum of at least 4 days. Experience the silence of the great dunes, the slow quiet life of Berber villages and countryside, and discover the stunning subtle beauty of this country. A wonderful contrast to bad old Marrakech. Enjoy!