Updated: Mar 5, 2019
From some of my prior posts, you can gather that Marrakesh is not my favorite city. However, that does not mean that you should not visit. In fact, there are plenty of things to do to cross off your bucket list, right here!
Here is a guide to how I spent my 1.5 days in Marrakech:
Day 1: Horse Drawn Carriage & Moroccan Dinner at Lotus Privilège
On our first evening in Marrakech, we first took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the bustling streets and even more bustling main square as the sun was setting. It was beautiful seeing the sunset shining behind the Koutoubia Minaret!
The carriage then dropped us off at a restaurant called Lotus Privilège. At first, we thought that we were in some sketchy alleyway. However, as you keep watching, you see some of the most beautifully lit, colorful Moroccan lamps. A fellow traveler and I took full advantage and had a mini photo shoot.
As a result of this photoshoot, we entered the restaurant 10-15 minutes later than everyone else who had already settled in. We were welcomed by live music and drawn in to dance with the performers. I just went for it and winged my way through a dance number!
Based on my moves and outfit, you would have thought that I was part of the ensemble, haha! This was my moment of, "THIS IS AFRICA. THIS IS MY PEOPLE!"
Dinner was delicious as we had a widespread placed in front of us. To top it off, there was belly dancing and more live music; all of which helped to turn dinner into a mini dance party. My night was truly lit!
FYI: Don't be shy to immerse yourself in the Moroccan culture. You only got one life to live your best life! Who cares if you cannot dance, the memories are priceless! Join in on the mini dance party!
Day 2, Morning: Marrakech City Tour
The second day-- the only full day in Marrakesh -- was jam-packed. During the first half of the day, we checked out the following spots:
1. Saadian Tombs
These tombs contain two #mausoleums and several tombs of important figures from the Saadi Dynasty, which were in power from 1549 to 1659. Impressively, 66 princes, more than 100 chancellors and wives and other major figures lie in the #SaadianTombs.
FYI: Lines can be very long to see some of the tombs up close and personal.
However, there are pretty gardens and cute stray cats to admire in the meantime...
2. Koutoubia Minaret & Mosque
This mosque is most known for its towering #KoutoubiaMinaret, the oldest of the three great Almohad minarets remaining in the world. The largest mosque in Marrakech, its name translates to "bookseller" because there was a book market that took place nearby which sold manuscripts and books.
FYI: Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to enter this #mosque or any mosque for that matter. This mosque is worth admiring from the outside. It looks even better in the sunset!
3. Bahia Palace
This is one of the most visited sights in Marrakech, probably due to its beauty. #Bahia (which translates to “brilliance”) is a palace and set of gardens built in the late 19th century. The palace was intended to be the best of its time. In fact, the oriental architecture and beautiful tiles serves as a good indicator of the luxury that once existed. Today, most of the rooms that are open to the public are empty.
FYI: There is hardly a place to sit down or relax. The palace gets pretty crowded. Therefore, it is best to get there as early as possible. Otherwise, you will find yourself waiting some time to capture a picture without a photobomb!
4. Djemaa el Fna Square
If anyone thinks Times Square is sensory overload, you will be counting your blessings once you visit Djemaa el Fna Square!
Located at the entrance of the #Medina, it serves as the main square and marketplace for both locals and tourists in Marrakech. Another reason why it serves as the main square and marketplace is because of its geographical position as the junction between #Gueliz (the modern part of Marrakech built from the French during colonization about a hundred years ago) and the Medina (the old historical part of Marrakech from 1066).
Interesting Fact: Gueliz comes from the French word iglise meaning church. Moroccans mispronounced the French word. As a result of its centralized location, the square often serves as a place of business and a place of celebration.
FYI: Looking to shop? You will find almost anything you are looking for at #DjemaaelFnaSquare. Just make sure to hustle for a bargain!
Day 2, Afternoon: More Exploration
1. Couscous cooking demonstration Restaurant Al Baraka
After a lot of walking, it was a relief to pause and go to a restaurant for lunch. We got the opportunity to watch a live demonstration of #couscous cooking, which involves a lot of ingredients and long preparation time.
Afterwards, we got to indulge in delicious Moroccan cuisine.
FYI: In Morocco, they eat couscous on Friday and have a special prayer for it. Many local restaurants only serve it on Fridays because it is so labor-intensive.
FYI: Morocco has some of the best oranges! Super juicy.
2. Majorelle Gardens & Berber Museum
I would imagine that this is the most visited and photographed spot in Morocco for millennials (including myself) because of the deep hues of bleu #Majorelle (Majorelle Blue). The special shade of bold cobalt blue was inspired by the colored tiles French orientalist artist Jacques Majorelle had seen around Marrakech and mini Berber burn-houses.
The garden was built in the 1920’s, containing marble pools, meandering pathways, and a variety of plants including banana trees, bamboo and coconut palms - becoming a masterpiece. Neglected for years, the garden was then taken over and restored by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge.
There is so much more to this place than the Botanical Gardens. An unexpected surprise to my history nerdy self was the #BerberMuseum, which contains many artifacts of Berbers, part of the original peoples of North Africa which have a history that spans 9,000 years, containing both African and Mediterranean influences. The museum contains more than 600 objects collected by Pierre Bergé and Yves #SaintLaurent displaying costumes, craftwork, jewels & musical instruments.
FYI: Do not skip pass the Berber Museum, as it is easy to do so since it is at the entrance of the museum.
FYI: The Majorelle Gardens get really crowded, making it very difficult to take pictures. Expect to wait a while trying to get a clear picture of yourself with no one in the background.
3. Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden
The latter half of the afternoon was free time. To make the most of it, I picked up a taxi to visit the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, which opened in February, 2018 to international audiences. Although it was distantly located from many of the main sites of Marrakesh, it was definitely worth the trek. The artworks were eye opening and reminded me of how much our views are influenced by what others impose on us to believe.
The front and back to the same portrait.
This museum will have you amazed and proud of your African roots!
FYI: Be prepared with clear directions to give to your taxi driver. Some drivers will try to take you to a museum that is much closer as many drivers have not heard of this museum.
4. Visit the Medina
I appreciated the Marrakech Medina for being a lot calmer than the rest. The part of the medina we went to was frequented by a lot of locals. As a result, the shop owners were not as aggressive to sell. While wandering, I came across a talented local artist. Because I am obsessed with local art, I was trying to not buy the entire store haha. The artist was very kind in giving me a discount and taking some pictures with me.
FYI: Buy local street art! Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you also get to take home a unique aspect of the country's culture.
5. Check out Cafe Clock
The #CafeClock in Marrakech had completely different vibes. It is worth going considering that it has different things to offer. It is also interesting to compare the ambiance of the two. In Marrakesh, the establishment is much wider and less crowded; allowing you to take a breather from the city and from being a tourist. Part of it is that the rooftop views allow you to be able to watch a beautiful sunset while listening to the call to prayer or live music. Cafe Clock also has some dope art work to admire. Rooftop views, pretty sunsets, live music, cool artwork, delicious food -- it does not get any better than that!
FYI: Check out Facebook for the times of their live music and storytelling events.