Just your typical itinerary: London, Paris… and Marrakech? Melissa Fernandez visited the bustling Moroccan city for four days at the end of her European vacation last month. She stayed at Le Meridien N’Fis, whose large property — with a huge pool and pretty gardens — serves as an oasis from the colorful chaos out on the streets. Melissa shares her tips on how to make the most of a trip to this fascinating city.
Most Memorable Activity: We had a lot of fun at the night food markets in the Djamaa El Fna (the main square). The best part is that the locals visit the square too and eat dinner alongside the tourists at the food stalls. I recommend trying the lamb head.
Favorite Restaurant: The tangines and couscous were fantastic. We loved the restaurant Dar Moha, where we had a tasting menu featuring classic Moroccan cuisine. The setting was fantastic as we ate dinner in a beautiful courtyard beside a lighted pool.
Go There for the Tea: While you’re there, be sure to drink lots of mint tea — it’s delicious and incredibly cheap. For something special, go to Cafe des Epices for afternoon tea. It’s located in the spice and herb souks and provides a much-needed break from the hustle of the marketplace. Be sure to get a seat on the rooftop deck so you can take in stunning views.
But Don’t Go for the Bars: Morocco is a Muslim country so alcohol is consumed mostly by tourists. There aren’t really many bars around, but we stopped off for a drink at Narwama, a Thai Moroccan Fusion restaurant that was fairly nice but we felt like we could have been anywhere — even back in New York. In general, alcohol is expensive as they see it as something just for the tourists, although we did visit a liquor store and saw plenty of locals buying wine and beer. However the store had a real underground feel to it.
Biggest Surprises: There was profound excitement for President Obama in Marrakech. Also, I was surprised to see how popular American music was there.
Any Disappointments? I hadn’t expected the merchants to be as aggressive as they were in approaching us and haggling with us. I enjoyed my time in Marrakech, but I found all of the haggling to be exhausting — I needed time to relax between forays into the Medina. Also, everyone kept telling us places were closed, demanding money for trying to show us where certain sites were located and all the taxi drivers attempted to leave us off at curio shops so we would buy souvenirs. Be sure to set the price of the ride before getting into a taxi — they’ll give you a better price in the beginning due to the threat that you could get out and find another taxi.
Tips for Travelers: Wear comfortable shoes — the streets are old and worn. The city is fairly small so you can get to most places just by walking.
Have you been to Marrakech? Share your recommendations below. Or if you’re thinking about visiting, you can leave a question for Melissa.