Marrakech in Morocco is a destination that will evoke each of your senses; from the sounds of the snake charmers to those calling out to you to purchase an plethora of items, to the smells of spices and petrol fumes as locals whizz around the incredibly narrow streets on motorbikes. Marrakech is a destination where each of your senses is heightened and were you need to have your wits about you.
It does grow on you however, and after a while, the chaos becomes normal.
This was a kind of normal that I had experienced when travelling around South East Asia. However, having travelled mainly within Europe over the past year, it was something I had forgotten about, so it all felt incredibly foreign to me.
That said, Marrakech is a great destination for those who have never visited Morocco before. It has a good transport infrastructure, and a number of great things to see and do, both in the city and tours to places a little further afield.
Marrakech should be a good starting point; immerse yourself in the chaos of the large city, then everywhere else will feel like a breeze.
Here are some suggestions of where you should visit to get some tranquility from the Chaos of the souks and streets:
1. El Badi Palace
Marrakech is full of a number of incredible and historical buildings, which I found were the best way to escape the busy streets. El Badi Palace was one such place. There was a noticeable and instant change when I walked through the archway into the vase expanse. There was so much light, and so much peace. I loved it so much that I spent over an hour there
El Badi Palace is a ruined palace, on the perimeter of the Old City walls. The cost of getting into El Badi Palace is incredibly affordable at just 10 Dirhams (less that £1). Open daily from 8am to 5pm, this is a great place to spend time.
When you are there, make sure you visit the terrace, which has a few steep steps to negotiate, but for the view, it is worth it.
2. Marrakech Museum
Marrakech Museum is located in the old centre of the city, and is one of those very ‘instagramable’ locations, which are both colourful and intricate. The Museum was renovated and opened in 1997 and is a representation of classical Andalusian architecture.
The museum contains numerous pieces of artwork, a central courtyard and atrim, with lots of light steaming in.
Again, I found this a great place to gain some respite from the busy streets.
The museum costs 50 dirhams (just under £5), and is open from 9am-6pm.
3. Medersa Ben Youssef
Located a short stroll from the Marrakech Museum, is the location of choice, for that ultimate Moroccan architectural photograph, and was the location where I spotted a number of ‘Instagram models’ (see above), but when you step inside, you’ll see why this is.
Ben Youssef is open from 8am to 5pm, and costs 20 Dirhams (under £2). You’ll initially walk in along a poorly lit hallway, but will then enter the very brightly lit and open courtyard, with a central pool of water in the middle, which offers some of the best photographs.
As a former Islamic school, you can fully explore the building, including prayer room, with the original inscription, as well as the living quarters.
The colourful tiles and carvings are quite something, and I loved the tranquility.
4. Koutoubia Mosque
Standing tall, and visible from the Jemaa El Fna (central square), the Koutoubia Mosque is the largest in Marrakech. It is ornamented with curved windows, and decorative arches. There is a huge plaza with gardens right next to it.
At night it is lit up, and so continuously visible thoughtout most of the city, and from the rooftops of Riads and Hotels.
5. Yves Saint Laurent Gardens (Jardin Majorelle)
If you wish to venture outside the walls of the old city, you’ll be surprised. It is a totally different place, with westernised shops and services, which changes the dynamic a little after being within the Old City.
By wandering to this area of the city, you’ll be able to come across the, Majorelle Garde, which is a massive 12 acre garden, which contains the Islamic art museum. Since the 1980s, the garden was owned by Yves Saint-Laurnet, whose ashes were scattered there when he died.
You can view some of his artwork in a small gallery, as well as purchase high fashion items from a gift shop.
Overall, it is a really tranquil place to wander around in the shade.
Entry into the garden is 70 Dirhams, with an additional 30 Dirhams to access the Islamic art museum.
So if you’re thinking of a short trip to Marrakech, but are worried about how busy it’ll be. Don’t be. Come and immerse yourself in it, and escape to some of these wonderful locations in the city.
If you are there longer, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in a range of extra activities; the nearby Atlas Mountains and the Desert would be the next thing on my list, when I visit again.
Have you been to Marrakech? Where else would you recommend?