Okay, okay, okay. So you and your friends have booked your festival ticket, accommodation, plane tickets, and activities; ten days Morocco is very much official now! Yes, we know our classics by now, and they’re classics for a reason (so definitely go check out Jamaa El Fna, the Koutoubia mosque, and all the beautiful gardens). But for those of you who are up for a less standard take on the ancient red city… Here 10 ways to truly experience Marrakech! Spoiler alert: the best things in Marrakech often cost the least.
1. Yummy for your tummy
Nothing beats a Moroccan avocado-almond-and-dates smoothie to cure your four-day festival hangover. You can find these in almost any breakfast joint or patisserie. Ask for a panaché and you’ll get a smoothie of the freshest and most delicious combinations of fruits and groundnuts you could possibly imagine. Note for the lightweights: it is quite filling!
2. Maison Tiskiwin
This museum is located in a private house owned by veteran Dutch anthropologist Bert Flint. Go on a carefully put together virtual journey across the Sahara to Timbuktu. The exhibition, consisting of a collection of crafts and decorative arts from Southern Morocco and the Sahara, is an interesting and worthy history lesson. A visit can be made from 9.30am-12.30pm and from 2.30-6pm for only €2 (20DH).
3. Bissara - a pauper’s dish
The nickname doesn’t do it any justice, for this ‘pauper’s dish’ is one of the most delicious, stomach- and heartwarming soups you can get. You can find laborers sitting outside small cafes and restaurants as early as 6 am, sipping on some bissara. Traditional ingredients are pureed broad beans, garlic, lemon juice, hot red pepper, salt, and cumin, topped off with a drizzle of olive oil. Order a glass of tea and you’re ready to face the day!
4. Museé Boucharouite
A small museum with all kinds of traditional Boucharouite - Berber rugs made from recycled clothes. If you’re lucky, the owner is around to give you all the extra and special ins and outs on the origins. These Berber carpets, all have their very own story and so do the people who made them. Chill out on the rooftop terrace after strolling through the chambers. Open for visits on Mon-Sat from 9.30am-6pm for only €4 (40DH). Note: they’re closed in August. Long stayers, this one’s for you!
5. Late night snacking
Looking for a late night snack? Just grab a cab and ask for a place where they sell ‘shwa’ or ‘kotbane’, these are barbecued steak skewers and a perfect midnight snack. With or without a bun, served with a spicy side dip of tomatoes and grilled peppers and an ice cold coke: Yes, please! These joints usually stay open until quite late, so do not hesitate to cop yours after a night out! Tip: when it’s packed with locals, it’s probably good.
6. Infinite space gazing
Looking for some solitude after four days of partying? Go for a drive to the outskirts of town. Grab your picnic basket with the aforementioned midnight snack and a blanket to enjoy some of the most mesmerizing stars you’ll ever see. No interference of city lights, just you and the endless universe. Note: Always ask a local whether the spot you had in mind is safe and never go alone. Safety first!
7. Powerfood at Amal Restaurant
This non-profit association empowers women through culinary skills. Their ever-changing menu has several vegetarian options - sustainable and delicious soul food for everybody! It is not that centrally located, but so worth the detour. Everything you eat is made from scratch: the mayonnaise, dipping sauces, and syrups. Even in their cleaning they use as little chemicals as possible and grasp onto more natural ways like the use of vinegar and salt. Good food with a clean conscious, just the way we like it!
8. Say cheese!
The Maison de la Photographie, located in the Medina, is an archive supporting the concept of History of Ideas in Morocco. The collection contains photos, glass negatives, postcards, journals, maps, prints, and documentaries. The Maison de la Photographie of Marrakech is a private foundation created by Hamid Mergani and Patrick Manac’h in 2009. Their aim was to exhibit the exceptional diversity of Morocco as seen by those who visited from 1870-1960. For only €4 (40DH) you can see Morocco through the eyes of these anonymous travelers and famous photographers. The Maison de la Photographie is an invitation to a better knowledge of Morocco.
9. What’s cooking good looking?
The best souvenir you can get yourself is probably knowing how to make a mean tagine. At Faim d’Epices you can, every day of the week, learn how to make traditional Moroccan recipes in both English and French! Make sure to make a reservation for you and your friends and enjoy your own home cooked meal in the countryside just outside the Medina. Tip: Friday is couscous day!
10. Don’t be uptight, enjoy the ride!
The number one way to truly enjoy Marrakech must be to just relax. It’s nice to have a list of awesome things to do, but there’s no need for rushing. The pace is slow and people won’t be on time. The sooner you give into that, the more you will enjoy your stay. Order that extra drink, let that taxi pass you by and take that longer walk. The city itself is already a sight to see!Get your ticket!