A hotbed of excitement and cultural immersion.
Places To Go: On your first day in Marrakesh, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the main square, el-Fna Square. The square at night is a completely different animal – basically, a giant party of food, music, shopping and culture that rages on under the strung lights and Moroccan moon until 2 a.m.
Spend your second day visiting the real souks, or shops, of Marrakesh. You will need to find a tour guide (certified only) who will take you outside the main square, but it is an experience you don’t want to miss.
On day three, visit some of Morocco’s jewels: Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian Tombs, the Bahai Palace & the Majorelle Gardens. No matter which landmarks you choose to visit during your stay, you’ll be certainly impressed by the exquisite detail and luxury that characterizes Moroccan design and architecture.
Incredible Edibles: Moroccan food is rich with flavor. You must try what the locals call “Moroccan Whiskey,” a mint tea that is famous to these parts (since Morocco is a Muslim country, drinking alcohol is not a public act by the locals). Also, don’t skip Tagine, a delicious stew with meat and 35 spices that is simmered to perfection hours before being served.
Homegrown Style: Most of the locals are Muslim, and dress according to standard religious practice, so make sure to be respectful as a tourist – cover your shoulders, chest, torso and thighs. At the same time, Morocco is in the middle of the desert and it can get unpleasantly hot , so packing the right clothing is essential. For the stylish traveler, bring a white cotton loose-fitting shirt that will allow the breeze to cool you off. Full length maxi-skirts or maxi-dresses are essential for the ladies, while cargo shorts or capris will help keep the gentlemen cool. You will undoubtably leave with some wonderfully quirky Moroccan shoes, jewelry or pants, so leave room in your suitcase for these fun finds.
Local Quote: “We want Morocco to be your second home. The shopkeepers in the square are not representative of who we are as a people. You must go [outside] the square to experience real Morocco – the oasis of culture & beauty we [have] worked hard to become” — Hassan, 35, Tour Guide.
The 411: While Marrakesh is an amazing city, it is easy to be taken advantage of as a tourist. Make sure that you do your research before you go – and understand that unless you’ve done a lot of traveling to third-world countries, you will most likely experience some culture shock. Once you’ve done the research and feel prepared, just let go and breathe in the Morocco culture. It will be a trip you’ll never forget.
Article authored by Natasha Jarmick.