Morocco is a vibrant and beautiful country. It’s one of the closest African countries to travel to from the UK, with no time difference, meaning no jet lag, that’s always a bonus! Arriving at Marrakesh Menara airport you start to get the feel for the place, there’s a buzz around and you immediately feel welcomed into the city…. later to possibly be identified as the Moroccan hassle! I loved my time in Morocco and would definitely visit again. This is the ultimate ‘Marrakesh Guide’ for anyone travelling there to give you a bit of a heads up on what to expect from Marrakech, especially if you are a solo female traveller.
Arriving into Marrakesh
The beautiful Koutoubia Mosque
From Marrakesh airport, most people jump into taxis but I opt for the airport bus (number 19). My first chance to try out my Arabic/French – both which are pretty rubbish but hey the driver let me on. He’s really helpful and waves at me when we arrive at the main medina, near where my hostel is.
I love that part of travelling, I’ve only been in the country less than half an hour and already the locals are being friendly and helpful.
- Taxi negotiations can be a pain. I would recommend buying the return bus ticket so you have a stress free departure and cheaper if you’re travelling solo (Dh30 single or Dh50 return)**
Marrakesh Guide – Exploring the Souks
be prepared to get lost…. very lost!
There’s nothing more exciting than arriving at a new destination and wandering off to explore your new surroundings. If you are going to do this in Marrakesh, be prepared, you will get seriously hassle. As a solo female traveller, I literally could not walk a step with someone trying to entice me into their stall. “Come look at this… your shoes are so pretty (they weren’t)… I like your dress… where are you from”. I’m a polite person but after a day in Marrakesh, I ended up adopting the walk fast option just to escape.
- Take a bottle of water (it’s hot).
- Look for the signs back to the Jemaa el Fna square (I didn’t spot these the first time)
- Walk confidently, I promise you will make it out!
Marrakesh Guide – the main medina
A 24-hour buzz in the famous Jemaa el Fna Square
For me, the Jemaa el Fna Square is a combination of things I love and things I hate. The atmosphere and buzz around the place are absolutely amazing, not to mention the fresh orange juice stalls, which for some reason there are over 20 all competing against each other. I visited the same one each day, I don’t think he remembered me but I like to think I was a loyal customer for 3 days haha!
Amongst the crowds of people selling various products and services, there are sadly a few things I really hated. It’s common in the main Medina for Moroccans to dress monkeys up in outfits to pose for photos. I can’t bear seeing things like this, even worse is watching tourists handing over money, encouraging it to continue. Please think before you do this.
And it’s the same with the cobras, which are drugged to perform. I don’t agree with it and it saddens me when I see so many people still lining up for photos :(.
No photos are free in Marrakesh, as I found out after these guys insisted (I said ‘no thanks’ about 5 times) I take their photo, then demanded money.
- Walk and smile or failing that run…. haha only joking 🙂
marrakesh Guide – nightlife
experiencing Nightlife in Marrakesh main medina
At night the Jemaa el Fna Square comes to life (even more). Metal frames are transformed into food stalls with numbers against them. They all sell pretty similar food, it’s mainly BBQ style but there are huge menus to choose a range of different things from. It’s great to wander around to decide where you want to eat. But some of the Moroccans can start to get annoyed if you don’t pick their stall. And I encountered some that were quite aggressive.”Come here eat my food, no you can eat more, you are too skinny you need more food……”. Arhhh chill guys!
As the evening continues, there are people storytelling and musicians playing all in little groups over the medina, some with huge crowds and some with just a few. I preferred the smaller groups, they made you feel welcome and part of the group. Some of the larger groups came round asking for money, even when you had only just arrived. There’s no filming or photography so be prepared to be told to stop if you try…. better still enjoy the entertainment!
- If you’ve already eaten still be expected for the hassle. Maybe best to just avoid!
- Take some small change with you so you can tip the artists/musicians that you love because they don’t offer change if you only have large notes!
*Check prices for Morocco flights now with Skyscanner.com
Marrakesh Guide – Jardin Majorelle
Stepping away from the Marrakesh madness at Jardin Majorelle
Jardin Majorelle is a beautiful garden hidden behind a wall from the main road, it’s about 40 minutes walk from the main medina, the entrance fee is Dh70*. It is a real treat once you step inside, huge bamboo towering above you as soon as you enter.
As you carelessly wander around Jardin Majorelle you forget all about the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh life outside the walls. Inside there’s also a Berber museum (you can pay extra to visit). And a café so you can take your time and spend a few hours there relaxing.
Marrakesh Guide – Overall thoughts
On reflection from my time travelling in Morocco, like any big city, Marrakesh was a great place to visit and experience. As a solo female traveller, there was the extra effort required at times but that’s part of the experience and I think as long as you are sensible and prepared you will have no problems.
You might like to read: 15 reasons to trek Mt Toubkal
For me though, there were other places in Morocco to explore. And it’s one of the reasons after summitting Mount Toubkal in the Atlas Mountain, instead of spending my last 3 days in Marrakesh.I jumped on a bus and visited a gorgeous place called Essaouira on the coast where I had a very amusing experience in my first Moroccan Hamman.
Morocco is a country I would love to go back to. There’s the famous blue Chefchaouen which I would love to see. And of course, Casablanca looks amazing. If you looking for some more inspiration for your Morocco trip? Check out Study Hard Travel Smart’s blog for tips on visiting Casablanca.
I hope you found this Marrakesh Guide useful and I wish you a lovely trip 🙂
Are you visiting Marrakesh or have you already been? What was your experience like? Tell me about in the comments below and share any more tips for solo travellers or ask me any questions.
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**Marrakesh/Marrakech Guide – All prices correct at time of writing February 2017 (Updated March 2018).