15 Apr 10 reasons we love Marrakech
With Marrakech being named as TripAdvisor’s top destination for 2015, we can’t help but think off all the reasons why we love Marrakech. We’ve narrowed it down to just 10, but there are several more!
#10 We’ve got it all at our doorstep
Just two hours from the coast, one hour from the mountains, 30 minutes from the stone desert and five hours from the desert, Marrakech has it all its doorstep, making it the perfect base to start or end a trip through Morocco.
#9 Palm trees and snow-capped mountains
In winter, we love the views of the palm tree-lined boulevards with the majestic snow-capped Atlas Mountains providing a perfect backdrop. This view takes our breath away nearly every time we climb to the rooftop terrace of one of the riads or wander through the new city of Gueliz.
In summer, this is the place to spend a day to escape the heat (and the hustle and bustle) of Marrakech. Whether for a day of trekking in one of the nearby valleys or lunch with a view, it’s a favourite getaway!
# 8 Attending one of the many festivals
From the Marrakech International Film Festival in December to the Festival National des Arts Populaires in the summer months (depending on Ramadan dates), the Awaln’Art street art festival and even the Marrakech marathon in January, Marrakech is filled with festivals. We’re looking forward to the sixth edition of the Marrakech Biennale which takes place in March 2016 after a fabulous edition in 2014.
#7 Warm winter days and perfect summer evenings
The weather here may be one of the biggest factors in keeping us in Marrakech. Winter is the ideal time for sunny days with daytime temperatures around +20’C, while spring is gorgeous for the orange blossom trees and the fruit trees in bloom on a day out in the Atlas Mountains. Summer is hot hot hot with temperatures climbing above +40’C, but the perfect weather for relaxing poolside before the cafes and restaurants fills up during the cooler evening hours. And autumn brings back the tourists and expats and gallery openings and festivals throughout.
# 6 Local talent and creativity
The medina is thriving with young designers and artisans coming up with new ideas and creating fabulous designs. New cafes are opening and are becoming popular hangouts with the trendy locals including 18, a great place to admire up-and-coming artists, while Dar Bellarj regularly features the works of female Moroccan and Arab women. Hassan Hajjaj’s Riad Yima is a great place not only to stop for a coffee just off the spice square, but also to admire his interior design works. Known as the Andy Warhol of Morocco, his collection of pop art goods are also for sale at reasonable prices.
#5 Eating more than just couscous and tajine
When thinking of Moroccan cuisine, you may immediately think of couscous and tajine. Book a table at Dar Zellig and you may be introduced to new flavours and dishes you’ve never heard of. We love wandering through Jemaa el Fna and enjoying a stop at stall #14 for fresh calamari. And we certainly never say no to one of Mustapha’s pastillas at La Table du Riad. For the right start to your day, be sure to sample the variety of Moroccan breads – msimen, beghir – with local honeys from the Atlas Mountains and jams made using in-season fruits. When you’ve had enough mint tea, try a refreshing avocado juice.
#4 Friendly locals
From friendly staff in the riads and cafes to the shopkeepers in the souks who know how to make you smile as you walk past, Moroccan hospitality is second-to-none. While the locals tend to speak several languages, knowing a few words will certainly impress as you wander and explore!
La chakrun = no thank you
Wakha = okay, alright
Chakrun = thank you
Ana bghit … = I want …
#3 Getting lost in the medina
A trip to Marrakech wouldn’t be complete without getting lost. At least once. Although we arm our guests with a map of the new and old city, most guests prefer to wander and lose themselves in the medina – an ideal way to find new shops, cafes for people watching, and hidden gems throughout the medina. Our favourites include Dar Cherifa for a quiet tea in the Mouassine district, Art du Bain for lovely soaps nestled within the souks not far from the Mouassine Mosque, and the Maison de la Photographie in the Kaat Benahid district.
The tiny alleyways leading to unsuspecting riads, amazing houses hidden behind unassuming doors where bright courtyards are often filled with orange and banana trees. This is often a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the donkeys, scooters and busyness as locals go about their daily lives in the medina. Moving out of the way when hearing balak or jumping out of a scooter’s way, completes the Marrakech experience.
#2 Sipping a nous nous
The cafes in Rabha Kadima, also known as the spice square, may be one of our favourite places to escape for some fabulous people-watching. And to enjoy the sites and sounds of this colourful square, our drink of choice is a nouss nouss, meaning half half. Half coffee, half milk. The perfect pick-me-up during a mid-afternoon coffee break!
#1 Watching the sunset over the Koutoubia Mosque
From the rooftop terrace of the riad, while sipping a mint tea at Cafe de France or enjoying glass of Moroccan wine with some fresh olives from NOMAD, the sunset in Marrakech never fails to impress. And the muezzins calling the prayer from the surrounding mosques is music to our ears! It’s an ambiance that makes us proud to call Marrakech home!