28 Nov Travelling solo in Marrakech
Despite what you may have heard about travelling solo in Morocco, Marrakech is a traveler hotspot where safety is a top priority for local authorities. It’s a city where the scent of bubbling tajines, the animated colourful souks combined with the picturesque snow-covered Atlas Mountains in the distance, and the hospitable locals to share a mint tea with will have solo travelers quickly realizing that having a travel companion may simply cause distraction.
So if Marrakech is on your bucket list, don’t delay. This North African city is a quick jaunt from most European cities and a direct red-eye flight from the Eastern seaboard in the US.
In our latest blog post, we’re sharing our top tips for traveling solo in Marrakech.
Where to stay
Booking a riad or guesthouse in the medina typically provides travellers with on-site staff that, in typical Moroccan hospitality, will go above and beyond to ensure guests’ comfort. Don’t be surprised if one of the men working at the riad will meet you at the taxi stand, carry your luggage, and even collect you at a meeting point in the evening to walk you back to your riad. Some, including 72 Riad Living, even provide guests with a mobile phone so they can call the concierge as needed. And an in-the-know guest relations’ service will help point you in the right direction for any excursions, restaurant reservations and general tips to ensure you have a positively unforgettable stay.
Top tip: Always arrange an airport transfer via your accommodation to avoid having to negotiate a taxi upon arrival only to be dropped off somewhere central that may be quite far from your riad before the stress of having to find your way via the unmarked streets.
Females travelling alone often report receiving some level of street harassment. Common calls of ‘la gazelle’ are all too familiar to those who’ve wandered through the most bustling streets of the Marrakech medina. Ignore any comments and walk with confidence.
Whether travelling alone or in a group, hiring a guide for a half-day tour will certainly provide further insight in to the culture and provide a greater understanding of the sights. The Maison de la Photographie can be a bit tricky to find, but with the help of a guide travellers can travel back in time and witness daily life in the early twentieth century in Marrakech and Morocco through the lens of a photographer travelling at the time. A little oasis in the heart of the madness, the rooftop terrace is a wonderful place to enjoy a tea and views of the old city (and the Atlas Mountains in winter months).
Wandering through places like Jemaa el Fna can be made easier by visiting at night when the square comes to life. Have a few Dirhams ready for tips you may need to provide in exchange for any photos taken of entertainers. Dining at stall #14 provides a local experience and a feast of freshly fried seafood.
Exploring palatial and architectural gems are easily located with the help of a guidebook, and in some cases, Google Maps. Don’t miss a visit to the Medersa Ben Youssef, the impressive ruined Badii Palace and the Dar Si Said.
We often think the greatest site to see is the medina itself. Wandering, getting lost, and sitting in a café at street level watching the world go by, are all part of the fun. And we highly encourage it. But to feel comfortable, dress appropriately and if you feel lost, ask an older gentleman in the souks or a local shop for directions. Some guests encounter faux guides trying to show them the way. A simple la chakrun (no thank you) and wandering with confidence that you know the way will deter any potential guiding.
A stroll through the new town known as Gueliz, built during the Protectorate era, provides a more laid-back atmosphere where street-side cafes are perfect for an afternoon coffee and some people watching. Get cozy at Café de la Poste when an escape from the hustle and bustle is needed, or rub shoulders with locals as you pull up a seat at cozy Bar à Vin 68.
Local tip: Gueliz is a modern area where you’ll find hip bars, trendy cafes and restaurants serving Western fare, as such the dress code is more liberal. The medina remains a more traditional area of Marrakech and as such we recommend dressing modestly – midi- or full-length skirts or trousers with a top that covers the shoulders are recommended.
A table for one
Restaurants like Le Jardin and NOMAD are filled with cozy nooks where solo travellers can easily tuck in to some delicious local cuisine. Dar Cherifa serves up some of the finest Moroccan fare and, as a literary café, encourages visitors to linger a little longer while enjoying a book about local history and culture. Despite its hidden location, the staff at Dar Zellij is happy to accompany guests back to their riad after an evening dinner, putting to rest any concern about returning home after dark. At 72 Riad Living, we have staff dedicated to collecting guests returning home after 8 p.m. whether from a taxi drop off point or a restaurant.
Alternatively, book a cooking class and not only try your hand at preparing local cuisine, but enjoy feasting on the fruits of your labour afterward.
To book your solo stay, contact us today. We’ll not only help with your accommodations at 72 Riad Living, but also provide tips to help you plan your Marrakech getaway.