5 Things to do in Marrakech
Before my trip to Morocco, I thought I would never visit the country. I had long list of countries I wanted to experience before Morocco even crossed my mind. I had no real desire because I had heard such mixed reviews; most of them on the negative side. I also thought I had seen everything I needed to see from the growing trend of bloggers visiting the Instagram-worthy spots around the country.
But then I was invited to an Around the World Beauty tour of Morocco by my good friend, Erica. The tour would be 10 days exploring the hidden beauty secrets of Morocco with a group of 12 women. It was exactly the type of tour I would never do, which is why I chose to sign up!
I ended up falling in love with Morocco and found myself wishing I could stay even longer to experience more of the beautiful country. Because there are so many mixed reviews about this place, I want to share some of my favorite things that anyone visiting the country would enjoy!
1) Experience a traditional Hammam at Domaine de la Roseraie Spa in the Atlas Mountains
Moroccan hammams are part of many Moroccans’ life, and I think you should experience at least one while you’re in the country. A hammam is basically a steam room where people go to clean themselves (it’s also common to hire someone to clean you). This is usually a weekly ritual and is considered a social activity in villages and towns.
There are many places around the country to get a hammam, but I had mine at Domaine de la Roseraie and had an incredible experience. It’s about an hour and a half from Marrakech somewhere near the Atlas mountains. The property itself is beautiful, covered in thousands of roses, a fully self-sustained herb garden, pools, and a hotel/restaurant.
2) Visit the Henna Art Cafe
The Henna Art Cafe is the only place to get henna in Marrakech! Don’t get ripped off by the people who will try to sell you this service inside the Medina. You will end up paying triple or quadruple the price – and it won’t last nearly as long.
The Henna Art Cafe is an eclectic cafe located in the heart of the Marrakech Medina, just a three-minute stroll from Djemma El Fna (the busiest square in North Africa!) They offer their guests refreshing drinks, traditional Moroccan cuisine, fine art, and henna!
I loved the Henna Art Cafe because it not only has some of the most talented Henna artists in Marrakech, but it works with non-profits, employs only Moroccan nationals, uses all natural henna, and is owned by the sweetest woman – Lori! It’s a beautiful place with a beautiful story, and I guarantee you will LOVE your henna!
3) Eat on the rooftop at Nomad Restuarant
I’m not going to lie, this is definitely a touristy spot. It’s actually extremely touristy. There will pretty much only be other tourists and travelers here. But – it has great food, a nice ambiance, and an incredible view of the Marrakech Medina.
I highly suggest making a reservation here and requesting rooftop seating to get the full Nomad experience! And if you can, go here around sunset.
4) Journey into the Sahara (You can get here with a variety of tours departing from Marrakech!)
Did you know that the word Sahara is actually derived from a dialectal Arabic word for desert? So when you say “the Sahara desert” you’re actually saying “the desert desert”! I never knew that until I visited!
If you’re headed to Morocco, you need to experience the magic of the Sahara. There are plenty of campsites and “glampsites” that you should stay at for at least one night (and I recommend 2!)
Here are a few options (but do your research!):
I stayed at Camp Adounia, a luxury tented camp, focusing on sustainable tourism and Moroccan culture. It is an oasis for travelers to Morocco and wellness programs looking to reconnect with the earth, to find some balance and rest!
While in the Sahara I ran up the dunes at sunset, saw the most beautiful night sky I’ve ever seen, and connected with the incredible women on my ATW Beauty tour each night around the campfire. It was more than just a necessary digital detox, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget!
5) Explore the Medina with a guide and grab lunch at Max & Jan
The Medina is magic and madness, and I have to admit I was extremely worried about walking around there. I was warned this was where I’d be yelled at, badgered, groped. I was told to be prepared to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and lost. I’m actually glad I had these expectations because I think it helped my experience feel nothing like any of those things.
It helps to start your trip in the less chaotic area of the Medina, and the perfect spot to do that is at Max & Jan. It doubles as a cute and cozy rooftop cafe/restaurant and an art collective. Grab a bite to eat here before you journey into the main part of the Medina and then finishing up at Jemaa el-Fnaa – the busiest square in North Africa (and likely where you will feel the most overwhelmed!)
I highly recommend experiencing the Medina with a guide, and if you can – a female guide like ours, Sara! She did an incredible job of maneuvering us around the maze that is the Medina. She took us to the best shops and didn’t pressure us into anything we didn’t want to do.
You can score some amazing deals in the Medina. You will see shops solely comprised of shoes or light fixtures. You’ll find beautiful hand-crafted pottery, purses, baskets, and jewelry. Almost anything you might want, you will find here. But be prepared to haggle for a good price.
Often times, you will first be given the “tourist price” which is much higher than any local would pay for something. Although you will likely always end up paying more than a local if you’re assertive enough to bargain for what you want, you’ll be able to find beautiful items for great prices. Some of the girls on my tour brought an entire empty suitcase with them intended to fill up with items they bought in the Medina. If you’re a big shopper, I recommend doing this so you have enough room!
Morocco is a vibrant, magical country with so many unique cultures, beautiful landscapes, delicious food, kind, hospitable people and so much more that I still need to uncover. I’m glad I took the chance to join the tour and travel to a place I never wanted to visit. There are so many things to do around this country, and I can’t stop thinking about when I will return next to explore the coast, the blue city, Fez, Tangier… the list goes on and on!