[All content and prices updated August 2013]

Why you should add Marrakech to your Indie/RTW trip

Marrakech is a large city in Morocco and one of the country’s major tourist draws.
  • The population of the greater area is around 2 million, but fortunately the area of interest to travelers is fairly compact and easily walkable.
  • The city is at the base of the Atlas Mountains, which provide a stunning backdrop as you approach.
  • Marrakech was run by the French for decades, and the new part of the city has minor French influences, but the Old City shows off the local Berber culture almost exclusively.
  • The new city is very modern and was designed to blend in with its desert surroundings, but the main attractions in Marrakech are all located in the Medina, or Old City.
  • Walk around Koutoubia Mosque, the city’s most famous landmark. Non-Muslims aren’t allowed inside.
  • You can learn about the Moorish history at Koubba El-Badiyin. It’s the only surviving structure dating from the founders of Marrakech.
  • Enjoy the local food at a picturesque location, or try the amazing street food.

Indie travel tips for Marrakech

  • Visit the ruined Badii Palace, one of the two principal monuments of the Saadian era. The other is the Saadian Tombs, located by Kasbah Mosque.
  • The Djemaa el Fna Square is near the entrance to the Medina and is definitely the heart of the area. This is the largest city square in Africa and it’s little more than a concrete slab.
  • Spend your time walking in the endless maze of markets (souks).
    • Each section has similar vendors and stalls bunched together. You’ll find large assortments of brass, leather, incense, clothing, bootleg DVDs, and on and on.
  • For a trip back in medieval Marrakech, visit the tannery district. Complete with pungent smells.
  • Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the souks and spend some time in Majorelle Gardens, the botanical gardens.
  • Get wonderfully lost in the Medina. You can easily spend couple of days just looking around.
  • Walk around the City Walls. 19 km are enough to keep you busy (and fit!).

Transportation

Many people cross into Morocco from Spain into Tangier and then move around on the trains. The rail service in Morocco is cheap and very near European standards, so this is an efficient and economical way to tour the country. If you are coming from further away you can book a flight into Marrakech (code RAK). A few low-cost carriers are using this airport so fares can be good, but also check fares into larger Casablanca Airport, which is only a few hours away by train.

Accommodation

There are some hostels in Marrakech and many hotels as well. The quality tends to be much higher in the new city than in the Medina. It’s probably worth paying a bit more for a nicer place just outside the city walls as this gives you the best of both worlds.