Get ready for more treen does travel, our latest city guide is here and this time we are taking a trip to Marrakech. It's got to be one of the most talked about locations at this time of year because we reckon everyone could do with some winter sun right about now? The city's North African location gives it everything and more you could hope for to contrast with the grey skies on this side of the world currently, with some balmy temperatures around 20 degrees along with straight up sunshine. And given it's technically off season we would recommend getting yourself some flights now to save the hike in price come the Summer months. With an abundance to offer from second-to-none shopping, culinary extremes from street food to high end dining, plus easy to find accommodation no matter what your budget, this really is a place to suit everyone. Yeah, we know most travel agents would say that but we aren't being paid to tell you this. We just love Marrakech! Plus it's an eco friendly city like few others, with solar power panels as much of a normality on the horizon as palm trees.
Come along with us on a weekend away to get our tried and tested tips, plus find out how to keep things eco in the second most sustainable country in the world!
Where to stay
First up, Marrakech is awake at all times. A full, busy, sensory explosion, you'll find this energetic city a vibrant feast for the eyes, nose... you get the drift. It's one of the most authentic places the Treen team has visited for pure culture and can feel at times overwhelming so we recommend starting with the basics and getting where you stay sorted in line with the kind of experience you are keen on having. Want to be in on the action but have some peace at night? Go for one of the city's many traditional Riads - inwards facing buildings with inner courtyards that make look like nothing from the outside but are more often that not opulent hideaways, characterised by pools, beautiful tiling and plenty of low light lanterns. Seriously beautiful, from the relatively affordable right up to the best of the best. We like Riad Edward, a wonderfully ornate building that retains all of its original character and charm, or Riad Al Massarah ran with sustainability in mind. It's the best experience to walk through a small, and what looks like an ancient, colourful door to arrive in a perfectly sized mini palace with an open dipping pool and the best interiors you think you have ever seen, and know you are staying the night. More to help you find the perfect place here!Want to go slightly further afield? Head outside of Marrakech and prepare to be dazzled by Kasbah Babourika. No other way to describe this place other than a heaven on earth. Not a far drive out of the city centre you are the only building for miles. Here you get a bit more perspective on where you are on the map, as well as an incredible other side to this amazing culture. Another top recommendation is the equally tranquil Berber Lodge, built around ancient olive groves by local craftsmen and has arguably the best food we've eaten in Morocco - quite a claim given the choice here.
What to see
Get up, get going early to beat the crowds (and the heat) and get walking on a tour through the city in the best possible way. Marrakech is packed full of people, winding streets, motorbikes and animals wandering around so you are going to want to keep moving but this is by far the best way to see the older parts of the city. Head straight into the souks and delve into the local shops. Watch women make beauty products from almonds by hand and buy some to try later. You'll see craftsmen of all trades throughout the traditional markets, from edible goods such as herbs, oils, and sweets (all natural and all so, so good), to woodwork, hammered copper lamps, and some seriously incredible hand made rugs. We challenge you not to invest in a treasure to take home and the best part is you are directly giving to the maker most times, bartering for a good price is part of the deal (it's what is wanted!) so roll your sleeves up and have fun with it. There's plenty of guides online to help embrace the culture. Stop at Al Kawtar Women's Cooperative if you want gifts, founded in 2012 to help women with disabilities make a living from their crafts - fairly.
Wander around further and soak up the stunning woodwork covering doors and building facades, along with the tadelakt plaster walls, rich and thick with a gorgeous matte finish. It beams under the Moroccan sunshine any time of year. Head for a mint tea on a roof top as you look over the cityscape. Let the waitors pour it as high as they like, it genuinely adds to the taste. Drink it, and the whole culture in for a moment. Marrakech is full of hidden gardens for when you need to connect with nature - Jardin Bio Aromatique Ourika is an incredible garden with boutique and products you can buy, or spend some time in Le Jardin Secret to get away from the crowds. And for a special visit, make sure you go - early, just before opening times to avoid the queues! - to Yves Saint Laurent's former home, the magical Jardin Majorelle. Think two and a half acres of botanical gardens created by artist Jacques Majorelle over forty years.
It's all about eating fresh in Marrakech (no rhyme intended) and it's food choices pretty much cater to everyone, whatever your preferences. With the incredible amount of straight out of the fryer falafel on offer along with never-tasted-better cous cous (many places also do gluten free!), vegetable tagines, enourmous olives by the kilo and all of the fruit, this is a city made for feasting - with more than enough vegetarian and vegan options. Sit above the crowds and overlook the busy markets at Cafe Des Epices, try the hipster yet much loved Nomad, or get a table at the exclusively vegetarian and vegan restaurant, Earth Cafe. All delicious. And for something special? Make it Comptoir. This is an experience you won't forget. Dancers, hookah, outstanding food with over 100 veggie or vegan options and decor that will have you wanting to change yours when you return! And last but not least - the orange juice carts. You will have never tried orange juice like it. Like a tall glass of love, it will 100% hit the spot. The carts, with giant juicers on board are dotted all over the city centre. A great way to start your day before checking out the sites, or an afternoon refresher.
Anyone who has visited Marrakech - or anywhere in Morocco - knows how rich the culture is in all areas so we know this guide won't even touch the sides when it comes to covering the best the city has to offer! Got some more tips for us? Message us on Instagram or email and we'll update this guide with your recommendations!