The fierce girl’s guide to Marrakech
I had always seen photos of Morocco and felt an instant connection to the colors, the architecture and the vibe that was coming through the screen. Finally pulling the trigger and making my way there this year, I spent 7 days exploring the ancient city of Marrakesh. It is anything but lackluster, gray and boring. In fact, I would describe it as electric, colorful and full of life!
What I loved most about Morocco is how absolutely beautiful and cultured it is. It was extremely smooth to get from point a to b, that is, if you have the right roadmap to getting around. I want to provide that for you as I told my husband, if we didn’t have the plans and the connections to get us where we needed to go, I could have easily felt overwhelmed by it all! And being the fierce girl you are, whether you bring a friend, your man or even travel solo, this guide will tell you exactly what you need to do, see and experience so you show up ready and prepared for all the fierceness that morocco is!
In Part 1 of this guide, I cover how to get there, where to stay, how to bargain in the souks and what you must have from the souks. In Part 2, I will share what you should wear, where you should go (including a day in the desert and Atlas mountains) and what you must eat. Enjoy!
Where to Stay
I booked through Airbnb at the Riad Meriem. I read the reviews and for a reasonable cost per night paired with the most beautiful rooftop photos that lured me in, I chose this specific Riad. I can honestly say that the Riad Meriem was the best possible choice and here’s why. Prior to arriving, I arranged a taxi to pick Mark and me up from the airport for 25euro, through the Riad. It was the best feeling to arrive in a country for the first time and to know you would be safely and conveniently taken to your hotel, where you can ground yourself and drop off your luggage after a long day’s travel, at the very least. As soon as we entered the Medina (the old city), the hustle and bustle initially felt overwhelming just having come off a longer flight and never having experienced this kind of a city before.
Before I knew it, our driver stopped the car in the middle of a square and handed our things off to a local man who put our luggage in a cart and signaled us to follow him. For ten minutes, we walked quickly through the smallest roads I have ever been in and even to a point where I was ducking my head to get into a walkway. While at first I wondered if we were headed to the right location, we quickly ended up at the Riad’s door where Hassan greeted us with a smile, swooped us up from the walkway and welcomed us with a glass of wine and rum and coke.
My advice would be to read the reviews when you find a Riad you like, or take my word and choose the Riad we stayed at which continued to be of the most amazing service throughout the whole trip. Booking a Riad over a hotel or hostel was the best thing we did in Morocco. We were safe, had a place to come home to each night that literally felt like home, had the best service and even made new friends!
The souks + how to bargain
The souks (pronounced soo-ks) are located within the medina and are all the small, local shops that offer everything from handmade baskets and spices to carpets handwoven in the Atlas mountains. For a first timer in Marrakech, it can definitely be a sense of over stimulation as was the case for me. Since we arrived in the evening, the souks were quiet because everything was closed and when we emerged from our small alley where our Riad is located, it was quickly a shock to see so much going on in such a small area. While my husband was fascinated and enjoyed all the activity, it took me a minute to soak it all in and ground myself in this new space. Just be aware of your belongings and put your purse or backpack in front of your midsection at all times.
My advice in walking through the souks is this: you don’t need to engage with every shop owner who tries to get you to come into their shop and trust me, almost everyone does this. If you did, you would never get anywhere. Be nice, smile and continue walking forward until you find something you like.
The shop owners are so friendly and want to work with you so don’t accept the first price they give you. There were numerous times I got into a bargaining game with them and I could tell we both enjoyed our time together finding the most agreeable price. The rule of thumb for bargaining in Marrakech is whatever feels right for you and to come to a agreement that is sweet for both you and the owner. Personally, my motto was to tell myself I didn’t really need it (this helped me not get too attached to something I loved so I could really bargain from a place of abundance vs a place of need). I started at 1/3 of the first offered price, then typically settled for one half or sometimes even less than half.
The souks are full of energy and some shop owners will even offer you Moroccan mint tea (the best!). Enjoy yourself and soak in all the beautiful colors and culture there is to offer!
These baskets are so gorgeous!
Oh you know, just a donkey taking a mid day stroll through the souks
The carpets are undeniable! I wanted all of them.
Must-haves in Marrakech (what to take home)
For me, photographing and immersing myself in the Moroccan culture was like being in heaven. Every imaginable color, texture and beautiful item I could use in my home was calling at me from every angle, saying, “Ashllleeeyy, take me home please.” So now, I want to share with you the must-haves, also known as the things you should strongly consider taking home with you to remind you of your experience in Morocco! Trust me, you won’t regret it as it will be something that will always remind you of the time you spent exploring, traveling and experiencing this beautiful country in Africa.
Spices: The first place we ventured was a spice store. I will tell you that Moroccan spices are out of this world! They use spices in everything including my favorite cuisine, Tagine. The owner offered us mint tea and asked us to please have a seat. We obliged and got comfortable. Mark and I both enjoyed his presentation and walked out of his store with 3 large bags of spices including muscle spice, a spice he said would be good for Mark’s arm muscles (I promise it is legit and has a spice that promotes blood flow), hibiscus tea and the most delicious chicken and fish spice I have ever tasted. While the total cost was $75 us dollars or 7500 dirham (the moroccan currency), we vowed to be more careful with what we got from there on out as we were so mesmerized by his presentation. What can I say, he was great at sales!
Baskets: While I didn’t take home a basket (lack of space in my suitcase), I picked out three handwoven trivet that is made by women in the mountains, just the same. You can find these everywhere in the souks and they cost me $4 us dollars each and are beautiful purple and jute colored that remind me of being there. I love that the baskets are made by women in the Atlas mountains.
Carpet: You will see carpets everywhere including blankets called Moroccan wedding blankets (see photo below of yellow and white one with sequins). When you find a carpet store, take some time to go in and let the shop owner tell you about the carpets. Mark and I sat down for 45 minutes in one store recommended to us by Hassan of our Riad and the shop owner explained all about the different types of carpets and while sipping mint tea, we found one that we fell in love with. While this is a larger purchase ($450-1500) depending on what you get and how exceptional or not exceptional your bargaining skills, it is something that I promise you, is more expensive online and offers you a first hand experience to buying an authentic Moroccan rug.
These are my three recommendations on things to purchase and by all means, have a look around and see what you like in the souks and what jumps out at you! There really is so much to see.
Giddy after working my bargaining skills and walking away happy with our chosen rug
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of The Fierce Girl’s Guide To Marrakech! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for inspiration on living your best life and all things fierce including the upcoming Part 2, along with a fierce girl’s guide to Paris in the near future. Fierce Forward is a movement to empower you to live your best possible life. Be it through following your heart, being healthy, living your passion, discovering your purpose and simply moving forward for you!
Have you been to Marrakech or have you wanted to go? If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you! If you found this guide helpful, feel free to share it with your world. Thank you for being here.
Fierce + love,