The best tagine was possibly the first night, our flight arrived in the evening meaning we really wanted to just find the riad and get settled before our adventures began the next day. The riad contacted us beforehand and suggested cooking a traditional meal of fresh Moroccan salads followed by a stunning chicken tagine – who were we to turn down a freshly prepared three course dinner upon arrival, so we decided to chance it. It was utterly delicious. Dinner was followed by an early night.
I was tempted to go out and explore the main square tonight but I am so pleased we ventured out the next day. I think it is important to visit the square for the first time in day light. I am not so sure my navigation would have worked under the dark disguise of night time through the numerous near identical lanes.
We were fortunate enough to get breakfast served at our riad included in the price upon booking. Everyday it was slightly different variations but essentially: fresh orange juice, coffee, hot milk, pancakes, fried egg, yogurt and bread with butter/jam. We ate beside the pool or on the roof terrace if it was warm enough underneath the palm trees! This really made me feel like I was living in a postcard!
I was desperate to explore the souks and see what shopping treats were in store for us. So we walked (with a hand drawn map, a guide map and also google maps) to the souks via the main square. I would like to think I have a pretty good sense of direction but the alley and lanes are very similar, not helped by locals trying to inform you that the main square is “shut today, come to my shop”, “the main square is not that way”, “you are walking the wrong way to the medina”. Our riad owners warned us that locals might try and confuse you deliberately so that they could sell you a tour guide or offer to guide you for a fee. Just stick to your instincts and also once we had made it in a couple times it becomes more familiar. Also Google maps is a great backup!
The souks are a maze of colour and there are fantastic bargains to be found!
We ducked out from all the madness and buzz of the souks to get a fresh orange juice at Terrasse des epices (a stunningly decorated spot perfect for a timeout from the markets beneath its lantern lit rooftop chilled zone). I was also informed that this is beautiful in the evening too.
We ate lunch at the nearby Le Jardin (careful you do not squash the tortoises that roam freely through this restaurant!)
After lunch, we went to hunt out Le Jardin Secret, a spot recommended for its tranquility in this vibrant city. With only a small admission fee it should be on your to do list! There seemed to be a lot of husbands and boyfriends happily taking in their brief time of calm and stillness. The far tower offers a spot for a drink or light bite to eat if you fancy it. The green glittering tiles beneath your feet and the lavender scents are dreamy. I felt as though I was skipping through a Pinterest board rather than living in real life.
For dinner, we braved the Jemaa el-Danna square. It is worth highlighting that I did not ever feel scared during my whole time in Marrakech apart from this night. There is intense rivalry between the food stalls and I would recommend knowing which stalls to eat at before ambling through the various promoters. We were pushed and pulled into every direction with paper cut palms from various menus being thrusted at us. We ate at stall number 14 but also had stall number 1 suggested to us by friends. The riad owners had endorsed number 1 for seafood. We had bread with dips (smoked aubergine and tomato) calamari, chips, bread and soft drinks for approximately £15 for us both. The prices in the square all seemed to be very good value for your money. We had choruses of “two years no diarrhoea” chanted at us from one restaurant which stuck in my head.
Another tip for the square expect to see snake charmers, monkeys on leads, henna ladies, dancers,
Le Salama, just off the main square behind Cafe de France has a great skybar for a drink, and has a fun decor. There is a happy hour here for most of the day just excluding the hours 14:00 to 15:00.
On the way home, I found some incredible jam biscuits from a seller. A quick mint tea before bed.
Breakfast at the Riad followed by a taxi to the Jardin Majorelle ( Please see another blog on this garden)
Further exploring the souks, there are lots of different sections for example, there is a metalwork section and another area for weaving.
We spent this afternoon relaxing in our gorgeous riad and sun bathing on our new beach blankets purchased at the souk (sometimes you can forget to take time to chill on holiday especially in a city like Marrakech where there is so much to see, taste and do!)
Dinner – Il Limoni – outstanding food, decor and staff! This was recommended by the riad owners and I had not heard of it in blogs/reviews before traveling to Marrakech. It was hands down the best restaurant in Marrakech for us. Excellent tagine and also offered italian food too. The tables are beneath lemon trees and a fountain in the centrepiece of the courtyard! Very beautiful and extremely reasonably priced for the high quality food, setting and staff.
Breakfast served at our riad.
For lunch we ate at Nomad , I would recommend booking as we were very lucky and managed to bag ourselves a spot overlooking the markets below we saw lots of couples and groups turned away for not having a booking. We shared the Nomad burger: spiced lamb burger with sautéed aubergine/eggplant, caramelised onion and harissa mayonnaise and also a feta and courgette fritters served with minted yoghurt. Followed by an incredible pudding (it is worth going here just for the pudding alone!) The Saffron scented Moroccan Date cake with fresh whipped cream and salted caramel sauce. It was the perfect rival of the old classic sticky toffee pudd. All that shopping had made me hungry!
Hammam spa treatment at Rosa Bonheur(see my blog post on this individually for more information).
For dinner we ate at the restaurant called Le Foundouk choosing to sit on the roof terrace. This was a wonderful dining experience and they even wash your hands for you before you start. Each menu is rolled up into a scroll and given to you in a basket. There is alcohol served here including cocktails. You must must must try the pistachio creme brulee.
Things to add the above if you want to:
- Palais Al Bahia and the Palais Al Badii
- Saadian Tombs
- Atlas mountains day trip
- Medersa Ben Youssef
- Koutoubia Mosque