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Magical Marrakech: The Perfect Gateway to Morocco

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert

Morocco is full of amazing old cities, exotic markets, stunning natural wonders and unique culture. It’d take months to see and experience all it has to offer but if you only have a short time in the country, Marrakech is a great place to base yourself. You can explore a hectic medina, shop for colourful crafts and get to know Morocco cuisine. Is that not enough…? You can also take day trips and multi-day tours to some of the country’s most iconic sites, including the Sahara desert and historic towns which have featured in Game of Thrones!

camping-sahara-desert-erg-chebbi-sand-dunes-morocco - camel- trek)

Exploring the Marrakech Medina

Moroccan medinas are like different worlds. You can get lost in the tiny lanes and alleys, but that’s half the fun! You’ll pass shops selling all kinds of exotic goods, snake charmers, great architecture and plenty of friendly (and not so friendly) locals. Tourists are a big business in Marrakech and if you’re not careful you’ll be talked into buying all sorts of things that you never knew you needed. We resisted the urge to buy carpets and lamps (although they looked nice) but we did end up buying a leather handbag for only around €30. Shopping in Marrakech can be cheap, just make sure to bargain! Once the buzzing medina gets a bit too much, retire to a street side (or rooftop) cafe or restaurant and relax with some tasty Moroccan food.  Our favourite was definitely Tajine – make sure you try the chicken with lemon and olive variety – we ate it almost every day for 2 weeks and never got sick of it. Another must try in Marrakech, and Morocco in general, is the freshly squeezed orange juice – it was probably the best we’ve ever had.

READ MORE: Exploring 6 of the Best Medinas in Morocco

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert - Souk Market

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert - Tomb

A Day Trip to Essaouira

A popular, and easy, day trip from Marrakech is the trip to the historic coastal city of Essaouira. It’s one of Morocco’s prettiest towns and was even used as a set in Game of Thrones. The fortress, Scala du Port, is fun to explore, just watch out for the armies of seagulls! If you’ve been to Lisbon you might notice that Scala du Port looks a little familiar – it’s the tower of Belem’s long lost Moroccan brother. The medina of Essaouira is one of the most photogenic in Morocco, especially when viewed from this fortress. The water meets the imposing city walls which are overlooked by the white buildings of the medina; it’s a great sight! Another, slightly stranger, sight on this tour is a stop to see some goats in trees. The goats climb the trees and balance on the branches in order to get a taste of their favourite food – argan berries. You can also buy argan oil and other products during a rest stop on the tour. Day trips to Essaouira are easy to organise in Marrakech, just ask your hotel (they shouldn’t cost much more than €20 per person).

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert - Goats on Treest

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert - Essaouira

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert - Essaouira Port

A Trip to the Sahara Desert

How could seeing the Sahara Desert not be on your bucket list? The towering bright orange sand dunes of Erg Chebbi are awe inspiring – if you’re going to explore the Sahara Desert make sure you go there. It’s a long, 2-night tour from Marrakech, but those dunes will forever be etched into your memory. Some people take an overnight tour from Marrakech to another section of the Sahara but the photos, and trip reports, of people that have been make it look very disappointing. Take the time to go to Erg Chebbi, you won’t regret it. You’ll also pass through the Atlas Mountains and see the strange sight of snow capped mountains overlooking desert. The 2 day tour also includes a stop at Aït Benhaddou, a small village that has appeared in many Hollywood films, including Gladiator (and also Game of Thrones).

READ MORE: Camping in the Sahara Desert: A 3 Day Tour to the Erg Chebbi Dunes in Morocco

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert - Ait Ben Haddou

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert - Atlas Mountains Ait Ben Haddou

Marrakech Morocco - Gateway to Sahara Desert - Erg Chebbi

Marrakech, Morocco: The Details

Still thinking of ideas for cheap holidays? Marrakech is a great place to visit if you want to see the best of Morocco in a short visit. You can get cheap flights from a lot of European destinations and it’s a slightly more tourist friendly town than Fez. If you want to experience a pulsating medina, awesome cuisine and some great sightseeing trips, book a flight to Marrakech!

RELATED POST: 15 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Morocco

Have you been to Marrakech? What places in Morocco are you most excited to see? Let us know.


About the author

Gia Kristel Algie

Currently based in New Zealand, Gia grew up in Manila, lived in Singapore for three years and travelled the world for nearly two years. From watching sunsets to hiking mountains, she loves the outdoors. She enjoys living in big cities but takes pleasure staying in quaint, small towns. An aspiring photographer and budding writer, she is the voice behind Mismatched Passports, a travel blog dedicated to the journey around the world with her husband, Jon.

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