I finally got to visit Marrakech! My mom and I had been eyeing it out for a very long time and we booked our tickets in the end. On our first day we had a very vague itinerary. We arrived at 10AM and had a full day to ourselves. Having woken up 3.30AM to catch our flight from Stansted we needed some time to freshen up and ended up relaxing for a few hours at our hotel before heading out to the main square Jeema El Fna. This is one of the biggest hotspots in Marrakech, not only for tourists but also for the locals. Its a buzzing market place with a lot of character, colour, entertainment, live music and food. The oldest mosque in Marrakech and the biggest souk can also be found in this square. Picture something out of Aladdin – where else do you need to be?
We honestly just browsed around aimlessly for a few hours. In the center of the main square are four rows of food stalls opening at 4PM. With so many food options to choose from, I picked out a few favourites that I spotted. Here is what not to miss in the square:
One thing that must be seen is the sunset over the square. Watch the crowd flow in and the whole place light up, the transformation is beautiful. We discovered Aqua which has 2 level outdoor terrace and offers an amazing view over the square. Get there early, order a Moroccan tea and watch the transformation. The staff were great and so was the entertainment. There was one young boy in particular who had the sweetest way of singing. So cute, I will not forget him! Also, this is the very place where both me and my mom fell in love with Moroccan tea.
The best orange juice I’ve ever had is in Marrakech, it doesn’t get sweeter than this. Believe it or not, there is no sugar added. That’s just how good their fruit is! Not all stalls offer sweet juice but stall 40 was consistently good. One of the vendors invited me up to make my own – he didn’t seem very impressed but scared rather! Don’t worry Sir, it’s cocktail making that I’m bad at.
If you’re paranoid about food poisoning like I am, especially in that heat, then see the two below which have consistently fresh and good quality food. Busy stalls are always a good sign.
Fish lovers – Stall Nr 14Meat lovers – Stall Nr 1
Don’t be scared to have some tasters either, they are happy to let you try some. I got my hands on a snail.
As much as wandering this square is a very unique experience, it is a tourist trap after all. This means that you’re a target, whether that’s of theft or being taken advantage of just for being a tourist. Be aware that having your beloved camera with you will cost you. They charge snap happy tourist like me to take pictures of their snakes, monkeys etc. A hidden GoPro could be a discreet option, not a bulky camera like mine.
Once you get inside the souk, be prepared to get lost (unless you have a serious memory which allows you to backtrack a maze). Make sure you’re not in a rush to be somewhere when entering. Throughout the souk you will find that most people sell exactly the same thing so don’t rush into buying. Walk around and negotiate, then go for the best price. You will be surprised how low the prices go. Start lower than what you’re willing to pay and work your way up.
They prey on gullible looking tourists that like to browse around. The aggressiveness comes out of the vendors when it comes to business and you will be ripped off if not careful. Don’t be scared though they are harmless and that’s just the culture. Be firm and walk around like you know your business. It’s all part of the fun and the souk is a beautiful place!
We were on a mission to find a classic teapot and great tea after visiting Aqua. Bargaining and markets are right up my mom’s street – we’re Iranian after all.
You’re likely to hear many mixed stories about the square but your best bet to avoid crazy/dodgy crowds is to go during the day and in the early evening. Our improvised day turned out to be great – Jemaa El Fna isn’t the kind of place to make plans in because you won’t stick to them. You’ve not properly seen Marrakech if you’ve not been to the square.