Marrakech is definitely a great place to visit if you want to immerse yourself in Moroccan culture. From haggling in one of its many souks to getting a henna tattoo, there are many ways to embrace the culture. Here are a few things you can do to get to the heart of the north African country.
An assault on the senses
One of Morocco’s largest cities, this is the best place to head to if you really want to get a taste of the nation’s culture.
When I went to Marrakech, the first thing to hit me was its lively ambience. You are immediately struck by people rushing around, stallholders shouting and the strong scent of food cooking out in the open when you arrive here for your holiday in Morocco.
Even if you choose to stay in opulent accommodation in the centre of the city, no riad or hotel is able to escape the vibrant atmosphere of Marrakech – and this is half the reason why so many people love coming here.
As well as the constant bustle of locals and tourists walking throughout the city at all hours of the day, you’ll be able to smell the strong scent of spices and incense in the air. But if you really want to embrace all the sights and sounds of Marrakech, there is only one place to head to – its souks.
Haggle at the souks
Marrakech is home to the largest marketplace I have ever seen in my life, with a myriad of stalls surrounding its main square, Djemaa el-Fna. Even if you don’t buy anything, you can spend an entire day (and more) simply walking around the bazaar, as it stretches out like a maze around the central courtyard.
As the marketplace is so huge, you will find everything you can imagine here, from lanterns and traditional ornaments to fresh fruit and herbal pharmacies. This is, unsurprisingly, a great place to pick up some souvenirs, either to bring home and remind you of your holiday or to give to family and friends.
You could buy some handicraft items, such as wooden ornaments or pictures, so you can have an authentic slice of Moroccan culture in your living room. Alternatively, you could revamp your wardrobe with a pair of babouches – leather slippers – or brightly-coloured dyed garments. Head to the jewellers’ souks, where you’ll find stall upon stall selling gold necklaces, bangles and earrings. There is also a huge range of cheaper costume jewellery if you want to save some money for other souvenirs from your trip.
Don’t forget to try your haggling skills out here. This is the best place in Morocco to pick up some bargains and the stallholders thoroughly expect you to barter with them, with the process often ending up in a cheerful conversation with the vendor – as well as the successful purchase of an item you will remember buying forever.
Get involved in the culture
There are several historic attractions you can visit in Marrakech, as well as tour operators offering the chance to enjoy trips into the desert or to the seaside. However, I found a great way to really embrace the local culture was to stay in the city centre and get involved in things they would.
You could pay a snake charmer to show you how he can make his cobra wind their way out of his ceramic vase simply by playing a recorder or you can add some beautiful body art to your arms or legs by getting a lady to give you a temporary henna tattoo. Of course, don’t forget to sample its food – one of my favourite parts of the trip.
Delicious tomato stews called tagines can be tasted at local restaurants, where you can enjoy scrumptious local cuisine cooked in an authentic style.