I visited Marrakech for 3 days in 2018 and on my return I did some reflection on my trip. Morocco was the second African country I visited; and as excited as I was about going, I was also anxious! I had read and seen some not so great things about Marrakech from other travellers and that made me a little anxious. So I thought it best to share my own personal experience as a black person and as a woman and answer the question on if Marrakech is worth visiting.
So as a black woman is Marrakech worth visiting? To to help you decide, let’s get into the good, bad and beautiful parts of my Marrakech experience!
If you want some more information on planning your trip to Marrakech, you should check out my 2 part Ultimate Marrakech Travel Guide!
مرحبا بك في المغرب—“Welcome to Morocco” was the greeting walking down the streets (when we weren’t being called Serena or Rihanna).
Moroccans definitely have the hospitality thing down, it is second to none! They can be very kind, sweet and warm people. Everywhere you go you’re welcomed with mint tea and some biscuits. The people were definitely one of my favourite parts, so unapologetically proudly Moroccan and authentic.
The Beautiful Architecture
Architecture in Morocco is like nowhere else I have been to, it is stunning! If anything, Marrakech is worth visiting just to feast your eyes on the beautiful sights! The intricate details, the tile arrangements, the history, it is so uniquely beautiful and guys, this is Africa!
The decades old buildings were still maintained to an amazing level which was rather unexpected. And then there are the doors! Even random doors down some unassuming alley in the Medina are so beautiful! They draw you in and make you wonder the life going on behind them, I couldn’t get enough!
I’m not usually one to do a lot of holiday shopping but I have never visited anywhere and I mean ANYWHERE that has the shopping like Marrakech! It is AMAZING! You’ll find anything to suit your tastes, everything from lamps, rugs, ceramic plates, to leather bags. It can actually be overwhelming walking through the Medina but I loved it, the bartering with the traders was actually so much fun. The different colours and smells, it’s truly an experience.
It is settled, I’ll be coming back to Marrakech to shop for my house when I eventually decide to get one! Marrakech is worth visiting just to do some home shopping, honestly!
The Rich Culture
A trip to Morocco means being immersed in its vivid and unique culture which was perfect because I love rich cultures! The way of life, language (mix of Arabic and French), the food, the clothing, everything about it was distinctive.
Some parts felt like taking a peek into the past. Men on mules dragging fruits and vegetables for sale, tiny shops spilling onto the windy alleys of the Medina, the men sat talking and pouring mint tea away from the boiling sun. While some other part felt like they could compete with other bustling vibrant modern cities.
For a more authentic stay I would definitely say Riads all the way! We stayed in two because we couldn’t decide in just one, that’s how beautiful they all looked. Riads tend to be former houses that have been transformed into sort of small unique accommodations. The rooms are cozy; the attention to detail is incredible
Having to Pay for ANY and EVERYTHING
Now let’s get to the not so great bits. Imagine, you’re lost in the Medina, and you notice a few people around can also see you’re lost, ask where you’re trying to go and start offering to direct you. Sounds harmless enough right? WRONG! Once you accept, they will either take or direct you through some very windy alleys and at the end expect you to pay them. Bear in mind, you didn’t even ask them to take you anywhere. This really threw me off because it’s innocent to assume a stranger is doing you a good deed but not really.
When you visit, be clued up about this and don’t let a random stranger take you anywhere. Unless you’re willing to shell out some money. Instead, ask the shopkeepers for directions, they’re usually happy to help.
Getting Ripped Off
We finally make it into the main square, starving, and decide to give one of the street food stalls a try. Why not, right? We sit and they literally asked us one question: fish or meat? And then started bringing a whole load of food to the table even though you told them exactly what you want from the ‘menu’. The ‘bill’ (it’s just a folded piece of paper that someone’s written on) comes and we saw about 6 different items on it. Jesu!!! After a lot of back and forth with the waiter, we ended up paying for all that extra food we didn’t order and didn’t eat!
This turned out to be the most expensive meal we had throughout our time in Marrakech and we weren’t even full! So beware! At least it wasn’t just us. All around us arguments were breaking out with people in the same situation as us, paying for food they didn’t order but were served anyway.
Hmm this beautiful odour, NOT!! I think I figured out why parts of Marrakech smell so bad! The sewage system in Marrakech might have grates in the roads/alleys so the smell that hits you can be quite eye watering. The smell of pee down some alleys, wooo chil’! But it’s not all bad, in the riads it smells beyond beautiful, the smell of incense in some parts of the market is gorgeous and the smell of grilled meat wafting in the air, sensory overload! Just keep it in mind.
The Cat Calling
Now, to be honest, I thought visiting an African country would reduce the likelihood of the common cat calls I got in Asia as a black person (Beyonce, Rihanna, Serena, Obama), with some new ones (Brown sugar, chocolate, Oprah). You could say at least they’re increasing their knowledge of black people. I expected it a little based on some of the things I’d read, however, to my surprise, we got ALOT of these and I mean ALOT! The good thing about it is that’s the height of he ‘harassment’ we got. We were prepared after the first few times it happened but outside of these, we didn’t get called any derogatory/offensive terms.
Based on the pictures you see on Instagram you assume Marrakech is all doors and windy alleys and beautiful riads, but there’s so much natural beauty here. If you thought you were in a movie set just from the Medina, take a trip outside the city and it can be like taking a step bank in time. There is so much unspoiled beauty to see! Our day trip to Imlil for hiking and camel riding was one the highlights of our Marrakech experience.
Marrakech is more than a holiday, it’s an adventure. A colourful, wild, brash culture that you’re thrown into from the moment you arrive. Even with the bad, I definitely would want to return and experience everything it has to offer.
So is Marrakech worth visiting? YES! Don’t over worry & just do it!! Take the plunge and it will be an experience you won’t forget in a hurry. I hope you’ve enjoyed my honest view on my Marrakech experience and found it useful.
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Have you found this post useful? If yes, yay!! Don‘t forget to share with your friends, family or even colleagues that might also find it useful. If you’ve been to Morocco, what were some of the things you loved or hated? Let’s talk in the comments!