With a population of over 1,000,000 inhabitants, bustling streets and pedestrian boulevards, there are a number of fantastic reasons to wander through Marrakech on foot. As with any holiday, a lot of the time you either take it slow by relaxing by the pool or you are caught up in the hustle and bustle of trying to get through every sightseeing location before the end of the day. With a walking tour you get the best of both worlds and if you happen to amble along unsupervised you can see many traditional sights of Marrakech at your own pace. Walking around Marrakech is great because it encompasses the whole family and gets you up and about while seeing new sights. The kids will love it because it is a way to explore a new and unfamiliar place while under safe supervision and it may help to rekindle the child in you as you search narrow alleyways and busy marketplaces. There are a number of walking tours on offer which range in their activities but they have received widely positive reviews. If you are a complete newcomer or you are concerned about getting lost in Marrakech, it is recommended to book yourself or your family on a walking tour just in case. Marrakech is known as the ‘Ochre city’ and this is because many of its buildings and rooftops are built using red bricks and ochre brickwork, giving the whole city a ‘red’ tone and making it a sight to behold! Marrakech comprises of an old fortified city known as the medina and the modern neighbourhoods built around the medina.
Not a lot can be seen of the heights of the city from inside a car, so as you wander through the streets of Marrakech, make sure to look all around you. Many of the older more iconic buildings have beautiful sculptures that you can easily miss when you have your head to the ground. Wander around, look down narrow alleyways, peek into shop windows, have fun! There are so many things that you can easily miss rushing through a city like Marrakech in a car and often the more traditional, well known spots for residents – such as good places to eat – aren’t accessible by car. If you happen to get lost wandering around, don’t worry! Make sure to ask a local vendor for instructions, they’ll be happy to direct you to the nearest recognisable landmark. Make sure not to ask a nearby child for directions, even if they offer, as this simply encourages more children to drop out of school to take up jobs like these.
Medina is one of the busiest parts of Marrakech, if you’re looking to have a peek into the traditional culture of Marrakech, this is the place to be. With traders and farmers selling their wares, live chickens and donkeys being carted about and antiques and pottery sellers setting up shop in the labyrinthine streets, it is an incredible place to visit. Located in the heart of the Medina is the main square, known as the Djemma el Fna and it is where many performance artists, jugglers, dancers etc. go to wow the tourists and the locals. In the evening the performers make way for hundreds of small food stalls who set up and sell their stock to passersby. In the evening you can see the smoke rising from a hundred small grills where you can sample and taste many of Marrakech’s traditional snacks and treats. The vendors also provide fresh produce as well as herbs and spices available for sale, so if you fancy trying your hand at a traditional Moroccan recipe you can always find the ingredients in the main square.
As another market part of Marrakech, the Souks are well known for being as colourful as the day is long. The Souks are classified by their crafts and are an ideal location for souvenir hunting. Take a wander through the Souks where you can see homemade bowls, carpets, scarves shawls and even shoes! Avid and amateur photographers will have a field day as most of the crafts are colourful and arranged immaculately. The Souks light up in a different manner in the evening, as lantern salesman show their wares through intricately carved copper and stained glass lanterns, making the nightlife in Marrakech stunning and beautiful to look at.
Although there is no harm in going on foot around Marrakech, it is important to keep your wits about you as there will be almost every form of transportation known to man riding along those streets! Take care to watch out for horse drawn carriages, donkey carts, bicycles, bicycle taxis, motorbikes, cars and many more. The wide range of transport available is great if you want to get a different view of Marrakech but take care as more traditional methods of transport such as the horse drawn carriage and bicycle taxis can normally spot tourists from a distance off and tend to charge extra for their services! As a bright, bustling city, Marrakech has a lot to offer for wandering tourists. Although there are museums and art galleries like in many other cities, often tourists will forgo these in favour of wandering round the Medina and the Souks, as these are culturally far richer than looking at paintings in an empty gallery. Marrakech is a fantastic way to see the culture of Morocco from the eyes of one of its residents, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to arrange. In fact, if you fancy yourselves as seasoned travellers and would rather not book a walking tour guide, it can cost nothing at all! Having lived for many years on the south coast of Spain, Alana Burton often has the chance to visit Morocco and has an interest in Islamic art and the Middle Eastern culture. When there she regularly stays at the Riad El Zohar when in Marrakech.