Marrakech and Casablanca in January

Why spend a few winter days in Morocco?

  • not too hot, not too cold – you might need a jacket in the morning and evening, but during midday the weather is perfect. Bring your sunglasses, too.
  • not crowded – before heading to Morocco, everybody said it’s chaotic and crowded on the streets. Not too crowded in Marrakech, though. The most crowded places are in the markets, souks.
  • airplane tickets cheaper – if you’ll go off-peak season, you’ll find the best prices. Also Ryanair offers very low prices from December to February.

Only in Morocco

  •  Ryads – traditional Moroccan houses – are unique and authentic. We stayed at Ryad Ayadina . It is situated right at one of entrances of Medina and it’s the only ryad with a basement. The owner said the Ryads are not supposed to have a basement, but this location was actually a prison before being a guest house. And they’ve kept the basement and transformed it into a spa. I was happy with this accommodation, especially because my room had my mother’s name. It was a very happy coincidence.
  • the colours, design, mosaics – that’s when you know you’re in Morocco. The colours of the buildings, mosaics and inside the markets are very intense.
  • the world’s 3rd largest mosque in Casablanca – called Il Hassan II, designed by a French architect and situated right on a platform over the Atlantic Ocean. Even if you have a crappy camera, the photos will come out great 🙂
  • The Atlas mountains – you should not miss trekking in the Atlas Mountains. We booked a tour from the hotel to Ourika Valley. The reviews of the tour were very bad, but my experience was actually very enjoyable. Because not too many people booked the tour during that period, we received a free upgrade for a private tour. We left the hotel at 9 and came back around 4 p.m. When you’ll get there you will have the choice of getting a local guide or go and explore the berber village and the mountains by yourself. We went alone, but there was a guide who went with us, even if we told him that we are not going to pay him and we’re just fine. He was still insistent and left us only after we finished trekking.
  • the highlight of Marrakech is the market place Jemaa-El-Fna – Even if you don’t have an eye to buy it’s still worth a visit. Snake charmers, monkeys, entertainers, spices, materials, etc. All in all a real experience of Morocco. Keep your backpack in front of you, do not take photos, because they will chase you and ask you for money. If you want a photo with a snake or a monkey don’t pay them more than 5 DHs. Stay confident when you bargain.
  • Jardin Majorelle – you will understand why this became the inspiration place for Yves Saint Laurent. His ashes were scattered here. I loved the garden, it was very well maintained and the colours? heaven on earth…You have to pay the entrance fee of 70 DHs pp and another 30 DHs for the museum.

Good to know:

  • tips: the people are friendly, but they expect money for everything.
  • alarm clock – hearing the call to prayer. It was the weirdest moment for me. I didn’t know that muslims pray 5 times a day. And I remember ‘the call’ woke me up at 5 a.m. and I thought there’s a ritual scene happening in the hotel.
  • tagins – it’s a traditional berber dish, that you should try it. After trekking the Atlas Mountains we had a meal at a restaurant situated next to a river and the tagin there was cooked in the traditional way: for 3  hours in a special pot.
  • Marrakech to Casablanca – the cheapest way, by train  95 DHS pp, one way. You can buy the tickets from the booking office inside the station.
  • transport around the city: petit taxis: be sure you set the price before getting in. Most of them don’t put the meter on.

P.S. I felt very safe in Morocco during the winter.  How was your experience overall?

See my photos here Kingdom of Morocco

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