I left for Marrakech apprehensive and not really sure what to expect but I have come back loving the city and wanting to return later in the year! I had read all the reviews, good and bad and in the back of my mind I was worried I was going to hate the Medina but I have come back loving it! The Medina has many sights to see including:
The Jemaa el-Fnaa (the main square): By day full of snake charmers, men with Monkeys and ladies wanting to draw on you with Henna....all of which we steered clear of. The Henna ladies are a bit of a nightmare and grab you and try and draw on you but a firm 'La Shuckran', no thank you in Arabic seems to do the trick rather than taking in English or French to them. You have to be firm though. The atmosphere is great though and we went to the Cafe France to sit on the terrace and watch the world go by on three occasions. There are stalls selling orange juice and dried fruit and souvenir stalls all around with streets leading to the many Souks. By night the food stalls arrive along with the musicians and entertainers. It's mad but again has a great atmosphere. You will have men coming up and putting their arms around you to have pictures taken....one such group asking us for 100 euros! Keep small notes in a pocket so that you can give them say 20 dirhams and then show them you have no more although they will be pushy. A money belt is a good idea, one guy we met had had his wallet stolen in the square. We were told to eat at the inner stalls but getting there is tough with everyone trying to get you to eat at theirs. In the end we found a simple looking stall on one of the outside corners where it looked like only locals were eating...they didn't try and drag us in and they didn't have a big display showing what they were selling so we decided this was the place for us and had a lovely selection of kebabs, sausages and of course the gorgeous bread. The Square is touristy, my husband described it as the Blackpool of Marrakech, but it's fun and so long as you keeps your wits about you, you'll have a great time!
The Souks: Wander and get lost, it's the only way to do it. There is so much to see and buy. We wanted to get a djellaba (the hooded gown the men wear) and went to the Maison du Kaftan which was horrendously expensive. At first we were quoted 1800 dirhams which is over a £100 for a plain one. We got him down to 600dh which was still far too expensive. A little wander further on and we saw a little covered market off the souks selling pretty much the same thing....opening price 200 dh which we eventually got for 160dh, about £12 and we really pleased with our bargain. Shop around for things, it's amazing how much of a difference in price there is from place to place and if you're not happy with the price, walk away. They'll probably chase you down or if not, try the next stall! We did a cooking class and went shopping at the locals food market. The fruit and veg was really good quality and our chicken was killed freshly for us, not for the faint hearted but you certainly knew what you were about to cook with and eat was fresh.
The Tanneries: we weren't planning on a trip here but ended up doing a tour. Ask how much your guide wants before you go in. They tried to rip us off here by asking for 300 dh (about £25) after the tour which we refused to pay. You will be taken to a shop and given mint tea and shown all the rugs, bags, shoes and carpets they make and you will get the hard sell. I bought a bag but had been intending to and thought here was as good a place as any, especially after seeing what the men go through to make the leather. If you don't want to buy anything it may be worth trying to get out of going into the shop in the first place! The tanneries stink...pigeon excrement is used to soften the leather...the conditions are poor, men are up their necks in it and apparently the colourants used are no longer natural but chemical and carcinogenic which is a terrible shame but it is a real eye opener and we were really glad we went. We visited the Berber tannery so I'm not sure how this compared to the Arabic tannery.
Museum of Marrakech and Ben Youssef Madrassa: the museum is quite small but a great example of the architecture. Everything is written in French so if you are English speaking it may be worth employing a guide. The Ben Youssef Madrassa was an Islamic college and shows how the students lived in small living quarters, apparently the better family you were from, the better room you got but they are all so small. Amazing building, definitely worth a look and quite cheap to get in.
There is far more than just this in the Medina, you will have to choose what you want to do as there is so much to see. Some great little restaurants in the back streets and a few up market bars springing up. I can't wait to go back and see more!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.