Morocco is the hottest place for couples holidays right now and it's clear to see why.
It's in North Africa so the weather is on point and it has this incredible Arabian feel to it. It's booming with culture, there's so much to see and do and the food is epic.
Last week I took the trip of a lifetime and headed to Marrakech for ten days with my partner. I've been so excited to write this piece ever since and to share with you all of my top tips and why you need to go.
Lately there's been a lot of hype around doing a year abroad and travelling the world. If you're tied to a job or the likes but you still want to take a unique trip Morocco is the ideal destination. It's only a 3-and-a-half-hour flight direct from Dublin to Marrakesh and it's a step away from the usual sun holiday destination.
Yep, Ryanair fly directly from Dublin to Morocco!
It's like nowhere I've ever been before.
When we arrived, we pulled up on a dirt trail road, where motorbikes and donkeys were zooming past us. Locals kept approaching us trying to sell things to us or trying to offer us directions (for a price), it really is a bit of a culture shock.
Once, you get past all the crazy however, make it to your Riad and get used to the Moroccan way of life, I guarantee it will be your favourite holiday ever.
Where To Stay:
If you want to soak up some culture the best place to stay is a Riad.
A Riad is a type of traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard (or if you're really lucky, a pool!). Riads usually have about ten rooms which makes your stay intimate and unique. It also means it's usually pretty quite and peaceful, which is key for days when you want to lie in the sun, relax and read your book.
There are hundreds of Riads in Marrakech and they're all pretty similar. There's not much point in writing a list of the best ones because they book out pretty quickly but f you look on Booking.com or Trivago, you'll find some really nice ones. Most offer a free traditional Moroccan breakfast, which is absolutely delish!
It's best to stay near to the main square Jeema El-Fnaa (but not too close, it's really noisy!). I stayed in two Riads, Riad Lena And Spa and Riad Daria, both were about a fifteen minute walk to the main square, which was ideal.
TOP TIP: Ask your Riad to pick you up from the airport because they can be impossible to find and it's the same price as an airport taxi.
If you want to go all out and book into a fancy hotel, here are my top picks:
The Royal Mansour
The King of Morocco spared no expense making this luxurious hotel. With tiled mosaic and carved wooden ceilings, fancy furniture and an exquisite spa rife with latticework, this place is outrageously glam.
There's three restaurants on site run by a three-Michelin star chef so if you're a foodie popping in here for an occasion meal is a must.
Even the most basic room here is a two-story private riad with its own plunge pool. It's the most expensive hotel in Morocco, with some rooms costing up to $20K per night.
If you're not willing to splash that kind of cash (I'm pretty sure few of us are) it's definitely worth calling into for a look, it's truly amazing.
This is a popular spot among celebrities and nobles.
It's famous for it's OTT architecture and intricate zellige tile work.
It's close to the bustling streets yet when behind the hotel's walls, it's super relaxing. There's even a 200-year-old garden to stroll around during the day.
If you're looking for something reliable and a gentle introduction to Morocco, this is a great spot.
On arrival you'll receive silver trays of fresh mint tea and little bowls of almonds in the lobby. It's also got a huge pool which is perf for days when you want to chill and catch some rays. It's a family friendly place so if you're not into kids, you're probably better off choosing somewhere else.
What To Do: Take It All In At The Souks
For your first day, the best thing to do is just... take it all in.
There's no such thing as a Tesco or H&M in the old town of Marrakech, everything is sold in the souks. Most of the souks in Marrakech are bunched together and are covered, which is handy for days when you want to take a trip to the markets - believe me, that shade is key in 30 degree heat.
Between the strong smells of fresh leather and spices, the noises of motorbikes whizzy past you on tiny streets, shopkeepers calling you into their stalls and the bright vibrant colours, it's a bit of an overload to the senses.
Once you get your bearings, you'll find it's the most beautiful and colourful place and there's also some pretty cool things for sale.
If you're an interiors nut, this place is a dream come true. There's stunning handmade rugs at every corner, colourful bowls and plates, unique trinkets - put your haggling skills to the test and see if you can bag yourself a bargain.
What To See: Jemaa El-Fnaa
Once to get through the souks, you'll come into Jemaa El-Fnaa, the main market square.
Here you'll see street performers, snake charmers with dancing cobras and you'll even be able to have the chats with local storytellers.
It's a super busy place with so much happening, you could honestly spend the whole evening here.
Where To Eat: Le Jardin
Down a unassuming dusty road you'll find the stunning restaurant that is Le Jardin.
Le Jardin was designed by interior architect Anne Favier and it's a true magical oasis. They serve up lunch but it's a real treat at night. The lush garden is dotted with tables and lights and majestic alcoves and terraces above where you can lounge in the evening and watch open air projected films.
They serve up delicious Moroccan food - from tajine to couscous, this is a great place to have a memorable meal.
What To Do: Camel Trekking Excursions In The Sahara
If there is one thing that I could recommend to you to do in Morocco this is it.
Trekking across the Sahara is probably one of the coolest things I've ever done tbh.
I travelled with a company called Camel Trekking Excursions and I couldn't recommend them enough.
You'll be picked up in a SUV, it's spacious and air-conditioned which is key, and your guide will take you to the Sahara. The trip can be done in two or three days, because the Sahara is a nine hour drive I'd recommend the three day trip as it breaks up the journey and gives you a chance to do a bit more sightseeing.
Once you get to the Sahara you'll trek on a camel for about an hour to a Berber camp where there's live tribal music and Moroccan cuisine waiting for you. You'll be glamping at the site, my room had a double bed and a shower.
That night myself and my boyfriend pulled out two bean bags and lay under the stars, it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen, the sky was so bright. If you're lucky enough you might even spot a shooting star!
The following morning you'll get up super early and catch the sunrise over the desert and you'll get the chance to sand board if you're up for it.
The trip itself is pretty pricey, costing €350 but it's worth it as it covers two nights accommodation and breakfast and dinner.
Honestly the best trip I've done.
What To Do: Get A Juice In The Square
One of the best parts about Morocco is the fresh juices.
There's hundreds of juice bars in the square, most drinks costing around €1. They come in every flavour you could imagine - strawberry, kiwi, lemon, mango, orange and they're all unreal.
The juice vendors are also super friendly and always up for a bit of craic.
This is a must on your Moroccan bucket list.
What To See: Le Jardin Majorelle
Le Jardin Majorelle is one of the most visited sites in Morocco.
It took painter Jacques Majorelle forty years to create this enchanting garden that is now an Instagram haven for travellers.
Explore shady lanes, in the midst of trees and exotic plants of dreamy origin as well as burbling streams and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers.
It's a calm retreat from the bustling city.
Where To Eat: Café Zeitoun
A reliable spot right in the heart of Jemaa El-Fnaa square where you can perch yourself and watch all the action from above.
They serve the best lamb tajine I tried in Morocco and believe me, I ate a lot of tajine.
The staff are great banter and love to joke around with you. It's also reasonably priced so it's a personal fave of mine.
What To Do: Get A Hammam
You can't go to Morocco without getting a hammam.
A hammam ritual is an Arabian body treatment involving steam and cleansing black soap. It leaves your skin feeling as soft and as healthy as a baby's bum.
I got my hammam and a full body massage for around €60 in a fab place called Rosa Bonheur and Spa. You can get a couples hammam and massage if you like, it's super relaxing. They even give you some Aragon oil to bring home with you, which is fab because it can be quite pricey to purchase.
What To See: Bahia Palace
The Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th century and intended to be the greatest palace of its time.
There's stunning mosaic tiles and gardens at every corner.
It's under a tenner to see and a good place to visit if you want to do some sightseeing.
Where To Eat: Pepe Nero
Believe it or not, after eating tajine for almost ten days, I kind of got bored of it and craved something different.
Pepe Nero is an extraordinary Italian restaurant that you must book it before dining. It's one of the most photogenic restaurants I've ever eaten in and the food was divine.
Best of all, they even serve wine, which is hard to come by in Morocco.
This is a place I will always dream of coming back to.
What To Do: Cookery Course
Learn the tricks of the trade and perfect your tajine skills.
This is a great activity for couples who like to try something different, plus you'll have a savage meal to munch on when you're done.
What To See: Koutoubia Mosque
This huge mosque is ornamented with pretty windows, ceramic tiles, arches and orbs.
It's one of the oldest structures in the city and has a stunning rose garden on site.
An iconic landmark.
Deffo worth a visit.
Where To Eat: NOMAD
NOMAD is a sister restaurant to Le Jardin but it has a bit more of a hipster vibe to it.
What was once an old carpet store has now transformed into one of the coolest rooftop eateries in the city.
With a strong emphasis on fresh local produce, the lively restaurant serves simple “Modern Moroccan” cuisine: revisions of traditional local cuisine and international dishes with a Moroccan twist.
Spread over 4 floors, with intimate dining rooms and two levels of terraces that offer fantastic views of the surrounding Medina and Atlas mountain range, Nomad is perfect for both lunch and dins.
Marrakech is a holiday like no other.
You can lay in the sun by the pool, soak up culture, pick up "genuine fakes" of all your favourite brands and it's a dream for foodies.
A holiday to remember.