HalalBooking guide for a halal city break in Marrakech
Marrakech is one of Morocco’s four Imperial cities along with Meknes, Fez and Rabat. In fact, it is from the city of Marrakech that the country of Morocco takes its name. Marrakech was first founded around 1070 by the Almoravids, although Berbers had been living here since Neolithic times. It became their capital and also served as the imperial capital city of the Almohad Caliphate from 1147. It was during this period that some of its most impressive buildings were constructed, in their unique architectural style featuring domes and arches. In 1269, when the capital relocated to Fez, Marrakech remained the regional capital of the south of Morocco. It enjoyed a period of resurgence in the 16th century under the Saadian sultans, who built palaces such as El Badi Palace.
Until 1867 Europeans could only enter the city of Marrakech with permission from the Sultan. In 1912, Marrakech was taken by the French, when they colonised Morocco, and it remained French until Morocco gained its independence in 1956. Guéliz is the area of the city, where the French influence can most be seen, in its wide boulevards. Of course, the colonial influence can also be seen in the fact that French is widely spoken throughout Morocco.
Marrakech is a fascinating treasure trove of ancient monuments, historic remains and beautiful gardens – the perfect place to explore on a short break.
6 reasons to choose Marrakech for a perfect halal-friendly city break
- Enchanting medina
- Choice of halal-friendly accommodation
- Delicious halal food
- Shopping in the souks
- Relaxing hammam spas
- Fascinating sites
The Enchanting Medina of Marrakech
The Medina is an atmospheric, walled, medieval city in the very heart of Marrakech. One of its best-known attractions is the square of Jemaa el-Fnaa, which really comes to life after sunset, when it fills with street entertainers, stalls selling delicious street food and, of course, the famous snake-charmers.
It is a maze of narrow streets, which is a fascinating place to explore. Peruse the stalls in the souk, or stop and get something to eat. Try one of the places with a view over the square. Many of the more traditional restaurants in the medina do not serve alcohol and all food is halal.
If you want to stay in the medina itself then HalalBooking offers a choice of riad style hotels, which are an excellent choice for Muslim families. They are authentic, family-run properties, many of which have their own small swimming pool. The vast majority do not serve alcohol, and some can be hired entirely for the use of your family group, ensuring complete privacy.
Where to stay in Marrakech?
Halal-friendly Resort Hotels in Marrakech
HalalBooking offers a wide choice of accommodation in Marrakech. Choose from halal-friendly resorts such as the Mogador Palace Agdal, which has dedicated men-only and women-only spa facilities.
Halal-friendly Riads in Marrakech
Another great option for a Marrakech halal city break is to stay in a riad style hotel. These are traditional mansions, mostly located within the historic medina of Marrakech, which have been converted to small boutique hotels. They are built around a central courtyard – in fact the name ‘riad’ means garden – and many have a small swimming pool in the courtyard. They are usually family-run and the vast majority do not serve alcohol. It is possible to book an entire riad for your own family group, ensuring complete privacy.
Halal villas in Marrakech
Those who want the freedom of self-catering and a private space for their own family group, may want to consider HalalBooking’s villas. They range from luxury properties such as the highly-rated Villa Koutoubia right through to those fitting more modest budgets. It is easy to buy halal food in Marrakech and some of the local supermarket chains, such as Marjane and Acima are alcohol-free.
Delicious halal food in Marrakech
Muslim visitors to Marrakech will be reassured to find that all food is halal. It is also relatively easy to find halal restaurants which do not serve alcohol, especially if you stick to restaurants in the medina, and avoid those which target tourists.
Two of the halal restaurants in Marrakech medina, which are alcohol-free and have a good reputation are Nomad and Naranj, which serve a delicious selection of local dishes.
Don’t miss these great halal dishes in Marrakech:
- Tagines – made from chicken, lamb or fish these tasty stews are a staple of Moroccan cuisine.
- Couscous – this delicate wheat pasta is a great accompaniment to tagine.
- Chebakia – this mouth-watering sweet treat is flavoured with sesame and coated in sticky syrup.
- Snail soup – this may be an acquired taste but this spicy broth is very popular on the streets of Marrakech.
- B’stilla – flaky pastry topped with icing sugar and filled with pigeon or chicken.
What do drink in Marrakech?
- Mint Tea – fresh mint tea is extremely refreshing and often drunk to accompany meals
- Freshly-squeezed orange juice – Morocco is famous for its oranges, so it’s not surprising that you can find stalls selling freshly-squeezed orange juice all over Marrakech, including on the popular Jemaa el-Fnaa square
Shopping in the souks of Marrakech
Shopping is always a big part of any halal holiday, whether it’s finding souvenirs to take home, or looking for presents for the family.
Marrakech is renowned for its bustling souk, with hundreds of stalls sharing different wares. Get ready to barter and enjoy the experience. You may be lucky enough to be offered a glass of mint tea to accompany the deal!
What to buy in the souk in Marrakech:
Leather slippers – known as ‘babouche’ or ‘belgha’ – these brightly coloured traditional Berber slippers are made from very soft leather and great for wearing around the house.
Head scarves – you can find some beautiful scarves and pashminas, made from silk or cashmere – don’t forget to bargain to get the best price.
Djellabas – traditional Moroccan dress for both men and women makes a great cover-up. You can buy them in many different materials, colours and patterns – beautiful!
Ceramics – traditional ceramics and pottery is brightly-painted with beautiful patterns and is perfect for brightening up your home
Lanterns – elaborate Moroccan lanterns decorated with brightly coloured glass, are the perfect way to bring back a taste of Marrakech to your house or garden.
Hammam in Marrakech
Enjoying a traditional Moroccan hammam is a great way to relax during your trip to Marrakech.
The experience usually consists of a number of different stages – a steam bath to open the pores, followed by lathering with the traditional black soap, made from olive oil, sometimes combined with a massage. Next comes the scrubbing with the ‘kessa’ mitten to remove dead skin, and finally washing with cold water.
To enjoy a local hammam experience, visit the Hammam Dar el Bacha in the medina of Marrakech. It is open to men and women separately at different times of the day – men in the morning and women in the afternoon and early evening.
At the other end of the scale, is the Royal Mansour, a sumptuous spa, beloved of the rich and famous which is spread over three floors. There are separate hammam sections for men and women or for complete privacy rent a private hammam suite and choose from a range of treatments.
Top sights for Muslim tourists in Marrakech
Jemaa el-Fnaa Square
This famous Marrakech square is the place to take an evening promenade. It is an atmospheric experience to mingle with the street entertainers, snake-charmers and browse the stalls selling everything from freshly-squeezed orange juice to snail soup and sheep’s heads.
This luscious oasis of calm is the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was the life’s work of French designer Jacques Majorelle, who filled it with over 300 different plant species. It is a great place to wander along pretty paths amongst lush greenery, discovering rare flowers and trees and unusual water features as you go.
Koutoubia (Kutubiyya) Mosque
The minaret of this impressive 12th century mosque, rises above the roofs of Marrakech. It is built from gigantic blocks of distinctive red stone and reaches a height of 77 metres.
These elaborately decorated tombs are part of the Kasbah Mosque complex. They are the mausoleum of the sultans of the Saadian dynasty, dating back to the 16th century, and are famous for their intricate marble, cedar wood carvings and stucco work.
This splendid palace was built in the late 19th century and is set in two acres of beautiful gardens. Its name, fittingly, means ‘brilliance’ and it is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture