Marrakech is a city that can positively ooze romance, if you know where to look and, of course, if you’re in the right company. It’s a city that can be as expensive or as affordable as you want it to be; having an awesome date in the Red City needn’t break the bank. Here are some ways to wow your love without wincing when you look at your next bank statement.
Stroll through the Menara Gardens
The Menara Gardens are some of Marrakech’s prettiest gardens. Free to enter, the peaceful gardens can make for a perfect destination for an afternoon date. Filled with olive trees, choose a spot in the shade to sit and chat or leisurely wander through the olive groves as you enjoy each other’s company. A small pavilion sits next to a large reflecting pool, and the Atlas Mountains can be seen in the distance.
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Admire the Agdal Gardens
The historic Agdal Gardens are located within the grounds of Marrakech’s Royal Palace. Although the sublime gardens are only open a couple of times a week (usually on Fridays and Saturdays when the King is not in residence), the delightful surroundings and the free admission make the gardens a prime spot for a lovely date. Pavilions sit alongside a large pond, which is known as the Tank of Health, and there are well-ordered rows of olive trees and beautiful flowers arranged through the grounds. There are also fragrant orchards to stroll through, with lemon, orange, fig, pomegranate, and apricot trees.
Walk around the Palmeraie
The Palmeraie is known for being a high-class and expensive part of the city. Taking a stroll with your loved one, however, costs nothing, and there is so much beauty to enjoy as you wander. Thousands of palm trees tower above the oasis, with fruit trees and olive trees adding to the natural appeal. See camels waiting patiently for riders, watch daredevils on ATVs, and soak up the ambience.
Explore the old medina
Marrakech’s captivating medina is filled with fascinating sights, sounds and smells. Couples can spend hours simply walking through the narrow streets and discovering new experiences around each corner. Donkeys lug carts laden with cargo, children play in the streets, ornamental doorways protect the secrets that may lie beyond high walls, and you can get a sense of local life from both the past and the present.
Wander through the souks
Visiting the animated souks is one of the top things to do in Marrakech. Seeing the vast array of wares, experiencing the throbbing energy, and getting lost in the maze-like streets can be all the more enchanting when you’re with that special someone. Feast your eyes on colourful and aromatic spices, detailed traditional carpets, olives in an array of shades, shisha pipes in all sizes, carved wooden musical instruments, ornate lamps, and more. Feel the energy of the historic shopping area and perhaps practice your haggling skills to purchase a small memento from your day. Exploring the effervescent souks is free; the cost of buying souvenirs largely depends on your powers of negotiation!
Visit Djemaa el Fna
Djemaa el Fna is a hotbed of activity both by day and by night. An exciting place for a date, you can watch the street entertainment for free (though throwing some tips into a collection box is the norm), or buy an inexpensive street snack or glass of sweet orange juice if you’re in need of refreshment. Expect snake charmers and performing monkeys in the daytime, and fortune tellers, musicians, dancers, poets, henna tattooists, and more in the evening.
Share a traditional tanjia
Tanjia is a traditional dish from Marrakech, comprising mainly meat and spices. While you can easily buy the meal in a restaurant to enjoy with your love for an authentic Marrakshi taste experience, you could also enjoy tanjia prepared the local way. Visit a butcher, rent a tanjia pot, and ask for the pot to be filled with the required ingredients. Make your way to the public hammam and leave your pot of meaty deliciousness to cook for several hours on the hot coals. After collecting your tanjia and stocking up on fresh bread, make your way to one of the city’s gardens for a tasty picnic. Inexpensive, tasty, filling, and traditional, tucking into a tanjia together is a terrific alternative to dining in a typical restaurant.
Tour the local art galleries
Marrakech is home to several art galleries, most of which do not charge an admission fee. Some show works by Moroccan artists, while others display pieces by both local and international artists. Many of the art galleries can be found in Gueliz, one of the city’s coolest neighbourhoods, making it easy for art-loving couples to hop from one to the other.
Relax on a roof terrace
Take your date to one of the many roof terraces for a drink with a killer view. Alcohol is not usually available, but the menus typically offer the Moroccan favourite of mint tea, a range of fruit smoothies and fruit juices, soft drinks, and other beverages. Some may even serve mocktails (essentially blended fruit drinks that are cocktails minus the alcohol). Snacks and pastries are often available too. Drinks aren’t expensive, though the main reason to visit a roof terrace is to admire the views. Some overlook the lively main square of Djemaa el Fna, others provide great vistas over the old medina, there are those that provide great views of the Atlas Mountains in the distance, and some offer unbeatable views of the splendid Koutoubia Mosque.
Step back in time at a historical site
Admission to Bahia Palace, Badi Palace, and the Saadian Tombs is just 10 MAD (approximately $1 USD) for each site. History-loving couples can find plenty to admire and discuss at each destination, though you certainly won’t be the only visitors at each place. Your date may not be quiet, but it will certainly be interesting. See splendid zellige tile work, exquisite tadelakt plaster work, detailed wood work, lovely gardens, and more.
Watch the sun go down
Seeing a marvellous sunset is often romantic when with a special person. There are several places in Marrakech that offer great views of the nightly natural occurrence, but a popular (and free!) way to make the moment even more captivating is to watch the sun setting behind the iconic Koutoubia Mosque. There’s something exquisite about the combination of the flaming ball of the sun going down, the glowing pinks and reds of the sky, and the stately grandeur of the towering minaret silhouetted against the sky. The Palmeraie is another popular sunset spot.
Marrakech is home to an array of terrific restaurants and street vendors to suit all tastes and budgets. Share a tagine, dig into a plate of couscous on a Friday, sample local street eats, order a pizza, and more.
Head to Gueliz or other happening neighbourhoods if you’re looking to splash a bit more cash in the bars and discos. There are also several great day trips that can make for a relatively affordable date. Stay in a traditional riad, many of which offer very affordable rates, to keep the magic alive at the end of your date. With plenty of options for budget travellers, enjoying a cheap date in the historic city needn’t be tricky. Just remember to save the PDAs for behind closed doors!
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