8 Essential Terrace Cafés in Marrakech
La Mamounia is one of the world’s legendary hotels, where actors, royalty, politicians and countless other famous people have stayed. With its majestic palace ambience and imperial gardens stretching across 8 hectares, this dream enclave looks like something from A Thousand and One Nights. Here you will find luxury and splendour in their pure state, an area devoted exclusively to cuisine and mixology, and exclusive service. Be a daredevil and cross the hotel threshold, but make sure you have donned your best attire to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb amid so much glamour. And, enjoy the bar terrace with its views over a majestic natural oasis. The best time of day to sip your cocktail – they’re priced around 15 euros, but are well worth the treat – is at dusk, when the light and temperature bring out the magic of the moment and enchant even the most sybaritic.
A steep red staircase leads up from Bab Fteuh Square to the rooftop of building no. 21 – hold onto the handrail to avoid stumbling, and mind your head! Chez ZaZa is a popular eatery with a friendly atmosphere frequented by Marrakechians. This small, colourful rooftop café offers tasty, well presented traditional dishes – chicken pie, charcoaled meat, an assortment of tagines and spicy, hot vegetable salads, all for an average price of under 10 euros. By day, the terrace affords views of the entertaining bustle in the souk down below; in the evening, you can contemplate the sun setting over the rooftops of the Medina.
If your thing is an idyll full of hustle and bustle, this is your spot. The Palais Lamrani is a former riad refurbished by a French couple which offers guests an exclusive ambience. The beautiful gardens in the inner patio form one of the most enchanting terraces in the city. There you can enjoy a relaxing, romantic meal amid leafy vegetation and the pleasant sound of the fountain in the centre. They serve Moroccan and international cuisine based on fresh produce (the menu changes each week). You can also visit just to have a coffee, cocktail or drink. This spot, known as La Table du Palais, is truly delightful.
Jamaa el Fna Square transforms into a hive of activity at night, particularly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It is one vast stage where locals and tourists gather to soak up the festive atmosphere, to listen to live music and watch folk dancing. They come to buy clothes and all sorts of objects from street hawkers, to take part in improvised family games or to fall spellbound to story-tellers, snake charmers and medicine men. But, family and friends also descend on the square to have a weekly feast, seated around large tables shared with strangers. Dozens of food stalls are on hand for you to try national dishes, like barbecued lamb’s head, charcoaled tripe, vegetable soup, seafood or Arab confectionery. However, beware – while the festive atmosphere and authenticity can be hypnotic, the food requires a rugged stomach!
The Amal Center is a non-profit organisation which seeks to empower disadvantaged Moroccan women and enable them to become independent and integrate in the workplace. It is headquartered in Marrakech’s Semlalia quarter and providesa programme of restaurant training for women, where they learn to cook and serve meals professionally. It boasts a beautiful terrace with jazmine and orange trees with flowers that give off a heady scent. There you can try their Moroccan creations (mechoui, tagine, couscous…) and internationally-inspired dishes. “Everything is homemade except the water”, they explain. The price is 8 euros per head.
The Hôtel de France is a veritable institution in Marrakech. Locals and tourist flock to its terrace restaurant, with magnificent panoramic views of the Jemaa el Fna Square and the Medina quarter. Have a seat there, and sip leisurely on one of their very sweet mint teas as you calmly soak up the fascinating atmosphere in the square, accompanied by the beat of the drums and the Koranic chants that ring out at prayer time.
Access to this terrace, with deck chairs and pool included, is reserved solely for guests of the Riad Abracadabra. There you can have breakfast, a drink or simply chill out. Just for that alone, it is worth staying in this hotel, its interior design worthy of an editorial in a design magazine. Peace and quiet, and good taste, reign supreme. A not-to-be-missed destination in the heart of the Medina.
The terrace of the Kasbah Café, sited opposite the Saadian Tombs in a typically Moroccan setting, is ideal for enjoying a pleasant lunch in the open air with views of the stunning Koutoubia Minaret. You will take away memories of the warm, friendly service in this café, as well as of their simple, light, traditional cuisine. An ideal spot for taking a breather during your sightseeing of nearby places of interest – the Bahia and El Badi Palaces, the Saadian tombs and the Jewish quarter.
Ready to visit the rooftops, gardens and patios of Marrakech? Book your Vueling here.
Text and photos: Laia Zieger of Gastronomistas
The main activity of Marrakesch focuses on the lively square of Jemaa el-Fna , full of people all day and all night long.
Herbalists, vendors, henna stalls or snake charmers get together there during the day. Dancers and many different activities encourage visitors to take part for a few coins The square attracts the highest activity with the sunset. That is when it is full of steaming food stalls and cheap orange juice to satisfy the stomach of any.
From some of the cafes on the sides, like Cafe de France, one will have the best and most quiet views over the spectacle that is in itself Jemaa el-Fna.
Picture by Carlitos0802
We have come forward to going to Marrakech? Here our cheap
Rabat is a little known destination and one not much frequented by tourists heading to Morocco. This is precisely one of its major attractions – the chance to enjoy its monuments and spots full of atmosphere, minus the stress associated with other cities like Marrakech, Casablanca or Fez.
The city lies on the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, on the Atlantic seaboard, and is a curious blend of the old and new. The old medina and the city walls contrast with the new city, home to the country’s administrative facilities. It is not overly big, so you can see it all in a couple of days. Following is a selection we have made of the essential sights to see when visiting Rabat.
The Hassan Tower – Splendour Cut Short
The Hassan Tower is one of Rabat’s major landmarks, the unfinished fruit of the city’s greatest age of splendour. In the 12th century, Sultan Yaqoub al-Mansour decided to build the largest mosque in the West, to which end he commissioned the same architect who had designed the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, and La Giralda of Seville. Unfortunately, the sultan died before the mosque had been completed, and construction work came to a halt. The most striking architectural feature is the minaret with its geometric designs. It was scheduled to be 86 metres high, but only 44 metres were eventually completed. The rest of the complex comprises the columns built to support 21 naves.
Alongside this ancient mosque stands the Mausoleum of Muhammad V, where the remains of the Alawite monarchs, Muhammad V and Hassan II, were laid to rest. Built between 1961 and 1971, it is a commendable example of contemporary Moroccan architecture. The project was assigned to the Vietnamese, Vo Toan, who successfully captured the essence of the country’s architectural and decorative tradition.
In Search of Origins – the Chellah Necropolis
The Chellah is a fortified precinct located some 2 kilometres from Rabat. Its interior houses, among other things, remains of the Roman city – after the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, they were the first to settle the area. Preserved in this early urban nucleus are the remains of the forum and temple of Jupiter. There are also vestiges of the early Islamic era. In the 15th century the precinct was reconverted by the Arabs into a necropolis, and features remains of tombs and a mosque.
The Kasbah of the Udayas – Rabat’s Magical Corner
Rabat is well worth visiting, if only for a tour of this walled quarter, made up of labyrinthine streets full of houses painted blue and white. The Kasbah was built in the 17th century by the Udayas on a cliff sited on the south bank of the river mouth to defend the coastline from a possible Spanish invasion. This is evident in its fortress-like character, with numerous battlements and lookouts, which now make excellent viewpoints for sightseers. In addition to wandering through the streets, soaking up the atmosphere in all its corners, you should take the chance to visit the Museum of the Udayas, located in the Andalusian Gardens, which boasts one of the finest jewellery collections in Morocco.
City of Gardens
Rabat is also known as the “city of gardens”, so make sure you stroll leisurely through and relax in one of them. Most noteworthy are the Nouzzah Hassan Gardens, located opposite the city walls, designed by the French general, Lyautey; the Jardins d'Essais Botanical Gardens, with exotic fruit, ornamental and Mediterranean trees, and Rabat Zoo, for those who fancy seeing animals, apart from plants.
Shopping in the Souq
The word souq, associated with tranquility, might sound like science fiction to the traveller in Morocco, but this is true of the bazaar in Rabat. With hardly any hustling by street vendors, you can tour the Souq in search of food, spices, craftwork, garments, carpets and a host of other goods.
You’ve noted everything you can see in Rabat, right? Take out a Vueling and enjoy a visit to this city.
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación