Although Marrakech is not the capital of the country, it is probably the most famous city in all of Morocco and the ideal place to start learning about this amazing North-African country. It is the third-largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat.
Sunset in Marrakech
Even though Marrakech is called the red city because of the color of its famous red walls, every other shade of color in the chaotic streets of its medina, the green and blue of the Majorelle Gardens, or the indescribable multicolored palette of the lively Jemaa-el-Fna Square are also present.
Fun Fact: The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) wakush, which means “Land of God”.
Top 35 Things To Do In Marrakech
There is much to see and do in Marrakech. An entire day can be dedicated to wandering around all the different souks, seeking out the best bargains. The city also offers several historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums.
In this travel guide, we are going to tell you the best 35 things to see and do in Marrakech.
1. Start big by wandering around Jemaa el-Fna square, the heart of Marrakech’s medina. It could be considered as the pure essence of the city, a place full of life, a hive of characters, vendors, improvised restaurants, fruit stands, and (more or less) eye-catching shows.
Jemaa El-Fnaa is the highlight of any Marrakech night. Scores of stalls sell a wide array of Moroccan fare and you will almost certainly be accosted by women wanting to give you a henna tattoo. Enjoy the various shows, but be prepared to give some dirham to watch. By day it is largely filled with snake charmers and people with monkeys, as well as some of the more common stalls.
Tip: to fully appreciate this place, the best thing to do is to go up to a rooftop terrace at sunset (the one at Café Glacier is very good) and enjoy the show while drinking a mint tea.
Warning: Something that unfortunately still exists is animals on display like monkeys and snakes.
2. Take a free city tour with a local guide, it’s one of the best ways to get to know this mysterious city. At the end of the tour, don’t be stingy and leave a good tip, the guides will take care of it! Ours told us a thousand things about the city.
The tour lasted about 4 hours and we found it super complete! You can book it here. It’s one of the best things to see and do in Marrakech, don’t hesitate to sign up!
3. The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque is the most famous icon of Marrakech. At 77 meters high, it conquers the city’s sky and becomes the target of tourists’ cameras at any time of the day. It is said that the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque is to Marrakech as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.
Although access is reserved for Muslims (it seems that the only large mosque that can be visited by non-muslims in Morocco is the one in Casablanca), it is well worth simply seeing it from the outside.
Tip: At night, the mosque is beautifully lit.
4. You won’t have to go far to get the best views of this emblematic tower. The Parque Lalla Hasna is at the back, with a fountain in the middle of the walkway that is aligned with the mosque. For us, the view is one of those that cannot be forgotten.
5. Another thing to do in Marrakech is to visit the Saadian tombs, where the members of the Saadian dynasty (and their servants) rest forever. Do not miss the Hall of Twelve Columns, with the tombs of Ahmad Al-Mansur (Sultan from 1578 to 1603) and his family members.
The twelve exquisitely carved marble columns are crowned with a wonderful wooden dome. The entrance costs 70 dirhams. It is better to go in the afternoon if you want to skip the crowds.
It’s rather small so it does not take a lot of time to explore. While here, look for the tombs of Jews and Christians; they are noted by their different markings and direction of the tomb.
6. The Madrasa Ben Youssef is one of the essential visits of Marrakech. Madrasas are Muslim schools where the Koran is studied, but also other subjects of general culture.
This is the most important one in the country, and its architecture and decoration is impressive.
7. Cross the Bab Agnaou Gate, one of the old entrances that were distributed by the wall of Marrakech. For us it is the most beautiful, but it is not the only one: other interesting gates are Bab el Jedid, Bab Doukkala and Bab el Khemis. The old city is surrounded by a wall that is still standing today and that measures almost 20km!
8. Go and see the Bahia Palace which was built at the end of the 19th century with the idea of creating nothing less than the most beautiful palace in the world. We do not know if it was achieved… what we can say is that it is one of the best things to do in Marrakech.
It is a complex of more than 100 rooms full of details, paintings, tiles, stained glass, and marble. And it is considered by many as one of the great masterpieces of Moroccan architecture. The entrance fee is 70 dirhams (approx. $10 USD).
Interior architecture of Bahia palace
9. Another interesting palace in the old part of Marrakech is the El Badi Palace. At first glance it may look like “just ruins” but, as they say, they are “ruins with a lot of charm”. Originally, it had more than 300 rooms, all decorated with luxury materials and styles of the time.
The only thing to note is the entrance fee, which like almost everything else in the city, costs 70 dirhams.
10. Take away all your fears and get lost in the souks (markets) of Marrakech’s medina. No trip to Marrakech is complete without the tour of Souks.
Just near the Place Djemaa El- Fna there is the marketplace. Anything typically Morrocan is here – from gorgeous Kaftans to aromatic spices. In the past, the streets were grouped by the type of product, as in medieval Europe with the guilds, so there was the souk of the blacksmiths, the spice souk, the carpet souk.
Today it is more like a tangle of stalls with souvenirs for tourists, although if you go a little further north, you can see more authentic shops and workshops.
Tip: Be patient, practice your haggling technique, and if someone tells you to follow them to the Berber market (or somewhere else…) don’t go!
11. Take advantage of your stay to stay in the traditional style: in a Riad (Casba). These are small hotels with several rooms distributed around a central courtyard. They are usually very beautiful, welcoming, with typical Moroccan architecture and decoration.
If you’re not on a budget, you can stay in one of the most beautiful luxury hotels in the world: La Mamounia.
12. The Palm Grove of Marrakech, with more than 100,000 palm trees, can be an interesting place on your trip. It’s like an oasis with camel rides.
13. Did you know that Marrakech has a Jewish quarter? Called the Mellah, it is the place where many of the Jews who had to escape from Spain after the expulsion decreed by the Catholic Kings found refuge. Here you can visit the Al Azama Synagogue or the Jewish cemetery.
Note: The largest Jewish cemetery in Morocco is in Marrakech. It’s characterized by all white-washed tombs and sandy graves.
14. If after so many squares, mosques, alleys, souks, and hustle and bustle, what your body is asking for is a dose of healthy relaxation, a very good place to visit is the Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden full of local and exotic plants.
And when we say full, it’s like this: they seem to have more than 300 different species; a real green oasis! It boasts a collection of plants from around the globe, including what seems like every cactus species on the planet. Get here early to avoid the crowds.
It was created in 1919 by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, a lover of Marrakech, and in 1980, acquired by the designer Yves Saint Laurent. The price to enter the garden is 70 dirhams and that of the annexed museum is 100 dirhams.
Tip: Inside the gardens is also the Berber Museum, which shows a slightly bigger and more modern presentation than the Dar Si Saïd.
15. The name already says it all: the Secret Garden is a secret corner in the center of the Medina of Marrakech. You can also go up the tower (35 dirhams extra) or go to the terrace where there is a cafeteria to enjoy some good views.
16. Marrakech has a more modern area called the Guéliz district. It is a good alternative if you are looking for new and high-quality accommodation. There are also avenues, shops, shopping centers, and cafes with a more western style.
Here, you can also find the beautiful buildings of the Train Station and the Royal Theatre.
17. Have an orange juice, tea, or whatever you like in Dar Cherifa, the oldest riad in the medina of Marrakech. It’s a real treat.
18. One of the corners that we liked the most in Marrakech was the Rahba Kedima Square, in the old spice souk. Although the market is not as local as it might have been some time ago, it has a charming atmosphere. Also, around the square are some of the best terraces in Marrakech, such as the Nomads or the Café des Epices.
19. If you are a photography enthusiast, the House of Photography is a good place to spend some time. Here, you can stroll between photo exhibitions that portray 19th and 20th century Morocco. Also, it has one of the highest roof terraces in the Medina.
Tip: There is a pretty cool café on the terrace. The area is a bit far from the more commercial heart of the medina, so you can enjoy a pleasant and less touristy walk.
20. Go to the Quoubba Almoravide, the last remaining building from the time of the Almoravids, founders of the city in 1062 and characterized by a religious puritanism and a rather austere art. You can contemplate it from the terrace of Jad Jamal. The best thing is to go up before the sunset to enjoy the moment as you hear the call to prayer from the Ben Youssef mosque, just next door.
21. Book a lunch or dinner at Amal, a restaurant that not only serves exquisite dishes but also does a commendable social work, giving work to women in disadvantaged situations (widows, divorced women, orphans, etc).
22. To end the day in the best possible way, there is nothing better than taking a relaxing bath and having a massage in a traditional hammam. There are plenty of them around the city.
23. If you have more time available, visit Essaouria! This small fishing village is one of the most beautiful and picturesque corners of the Moroccan coast and although it is ideal to spend several days there, there are day trips from Marrakech that can be arranged to suit your itinerary.
24. Another day trip from Marrakech is to the Ouzoud waterfalls, where you can take a refreshing swim. To get there you have the option to rent a car (two hours) or sign up for a tour (better option if you are not going to do any additional road trips).
25. Since you are in Morocco, why not take advantage of the opportunity to visit one of the most extraordinary places in the world: the Sahara.
There are many multi-day tours that take you to the Merzouga or Zagora Deserts, with other stops along the way, such as the famous Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah.
26. Visiting the Tanneries can be an interesting experience. Even if some people tell you the area is only for locals, it is possible to visit the Tanneries without paying a youngster. After finding a Tannery, ask one of the workers if you can visit it and take pictures.
27. Visit the Marrakech Museum. It’s housed in the Dar Menebhi Palace, constructed at the end of the 19th century. Entry fee is 50 dirham.
28. Visit the Musée de la Palmeraie. It’s an old agricultural building in the Palmeraie, made out of rammed earth. The architecture itself is interesting if you haven’t seen it. It offers a small collection of contemporary art, with a room dedicated to Morrocan artists, the international ones are rather not top-notch. The gardens are nicely made and are a good place to relax in quiet.
Here you can enjoy horse shows, acrobats on Arabian horses firing rifles in the air, horseback acrobatics, belly dancing, etc. It takes place at night in a huge imitation of an old castle.
29. The Slat Al Azama Synagogue is not only a place of worship with a beautiful open courtyard but also includes interesting displays about Judaism’s varied history in Morocco, including photos of Jews in the Berber Mountains.
30. The Dar Si Saïd Museum is set in an old palace with beautiful gardens. While somewhat run-down, it is worth seeing and houses many different artifacts from Morocco through the ages, such as wood carvings, musical instruments, and weapons.
It is dedicated to the Moroccan craft industry of wood, gathering a very beautiful collection of popular art: carpets, clothing, pottery, and ceramics. All these objects are regional, coming from Marrakech and all the south, especially from Tensift, High Atlas, Soussthe, Anti Atlas, Bani, and Tafilal.
31. Visit the Menara Gardens which is a mixture of orchards and olive groves surrounding the water reservoir with the central pavilion which is a popular sight on tourist postcards. The pavilion was built during the 16th-century Saadi dynasty and renovated in 1869.
Note: It has a small cafe, but it is not open all hours. There are no toilets open when the cafe is closed. Free admission.
32. Musee Farid Belkahia is a museum dedicated to the renowned contemporary artist Farid Belkahia, showcasing different periods of his work.
33. Tiskiwin Museum is about the people in the Sahara. Created by Dutchman Bert Flint.
34. Agdal Gardens consists of groves of orange, lemon, fig, apricot and pomegranate trees in rectangular plots, linked by olive-lined walkways. Together with the medina of Marrakech and the Menara Gardens, the Agdal Gardens were listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1985.
35. Explore Jbilets Geological Site, the Berber village on a desert tour. This is a day trip.
There are several other things to see and do in Marrakech, but these are a good start for getting to know the city’s essentials. If you’ve been to Marrakech and think there’s something missing or you’d like to recommend some places to be added to this list, don’t forget to leave a comment!
How To Get Here
Those flying from the United States, Canada, and anywhere in Asia need to change flights in Casablanca (Morocco). The Marrakech- Menara Airport is an International Airport and caters direct flights from London, Paris, Copenhagen, Dublin, Oslo, Madrid, and Stockholm among other cities.
As soon as you arrive at the airport, head to Terminal 1 where there is money changing outlets. Reaching the city from the airport is no big deal as there are buses running to the city every 30 minutes or so.
How to Get to Marrakech from the Airport
The best option is to book a pick-up service directly from the accommodation. The price for this service should be between $15-20.
You should know that it is not possible to drive through the Medina, so it is normal to be picked up at the airport and taken to the Plaza Jemaa el-Fna (or any other nearby and accessible place). You can expect to meet a member of the hotel staff here who’ll take you to your hotel.
Another option is to take a taxi from the airport. Although in this case, it will be more difficult to find your accommodation. A taxi will cost around $10.
As for public transport, there is a bus stop somewhat far away from the airport. We don’t think this is a good option.
Jemaa-el Fnaa at Night
Getting Around Marrakech
Yellow taxis are the best option. The price for a trip from Jemaa el-Fna Square (where there are lots) to any side of Gueliz, Jardines Majorelle should not be more than 20 MAD (they will ask you 50 or more first, so don’t forget to haggle).
You can also opt for the city buses. ALSA is the company that takes care of this service and the price for a ticket within the city is 4MAD (paid directly to the driver).
Best Time To Visit
Summer is the busy tourist season in Marrakech. During this time of the year though the heat is unbearable, the city sees a rise in tourism.
But if you want to dodge the crowds, then fall (October- November) or spring (March- May) are best times. The weather is pleasant and the heat is bearable.
Where to Stay in Marrakech
The best area is to stay within the city walls, in the heart of the Medina. Look for a riad as close as possible to the Jemaa el-Fna square. We recommend staying at the Riad Basma Marrakech, where you will be treated exceptionally well.
Electricity & Plug Type
The standard voltage in Morocco is 220 V. If your appliance works in low voltage then a converter, as well as a travel adapter to fit Type C / Type F and Type E, is a must. The socket has two round pins and one larger earthing pin.
Driss Benchemsi is a writer and an explorer. He’s a serial expat who studied on three continents and speaks four languages. He blogs and shares articles, photos, and videos about Morocco at Think Morocco.
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July 26, 2017 12:01 pm
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