Marrakesh is a wonderfully vibrant city in the Kingdom of Morocco.
Located just north of the stunning Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh is a popular base for adventure-seekers and general tourists alike.
Whether you are travelling to Marrakesh to hike Mount Toubkal, join a camel caravan in Sahara, trek in Morocco by foot or are there just for a city break, here are the 10 things you need to do during your visit!
Things to do in Marrakesh
1. Jemaa El-Fnaa
The heart of Marrakech, filled with the spirit of its people. Day and night, the marketplace is buzzing with locally made goods, delicious food, and entertainment.
It is truly the place that never sleeps. One must try the street food, especially the tajine, harira soup, chebakia sesame cookies, and fresh orange juice.
You will most certainly not miss the snake charmers, henna tattoo artists, acrobats, and musicians. They will perform for you as you walk by. When needing a break from the chaos, head over to the rooftop terrace of Café du Grand Balcon. Have a glass of mint tea and watch the hustle and bustle of Jemaa El-Fnaa from afar.
2. Jardin Majorelle
As the most visited site in Morocco, this botanical garden rates a close second to Jemaa El-Fnaa. Jacques Majorelle, a French painter, designed this magical garden for 40 years.
Later, Yves Saint Laurent, a fashion designer, took over the garden. Filled with banana trees, bamboo, cactuses, coconut palms, and bougainvilleas, this garden attracts numerous species of birds. The buildings in the garden are painted an eye-catching dark blue with several water features including fountains and lily ponds.
The gardens are open to the public all year daily, with an entrance fee of 70 Dirhams ($20).
You are also able to visit the Berber Museum while at the gardens. Bring your camera. The garden and museum are bound to provide you with endless photo opportunities.
3. Koutoubia Mosque
This 12th-century mosque is one of the largest in Marrakesh and sits at 70m high. Not only does Koutoubia mosque have a spiritual purpose, it is also an example of beautiful architecture.
This mosque was originally built by Almoravid architects and then moved due to not being aligned with Mecca. With 112 columns and 17 aisles, 25,000 Muslims can pray in this impressive structure.
For non-Muslim visitors, you are able to appreciate the mosque from the outside but you are not allowed to enter.
4. Saadian Tombs
Visit the tombs of Ahmaa al Mansur and his family. Beautifully decorated with vibrant tiles, Arabic calligraphy, elaborate carvings, and Italian marble. This is truly a resting place for rulers.
The tombs were discovered in 1917 and were renovated to be viewed by the public. The grave of Ahmad al-Mansur is most famous for its 12 columns and ornate details. Just outside of Marrakech, these tombs are easily accessible and are one the most popular things to see in Morocco.
5. Dar Si Said Museum
Dar Si Said is one of the oldest museums in Marrakech with the greatest amount of arts displayed. Visit the once home of Si Said, brother of Ba Ahmed, once the ruler of Morocco. Now it is the Museum of Moroccan Arts. This building is massive, with two floors and several patios.
You will see collections of leather, ceramics, carpets, bags, jewelry, and weaponry. The building displays colorful tilework, plasterwork, and hand carvings. This museum houses great works of art but the building itself is an art piece. Dar Si Said is much bigger than Marrakech Museum and is 20dh to visit.
6. Bahia Palace
Step into an extravagant 19th century palace where the name says it all, Palais Bahia literally means ‘palace of brilliance’. With two-acres of garden and access to all rooms, you will be in awe.
Built in 1866 for Si Moussa (a former slave who later became Moulay Hassan’s chamberlain, and then grand vizier), this palace has 150 rooms including an area named the “Court of Honour”. It is another example of remarkable Moroccan architecture.
The lush gardens are filled with fruit trees, cypress and jasmine, providing a sweet fragrance while roaming around the palace.
7. Hammam (local bathhouse)
What is better than relaxing on your holiday? Visit a Hammam in Marrakech and your aching body will thank you later. In Morocco, it is a ritual to go to a Hammam to cleanse the body. In fact, it is common for families to go to Hammams together.
In Marrakesh, there are numerous Hammams that offer various levels of services. You can either just bath and sit in a steam room, or book a day of treatments including full body massages and scrubs.
Bains De Marrakech is ideal for couples with joint treatment rooms while La Mamounia offers a specialized experience with meals, indoor and outdoor pools, and gym facilities in addition to your treatments.
8. Stay in a traditional Riad
Live as the locals do and stay the night in a charming riad. Not only will you be staying in a convenient location, you will experience a traditional Moroccan home. It is common for most Riads to have an interior garden or courtyard. The perfect place to sit and catch up on some reading and enjoy a cup of tea.
Dar Massai, is a beautiful riad just a short walk away from Jemaa el-Fnaa town square. With only 5 rooms and an indoor restaurant and pool, you are guaranteed to feel relaxed and at home.
9. Take a Cooking Class
There is no better way to learn about a country than to prepare its cuisine. Moroccan cuisine is one that utilizes so many unique flavors and methods of cooking. For example, Tajine is a dish that Morocco is known for. This is a stew prepared in a special circular pot with a cone-shaped top. This dish cooks for hours allowing the meat and vegetables to remain tender.
Faim d’Epices is a culinary school in Marrakech that offers classes on how to cook traditional Moroccan food.
10. Shop at a Souk
Shopping at a Souk is more than just purchasing a few souvenirs. It is a cultural experience. As you walk through a labyrinth of streets, you will see the handmade works of the Moroccans. This includes items like bags, clothing, carpets, shoes, perfumes, and spices. Similar to Jemaa El-Fnaa, it will be very busy and you might just bump into a snake charmer if you aren’t looking.
When shopping at a souk or Jemaa El-Fnaa, it is important to remain relaxed but aware. These parts of the city are chaotic and you are likely to get lost. Again, it’s all a part of the cultural experience.