A Local’s Guide to Marrakech in 2024

Last Updated on June 26, 2024 by Safaa (founder of moroccanzest)

A Local’s Guide to Marrakech in 2024

The Best Things to Do in Marrakech. Marrakech is one of Morocco’s most famous cities, attracting millions of international visitors yearly. It is also one of the liveliest cities you can visit in a lifetime, offering many inspiring experiences. Even as a Moroccan who visits the city at least once a year, I still find new experiences in living in this busy, vibrant, and magical historical city.

marrakech riad

There are the artisanal shops, the arabesque Riads, the historical Medina (downtown), the architecture, the music, the storytellers, the food, and so much more.

Visiting Marrakech is a big adventure and an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in Moroccan culture. If it’s your first time in Marrakech, you’re about to have one of the most inspiring experiences.

The Best Things to Do in Marrakech

The Best things to do in Marrakech will depend highly on your preferences. Do you like exploring stunning architecture? Do you like learning about history? Are you looking for adventure or maybe exploring local cuisine? Do you like shopping for unique and premium pieces for your home? There are numerous options, and we’re going to explore them here.

I recommend spending at least two to three days in Marrakech. This is the minimum, especially if this is your first time in the city. The more days, the better, as it will allow you to explore all the city has to offer while enjoying some relaxing time in your riad, Hammam, or cafe terrace with gorgeous view. 

riad in marrakech

Marrakech Luxury Wedding Villa

Other experiences to add to your list are visiting the Atlas mountains and the Moroccan desert, as getting there from Marrakech is one of the most accessible options. While you can drive there, I highly recommend going with a certified local guide, as navigating the region can be hard for non-locals. I will share the options below in more detail. Here are the best things you can do in Marrakech. 

1.  Visiting Jemaa El-Fna Square

The Jemaa el-Fna square is the busiest in Africa and Marrakech’s liveliest place.  Located strategically near the Medina (downtown) and the Koutoubia (which we will see later), you will constantly gravitate toward this square.

To get the most out of your visit, start your exploration a couple of hours before sunset. This way, you can see all the square attractions and witness how the ambiance changes as the sun goes down.

best things to do in Marrakech

During the day, Jemaa El-Fna is mainly occupied by vendors and fresh juice stalls. You can ask for a custom juice or order one of the juices on the menu. 

fruit stall jamaa el fna

You will also see traditional water sellers, called guerrab, wearing their traditional red costumes. You can ask for a picture and give a small tip of 5 to 10 dirhams ($0.5 to $1).

guerrab water seller morocco

As the day progresses, Jemaa El-Fna square becomes increasingly crowded, with people gathering in small circles around snake charmers, monkey trainers, storytellers, and peddlers of traditional medicine. I love the ambiance of the square just when it starts to get dark. The lights, music, and smells make the experience feel surreal.

snake charmers morocco

Most of the time, people who perform at Jamaa El Fna rely primarily on tips to make a living.

That’s why tipping is essential. I always tip every attraction I watch or participate in. When you list these showmen and showwomen, you can get pictures, videos, and selfies, and sometimes, they can do a whole personalized show just for you.

2.  Trying Moroccan Food & Cuisine

Marrakech and Moroccan cuisine are indissociable. Once it darkens, Jemaa El-Fna square will start filling with dozens of food stalls offering casual seating and traditional Moroccan dishes.

Do not be put off by the street food: it is one of the best that can be found in Marrakech and one of the best in the world as well. It is also cheaper than in the surrounding restaurants. The food will be cooked right before you while you can chit-chat with your friends, family, and the people sitting next to you.

If you are in Marrakech, you need to try a dish called Tanjia. It’s a local version of Moroccan meat tajine, slow-cooked in clay jars buried in hot ashes for hours. The result is a dish with intense flavors and meat that melts in the mouth.

moroccan food tanjia tangia

There are many other delicious Moroccan dishes at Jemaa El-Fna Square or the surrounding restaurants. Moroccan cuisine offers so many options, each very different from the other. I recommend choosing the restaurants and food stalls when you see locals eating and make sure to check my guides on the best Moroccan street food, and the best Moroccan food to try

3.  Taking a Moroccan Cooking Class

Speaking of Moroccan food, if you are an epicure and enjoy eating and trying new dishes, you will likely fall in love with Morocco’s hearty and fragrant cuisine once you try Moroccan cuisine.

I highly recommend attending a Moroccan cooking class if you like cooking- even occasionally. After only a couple of hours, you will learn easy-to-make and delicious Moroccan recipes. It’s worth it and one of the best investments you can make. This Marrakech one-day tour to the Ourika Valley includes a cooking class with a Berber family. That’s one of the best ways to learn authentic Moroccan cooking while immersed in local culture!

moroccan cooking class

marrakech cooking class

4.  Visiting Marrakech Historical Monuments

Marrakech was founded in 1062 by Abou Bakr ibn Umar, a cousin of Almoravid king Yusuf ibn Tashfin. Over the centuries, the city established itself as a cultural and historical center for the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa.

Just a few minutes walk from Jemaa El-Fna, around 200 meters / 660 ft, you will find the Koutoubia Mosque with its beautiful orange garden. Built in the 12th century, the Koutoubia inspired many famous buildings, such as the Giralda of Seville in Spain and the Hassan Tower of Rabat in Morocco.

koutoubia

Away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech downtown, you can escape to the 12th-century-built Menara, surrounded by romantic gardens, olive groves, and a gorgeous fish pond.

menara

Another historical place to visit is the Ben-Youssef Madrasa, a Koranic school and an Islamic college with breathtaking architecture, stunning tiles, and wood art.

ben youssef madrasa

5.  Visiting The Majorelle Garden

Unmissable in the new Marrakech, the Majorelle Garden, a botanical and artistic garden known for its frank blue color and exotic vegetation, was created in 1923 by the famous French painter Jacques Majorelle. With the help of French architect Paul Sinoir, they enriched the garden with a Cubist oriental villa. Jaques Majorelle lived in the villa with his wife from 1923 till the 1950s, when they divorced.

majorelle marrakech

The Majorelle Garden was owned by the famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. When Saint Laurent died in 2008, his ashes were scattered everywhere.

The Majorelle Garden and Villa are now open to the public and house the Berber Museum, the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. If You like Art, Culture, and Fashion, you will love visiting the Majorelle Museum.

6.  Visiting The Museum of Marrakech

To complete your exploration of Marrakech’s historical monuments, visit the Museum of Marrakech in the city center.

Marrakech Museum Architecture

Located in the Dar Mnebhi Palace, built at the end of the 19th century, the Marrakech Museum building is a perfect example of classical Andalusian architecture and one of the most beautiful spaces in the city. You will feel as if you are in an Arabian fairy tale. Don’t forget to bring your camera and wear your best outfit; the place is perfect for taking stunning pictures!

7.  Going to a Hammam

You can’t visit Marrakech without discovering the luxury of Hammams – Morocco’s traditional baths – and enjoying a relaxing massage and beauty ritual.

hammam marrakech

Bathing in the Hammams follows a ceremony and steps to achieve deep body cleanness. In a steamy room, your skin will be scrubbed and nourished with natural Moroccan beauty products (Ghassoul, rose petals, and more) before getting a relaxing massage with pure argan oil that will make you float and forget all your troubles.

There are many Moroccan hammams, and if this is your first time going, I recommend choosing a center that offers the whole hammam experience without you bringing any hammam products or tools. Prices usually range between $50 and $200.

8.  Relaxing in Marrakech Rooftops

There are many rooftop terraces in Marrakech with gorgeous city views. Some of the best overlook Jamaa El Fna square. They are perfect for relaxing and chilling after hours of walking. You can have mint tea and pastries, lunch, and even dinner. Day and night ambiance are very different, and both are stunning, so don’t hesitate to try out different rooftops at varying hours of the day.

things to do in Marrakech guide
jamaa el fna marrakech at tnight

9.  Taking a Romantic Carriage Ride

This is another relaxing/fun thing to do in Marrakech. Between El Koutoubia Mosque and Jamaa El Fna Square, the long line of Marrakech’s colorful traditional horse carriages is impossible to miss.

These elegant horse carriages are beautifully decorated and are one of Marrakech’s most emblematic attractions. You can choose any caleche you like and tour Marrakech.

marrakech horse carriage

This is a romantic experience, especially around sunset with Marrakech’s gentle wind breeze and vivid red sky. A ride on the caleche at sunset with someone you love will be a moment you won’t forget.

10.  Having Squad or Camel Ride in Marrakech Palmeraie

The Palmeraie of Marrakech is a palm oasis with hundreds of thousands of palm trees. Located outside Marrakesh, it is a natural heritage that locals and tourists appreciate. Once there, you can explore it by camel or squad ride or visit fancy resorts like the Palmeraie Golf Palace or Nikki Beach.

Marrakech palmeraie

11.  Shopping in the Medina Souks

Marrakech Medina is a must-see for all visitors. Located behind Jamaa El Fna, it is constantly attracted to visitors and will probably be visited many times during their trip.

Entering the narrow streets of Marrakech Madina and seeing all the local handicrafts feels like being in an Alibaba cavern.

If you love shopping for decor, silverware, jewelry, fashion, or anything traditional and handmade, expect to spend a few hours shopping and bargaining in Medina.

Some of the most sought-after products are Moroccan poufs, Moroccan rugs, lights, tea sets, tagine pots, and Berber jewelry.

Shopping for handicrafts is probably one of the most rewarding things in Marrakech, but it is also quite challenging. To be fully prepared, I recommend learning beforehand about the best souvenirs to buy in Morocco. And if you’re planning on doing a lot of shopping or investing in unique artisanal pieces, this Morocco shopping guide will be very beneficial. 

what to buy in Morocco rugs and pillows

morocco shopping medina souk

12.  Visiting the Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains in Morocco are less than two hours drive from Marrakech and are cloaked with wildflowers throughout the year.

The Berber village of Setti Fatma, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Berber village of Sti Fadma, situated in Ourika Valley, close to the seven waterfalls, in Southern Atlas Mountains, Morocco.

They are an excellent destination for hiking and picnicking in cozy Moroccan tents in the wild nature. Yet, many visitors don’t know about them.

The Ourika Valley is one of the best spots in the Atlas Mountains, only 37 miles / 60 km from Marrakesh. It is perfect for immersing yourself in wild nature, chilling in traditional Moroccan tents, drinking mint tea, and eating delicious tajines—heaven! 

ourika valley morocco panoramic view of atlas mountains

Panoramic view of the atlas mountains

Going to the Ourika Valley is one of my favorite escapes visiting Marrakech. Not only are the views gorgeous, and the weather is more relaxed, but you can also eat some of the best Berber tagines in the middle of lush countryside. It’s hard to drive there, so if that’s something you’ll be interested in, check out this one-day ourika tour.

ourika valley marrakech

13.  Visiting the Desert

Being in Marrakech offers proximity to the Moroccan desert, which can be hard to reach from other regions of Morocco. Driving to the desert takes hours, and although some people can do it in one day, I would highly discourage you from doing it. It will be exhausting even if you’re in shape, and you will skim the desert experience and not see what it’s about.

If you are short on time, I recommend heading to the Agafay desert—the closed desert spot in Marrakech. Agafay is a rocky, arid desert with beautiful landscapes. It offers opportunities to ride camels, eat delicious traditional Berber food, and spend the night in a tent while stargazing. This two-day Agafay desert tour includes the best experiences.

Merzouga will be your best desert destination if you have more time to spare a tour. Driving to Merzouga takes seven to eight hours, and it’s better when this period is split into multiple days so you can travel more comfortably and stop by all the beautiful villages and nature spots on the way. This four-day Merzouga tour from Marrakech offers precisely that.

Safaa, founder of moroccanzest

From design and decor to food and travel, moroccanzest is the space where I share what I loved growing up in Morocco, and more. It’s your destination for everything beautiful, artistic, and made the Moroccan way with love. Learn more about me here.