A Local’s Guide to Marrakech in 2024

A Local’s Guide to Marrakech in 2024

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, with a high concentration of exotic and refreshing experiences. Even as a Moroccan, I can’t get enough of Marrakech, and I grab every occasion to visit this magical city.

A typical Marrakech lamp shop

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 (or Morocco generally), it will be impossible to get bored.

We all got bored at least once during one of our trips. Some places are only good for food, sightseeing, or sunbathing. But Marrakech! Every second of your visit will be an exploration.

Even as a Morocco native and a Marrakech regular visitor, I still get excited every time I visit. This city is as charming and unique as my first visit twenty years ago.

In response to your questions about the earthquake that hit Marrakech (High Atlas Mountains) on September 8th, 2023

The death toll from the 6.8 magnitude quake that hit in the High Atlas Mountains on Friday, 8th, 2023, rose to 2901, and the number of injured people is approximately 5500.

Marrakech region doesn’t have a highly active seismic activity. The probability of the earthquake hitting Marrakech again is much lower than in other destinations worldwide. And the thing with nature is that you never know where and when a catastrophic event will strike.

Suppose you are worried about how the city will look. In that case, I’m in touch with many riad owners and artisans in the area, and although there is some rubble in places, life in Marrakech is recovering quickly. You would be impressed at the efforts and progress locals and local authorities make. Some walls collapsed in the Medina (old section of the city), but the cleanup is very effective, and the rubble in these areas shouldn’t be a problem in a few days.

Jamaa El Fna and the Souk – Marrakech main sites – are all fine. This applies to all other key sites, including the Koutoubia Mosque and Jardin Majorelle. The only exceptions are the Bahia and Badi palaces, which are currently closed and awaiting structural checks. If they get the green light from authorities, they will be open on Monday, 18th September.

The airport of Marrakech is operating as usual – if you already booked your flight, it shouldn’t be impacted. Roads also usually operate, so taking a taxi or renting a car is possible. You can reach me here if you have any questions or want to help earthquake victims.

The Best Things to Do in Marrakech

I recommend at least 2 to 3 days to see most of Marrakech, especially if you plan to shop for local products in the Medina.

Marrakech gets hot during the summer. Unless you are used to hot temperatures, visiting outside of the Late June to August and December to February periods is best to avoid the heat and rain seasons.

Suppose you would like to visit more cities during your stay in Morocco and are unsure about the easiest and safest way. In that case, you can check my custom travel packs, where I help you build a custom travel plan with a detailed itinerary, transportation plan, must-do experiences, destination-based packing list, and so much more. It’s worth it if you want to get the best out of your trip to Morocco.

1. Exploring the Jemaa El-Fna Square

Visiting Marrakech begins with exploring the Jemaa el-Fna square, the busiest square in Africa.

best things to do in Marrakech
Jemaa El-Fna Square By Night

Jemaa el-Fna Square is one of the liveliest places in Marrakech. 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, the best is to start your exploration a couple of hours before the sunset. This way, you can see all the square attractions and witness how the ambiance changes as the sun goes down.

During the day, Jemaa El-Fna place is mainly occupied by vendors, orange juice stalls, and traditional water sellers with conventional red outfits.

things to do in Marrakech
Orange juice stalls in Jemaa El-Fna

You can take gorgeous pictures of/with water sellers. Just ask nicely and thank them with a small 10-20 dirhams (~$1-2) tip.

water seller marrakech morocco
Traditional Moroccan Water seller in Marrakech, 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 in Jemaa El-Fna

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 am part of. 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. Moroccan Cuisine

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, there is a dish you need to try. It’s called Tanjia—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.

Tanjia Jars straight from the ashes. Marrakech, Morocco.

There are many other delicious Moroccan dishes to try at Jemaa El-Fna Square or the surrounding restaurants. Moroccan cuisine offers so many options, each very different from the other. So learn about Morocco’s traditional dishes to avoid missing a bit.

3. Take a Moroccan Cooking Course

Speaking of Moroccan food. If you are an epicure and enjoy cooking, once you try Moroccan dishes, you will likely fall in love (Duh!) and Google the recipes to see if you can make them back home.

If that’s the case, don’t leave Marrakech without attending a Moroccan cooking course. After a couple of hours, you will find yourself familiar with making Moroccan tagines and other gourmet Moroccan dishes.

Moroccan cooking course set

Even as a Morocco native, I love attending cooking courses. Moroccan cuisine changes depending on the cities, and there is always something to learn from other regions.

The last time I was in Marrakech, I attended Fatima’s course at Marrakech Cooking. Fatima is a Moroccan chef who combines professional cooking techniques with her grandmother’s cooking secrets.

Learn Moroccan cuisine
How to make a traditional Moroccan tagine with Fatima

This course is perfect for complete beginners. You learn how to correctly cut your vegetables, prepare your seasoning, avoid burning your tagine, and many other practical tips to make the best Moroccan dishes. Learning Moroccan cuisine will be fun, helpful, and worth every penny if you enjoy cooking.

You can book a course with Fatima through Airbnb Experiences. If you don’t have an Airbnb account, you can use my invite to save money on your first reservations.

4. Marrakech Historical Monuments

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

Morocco print marrakech
Marrakech Ocher Medina is a thousand years old.

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. The Koutoubia was built in the 12th century and has inspired many famous buildings, such as the Giralda of Seville in Spain and the Hassan Tower of Rabat in Morocco.

things to do in Marrakech Morocco
Koutoubia Mosque

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.

best things to do in Marrakech Morocco
The Stunning Menara Garden

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.

things to do in Marrakech
Ben-Youssef Madrasa

5. 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.

amazing things to do in Marrakech
Majorelle Garden

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 Art, Culture, and Fashion are your thing, you will love visiting the Majorelle Museum.

6. The Museum of Marrakech

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

what to do in Marrakech guide
Overview of 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. Hike the Atlas Mountains

Cloaked with wildflowers throughout the year, the Atlas Mountains in Morocco are located less than two hours’ drive from Marrakech.

what to do in Marrakech Morocco
The View from one of the Atlas Mountains Peaks

They are a great 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 definitely one of the best spots in the Atlas Mountains at only 37 miles / 60 km away from Marrakesh. Perfect to immerse in the wild nature, chill in traditional Moroccan tents while drinking mint tea and eating delicious tajines. Heaven!

marrakech ourika
Having a Tagine in the Ourika Valley, in the Wild nature of the Atlas mountains

8. Have a Hammam Experience

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

hammam marrakech
Getting prepared to the Hammam

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 that will make you float and forget all your troubles.

9. Have a Mint Tea on Marrakech Rooftops

Rooftop View from a restaurant in Jamaa El Fna

There are many rooftop terraces in Marrakech with a gorgeous city view. The best ideas are in the restaurants and cafés surrounding Jamaa El Fna. They are perfect for relaxing and chilling after hours of agitation and walking. You can have mint tea and pastries (very typical), lunch, and dine.

things to do in Marrakech guide
Jemaa EL-Fna Rooftop View

10. Take a Carriage Ride in a Marrakech Traditional Caleche

This is another relaxing/fun thing to do in Marrakech.

Between El Koutoubia Mosque and Jamaa El Fna square, it is impossible to miss the long line of Marrakech colorful traditional horse carriages.

Moroccan traditional caleche

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

This is a very 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.

11. Have a Squad or Camel Ride in Marrakech Palmeraie

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

marrakech palmeraie
Marrakech Palmeraie

12.  Shopping in the Medina Souks

Marrakech Medina is a must-see for all visitors. Located behind Jamaa El Fna, you’ll find yourself constantly attracted to the Medina and will probably visit it many times during your 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. Shopping handicrafts in Marrakech is probably one of the most rewarding things to do, but also one of the most challenging experiences. To be fully prepared, learn about Moroccan medinas shopping rules before your trip.

best things to see in Marrakech
Rugs Section in Marrakech Souk

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.