Marrakech is one of the most famous Moroccan cities. Located in the mid-south of Morocco, it is the fourth largest city of the country attracting millions of tourists each year. Lively and exciting destination, there are many things to do in Marrakech as the city offers an interesting blend of culture, fascinating architecture and beautiful scenery. Also called “The Red City” and “The Pearl of the South”. Marrakech is one of my favorite Moroccan cities. You just can’t get bored as every second of your visit you will be discovering new things.
The Best Things to Do in Marrakech
To make sure you don’t miss a thing, here is a guide of the best things to do in Marrakech. Oh, and if you are planning on visiting the country soon, don’t forget to check my guide about the best places in Morocco and the best time to travel to Morocco. With these two posts and the current one, you will be able to plan your trip smartly and get the most out of magical Morocco.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Marrakech, Morocco.
1. Exploring the Jemaa El-Fna Square
Visiting Marrakech begins with the exploration of the Jemaa el-Fna square which is the busiest square in Africa.
To get the most out of your visit, the best would be to start your exploration a couple hours before the sunset and stay late in the night. This way, you will be able to see all the square attractions.
During the day, Jemaa El-Fna place is mostly occupied by vendors, orange juice stalls and traditional water sellers with their original outfit.
You can take gorgeous pictures of/with water sellers. Just ask nicely and thank them with a small tip.
As the day progresses, Jemaa El-Fna square becomes more and more crowded, with people gathering in small circles around snakes’ charmers, monkeys’ trainers, storytellers and peddlers of traditional medicine. I always like the ambiance of the square just when it starts to get dark. The lights, music, and smells make the experience feel surreal.
2. Having a Culinary Experience in Jamaa El Fna
Once it’s completely dark and its dinner time, 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 better and cheaper than in the surrounding restaurants. The food will be cooked right in front of you while you can chit-chat with your friends, family and the people sitting next to you.
There are many delicious Moroccan dishes to try at Jemaa El-Fna, so be curious and your taste buds will thank you. But let me tell you, if you are in Marrakech, you just absolutely need to try the local dish, Tanjia, a local version of the meat tajine which cooks for hours in special clay pots buried in hot oven dashes. The result is a dish with smooth flavors and a meat that melts in the mouth (My mouth is watering right now just by thinking of it, yum!).
3. Visit the Historical Monuments
Marrakech city was founded in 1062 by Abou Bakr ibn Umar, cousin of Almoravid king Yousouf ibn Tashfin. Through the years, 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 whose minaret overlooks the surroundings. 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.
Away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, you can escape to the romantic Menara Gardens between ponds and olive groves, built in the 12th century.
Try also to visit the Ben-Youssef Madrasa, a Koranic school, and Islamic college which architecture is just breathtaking.
4. Visit the Majorelle Garden
Unmissable in the new city, the Majorelle Garden is a botanical and artistic garden known for its frank blue color and exotic vegetation. The garden was owned by famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and, when he died in 2008, his ashes were scattered all over the place.
The garden was created back in 1923 by the famous French painter Jacques Majorelle. With the help of French architect Paul Sinoir, they enriched the garden with a Cubist villa with an oriental touch. Jaques Majorelle lived in the villa with his wife, from 1923 till the 1950s when they divorced.
The Majorelle Garden and villa are now open to the public and house the Berber Museum, the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech as well as the Yves Saint Laurent Museum.
5. Visit the Museum of Marrakech
To complete your exploration of Marrakech history, head to the Museum of Marrakech in center of the city. Located in the Dar Mnebhi Palace which was built at the end of the 19th century, the building is a perfect example of classical Andalusian architecture and one of the most beautiful architectures of the city.
6. Hike the Atlas Mountains
Located just a few hours drive from Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains are one of the best things to do in Marrakech, and yet, many visitors don’t know about them.
Cloaked with wildflowers through spring and summer, the Atlas Mountains provide a great opportunity for hiking and mountain biking treks, as well as picnicking and cozying in Moroccan tents in wild nature.
One of the best spots in the Atlas Mountains near Marrakech is the Ourika valley, located only 60 km from Marrakesh in the top of the high Atlas. The Ourika valley is Perfect for chilling while listening to the river water flowing on the slopes of the mountain, drinking traditional Moroccan mint tea and eating delicious tajines.
7. Have a Hammam Experience
You can’t visit Marrakech without enjoying the luxury of Hammams, the Moroccan style baths. Bathing in the Hammams follows a definite ceremonial and steps to achieve a deep body cleanness. For one hour or so, in a steamy room, your skin will be scrubbed and nourished with natural Moroccan beauty products (Ghassoul, Henna, rose flower masks, to name a few) before getting a relaxing massage that will make you float and forget all your troubles. Make sure to check my post about some of the best Moroccan hammams to visit in Morocco.
8. Relax on a Rooftop
There are many terraces on the rooftops of Marrakech that have a gorgeous view of the city. If you like to relax and watch people go by, you can find many cafés close to Jemaa El-Fna square from which you can sit and relax, tea or cocktail in hand.
9. Have a Squad or Camel Ride in the Marrakech Palmeraie
The Palmeraie of Marrakech is a palm oasis of several hundred thousand trees, mostly palm trees. Located outside of Marrakesh, it is a natural heritage very appreciated by locals and tourists. You can either visit the palmeraie by a camel or squad ride, or go to the fancy resorts in the palmeraie like the Palmeraie Golf Palace, or Nikki Beach.
10. Have a Shopping Experience in the Souk
Going to the souks is inevitable if you visit Marrakech. The souks are ideal for getting a good deal, but you must be willing to haggle to get a good price. It’s even expected from you!
How to negotiate? As a general rule, first, halve the price offered to you and negotiate from it. Do not feel obligated to buy because you may be intimidated, but do not give up if you are not happy with the price.