Travel and Leisure

What to see in Marrakech: top 10 attractions and things to do

Marrakech is a city that sums up all the exotic charm of Morocco . Its pulsating center is chaotic and you will greete by the typical hustle and bustle. That generated by the old and the new colliding and mixing, creating an almost dizzying atmosphere. For those who simply want to immerse themselves in the local culture. The Medina of Marrakech offers a glimpse of Moroccan life in all its hectic glory.
If this is the first time, for a first approach we recommend a guided tour with a local guide, to familiarize yourself with the city. Identify the landmarks and get valuable advice from the guide, useful for the rest of your holiday. Book your Morocco luxury tours.

Let ‘s find out what to see in Marrakech: the best attractions and things to do!

1 – Souk of the Medina

The Medina is the Old City of Marrakech , the most loved by tourists as it is the most authentic. Here you can stroll through the souks , a labyrinth of narrow streets full of stalls. The ideal place to shop!
If this is your first time in Marrakech. It might be a good idea to take a guided tour of the souks of the Medina .

Here you will find really everything, from the famous spices to handicrafts, from typical products to clothing and souvenirs. Indeed, there is a souq for everything : Souk Attarine for spices, Souk Kchacha for nuts, Souk Haddadinewith handmade lamps and metal objects. Souk Siyyaghin with gold and silver, even Souk Kimakhin with stringed instruments! And again that of leather ( El-Btna ), carpets ( Zrabi ) and others. The rule is only one: always bargain ! Prices are never displayed and don’t be shy. Usually the starting price is always too high. As they say in Morocco, one third of the starting price is already a steal!

The souk starts from Jamaa el Fna square and branches off to the northern part of the square. You can only go around on foot.

Be careful not to get lost and pickpockets : getting lost in the souqs is very easy, the alleys are all the same and the market is very large. Orient yourself using the main monuments as references (mosques and minarets) or use your phone’s GPS. If you have to ask someone for directions, prefer women or families. Because kids and locals might ask you for a tip to get you back out of the souk. Finally, beware of pickpockets, the place is very crowded and therefore fertile ground for thieves.

Read also What to know before visiting Morocco!

2 – Ben Youssef Madrasa

Another must-see building is the Ben Youssef Madrasa. A Madrasa is a Muslim school where religious disciplines are studied and that of Marrakech is the largest in Morocco ! It was built to house the students of the nearby mosque and the work was finished in 1565. It once housed up to 900 children! you can discover it while travelling in Morocco.
The most fascinating part of the Madrasa is its internal garden. Decorated with lots of moasics, around which the whole labyrinth of rooms develops and which leads to the prayer room. To visit in strict silence, out of respect for the important place where you are. This is certainly one of the most visited and appreciated attractions in Marrakech!

Watch out for clothing : being a school it is important to wear appropriate clothing, which is still required in all attractions. It is therefore important not to have shoulders and legs covered. Instead there is no problem for the head and hair

3 – Jamaa el Fna square

Jamaa el Fna is the beating heart of Marrakech. A few steps from the Medina, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name literally means ” assembly of the dead “, as public executions took place here since 1050. You will find yourself several times passing through this square and every hour of the day you will find movement!

The square, although it may seem messy, actually has a very precise division into zones. That of dried fruit sellers and plant sellers. That of snail sellers and that of hotels and cafes with terraces.
During the day you will find snake charmers, acrobats and street vendors , traders and much more! But the real magic happens at sunset, whenthe square becomes an open-air restaurant : numerous stalls, cooks with great barbecues, all kinds of food! The cleanliness certainly leaves something to be desired, but you can taste all the traditional dishes of Moroccan cuisine: if you like meat, try the typical skewers of mutton and offal ( qotbane ), but if you want to be daring, go to stand 53, the most famous of the square , and taste the head of mutton! In general, only accept sealed water, do not take ice-containing drinks and make sure the food is cooked well!

Watch out for scams :

The square is a real case, so watch out for pickpockets. There are also many scammers who will approach you to persuade you to shop or gamble, stay away. To eat, choose the stalls frequented by the locals and the kiosks with the prices displayed, and in any case always bargain and clarify the price before ordering.

4 – El Bahia Palace

The Palace is one of the most important and beautiful architectural works of the whole city, truly unmissable! Built in the 19th century to be the residence of the Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed , who served Sultan Moulay al-Hassan I , the works lasted about 10 years.

The entire building consists of 150 rooms and numerous internal gardens and courtyards , of a unique beauty and all different from the others. One of the most beautiful parts is certainly the Courtyard of Honor , colorful, full of mosaics and surrounded by columns! On sunny days the colors shine like never before!

5 – El Badi Palace

About a kilometer away from the El Bahia Palace is the El Badi Palace, a large architectural complex built at the end of the 16th century to celebrate the victory over the Portuguese in the Battle of Alcazarquivir, also known as the Battle of the Three Kings .

Unfortunately today the palace is completely in ruins . Once it was truly a unique palace, El Badi means ” the incomparable .”“! It consisted of over 300 rooms, all richly decorated with gold, turquoise and crystals. Its decline began in the seventeenth century and unfortunately today very little is left. We recommend visiting the dungeons, the terrace from which to enjoy a magnificent view panoramic view, and the large outdoor garden.In June a popular festival takes place here with music and artists from all over Morocco.

6 – Saadian tombs

The Saadian Tombs, also called Tombs of the Saadis , are one of the most visited places in all of Marrakech , open to the public since 1917! It is a tomb complex in which 66 members of the Saadian dynasty rest , which reigned between 1524 and 1668.

They are located inside a garden which can only be accessed via a narrow corridor and the various rooms are decorated from wonderful mosaics. The most important building is the central mausoleum , consisting of three different rooms and a mihrab , a niche for prayers. Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur and his family members are buried here.

Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

Watch out for queues : this is one of the most visited attractions and, not being very large inside, you will find yourself doing several lines even within the site. We therefore advise you to arrive at the opening hours, to visit them calmly

7 – Koutoubia Mosque

It is one of the symbols of Marrakech , as well as its most important religious building. We are talking about the Koutoubia Mosque, 10 minutes from Jamaa el Fna square. Since it is a mosque, it cannot be visited inside : the entrance is in fact reserved only for the faithful. But its beauty is indisputable, so it is still worth going outside to admire its architecture and decorations.

Its history is also very important: in 1158, when the works were completed, it was one of the most important mosques in the Islamic world. The structure was built using pink sandstone, a color that distinguishes most of the buildings in the city. Its minaret, on the other hand, is 69 meters high and it is from here that the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer every day.

8 – Museum of Marrakech

To learn more about the history of the city , we recommend you absolutely visit the Museum of Marrakech. Housed inside the marvelous Dar M ‘Nebhi Palace which was once the home of Mehdi Mnebhi, the minister of defense of Sultan Moulay Abdelaziz, it is also worth a visit for the palace itself, whose focal point is the large central garden , at which center is an immense chandelier.

In the central garden and in the rooms that surround it, all the collections of the museum are exhibited, which include weapons, carpets, ceramics, Koranic inscriptions and other traditional Moroccan objects . A visit to the traditional Hammam is also recommended , which currently houses temporary collections.

9 – Jardin Majorelle

One of the most beautiful gardens in Marrakech is certainly the Jardin Majorelle. It is located just outside the historic center and you can easily reach it by taxi. Remember to negotiate the price before getting on and, starting from Jamaa el Fna, not to spend more than 25.00 MAD (€ 2.30) for this route.

These wonderful gardens were created in 1924 by Jacques Majorelle, from whom they take their name. This French painter arrived in Marrakech in 1919. You will find many different plants and the predominant color is blue . Since 1980 it has belonged to Yves Saint Laurent .

Inside there is also the Berber Museum, a small museum of Islamic arthoused in the former painting workshop of Jacques Majorelle. A visit is absolutely recommended to deepen your knowledge of this people!

Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

Visit the gardens in the morning : it is one of the most visited attractions in Marrakech, they are literally besieged by tourists also because they are a very instagrammable place. We therefore recommend that you visit them in the morning when they open, there will be fewer people and you will enjoy a wonderful light reflecting on the walls and passing through the tall palm trees.

10 – Menara Gardens

The Menara Gardens are the most famous and loved green area in all of Marrakech ! These are also located far from the historic center, near the airport, and a taxi ride up to here costs no more than 50.00 MAD (€ 4.60).

These are one of the oldest gardens in the Muslim West and develop around a large pond and are surrounded by olive trees. Here the locals spend a few hours of relaxation walking through the streets , there is also an area dedicated to children. A visit to the Pavillon de la Ménara is also recommended , the pavilion overlooking the pond and which creates beautiful reflections on the water.

Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

Visit the gardens at sunset : it is the most romantic moment, when the colors of the sky are reflects on the pond, creating wonderful plays of light.

Other attractions to visit

All the aforementioned attractions are a must see in Marrakech, absolutely worth seeing and which can be easily included in a 3-day trip. If you stay longer or have certain interests , there are many other places that are worth a visit!

Marrakech is the city of a thousand gardens and there are many scattered throughout the city! In addition to those already mentioned, the Jardin Secret (60.00 MAD / € 5.50), in the heart of the souk, the Agdal Gardens (free), in the south of the city, and the Jardin Des Arts (free), not far from the mosque, are beautiful. of the Koutoubia.

Museums are also numerousand you can decide to visit them or not according to your interests. Definitely worth mentioning is the Museum of Photography (50.00 MAD / € 4.60), the Dar Bellarj Museum (free). With the aim of preserving Moroccan culture and the Dar Si Sad Museum (20.00 MAD / € 1.80 ), focusing on local history. Among the historical monuments , the Mausoleum of Al-Mutamid Ibn Abbad (70.00 MAD / € 6.40), the Qoubba of the Almoravids (70.00 MAD / € 6.40) and the historic building Dar Moulay Ali are worth a visit (40.00 MAD / € 3.70).

5 things to do in Marrakech

  1. Quad among the palm groves : just outside Marrakech there is a wonderful palm grove where many activities are organized for those who have little time available and cannot do a night in the desert. The quad bike experience is really recommended , with transport to / from hotel included
  2. Camel ride and traditional tea : another experience to live in the desert is that of a camel ride with a tea break in a typical house. You will be welcomed by the family who will offer you the traditional Moroccan mint tea and some traditional sweets. Transportation to / from hotel included
  3. Balloon flight : the balloon flight is a romantic and unforgettable experience, which will allow you to admire Marrakech from the other at dawn. Departure scheduled for 6:00, variable hours according to the season, transport from / to hotel included
  4. Ouzoud Waterfalls Excursion : In the area of ​​the High Atlas Mountains, about 3 hours from Marrakech, these spectacular waterfalls are the most popular excursion! Immersed in nature, you can swim, take a boat tour, discover the typical Berber villages and look for the monkeys that live free here! More info here
  5. Relaxation Experience : Marrakech is also famous for its spas, such as Les Bains de Marrakech , one of the best known. We therefore recommend that you indulge in a luxurious spa and hammam treatment

Plan your stay in Marrakech: flights and hotels

Getting to Marrakech from Italy is very simple, thanks to direct flights, even low cost ones, from Italy ( compare flights ). The city is served by Marrakech-Menara Airport , 9 km from the center. Reservation of private transfer is recommended to reach your hotel or riad.

As for the accommodation, if you want to live an authentic experience choose a riad in the Medina , the typical accommodations that develop around a central garden, usually with a swimming pool, with a characteristic oriental beam ( look for the best solutions on ) .

The best time to visit this destination is in the fall and spring, the intermediate seasons, with pleasant temperatures and sunny days. We don’t recommend Summer for the very hot temperatures, which would not allow you to move on foot, the best way to visit Marrakech ! In fact, you can visit the Medina on foot.
If you are traveling with children, there are not many activities for them, and it could become a very demanding journey, also because you have to travel a lot on foot and in the most central hours it could be really hot. In this case, we recommend that you choose a riad with an indoor swimming pool, to give it some recreation.
Finally, if you are traveling low cost , this is a perfect destination, asthe cost of living is very low , you can eat excellent traditional dishes by spending very little and also the cost of the attractions is really low.

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