Your guide to discover the best 17 things to do in Marrakech, including, hammams, palaces, museums and souks.
Marrakech has a certain allure. Africa’s first official Capital of Culture is a tornado of excitement and activity, full of wonderful cuisine and an unmistakable feeling of significance that cannot be produced. Make no mistake, Marrakech is one of the world’s most alluring places, a city that targets for all of the senses and holds nothing back in the process. The finest activities in Marrakech must be seen, heard, smelled, felt, and eaten.
Although there is much to be said about quietly exploring the souks and simply soaking in all the excitement, Marrakech is not a place for dawdling. The same can be said for sunset meals at rooftop restaurants, while the huge metropolis below goes about its business. When you think about it, the wonderful museums deserve lots of attention as well. Okay, Marrakech isn’t known for its leisure, so take your time. Is this a contradiction? Hello and welcome to Marrakech.
Top Marrakech things to do and see.
What exactly is it? The slave-turned-vizier Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed lived in this 150-room castle, which he lavishly decorated. The painted and gilded ceilings, polychrome zellige tiles, and sculpted stucco remain in place. Just so you know, it will be “wow.”
Why to go? Bahia is loosely translated as ‘beautiful,’ and that is not an exaggeration. Get lost in the beautiful details of the palace’s covered nooks to escape the heat of the noon sun.
What exactly is it? Marrakech is famed for its souks (markets), the largest of which is Souk Semmarine. This labyrinth has rugs, leather goods, silverware, and china of various shapes and sizes – just try not to get lost.
Why to go? If you want to get the whole Marrakchi experience, negotiate with a local trader. Lower the initial price and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind keepsake.
What exactly is it? A three-story riad turned gallery hosting Patrick Menac’h and Marrakshi Hamid Mergani’s vintage Moroccan photographic collection. The photographs depict Moroccan life and scenery between 1870 and 1950; many aspects haven’t changed in almost a century.
Why to go? Immerse yourself with Morocco’s visual past. The rooftop café, which is also one of the tallest in the medina, is an excellent place to get a drink.
What is it? This botanical garden, designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle, is home to more cactus than you can toss a terrarium at and has a gorgeous indigo blue art deco mansion as its focal point.
Why go? Prepare your phone cameras: Majorelle Garden is pure Instagram gold. Though there are some awful photoshoots going on, it’s difficult to take a poor image here. Arrive early to prevent annoying photobombers.
What exactly is it? The French designer was so taken by Marrakech that he purchased Jardin Majorelle in 1980. The Musée Yves Saint Laurent, which opened adjacent to the gardens in 2017, is devoted to Yves’ couture heritage and contains a permanent exhibition of hundreds of clothes spanning his 40-year career.
Why to go? The YSL collection is an incredible piece of art that non-fashionistas may enjoy. It is situated in one of the city’s most attractive buildings, complete with a lovely garden café, bookstore, temporary exhibition hall, and auditorium.
What exactly is it? The epic remains of Sultan Ahmed al-once-magnificent Mansour’s palace, nestled beneath underground gardens and ringed by gigantic walls with crumbling towers that provide panoramic views of the medina.
Why to go? El Badi may be a ruin, but it provides an intriguing glimpse into the power and luxury of previous Moroccan rulers. The Koutoubia’s minbar (prayer pulpit), constructed by 12th-century Cordoban craftsmen, is also housed among the ruins.
What exactly is it? Former governor’s mansion and residence of the infamous Thami El Glaoui, Lord of the Atlas. The Musée des Confluences now houses American Patty Birch’s archaeological collection and hosts exhibitions that explore the junction of eastern and western civilizations.
Why to go? This is undoubtedly the most magnificent structure in the medina, with vaulted cedar ceilings, geometric tiling, and stucco sculpted into exquisite floral designs. Bacha Coffee House, Marrakech’s top coffee shop, provides more than 40 brews in the same premises.
What exactly is it? Hassan Hajjaj’s residence and personal gallery, dubbed the “Andy Warhol of Marrakech.” His recycled pop art covers the whole space, from furniture and art pieces to his sought-after images. Make yourself at home in the tearoom.
Why to go? The kitsch of the medina meets contemporary Morocco in this colorful, quirky structure. Choose a traditional cup of mint tea.
What exactly is it? Hands-on workshops in the studios of Marrakchi maalems (master artisans). Make your own babouche slippers or take a class in tadelakt (plaster), basketry, ceramics, or cuisine.
Why to go? It’s a chance to meet serious craftspeople on their terms and learn how they become masters of their profession. It also makes you appreciate the labor that goes into the things you’re bargaining over at the souk.
What exactly is it? This douiria (guest apartment) was erected by a chorfa (noble) family in the 16th century and has all of its gorgeous original ornamentation, which serves as a background to serious exhibits and musical concerts.
Why to go? From October through May, the museum presents classical Moroccan music performances on Mondays and Fridays. The activities are super-atmospheric, set in such gorgeous settings, and are followed by tea and pastries.
What exactly is it? Marrakech’s Jewish quarter, which has undergone major renovations. Visit the Al Azama synagogue and the breathtaking Miara cemetery.
Why to go? Tours provide insight into an intriguing period in Marrakech’s (and Morocco’s) history. Other than Jewish historical groups, few visitors visit this part of town; get there before everyone else does.
What exactly is it? Souk Cuisine offers unique cooking lessons. After a tour of the souks, you purchase for supplies before travelling to a riad where a group of native women teach you how to cook.
Why to go? Moroccan culture revolves on food, and the course is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the country and its customs. You’ll also create some of the most delicious tagines in town.
What exactly is it? The hammam, or public baths, is a Moroccan institution that may be found in every neighborhood in Marrakech. Moroccans travel there not just for their weekly, peaceful gommage (scrub), but also to reconnect with oneself, friends, and family.
Why to go? Because it’s a rejuvenating experience, and this hammam provides traditional treatments – cleanses, masques, and massages – in opulent settings.
What exactly is it? Moroccan food is known for its complex, fragrant flavors. The classic spice souk, Place des Épices, is where you’ll find vendors selling anything from allspice to ras al hanout (a mix of more than a dozen spices).
Why to go? This open-air souk has a unique atmosphere. Along with spice bags, you may buy colorful basketry or just watch the performance from one of the cafés that surround the area.
What exactly is it? A restaurant-café-cultural center hybrid where you may debate the merits of date milkshakes and camel burgers while also signing up for storytelling seminars, calligraphy courses, oud tuition, and Gnaoua jam sessions.
Why to go? To immerse oneself in Moroccan culture and try new things. In addition, ten dirhams from each camel burger are donated to charity.
What exactly is it? The vast open square at the heart of the medina is a Unesco world heritage site and one of Marrakech’s most popular attractions. Snake charmers, street entertainers, and overzealous henna artists can be found at every turn.
Why to go? Every night, locals and tourists flock to the Jemaa, drawn by the never-ending hoopla and halqa (street theatre). Grab a bite from one of the barbecue stalls, listen to some music, and then head up to a rooftop bar to watch the sunset.
What exactly is it? Gueliz, the so-called ‘New Town’ of the 1930s, is located a short distance west of the medina. There are plenty of European-style shopping malls and small homeware boutiques, as well as a great selection of bars and restaurants for a post-retail therapy pit stop.
Why to go? Gueliz is Marrakech’s modern face, and it is here that you will find the city’s best restaurants. Its relaxed atmosphere is a welcome change from the ferocity of the medina.
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