Is Marrakech already on your list of places to visit?
Founded almost a thousand years ago, Marrakech is one of the great cities of the Maghreb.
But make no mistake, Marrakech isn’t some petrified piece of history. Instead, this centuries-old trading hub is a creative sweet spot where ideas thrive, and a buzz of entrepreneurialism charges the air with an intoxicating and, sometimes, intimidating energy.
This isn’t a place you can gracefully glide through. Instead, you’ll find yourself telling jokes with snake charmers, hankering after the latest henna tattoo, or getting a scrub down in the local hammam.
The best things to do in Marrakech must be seen, heard, smelt, touched, and tasted.
Pause for unexpected beauty and banter, after all, what are the chances you’ll come this way again? Please read on to experience the city’s unique energy, buzzing nightlife, and everyday life with the locals.
Getting To Know Marrakech
In This section, I am going to give every detail you need to know about Marrakesh city starting from its history to weather to the exact location. If you are interested in the travel guide then you can simply skip this.
Marrakech History: In A Bird’s Eye View
Founded by the Almoravids around 1062, Marrakech is one of Morocco’s imperial cities alongside Fes, Rabat, and Méknes. Sultan Youssef ben Tachfine takes credit for constructing the defensive walls that line the city’s edge. It became the capital city of the Almoravid Empire and developed into an Islamic city of vast wealth and commercial power.
Marrakech was then captured in 1147 by the Almohads, and all religious buildings were destroyed. These people then began to remodel the city and created a kasbah, stunning gardens, and a massive gate known as Bab Agnaou and rebuilt the mosques.
However, their reign didn’t last long, and the Merenids soon took over in the mid-1200s, leading the city into a decline where lots of income was lost, and Marrakech became neglected.
In 1522 the Saadians arrived and took over Morocco, declaring Marrakech the capital in 1551. Mohammed Al Mahdi ensured that Marrakech would return to its former glory and began to restore the red city. During this time, beautiful structures were built, including the Al Bedi Palace, which continues to show the life of the Sultan inside.
By the early 1600s, Marrakech had regained its former wealth and status and soon became the most influential city in Morocco. However, this power didn’t last long as the Alaouites captured the city in 1669, and Marrakech slipped back into decline and disrepair again, making Fez the new capital.
Around a century passed before Mohammed III started to restore most of the city of Marrakech to its former state. However, nothing much changed until 1911, when the French invaded Morocco. France then held the country as a protectorate through the Treaty of Fez, and the Pasha El Glaoua governed it.
During this time, the Pasha quickly became one of Morocco’s most influential and richest men. The country made significant economic improvement because of the infrastructure developed by the French, and the Medina of Marrakech was completed.
In 1956 Morocco finally gained independence from France, and Mohammed V, the new king, took over the throne, stripping the power and wealth from the Glaoua family. In 1911 the capital was moved to Rabat, and Marrakech was made the capital of the mid-southwestern region of the country.
The city’s main economy is based on tourism and agricultural products, exported mainly to Europe and its vegetable canned food. The region’s commercial center is where the minerals extracted from the Atlas are transported.
Famous worldwide for its marketplaces, otherwise known as Souks, Marrakesh is nestled like an enchanting pink gem at the base of the spectacular Atlas Mountains. Adding to the mystical allure of the city are the taut tradesmen and craftsmen on the street who entertain and invite curious visitors.
Sometimes called the red town because of the red Kasbah wall surrounding the medina, Marrakech’s mesmerizing red walls, palaces, and alleys offer tranquillity and a restive hub for locals and visitors. The city is held together by a prosperous and lively tradition that traces back a thousand years.
While the city’s biggest impression might be the enchanting red wall, walking down to the city square takes an exploring spirit and a curious mind. Other exhilarating sights will prevail in the courtyard as snake charmers, hawkers, and street musicians fill the streets, adding to Marrakech‘s quaint charm.
The Weather In Marrakech City
Rainfall is scarce since it amounts to 250 millimeters (9.8 inches) per year and occurs from October to May, while from June to September, it rarely rains. The rains, albeit rare, occur in the form of downpours or thunderstorms and can occasionally be intense. Here is the average precipitation.
Winter, from December to February, is mild in the daytime, but it can get cold at night: the temperature often drops below 5 °C (41 °F) and sometimes reaches the freezing mark. There are several sunny periods, alternating with cloudy and rainy weather periods. When the wind blows from the south, the temperature can approach 30 °C (86 °F) even in winter.
Spring, from March to mid-June, is pleasantly warm, and the rains become increasingly rarer. At night, it can still get cold in March and sometimes in April, while the south wind can bring the first hot days: the temperature can reach 35 °C (95 °F) in March and April and 40 °C (104 °F) in May.
Summer, mid-June to mid-September, is hot, dry, and sunny. The temperatures vary according to the period: on certain days, they are acceptable when highs are slightly above 30 °C (86 °F), and lows can drop to about 15/17 °C (59/63 °F), which means that it can even get a bit cool at night; this happens especially in June and September.
Other periods are scorching; the maximum temperature can exceed 45 °C (113 °F) for several consecutive days, especially in July and August, which stand out as the hottest months. In the hot summer of 2012, the temperature reached 47 °C (117 °F) at the end of June, 49.5 °C (121 °F) in July, and 48.5 °C (119.5 °F) in August.
In Autumn, from mid-September to November, the temperature gradually decreases. In October, hot days are still possible, with highs about 35/38 °C (95/100 °F), but the temperature is generally acceptable, warm during the day and cool at night. In the meantime, the first rains occur, which become more frequent in November.
Marrakech’s sunshine is good all year round, especially in summer, when clear skies predominate.
Marrakech city is situated west of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Marrakesh is 580 km (360 mi) southwest of Tangier, 327 km (203 mi) southwest of the Moroccan capital of Rabat, 239 km (149 mi) south of Casablanca, and 246 km (153 mi) northeast of Agadir.
A Guide To Travel Marrakech On Your Next Trip (Explained)
In this travel guide, I am going to go through and answer pretty much all the questions that a traveler interested to visit Marrakech might have in mind. So Let’s Go!
Is Marrakech safe?
Readers often ask, is Marrakech safe to visit?
The short answer is:
Yes, Marrakech is safe. Compared with the United States, you are less likely to be a victim of violent crime and much less likely to be assaulted.
Even, there might be news of terror attacks, crimes against western tourists, or anecdotes of being hassled in exotic souks that quickly make their way across social and traditional media.
But Marrakech does have its challenges. You will likely be verbally hassled by locals, particularly in the heart of the medina. They may try to direct you to places you don’t want to go, to sell you stuff you don’t want, or act as ‘faux’ guides who can be difficult to shake. They are annoying without being helpful.
So, the challenge of traveling to Marrakech is not that it’s unsafe but that it can sometimes be frustrating.
However, this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a few days in Marrakech. Just come armed with some helpful strategies, and you will quickly learn that beneath the hard sell, Marrakech is a fascinating and beautiful city to explore or visit.
How To Get To Marrakech?
The fastest and sometimes only way to get to Marrakech is by plane from Europe, the U.S., Canada, or Australia. If you live in Europe, you can also drive down to Spain and cross to Tangier by boat, but the drive is very long and exhausting. We would only recommend this option if you are scared of flying.
1. Traveling From the United States
If you’re traveling from the United States, the only direct flights from the U.S. to Morocco is with Royal Air Maroc from New York JFC to Casablanca. The flight takes around six hours. The connecting flight from Casablanca to Marrakech is only 50 minutes long.
Another interesting and often cheaper option is to fly to Madrid with Iberia Airlines and from there directly to Marrakech. This might be a better option if you are flying from other cities in the U.S. since there are more direct flights to Madrid.
2. Traveling From Canada
Since June 2016, Air Canada rouge has offered non-stop flights from Montreal to Casablanca. From other Canadian cities, the cheapest alternatives are to fly to London, Madrid, or Paris and then get a direct flight to Marrakech (this can be with a low-cost carrier like Easyjet or Ryanair).
3. Traveling from Australia
There are no direct flights between Australia and Morocco. The biggest airlines that fly between the two countries with at least one connecting flight are:
4. Travelling from Europe
If you are flying from the United Kingdom, the most popular airline companies that fly to Marrakech are:
How to Get Around Marrakesh?
Marrakesh is not a large city, so it is easy for tourists to learn how to get around its streets. Moreover, several means of transport connect the different parts of the city quite well.
Here are all the different ways to get around Marrakech city:
1. On foot
The best way to get around Marrakech, especially if you want to see the Medina, is to take a long walk through its winding, narrow, ancient streets and charming squares.
There is no other way! Traffic is not allowed inside the Medina. Only bicycles, carts, and motorbikes are allowed to move around the Medina, and they drive at high speed, so be careful when sightseeing in the center as you could be hit.
When visiting the Medina of Marrakech, remember to follow a few traffic rules to make the most of your visit.
- Always keep to the right.
- Give two-wheeled vehicles the right of way.
- Whenever you hear someone shouting Balak (be careful), it’s best to move to the side and give way to them.
Exploring the Medina of Marrakesh on foot is a marvel. Part of its charm lies in getting lost in its labyrinth of streets. If you were to drive through the Medina, the experience would lose its magic.
Entering the Medina on foot is like taking an exciting journey back in time to the city’s origins, where there are always surprising and fascinating little treasures to see, such as the souks, riads, and mosques along the way.
2. By Private Transfer / Cab / Bus
Suppose you are visiting Marrakech for the first time. Another way to get around the city is to book a private transfer between the airport and your accommodation to take you to your destination in a comfortable, fast and safe way.
After flying for several hours, you’ll probably find yourself tired. The last thing you’ll want to do is to walk up and down the airport, lugging your luggage, looking for a free taxi to take you to your hotel, with whose driver you’ll probably have to haggle for a while over the cost of the ride before you get into the vehicle.
Cut the hassle and simplify things! Private transfers are a great option to try. By hiring this service, a professional driver will pick you up on arrival at Menara airport, help you with your luggage and take you to your hotel door without delay. With a fixed price and knowing in advance what it will cost you. No surprises, no endless haggling.
Another advantage of the private transfers to move around Marrakech is that you will travel in modern vehicles equipped with all the comforts, and you will make a quiet trip accompanied by a driver who knows Marrakech perfectly and with whom you will be able to understand in Spanish, French or English to ask him for any recommendation. This is fantastic, as Arabic is the predominant language in Morocco, so there will be no language barrier.
If you want to know more details about the various languages spoken in Morocco. check out my previous article about Morocco Languages.
3. By Taxi
Taxis are another of the best ways to get around Marrakesh. You’ll find them on the streets, in tourist areas, and at the airport. Compared to the service in some European cities, taxis in Marrakesh are cheaper.
There are two types of taxis in the city. Both have the same light-brown coloring but differ in size, type of car, and the route they can take:
- Petit taxi: Small taxis are used to travel only within Marrakech. They have a taximeter, although some drivers may forget to turn it on, so you must ask for it before starting.
- Grand Taxi: Grand taxis travel outside the city, connecting it to other cities or places of interest on the outskirts, such as the Marrakech Palm Grove or the Majorelle Gardens. They are not metered, so you will have to negotiate the fare with the driver and agree.
In Marrakesh, you will also find some unofficial taxis that will take you from the airport. You’ll recognize them because they don’t have a taximeter or an official identification plate.
This is not the most advisable option because it may have different guarantees. It is not safe, but if you decide to use it, remember to negotiate the price before starting to avoid any problems later.
4. By city local bus
Compared to the options above, the bus is not the most popular way for tourists to get around Marrakech (although it is cheap) as the journey could be more comfortable for several reasons.
For example, the city’s vehicles could be more modern and are often overcrowded, which, combined with the city’s heat, does not make for comfortable transport. In addition, except for the stops at the most touristy places, others need to be better identified, which makes it easy to get lost in the city if you need to learn it.
There are about 30 bus lines in Marrakech, most of which are located around Jamaa el-Fna Square. As a guide, line 1 runs to the Gueliz quarter from the Kasbah, lines 8 and 10 operate between Jamaa el Fna and the train station, and line 12 operates between the Jardin Majorelle and the Bab Doukkala bus station.
Bus schedules for getting around Marrakesh start at around 6 am and end at 10 pm. The frequency of most routes is 15 to 20 minutes.
5. By tourist bus
A fun way to get around Marrakech is to take the tourist bus, as it allows you to explore the city’s highlights in a short time by taking either of the two routes that exist (Historical Tour and Palm Grove Tour) while you travel comfortably seated.
Moreover, unlike city buses, where you buy a ticket for a single journey, the tourist bus is governed by the Hop-on Hop-off system, where you pay for days of use, and you can get on and off as many times as you like at the stops along the route.
It’s convenient because if you’re visiting Marrakech for the first time, you can explore it at your own pace, designing your route to suit you.
6. By horse-drawn carriage
In front of the big hotels in Marrakech and the Place Foucauld, next to the Jamaa el Fna Square, you will find some beautiful green horse-drawn carriages that you can ride in for a ride around the city center if you feel like romantically discovering the city.
You can do several circuits. For example, the circuit around the city walls usually takes about 90 minutes, and the one around Palm Grove takes about 3 hours. These carriages do not have a taximeter, so you will have to haggle with the driver about the price depending on the route and the length of the trip.
Many tourists choose this option to get around Marrakech authentically, so if you want to get a ride in one at a good price, we recommend avoiding rush hours (8 AM, 12 PM, 5:30 PM, and 7:30 PM).
7. By bicycle
Another option for getting around Marrakesh is to hire a car and drive it independently. In the case of a car or motorbike, to drive in Morocco, you’ll need to have an international driving license for the duration of the license’s validity. However, this period can be one year at maximum.
It’s a good option if you’re traveling to Marrakesh as a couple or in a group, as you can split the transport costs and it’s cheaper overall. You’ll also have more freedom to explore the city and other parts of the country by renting a car and visiting charming landscapes and villages.
Bicycles and motorbikes are the best options if you want to visit areas such as the Medina and the Kasbah without walking too tired.
If you are one of those interested to visit the medinas, then check out my previous blog post on the best medinas in Morocco.
How Many Days In Marrakech Is Enough?
Ideally, 7 days is the perfect length of stay for all there is to see and do in Marrakech, although those with less time to spare can still enjoy the experience. Since Marrakesh is the fourth-largest city in Morocco and is one of the country’s major tourist spots.
From its mosques, palaces, and gardens to the indescribable atmosphere of its souk, every visitor’s senses will be exhilarated after a few hours here. So if you are wondering how to enjoy your stay in Marrakesh.
Here’s how to plan your trip to Marrakech to have the best possible experience:
If you’re visiting Marrakesh as part of a larger itinerary like this one, you may only have a day or so to spend in the city. Even with limited time, you’ll be able to get a good sense of place by planning your day strategically.
Start in the medina, where the center of the action is Jemaa el-Fnaa Square. This bustling space is home to small shops and hawkers in the morning but comes to life with food sellers and street performers during the evening; it can be interesting to visit more than once over the day.
Look around before heading southwest to the Koutoubia Mosque — the largest mosque in Marrakesh and an iconic building. Non-Muslims cannot enter the mosque but can still look at its imposing 250-foot minaret tower and visit its rose garden.
North of Jemaa el-Fnaa is several souks (open-air markets). Those looking for carpets, spices, argan oil, colorful fabrics, or all goods may enjoy shopping; haggling is both accepted and expected. If you’re not much of a shopper, skip the souks and head south to the area around the kasbah (citadel), where you’ll find several attractions.
These include the 19th-century Bahia Palace, the ruins of the 16th-century El Badii Palace, and the Saadian Tombs (be aware that there is often a long line to enter the tombs).
Once you’ve seen your fill, finish off your day with dinner. If you still need to, taste the Moroccan classics: couscous, lamb, and tajine. From street stalls and cafés to high-end restaurants, the medina will surely offer something to suit your tastes.
2nd & 3rd Day:
With an additional day or two to spare, you’ll be able to explore the medina at a more relaxed pace or venture beyond it and devote some time to the new city. Besides the souks and palaces, the medina is also home to several interesting museums.
Those looking to learn more about Moroccan history and art can head to spots like the Musée de Marrakesh, Musée de Mouassine, or the Heritage Museum, among others. Many museums are housed in colorfully-tiled former palaces or riads (traditional stately homes), making them a feast for the senses.
Alternatively, visit the new city (“Ville Nouvelle”) and Majorelle Garden on your second or third day. Created by French artist Jacques Majorelle over several decades at the turn of the 20th century, the garden is known for its collection of exotic plants arranged around photogenic tiled fountains and deep-blue buildings. It’s located north of the old city, adjacent to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum.
4th & 5th Day:
A 4-5-day trip to Marrakesh will allow you to spread out your sightseeing, spending longer at each attraction with ample time for breaks. One must-do is stopping at a café or street vendor for a Moroccan specialty — heavily-sweetened mint tea. It’s traditional to share this tea with guests, so you may also be offered a complimentary glass at your accommodation or when shopping in the souk.
Another interesting activity in Marrakesh is visiting a hammam (traditional bathhouse). You’ll be bathed and given exfoliating treatments with black soap (Savon noir) by an attendant. Some upscale hammams also offer massages. Hammams are gender-segregated; some have separate entrances, while others have specific visiting times for men and women.
If you’re keen to see more of the country, a longer trip will leave you enough time for a day tour. A commonplace to combine with Marrakesh is the seaside town of Essaouira, about a three-hour drive away. This historic beach spot is known for its seafood.
6th and 7th Day Or more
With six or more days, you’ll be able to thoroughly explore Marrakesh’s center and the surrounding region, do multiple activities of your choice, and get off the beaten path in the city.
Beyond the historic district, there’s plenty to see in Marrakesh’s newer areas. The hip neighborhood of Guéliz offers everything from broad Parisian-style boulevards to modern museums, pleasant cafés, and high-end restaurants.
Guéliz is dotted with contemporary art galleries and small museums, making it a good place to spend a day or half-day to clear your head after the hustle and bustle of the medina. Another good half-day trip is the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), located a 20-minute drive southeast of downtown.
If you want to leave the city center and get outdoors, you can check out these Four Great Hiking Regions Near Marrakesh. From gentle walks around the village of Amizmiz to the challenging ascent of Antar Summit, the area surrounding Marrakesh offers hikes suitable for all preferences and skill levels.
From gentle walks around the village to the challenging ascent of Medina, the area surrounding Marrakesh offers hikes suitable for all preferences and skill levels.
Notes: Travelers/Tourists who stay longer will have the opportunity to get to know the city and see it more relaxedly.
What’s The Best Time To Visit Marrakech?
When planning what to see and do in Marrakech during a vacation, it’s a good idea to know the time of year you want to travel and what the weather will be like.
In the case of this inland Moroccan city, the climate is of the dry Mediterranean type with hot, dry summers and mild winters in which it can rain. With this in mind, what is the best time to travel to Marrakech?
Spring is the best time to travel or visit Marrakech, in the country’s interior, because the days are sunny and the temperatures, although they can be around 30ºC, are pleasant compared to summer.
During the day, the weather is not sweltering, and you can do a lot of outdoor activities, such as an excursion to the desert of Marrakech. At night, temperatures are mild, with minimum temperatures between 10ºC and 15ºC, ideal for strolling around the city.
In March in Marrakech, the minimum temperatures can reach 9ºC, so it is a somewhat unpredictable month in terms of weather. So, when packing your suitcase, be prepared for everything. Bring clothes suitable for warm temperatures but don’t forget to pack a light jacket or sweater in case it cools down in the evenings.
April in Marrakech and May in Marrakech have similar climatic characteristics. However, while in the former, there may be occasional showers, in the latter, they hardly occur as summer approaches.
As for the tourist influx, visitors and prices increase when Easter arrives, as many Europeans visit Morocco during this holiday season. It is high season, so if you want a good price to make your trip in spring, we recommend comparing options and making your reservations in advance.
Next to spring, the other best time to travel to Marrakech is autumn.
During September in Marrakech, temperatures continue to be warm but without suffocating, around 30ºC as in the summer of some European countries. It rarely rains, and the sky is usually clear, which is great for spending the day sightseeing around the city and touring its souks without feeling overwhelmed.
In October, temperatures drop a little, and there are some autumn rains towards the end of the month. It is also a good time for outdoor activities such as camel riding or exploring the center of Marrakech.
Winter is also a good time to visit Marrakech, especially January and February if you want to visit the desert on a day trip, as it does not rain often there. Temperatures hover around 20ºC during the day, but the nights plummet in the desert and can reach 0ºC.
This season coincides with the low season for tourism in Morocco. Since there will be few visitors, hotels will offer good rates that you can take advantage of if you are looking for a cheap trip to Marrakech.
What To Pack When Travelling To Marrakech?
Morocco has many cross-cultural influences, and while more relaxed than some of its neighboring Muslim countries, it is still a conservative nation. Morocco’s climate is as diverse as its geography, and with so many different experiences on offer, packing for Morocco needs to be both practical and respectful of local culture.
Aside from cultural considerations and the different activities you have planned in Morocco, you also need to pack clothes to cover you for a changeable climate. No matter what time of year, bring layers and prepare for both hot and cold weather at some point.
Even on a short visit to Morocco, you could go from breaking out a sweat in the markets of Marrakech to being very cold at night in the Atlas Mountains or the Sahara Desert.
Here are a few important things to pack when traveling to Marrakech:
|For Men||For Women||For Children (boys / Girls)|
|Hoody||Always keep shoulders covered – no strappy tops unless covered by a shawl or cardigan.||A t-shirt or tank top might be perfectly comfortable mid-day, but a cardigan or light jacket may be needed by evening.|
|Jeans||Shorts, dresses, and skirts should always come to at least your knees, if not over.||For Boys: A baseball hat or sun hat. T-shirts, 1-2 lightweight, long sleeve shirts or button-up shirts, a medium-weight hoodie or sweatshirt, a heavier jacket – weight depending on the season, lightweight pants, elastic waist pants for comfort, pajamas, socks, and underwear.|
|Lightweight rain jacket||Full-length skirts or pants are always better. Lightweight, loose-fitting pants are best for Morocco, especially in hotter areas.||For Girls: A hat to protect face and neck from the sun, leggings and lightweight pants, sun dresses or maxi dresses, a cardigan, medium weight hoodie or sweatshirt, a heavier jacket – weight depending on season, pajamas, socks, and underwear.|
|Hiking socks||Always avoid tops that reveal cleavage. Wear a vest or camisole underneath if required.||Bathing suit and plastic flip flops|
|Sunglasses||If you wear jeans or tighter-fitting pants such as leggings, mix them with a longer top such as a tunic to cover your rear.||Shoes|
|T-Shirts||You don’t need to cover your head daily; however, you will need to when visiting mosques. Some ladies cover their heads as a matter of course, out of respect and as a way to blend in a little more.||Children’s shampoo|
|Socks||A lightweight travel scarf is also handy for keeping the sun at bay and the sand from your face if you plan on visiting the desert.||A reusable water bottle|
|Tank Tops||Water and windproof Travel Umbrella||Snacks|
|Avoid clothing with unnecessary branding, logos, or designs that may not be appropriate or possibly offend.||Medication kit|
17 Must-See Tourist Attractions in Marrakech
Although it can be tempting to stay totally off the beaten track when visiting new cities, Marrakech’s most famous sights are still worth your time, and a wander through the city will uncover plenty of surprises.
This list rounds up the best that the city offers, from well-photographed places like Jemaa el-Fnaa to under-the-radar palaces and burgeoning creative neighborhoods.
1. Jemaa El-Fnaa
With a lively ambiance and a dynamic market, Jemaa el-Fna is one of the main squares of Marrakech. The plaza dates back to the 11th century and is known for its spectacular activities and events. Get a sense of the local culture with some time in this enigmatic and entertaining square.
Listen to the plaza’s storytellers to learn more about the history here. They’ll generally speak Arabic dialects, but some may use French or English. Watch some of the male dancers showing off their routines.
Note that it is not considered appropriate for female dancers to perform here. See, serpents’ heads rise seductively from baskets at the command of snake charmers and their flutes.
Embark on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the area or sit on a wooden chair in a circle around a musician. Bargain with vendors at the market stalls for different types of food. Certain stalls are for tattoos, while others specialize in snails, juices, and other intriguing items. Stay until after sunset, when the activities and music become more active. Dine at one of the cafés and restaurants serving food and drink in the plaza.
The meaning of the square’s name in Arabic is unclear, although it might signify the Mosque at the End of the World or the Gathering Area. Some believe it means the Assembly of the Dead, about the public executions held in the 11th century. Over the centuries, the square has had periods of regression and popularity.
Enter the square for free. It is open at all times. Arrive on any day from morning until midnight for the market and entertainment. Bargain for any purchases and protect belongings from pickpockets. Be prepared to pay tips if you watch performers or take photos.
2. Majorelle Garden
As far as botanical gardens go, there is none quite like this artistic garden in bustling Marrakech.
Home to a cactus collection but also coconut and banana trees, a cobalt-blue villa and fountain, and a reflecting pond, the Majorelle Gardens in Medina are unique. The site is even more special because the estate was rescued by the famous fashion duo Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent.
Created by and named for the French Orientalist painter Jacques Majorelle, the gardens have always been a work of art. When he started in 1923, there wasn’t much more than a palm grove on site.
It took Majorelle almost four decades to landscape this unusual garden in Marrakech and perfect the villa. When he opened it to the public in 1947 to raise funds for its maintenance, it had already become his life’s work.
You can’t miss the garden’s cubist villa because of its bright blue color, a cobalt shade known as “bleu Majorelle.” The building was designed as a home for Majorelle and his wife by the French architect Paul Sinoir in the 1930s.
However, the couple divorced, and Majorelle was forced to sell. He even trademarked this color blue, which was already common in Morocco, perhaps to help recover some of his costs.
The famous French due Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent purchased the by-then neglected garden and villa in the 1980s to restore the complex to some of its former glory.
Bergé and Saint Laurent have since passed away, so the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, a non-profit organization, now manages the complex. All the entry fees go towards the ongoing restoration and maintenance of the property.
Explore the beautiful garden and stop to smell the flowers. You can also browse the Islamic Art Museum in the former art studio and the Berber Museum in the same complex, including some of Jacques Majorelle’s paintings.
The Majorelle Gardens is located along the Rue Yves St. Laurent, about 10 minutes by taxi to the northwest of the medina of Marrakech.
3. Bahia Palace
It took the best workers in Morocco 60 years to build Bahia Palace, found in the medina or old quarter of Marrakesh. The collection of one big house and several small ones into a palace was worth the wait.
Built-in the 19th century for a grand vizier, it incorporates the best Islamic and Moroccan influences. The palace today receives state visitors to Morocco. Because it is a working government building, not all rooms are open to the public, but some include the harem quarters and gardens.
4. Koutoubia Mosque
With intricate architectural features and a towering height, the Koutoubia Minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque stands out as the most prominent structure in Marrakech.
The mosque and minaret were built at separate times in the 12th century. Capture photos of this emblematic tower against the clear blue Moroccan sky.
With a 70-meter tall, beautiful minaret, Koutoubia Mosque is another name in the league of the best places to visit in Marrakech. It is also the largest mosque in Marrakech. Built in 1162, this reflects the true style of Almohad architecture.
The central courtyard and the garden are well-maintained and add up to the charm of the mosque. Only people belonging to the Islamic faith are allowed to enter the mosque premises.
5. Medersa Ben Youssef
Ben Youssef Madrasa was once a theological college devoted to teaching the Quran. Once the largest learning center in North Africa, it housed up to 900 students at a time. The madras is centered around a large courtyard, with an elaborately decorated prayer hall in the back.
Now a historic site, the madrasa is marked by distinctive architecture reminiscent of the Alhambra in Spain. Inscriptions in Arabic can be found throughout the complex. Visitors say it’s worth visiting the mosaics and 14th-century architecture.
6. The Old Medina (Local Souks)
Medina or the old town, and souks or traditional bazaars are the icons of Marrakech, and none can get away without seeing them. The old medina of Marrakech is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character.
The Medina is also the place to stay in a Riad, a Moroccan house with an internal courtyard. Most windows are inward-facing towards the central atrium. This design suits Islamic tradition, as no obvious wealth statement is made externally, and no windows to peer through.
Even today, one can experience the traditional lifestyle of the local people here. There are many touristy places inside the Medina; the popular ones are the souks. These are traditional street markets or bazaars where one can pick the best souvenirs, knick-knacks, dresses, shoes, and homewares.
Famous souks in Marrakech are Babouche or shoe souk; el-attarine, or perfume and spices souk; and Cherratine, or leather souk. If you are making a list of the must-see places in Marrakech, you cannot miss these amazing places.
They are great places to stay and offer an intimate and relaxing retreat.
7. Almoravid Qubba
Located close to the Museum of Marrakech, Almoravid Koubba is another historic structure raised by the Almoravid dynasty. As the only surviving structure of Almoravid architecture, this is also known as Koubba Ba’adiyn and stands as one of the most interesting places to see in Marrakech.
Built-in 1117 and renovated in the 16th and 19th centuries, Almoravid Koubba is a simple dome structure decorated with floral designs and stunning calligraphy.
8. Menara Gardens
The Menara gardens are popular with locals and visitors alike since they provide a cool place to escape the heat of Marrakesh’s scorching summer days.
The original purpose of the 12th-century gardens was to provide a place for people to cool off and grow crops. Smaller gardens are built around a large arterial lake fed by canals.
Palm, olive, and fruit trees grow in the orchards, so visitors usually see pruners and pickers at work.
9. Saadian Tombs
The Saadian Tombs were a burial place for royalty and nobility for a couple of hundred years starting in the mid-16th century. The last burial occurred in 1792, and the tombs were neglected until they were rediscovered in 1917.
The tombs consist of two main mausoleums where 66 people are buried, while another 100 are buried in the gardens, with their gravestones covered in tile. The buildings are imposing, plain in some places, and highly decorative in others.
10. Walls of Marrakesh
When the Almoravid Dynasty swept out of the desert in the eleventh century to conquer Morocco and found Marrakech, they built a circuit of walls around their city to defend it.
Made with red earth from the surrounding plain, the walls were (and still are) ochre, so Marrakech became known as the Red City.
Even outside the walls, in the modern Ville Nouvelle, buildings are still faced in that same hue. It looks wonderful on the ramparts along the west side of the Medina when lit up by the setting sun.
11. Marrakesh museum
Marrakech Museum has everything from ancient Qur’anic inscriptions to contemporary art and sculptures.
Characterized by ceramic work, floral inscriptions, and colorful mosaics, the museum looks elegant and graceful, and the outstanding collection of potteries, weapons, coins, and paintings amuses every avid traveler.
The central courtyard looks spacious, while the huge chandelier on the patio is worth the sight and makes it one of the must-see places in Marrakech.
Housed in the Dar Menebhi Palace, the former residence of defense minister Mehdi Mnebhi, the museum was built in the 19th century and depicted fine examples of Andalusian architecture.
12. The Secret Garden
Tucked away among the souks in the heart of the ancient Medina, you will find this hidden gem – the perfect spot to have a nice leisurely lunch and get away from all the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.
Here, you will pretty much only hear birdsong, the water of the fountains, and, if lucky, the wind, while the magenta flowers are a feast for the eyes.
Following careful restoration, the ‘Secret Garden’ – the 2nd-highest spot in the Medina after the Koutoubia minaret – is a beautiful spot to take photos over the city’s rooftops, so be sure to take the option of going up the tower when at the admission counter.
This way, you’ll also be provided with a guide to assist your tour – well worth it given the information to be gained about, e.g., the amazing process of uncovering the ancient irrigation system supplying the gardens.
13. Arsat Moulay Abdeslam
Covering eight hectares, this garden is an ideal place to rest from the city’s noise.
Built-in 2005, it is well-equipped for the 21st century – there are internet kiosks and wifi here.
And because there is never enough technology, there is also a telecommunications museum at the entrance to the park.
14. El Badi Palace
El Badi Palace may be in ruins today, but it was once an ornate palace funded by a ransom paid by the Portuguese after the Battle of the Three Kings in the mid-16th century. Only the most luxurious and expensive materials were used during the 25 years it took to construct the palace.
The palace had 360 rooms (comprised of prayer halls, courtyards, and fountains which add to the aesthetics of the palace) and several pavilions.
A later sultan raided the building of its lush materials and furnishings for his palace; as a result, only ruins remain today still, the beauty of the yellow sandstone building fascinates everyone.
15. House Of Photography Of Marrakech
The House of Photography opened in a renovated funduq (an inn for merchants and travelers). Patrick Manac’h and Hamid Mergani established this cultural venue where old photographs taken in Morocco could be shown to the public. The museum was opened in 2009.
Although it started with a few thousand, the House of Photography now has a collection of around 10,000 documents and photographs covering 1870-1960.
It highlights the origins of photography in Morocco, with works by the early photographers who worked there, including George Washington Wilson, A. Cavilla, and Marcelin Flandrin.
On two floors, you can discover documentary photos, art photos, moving portraits, street scenes, and scenes of daily life, but also unpublished views of Morocco and its sumptuous landscapes.
Different photographic techniques are exposed and explained, and the formats are multiple: glass plates, postcards, newspapers, magazines, etc. Teachers and students are also welcome to visit the museum, with a research center at their disposal.
Every six months, new exhibitions on different themes are proposed. Nowadays, you will discover superb pictures of Morocco at the dawn of Modernity.
16. Dar Si Said Museum
It was built between 1894 and 1900 by Si Sa’id ibn Musa, a vizier and minister of defense under his brother Ba Ahmad ibn Musa, who was the Grand Vizier and effective ruler of Morocco during the same period under Sultan Abdelaziz (ruled 1894–1908). After 1914, under the French Protectorate administration, the palace served as the seat of the regional leaders of Marrakesh.
It was converted into a museum of “indigenous arts” (meaning Moroccan art) and woodcraft in 1930 or 1932. In 1957, after Moroccan independence, the palace was split into a museum section and a section occupied by the Service de l’Artisanat (Agency of Artisanship).
It has been restored several times since and remains a museum today. Following the most recent renovations by the recently-created Fondation Nationale des Musées, the museum reopened in 2018 as the National Museum of Weaving and Carpets.
The museum collections include a wide variety of objects, many from the southern regions of Morocco. Until recently, the museum’s exhibits focused on Moroccan wooden art and objects. Following its reopening in 2018, its current exhibits now focus on weaving and Moroccan carpets.
17. Bab Debbagh Tanneries
Bab ad-Debbagh, or Bab Debbagh, is one of the main eastern gates of the medina (historic walled city) of Marrakesh. The gate is the northernmost of the two eastern gates of the medina.
It dates back to around 1126 CE when the Almoravid emir Ali ibn Yusuf built the first walls of the city. Its name means “Gate of the Tanners” and refers to the nearby tanneries present here since the Almoravid period.
It has the most complicated layout of any gate in the city: its passage bends 5 times in an almost S-like path, passing through two open-air courts and one elongated chamber with a vaulted ceiling. A staircase in the southeastern corner of the structure grants access to the gate’s roof.
Scholars believe that only the central part of the gate (the vaulted chamber) dates back to the original Almoravid gate and that the inner and outer courtyard sections were added later by the Almohads.
A favorite hangout place among tourists and locals, Bab Debbagh, showcases the true depiction of Moroccan lifestyle and nightlife.
Things to Avoid When Visiting Marrakech
A trip to Marrakesh is a sensory overload of exotic sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. If you’re heading to this Moroccan hotspot, keep a few do’s and don’ts in mind to help minimize the inevitable overwhelm.
Here are 5 important things to avoid while you are in Marrakech:
1. Entering Mosques
In Morocco, generally, they respect rules that forbid non-Muslims from entering certain areas – such as mosques and shrines – and dress modestly in keeping with local customs.
With more than 90 percent of the population identifying as Muslim, Islam is the state religion of Morocco. Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to enter the mosque in Marrakech, French colonial rulers set this rule in the 20th century, but still, you can admire the view from the outside, at night or during the day, and take pretty pictures.
2. Taking photos without permission
Many Moroccans will be thrilled to be photographed, but not all Moroccans, especially women, will be happy to be photographed without their consent.
Therefore, it is better to ask before you want to take a picture of someone to avoid unpleasant surprises.
3. Wearing Showy Clothing
Regarding dressing code in Marrakech, you can dress as you wish. Just remember that Morocco is a Muslim country.
It is advised to avoid transparent clothes, necklines, shorts, tank tops, and mini skirts. Do as you feel, Moroccans are used to tourists, but you’ll be more comfortable if you dress more properly.
4. Get Taken by a street guide
Unofficial tour guides are everywhere in Marrakech. If someone’s approaching you on the streets, it’s probably a scam.
Those that say “no money” are most likely after your cash. They will attempt to persuade you to visit their stores or bring you somewhere and then demand payment for their services.
Say no firmly. If they start walking with you, they will demand money, regardless of their age or how friendly they are.
Trust only the tour guides recommended by your hotel staff guide, and make sure they’re licensed.
5. Paying Offered Prices
Negotiating can be both stressful and fun. For people in Marrakech, negotiating is social interaction and a way of life. A general rule is to offer a third of the seller’s initial price and go from there. It’s almost guaranteed that they’ll laugh at your lowest offer, so don’t be surprised or offended when that happens.
Appearing hesitant about the purchase is key; you lose as soon as you let it be known how much you like something. If the price is still too high, be prepared to walk away.
Sometimes, the seller will insist that you stay or even follow through. In such cases, it is important to be confident but respectful. Say no thanks and stand your ground.
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The Bottom Line
Marrakech is a beautiful city that spectacularly captures the essence of Morocco. Magnificent mosques, pretty palaces, and sprawling gardens welcome every visitor to Marrakech, a stunning city in Morocco.
Adorned with a vibrant medina at the heart of the city, the souks, buzzing streets, and busy alleys, Marrakech invites everyone with open arms.
Whether haggling for a bargain in a souk or watching a snake charmer at work, this medieval North African city (Marrakech) will always find something new to tempt visitors.
That’s all for this guide, I hope it was helpful. If you think so, kindly spread the word by sharing it on social media. Otherwise, stay awesome (:
Why is Marrakech called the Red city?
Surrounded by a vast palm grove, the medina in Marrakech is called the “red city” because of its buildings and ramparts of beaten clay, which were built during the residence of the Almohads.
Can tourists drink in Marrakech?
Alcohol is served in licensed hotels, bars, and in tourist areas. However, drinking alcohol in the street and anywhere other than a licensed restaurant or bar isn’t allowed and can lead to arrest.
Are Morocco and Marrakesh the same?
Morocco is the country’s name, while Marrakech is one of the cities in Morrocco. Also, the city is spelled Marrakech in French and Marrakech in Spanish.
Why is Marrakech so popular?
Marrakech is also known as the city of luxury, thanks to its famous palaces, 5-star restaurants, luxury spas and hammams, and charming riads (traditional houses) in the medina. Amongst others is the Mamounia and its enchanting gardens, the luxurious Royal Mansour hammam, and the refined cuisine of Namaskar Palace.
Can you walk around Marrakech?
You can walk around the city with good peace of mind knowing there is no chance you will get mugged in Marrakech. That being said, you should still be vigilant about the safety of your personal belongings, especially in the souks or street markets of Marrakech.
Is Marrakech expensive?
Morocco is an ideal backpacker’s destination. It is a great destination for hiking, culture, and history lovers, and it’s also very cheap to travel and live here. You should plan to spend around MAD550 ($51) per day on your vacation in Marrakech, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors.
Is Marrakech so hot?
Marrakech is an inland city in the South West of Morocco. The weather is warm all year round and in the summer months. July is the hottest month in Marrakesh with an average temperature of 29°C (84°F), and the coldest is January at 12.5°C (55°F).
Is Marrakech the same as Marrakesh?
The common English spelling is “Marrakesh”, although “Marrakech” (the French spelling) is also widely used. The name is spelled Mṛṛakc in the Berber Latin alphabet, Marraquexe in Portuguese, and Marrakech in Spanish.