Come with me on a captivating journey through the enchanting city of Marrakech as we explore the best things to do in Marrakech Morocco. The bustling city of Marrakech is located in the center of Morocco. Its vibrant colors, buzzing atmosphere, a blend of tradition and modernity, and aromatic smells make it a city like no other.
Marrakech was established in 1070 as the Almoravid Empire’s capital and is situated beyond the Atlas Mountains, separating it from the Sahara Desert. Its unique charm stems from the distinctive red mud structures, earning it the nickname ‘The Red City.’
In this blog post, I’ll highlight the best things to do in and around this UNESCO World Heritage City and also sprinkle in some travel tips to help keep you safe and have the best trip possible. Let’s do this!
24 Most Captivating & Interesting Activities to Do in Marrakech, Morocco
1. Take a Free Walking Tour Exploring the Medina
The medina is the old city of Marrakech, encircled entirely by pale pink walls. This area is the heart of the city, teeming with a plethora of shops, traditional homes called “riads”, restaurants, and numerous historical sites. The historic Medina presents itself as a labyrinth of slender alleyways, traditional riads, and lively souks, where you can indulge in shopping for spices, textiles, and handcrafted goods. For an immersive introduction to the medina and local Marrakech life, I recommend embarking on a walking tour on your first day in the city. It offers an excellent opportunity to acquaint yourself with the intricate network of pathways and absorb local customs. Marrakech enjoys the advantage of being relatively compact, making it easy to navigate on foot. This tour definitely tops one of the best things to do in Marrakech, Morocco.
2. Try the Traditional Local Food
In general, Morocco is known for its delicious, unique cuisine that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Among the must-try delights are couscous, meat brochettes, and the most iconic dish of all, Tagine. Tagine typically features various meats like chicken, beef, or lamb, simmered and slow-cooked to perfection with an array of herbs, spices, and complementary ingredients such as dates, potatoes, and vegetables. However, don’t miss the chance to savor the delectable and budget-friendly offerings at the street food stalls, where you can relish sandwiches, pastries, freshly squeezed juices, and even more exotic culinary treasures. Participating in this experience stands out as one of the best things to do in Marrakech, Morocco.
3. Walk through the Gates of Bab Agnaou
One of the best reknowned gates of Marrakech is Bab Agnaou. The gate was the main public entrance to the royal citadel, in the southern part of Medina. There were 19 gates to Marrakech providing entrance to different districts of the city. Bab Agnaou was built in the 12th century and provided entrance to the Royal part of Medina which was built to impress visitors. Bab Agnaou is still admired by visitors as one of the main tourist attractions in Marrakech today. A cute addition to the ancient gates are the storks nesting on top.
Travel Tip: Be careful eating vegetables and fruits. Ensure they’re washed in mineral water!
4. Visit the Saadian Tombs
You can’t leave Marrakech without visiting one of its historic sites. Entering Marrakech through the Bab Agnaou gates gives you access to the Kasbah, Marrakech’s royal district. Here you can find the Kasbah Mosque, another important historical mosque in the city. However, hidden for centuries behind the Kasbah Mosque, and now excavated, lies the impressive Saadian Tombs. The Saadian Tombs, dating back to the 16th century, serve as the burial ground of the Saadian Dynasty (over 60 members) which ruled over Marrakech from 1524 to 1668. These beautifully decorated mausoleums are situated within a garden. Subsequently, a ruler sealed off the tombs to keep them from view, and they remained hidden until 1917 when aerial photography exposed it. You can now see them along with another impressive Moroccan garden. Nevertheless, this is one of the best things to do in Marrakech Morocco.
5. Stroll around Jardin Majorelle
Marrakech is known for its enchanting gardens with the Majorelle Gardens standing out as the most famous. It was created in 1923 by a French Orientalist Jacques Majorelle, but it took over 40 additional years to complete it. This botanical paradise, situated in Marrakech’s New Town, came to life in 1923 under the meticulous care of French Orientalist Jacques Majorelle. Its completion, however, took over 40 years. Adorned with an array of cacti, palms, and vibrant trees, this garden provides a genuine escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. It was originally crafted by artist Jacques Morelle, who resided within the garden and villa complex. Celebrated fashion designers Yves-Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé later acquired and meticulously restored it. Today, it welcomes the public, with some of its residences transformed into museums.
6. Stroll Around The Mellah Jewish Quarter
The “Mellah” or Jewish quarter in Marrakech is another interesting area to visit. Located near the beautiful palaces that we’ll discuss at numbers 8 and 9, this quarter was once home to a sizable Jewish population. The purpose was to provide protection to Jews fleeing persecution in the Iberian Peninsula, as required by Sharia law at the time. While most of the Jewish residents have now left this area, there is still a number of Jewish places here; including the Synagogue; the Jewish cemetery and the Spice Market. This place will tickle your taste buds with a wide range of Moroccan spices, herbs, and herbal teas.
7. Get Lost in the Souks
Marrakech is known for its traditional souks, which functions as markets or bazaars. In the past, a souk was an area where merchants passed through the city and traded goods. As such, you can find them in different corners inside and outside of the Medina. What makes the souks in Marrakech remarkable is the wide variety of exotic items that you can buy, such as babouches, lanterns, ceramics, carpets, silver and gold products, food, and leather goods. Most of the popular souks can be found next to the Main Square. When you walk through the souks you will notice that a lot of the vendors will talk to you, trying to get you into their shop. Getting lost in the chaotic Souks of Medina is one of the best things to do in Marrakech, Morocco and offers a glimpse of life in Morocco centuries ago.
Travel Tip: Barter for a price that you are comfortable with when shopping in the souks.
8. Check out the Ruins of El Badi Palace
Sultan Ahmed Al-Mansur constructed the El Badi Palace at the conclusion of the 16th century to commemorate the victory in the battle of the 3 kings against the Portuguese. Although El Badi palace stands largely in ruins today, it’s easy to take a journey back in time and imagine the beauty it once had.
The original palace featured over 350 rooms, numerous gardens, and a sizable swimming pool, but it has lost much of its former grandeur. Minerals imported from various countries, including Italy and Mali, adorned the palace, showcasing the sultan’s wealth and influence for receptions and displays.
El Badi palace is now a museum with several detached compartments, displaying different art and even a fully restored 12th century minbar. The rooftop terrace offers amazing views of Marrakech and the bird’s-eye view of the palace.
9. See the Beautiful Bahia Palace
After El Badi Palace, it might be interesting to see the contrast with the beautiful Bahia Palace, which was built in the 1860s. It underwent subsequent expansions and renovations with more flair and grandeur during the early 1900s. The Bahia palace is well preserved unlike the El Badi palace. The interior decoration combines colorful tiles, painted ceilings, and ornate wrought iron features that showcase a lavish lifestyle. A great way to travel back in history and experience life in over 150 rooms and an impressive 2-acre garden constructed in the Islamic and Moroccan style. One of the more interesting places and another popular Instagram spot in Marrakech is the harem with its outside court opening to the living quarter for concubines residing in Bahia Palace.
10. Visit the Koutoubia Mosque
Koutoubia mosque is the largest and oldest mosque in Marrakech located in Medina. Because of its 253 feet (77m) tall minaret, it is very easy to spot and can even help you with orientation around Marrakech. The construction of Koutoubia mosque in the 12th century served as an inspiration for other prominent buildings. Over time, the mosque design inspired important buildings all over the world and today, it’s a symbol of Marrakech. Non-Muslims can’t go inside the Koutoubia Mosque or minaret but are most likely to get a glimpse inside on a Friday when the doors are open for prayers.
11. Take a Day Tour to Ouzoud Waterfalls
If you want a true escape from the noise of the city and would like to experience some of Morocco’s finest nature, I recommend going on a day trip to the Ouzoud waterfalls. With a height of 110 meters or 360 feet, these are the tallest waterfalls in the country. A day tour from Marrakech allows you to spend around 4 hours at the falls, which is enough time to hike down to the river, take in the beauty, do a short boat ride to get closer to the falls, and then hike up again. There are many restaurants with a stunning viewpoint as well on your way towards the exit. Engaging in this activity forms one of the best things to do in Marrakech, Morocco. As a bonus, you’ll also encounter many macaque monkeys who call this place home.
12. Take a Day Trip to the Atlas Mountains
One of the best experiences to cherish in and around Marrakech is taking a day trip to the Atlas Mountains. Just a short drive from the bustling city, these majestic peaks offer a serene view into nature’s beauty. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply seeking breathtaking vistas, the Atlas Mountains provide a captivating backdrop for exploration. You can also visit traditional Berber villages, witness the vibrant culture of the locals, and savor delicious Moroccan cuisine amidst stunning landscapes. The tranquility and awe-inspiring scenery of the Atlas Mountains make it a must-do excursion for anyone visiting Marrakech, adding a touch of natural wonder to your adventure.
13. Tour the Leather Tanneries
Morocco is famous for its traditional leather tanning industry. In fact, the souks commonly sell leather bags, shoes and various other products. Most tanneries are located in the Northern part of Medina, outside the main tourist areas. You can experience the process of treating the animal skins to produce leather but be careful because there are many scams related to visiting the tanneries.
Travel Tip: It’s advisable not to attempt a solo visit to the tanneries. Several individuals have been scammed and harassed by fake local “guides” who extort unsuspecting tourists. Additionally, the area can be somewhat dangerous and easy to get lost in. If you wish to explore this part of the city, it’s best to organize an official group or private tour with your hotel in advance for a safer and more enjoyable experience.
14. Experience a Westernized Hammam
One of the very best things to do in Marrakech, Morocco is the opportunity to visit a hammam and partake in a complete spa day.
Within the city, you’ll find a variety of hammam options, spanning from luxurious to budget-friendly, with many situated inside hotels, both public and private.
Some well-known establishments include Hammam de la Rose, Les Bains D’Orient, Royal Mansour, Hammam Rosa Bonheur, La Sultana Marrakech, and Alphais Spa. Typically, Thursdays and Fridays tend to be the busiest days, especially before the Friday prayers.
15. Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts & Crafts
Morocco has a rich and deeply rooted history in the realm of arts and crafts, and the Dar Si Said museum excels at presenting this historical tapestry all within a single venue. The museum houses an extensive array of artifacts spanning two floors, offering more than enough to captivate your attention for at least two to three hours. And this doesn’t even include the time you might want to spend unwinding in the museum’s enchanting courtyard, adorned with cypress trees and a captivating fountain. The museum’s collection of rugs, mats, and carpets, particularly those crafted by hand in the High Atlas Mountains, never fails to leave a lasting impression. Moreover, you’ll also encounter intricately woven carpets from distant lands as part of the museum’s diverse and fascinating exhibits.
16. Ben Youssef Madrasah
Madrasas are historic Islamic schools that can be found throughout Morocco and in various other Islamic nations like Uzbekistan. These schools typically have exquisite and elaborate tile designs, serving as architectural masterpieces. The Ben Youssef Madrasah was once the largest Islamic school in North Africa. It has a stunning inner courtyard adorned with intricate tiles. When you visit, don’t forget to climb upstairs to look into the tiny rooms that once accommodated approximately 900 students. If you arrive early in the day, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the inner courtyard in complete peace and quiet.
17. Visit the Dar El Bacha Palace
This interesting Palace stands as one of the premier destinations for experiencing the exquisite riad architecture featuring breathtaking Zellige tiles, a distinctive Moroccan geometric tile art. This palace was built in the early 20th century, for Thami El Glaoui, who was the Pasha Of Marrakesh from 1912 to 1956. Dar El Bacha palace is a treat for interior design enthusiasts, showcasing intricate Moorish embellishments and a symmetrical courtyard. Beyond its architectural allure, the palace offers ever-evolving art exhibitions and boasts a well preserved Hammam (Moroccan bathhouse). For coffee lovers, a stop at the upscale coffee house within the palace, Bacha Coffee, is a must. While it may be quite expensive, the stunning interior, specialty coffees, and delectable French pastries makes it worth it.
18. Chill at the Menara Gardens
The Menara Gardens, dating back to the 12th century, offers respite from the urban hustle and bustle. Relax through the lush gardens, centered around a reflective pool with the Atlas Mountains as a stunning backdrop. It’s an idyllic spot to relax, take in the natural beauty, and unwind, making it one of the best things to do in Marrakech. While Jardin Majorelle is mostly popular with tourists, the Manera gardens are a popular relaxation spot for locals.
19. Explore the Collections at House of Photography
Embark on a captivating visual journey by exploring the collections at the House of Photography in Marrakech. This unique museum is a treasure trove of historical photographs offering a fascinating glimpse into Morocco’s history and culture. Explore the carefully curated exhibits, which provide a unique perspective on the city’s evolution and the broader Moroccan narrative. From stunning landscapes to intimate glimpses of daily life, the House of Photography offers an enriching and immersive experience, making it one of the city’s standout attractions.
20. Stay in a Traditional Riad
Morocco is renowned for its captivating blend of architectural styles. Within Marrakech, there exists a unique blend of architecture and history all embodied in a special type of structure, called riads. These are quintessential Moroccan buildings that originated during the Idrisid dynasty. Riads typically feature inner courtyards adorned with lush gardens and elegant fountains, while their walls boast vibrant, mosaic-like tilework. Some even include indoor pools. These exquisite abodes transport you from the vibrant city streets to a serene oasis of tranquility. No visit to Marrakech would be complete without experiencing at least one night in a riad. It is highly recommended and definitely one of the things to do in Marrakech, Morocco.
21. Take a Camel Ride at Palmeraie
Nestled on the outskirts of North-Eastern Marrakech, Palmeraie is an enormous palm oasis that stretches across 140 square kilometers. This immense expanse, featuring well over 100,000 palm trees amidst Morocco’s rugged deserts, epitomizes the nature at its best. Discover the awe-inspiring charm of Palmeraie through various experiences, including camel ride tours (beginning at just 2000 INR per person), thrilling quad bike rides (ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 INR), or even embark on a serene hot air balloon journey (with prices starting at 15,000 INR).
22. Sahara Desert Tour
Exploring the breathtaking Sahara Desert is an essential part of any Moroccan journey. During the day, embark on thrilling desert adventures via jeep or on foot, through the undulating sand dunes. Be prepared for an awe-inspiring stargazing spectacle around a crackling campfire at night. The typical Sahara journey entails an approximately 8-hour drive, allowing for stops to charming villages and remarkable natural landmarks. Given the distance and the desire to savor the experience fully, it’s advisable to opt for a 2-3 day Sahara tour.
23. Wander around Le Jardin Secret
Le Jardin Secret, which translates to “Secret Garden,” is an enchanting garden inside a cozy Riad right in the heart of the Medina. The origins of these gardens can be traced back over 400 years to the Saadian dynasty. This garden has a traditional Islamic Garden style, offering visitors a glimpse of stunning Moroccan architecture and tile art. Surprisingly large, it creates an impression of a concealed oasis within the Medina—a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle, allowing you to bask in the garden’s serenity. Wandering here is one of the amazing things to do in Marrakech, Morocco. Beyond the garden, there’s a petite museum, a boutique, and two cafés to explore. The tower within the complex is the second-highest tower in Marrakesh (after the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque), granting visitors the opportunity to relish breathtaking views, including a glimpse of the Atlas Mountains on clear days.
24. Experience Jemaa El-Fnaa Square
Finally, you can’t leave Marrakech without visiting its bustling heart: the Jemaa El-Fnaa Square. Jemaa means together. It’s the hub of entertainment, with a variety of food and juice stalls, musicians/performers, fortune tellers, henna tattoo artists, local vendors, and snake charmers. The square really comes alive in the evening and offers a true taste of Moroccan street culture. It can be a bit overwhelming for some people because of its loud noise and large crowds. An evening spent here wandering around is a truly Moroccan experience and definitely top on the best things to do in Marrakesh, Morocco. To escape the chaos, you can head to one of the rooftop cafes next to the square that offer panoramic views.
After thoroughly exploring 24 amazing things to do in Marrakech, Morocco, let’s now analyze 10 tips on what to avoid to ensure your Marrakech experience stays enjoyable.
What Not to Do in Marrakech, Morocco: 10 Tips
1. Don’t Stay Outside of the Medina
The Medina in Marrakech is truly the best area to stay in the city, especially for first-timers. Staying outside the Medina is very inconvenient. It requires you walking long distances and taking a taxi to reach the main tourist sites in Marrakech. The Medina is in the heart of the city and within walking distance to the most famous attractions.
2. Don’t Book a Hotel (Book a Riad Instead)
In Marrakesh, you will have the options to book regular hotels, but please, don’t do that. Rather, book a Moroccan riad for your stay. Some riads have been modernized while others are more traditional in their decoration. The riads off the busy streets are calm and quiet, offering you a nice respite from the bustling city.
3. Don’t Drink Tap Water in Marrakech
It’s best to drink filtered or bottled water when visiting Marrakech and traveling in Morocco. Although most locals do drink tap water, it may be risky for visitors. You don’t want to end up with a stomach bug during your trip.
4. Don’t Accept Unsolicited Help or Directions
It’s very common to be offered unsolicited help (or directions) in Marrakech. Some locals might approach you, and tell you they can guide you to your riad, or wherever else you’re going. They won’t mention payment for their assistance initially, but once they’ve captured your attention and taken you to your destination, they’ll request an excessively high tip. Most times, they won’t leave until you’ve paid them and they can be very aggressive.
5. Don’t Engage in Animal Tourism
While in Marrakech, you’re bound to visit Jemaa el-Fnaa Square. In the square, you’ll come across monkey handlers and snake charmers. They will invite you to interact with the animals, and take photos with them (for a fee). These monkeys and snakes are being used as props for tourist entertainment. Your safest bet in general is to avoid any animal tourism experience that involves touching an animal, feeding an animal, or posing for a photo with an animal.
6. Don’t Get into Taxis without Agreeing on Price
A key rule to remember is never to get into taxis without first agreeing on the fare. Negotiating the price beforehand ensures a fair and hassle-free ride, preventing any misunderstandings or overcharges.
7. Don’t take Photos without Permission
In Marrakech, it’s important to approach photography with respect and intentionality. Just as when traveling anywhere else, it’s important to be considerate of cultural sensitivities. In Morocco, some individuals may refuse being photographed due to their religious beliefs.
8. Don’t Carry Large Bills of Moroccan Dirhams
It’s best to carry small bills while in Marrakech. This makes paying simpler because the vendor won’t need to find change for you (and they won’t be able to claim that they don’t have change).
9. Don’t Bring a Drone into the Country
Drones are not allowed in Morocco and there’s a good chance they will be confiscated. You will waste even more time being asked questions about it. Just leave it away, do not bring a drone here.
10. Don’t Forget to Learn About Local Customs
Take the time to learn about Moroccan customs and traditions, and then be respectful of them. For example, in Morocco, all genders traditionally dress modestly. Another example is the etiquette around meals. Meals are eaten with the right hands rather than cutlery.
Right now, can we take a sneak peek into 10 fascinating and interesting things about this wonderful city? Come along!
10 Fascinating Facts About Marrakech, Morocco
- Marrakech is one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. The other three are Fes, Rabat and Meknes. Rabat holds the capital title of the country today.
- The Jemaa el-Fnaa square in Marrakech is the busiest market in Africa, attracting millions of visitors every year. The square reminds visitors of the famous Disney movie “Aladdin”.
- Marrakech and Morocco may seem like different worlds to our British readers. But the two countries are on exactly the same time zone, GMT +1.
- Morocco and France have a long history. Morocco gained independence from the country in 1956 and French remains a widely spoken language across Morocco. Marrakech is also home to many French celebrities, including rapper Gims, politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn and fashion designer Serge Lutens.
- Actress Angelina Jolie recently sold Winston Churchill’s wartime painting, “Tower of Koutoubia Mosque,” for a whopping $11.5 million. This artwork, painted by the former British prime minister, adds intrigue to Marrakech’s history.
- UNESCO declared Marrakech’s 11th-century medina a World Heritage site in 1985, recognizing its wealth of architectural and artistic masterpieces.
- One of the first things you’ll notice about Marrakech is the number of cats which roam the city. Most of these are stray, but they tend to be well fed by locals and tourists alike.
- The signature dish of Marrakech is tangia, which is not the same the popular Tagine.
Palm trees thrive throughout the city, and chopping them down is against the law, resulting in palm trees appearing in unusual locations like the middle of highways.
- Marrakech is nicknamed “The Red City” due to the pinkish red colour of its walls and ramparts.
Do You Need a Visa for Morocco?
Travelers from many countries do not need a visa to visit Morocco for a period of up to 90 days. Currently, citizens of Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada, among many others, do not need a visa to travel to Morocco, provided they have a passport of usually 6 months’ validity and an onward or return ticket. However, countries like Congo, Guinea and Mali need to obtain an Electronic Authorization (AEVM).
If you do need a visa, you can submit an application either electronically or via the nearest Moroccan embassy/consulate/visa center to you. However, regardless of whether you need a visa or not, ensure that your passport is stamped when you arrive in Morocco. You may have difficulty leaving the country if your passport does not have an entry stamp.
E-visa Eligibility and Visa Requirements
You can easily apply for a Moroccan tourist visa in two ways: online (depending on your nationality) or at your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate.
If you’re eligible to apply for it online, you’ll need the following documentation:
- passport with at least 3 months’ validity
- recent passport-sized photo
- active email address
- debit or credit card to pay the visa fees
We will send your approved e-visa to the email address you provided in PDF format. It typically takes a couple of days for approval. While you don’t need both a physical and digital copy, we recommend printing your visa to prevent any disruptions.
Applying for a visa via Moroccan embassy/consulate
If you aren’t eligible for an e-visa, you’ll have to apply at a Moroccan embassy/consulate/visa center and this may require you to present further documentation. This documentation could include:
- passport with at least 6 months’ validity
- recent passport-sized photo
- travel plans including a return flight
- proof of finance (bank statements)
- itinerary information (accommodation reservations)
Visa approvals typically happen quickly. However, I advise initiating the application process as soon as you confirm your Morocco trip to prevent travel disruptions. Once you’ve paid the visa fee (approximately DH 220 or USD$23) and received approval, you can enjoy a stay of up to 90 days in Morocco.
The bottom line of this interesting blog post, “24 Amazing Things to do in Marrakech, Morocco” is that Marrakech is a city that weaves together the rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty into an amazing experience. From the vibrant markets of the Medina to the serene gardens and awe-inspiring architecture, this city offers a treasure trove of the best things to do in Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech invites travelers and tourists to immerse themselves in its diverse tapestry of wonders, making it an extraordinary destination for those seeking adventure, culture, and a taste of Morocco’s enchanting allure. Marrakech truly stimulates all of your senses at once!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Marrakech very religious?
Religion plays a huge part in the culture of Marrakech as the majority of the city are Muslims.
The main religion is Islam, and followers observe the holy month of Ramadan. During this time, they refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking during daylight hours.
2. Are there Christians in Marrakech?
Small groups of Anglicans have worshipped together in Marrakech, but there is no Anglican Church established here. The Anglican Church of Saint Andrew, Tangier has become a tourist attraction, partly due to certain well-known figures buried in its churchyard.
3. Why is Marrakech called the Red City?
The medina in Marrakech earned its nickname, the “red city,” due to its buildings and ramparts made of beaten clay. These structures were constructed during the Almohad dynasty’s rule and are surrounded by an expansive palm grove. The heart of the medina is Jamaa el-Fna square, a vibrant marketplace.
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