When people think of the city of Marrakech in Morocco, they imagine hookah smoking locals, shops filled with carpets and lamps, and fabulous architecture and decor. Yes, Marrakech is all those things, but it is so much more too. Full of history, great food and stunning accommodation options, Marrakech has grown from a place strictly for artists and drifters to an eclectic city perfect for travelers and photographers alike. Get out of your comfort zone and explore this African city by experiencing these 13 best things to do in Marrakech.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
Le Jardin Majorelle
This botanical garden in Marrakech makes for a great escape from the busy city. La Jardin Marjorelle, or Majorelle Garden, is a 12-acre botanical garden that boasts some incredible picturesque spots. Find over 300 species of plants and rare flowers, art deco decor, and a blue villa that demands attention. This garden was created by Jacques Majorelle, a French painter who had lived in Marrakech from 1923 to 1961. The popular fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent actually adopted the property and saved it from development in 1962. But it wasn’t until Saint Laurent’s death in 2008 when the garden was finally open to the public. And now anyone can view this incredible botanical oasis.
Jemaa El Fna can be thought of as the pulse of the city. This marketplace is an open-air market where you can find anything from fresh vegetables to fortune tellers. This is a great place to find a bite to eat or to just catch the colorful sites that make Marrakech that eclectic city it is. Stay smart in this area however, as pickpocketing can be a problem. But don’t let that deter you from visiting this popular, 24-hour Marrakech market.
After visiting Jemaa el-Fnaa, take a short walk to Koutoubia Mosque, one of Marrakech’s iconic landmarks. The beautiful exterior architecture typically draws travelers for a quick picture. Actually, the outside of the mosque is one of the only ways many can view the structure, since non-Muslims are not allowed inside. However Koutoubia’s plaza and gardens are open to the public for free.
Maison de la Photographie
Art lovers should flock to Maison de la Photographie, or Museum of Photography. Also found in the medina, this museum features photographic works from various photographers. You’ll get to see how famous photographers view Marakkech’s most popular spots. Over 100,000 original prints can be found in this small exhibit. Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of Marrakech from the museum’s rooftop terrace.
Visit a Hammam
After a long day of walking around the city, relax in a hammam, or a public bathhouse. You’ll have to strip down to your own skin, but once you get over the shock of baring it all in front of strangers, a hammam is a great place to find some R&R. Get a massage, relax in a steam room or soak in a hot or ice tub.
Stay in a Riad
A riad is an iconic Moroccan living space, which typically features bedroom suites and a rooftop terrace. There are many resorts in Marrakech, but staying in a riad will not only bring relaxation but also plenty of photo opportunities right within your accommodation.
Shop in a Souk
Many travelers flock to Marrakech simply to shop in the souks. A souk is a marketplace or shop filled with all kinds of goodies, from carpets to ceramic to even handbags, clothes and shoes. Now shopping in a souk is for adventurous shoppers seeking a bargain. Never take the first offer from a shop owner; bartering is part of the experience here.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
The landscape surrounding Marrakech is absolutely stunning, since the area is surrounded by the Atlas mountains. Therefore take advantage of the cloudless skies and view the landscape from a hot air balloon. Hot air balloon rides are taken in the early morning when the air is most still. Therefore you’re likely to catch sunrise from high up above. Ciel d’Afrique is the most popular hot air balloon company in the area.
History buffs should not miss out on visiting this historic cemetery referred to as the Saadian Tombs. There are over 150 tombs here from the Arab dynasty, the Saadians, who are allegedly the first descendants of the prophet Muhammad. The earliest tombs go back as far as the 14th century. Even if you aren’t concerned about the historical significance of the tombs, the tombs are intricately decorated and are housed in a beautiful structure.
El Badi Palace
There is a reason why photographers flock to El Badi Palace. This beautiful palace, which is in ruins now, still boasts some sense of grandeur. Allot a couple hours to truly soak in all that El Badi Palace has to offer, such as the stunning tile work, the empty reflecting pools and the gorgeous chandeliers. The roof alone has over 300,000 aluminium tiles. The ex-palace’s rooftop terrace also boasts some of the best views of the city.
Take a Cooking Class
Morocco is full of incredible cuisine, so take home a recipe or two by enrolling in a cooking class here. You’ll learn all about Moroccan spices as well as learn how to prepare stews, salads and desserts. Cooking classes are found in various hotels and culinary schools in the city.
The medina is the heart of the city, and is where many travelers spend most of their time. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the medina is the historic city center where royals once resided since the 11th century. Home to Koutoubia Mosque, Jemaa el-Fna, Museum of Photography, and other notable spots mentioned on this list, the medina is a starting point for Marrakech sightseeing.
Ben Youssef Madrasa
Last but not least on this list is Ben Youssef Madrasa. This 14-century former school is a mecca for bloggers, Instagrammers and photographers due to its absolutely iconic Moroccan design. The beautiful tiles alone are worth the trek to this popular tourist attraction.