Things to do in Marrakech: highlights and tips

Wat te doen in Marrakech

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Guide for (multi-day) city trip Marrakech: must-sees, our best tips and experiences

A city trip to Marrakech is always a good idea! Marrakech is a truly magical city with a lot of fantastic sights and experiences. The city is located at the foot of the Atlas and is also the perfect base for visiting other highlights in Morocco.

The royal city of Marrakech is close to Europa but you end up in a completely different world. It’s a bustling, magical city, full of winding alleys and hidden courtyards. You get the feeling that you have walked into the story of 1001 nights.

The mix of European, African, and Arabic influences ensures that all your senses are stimulated. Discover the scents, colors, and flavors, … of this wonderful city.

Whether you wander through the souks, explore the historical sites, enjoy a mint tea on one of the many rooftop terraces or let the locals enchant you on the central square, Marrakech is sure to capture your imagination.

Are you traveling through Morocco? Then try to stay at least 2 nights in Marrakech. If you have the time to stay for 3 or 4 nights, that is of course even better because there is a lot to see and do!

Read more: What to wear in Marrakech?

Be sure to read on to the end of the article. We have some good tips for Marrakech and some things you really need to know for a city trip to Marrakech. But first, we go over the most beautiful sights and best things to do in Marrakech Morocco.

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Get lost in the medina of Marrakech

The medina of Marrakech (the old town) seems to come straight out of a fairytale book. It is a labyrinth of winding streets and busy markets, hidden corners, narrow alleys, and souks full of shops.

It is therefore very easy to get lost in this maze, but that is part of the appeal. Walking through the winding streets you never know what you will discover around the next corner.

Whether it’s a hidden café, a friendly local, or a shop selling colorful or scented items, there’s always something new to discover. And when the imam calls for prayer, you imagine yourself in the story of 1001 nights.

TIP:Are you afraid to get lost? Then hire a guide for half a day or a full day. The guide will show you the main attractions of Marrakech. And that way you will soon find out where everything is. That will certainly help you to orient yourself afterwards. An alternative is to follow the city walk of the Lonely Planet guide or use the maps.me app.

However, the best way to explore the medina of Marrakech is to wander around the small streets and see where they take you. Take your time and don’t be afraid to get lost, you will surely discover some of Marrakech’s treasures along the way.

We found the only drawback to the medina of Marrakech to be the scooters that drive through the narrow alleys, sometimes at quite high speed. Although it is a car-free zone, be careful (especially with children). Something you don’t have in the medina of Fez.

Medina Marrakech Morocco
Herbs Medina Marrakech Morocco
Get lost in the Medina of Marrakech things to do

Discover the magical Dejemaa el Fna square

The Djemaa el Fna square (UNESCO world heritage) is the beating heart of Marrakech. For centuries, this square has been the place where European and African traders met. Even today it is still a lively and bustling square where your eyes are short.

TIP: Attention, there are often pickpockets at work on the Djemaa el Fna square. Watch your stuff carefully!

During the day, Djmaa el Fna is a bustling marketplace with acrobats, snake charmers, fortune tellers, and other entertainers. There are even people who pull teeth. All kinds of things are sold there and you will also find delicious fruit stands where you can buy delicious juice.

TIP: Don’t spend money on the snake charmers or men with monkeys you can take a picture with. These animals are not treated well and you do not want to support these practices.

When the sun goes down, the square fills with the smell of grilled meat and the sound of music. Then the actors, musicians, and dancers appear. But also the many food stalls that serve delicious Moroccan dishes. We went to eat tajine, couscous and grilled satays at food stall n°1, Chez Aicha and it was delicious!

There are also several nice restaurants on the edge of the square, often with a roof terrace, ideal to watch the sun go down or to watch all the movement on the square.

Things to do in Marrakech Djemaa el Fna Juice
Djemaa el Fna square Marrakech snake charmers
Food stalls Djemaa el Fna square Marrakech restaurant

Visit the Madrasa Ben Youssef Koranic School

One of the absolute top sights of Marrakech is the beautiful Madrasa Ben Youssef, an ancient Koranic school. At the moment the school is no longer in use, so you can also visit this gem as a non-Muslim.

It was founded in the 14th century and grew to become the largest Quranic school in the country. Just like the madrasas in Fez, the madrasa Ben Youssef in Marrakech is a feast for the eyes. It feels like entering a palace.

Take your time to visit, as you will be amazed by the detailed mosaics, beautiful stucco work, and intricate carvings. Be sure to go upstairs where you can see the student rooms and look through the small shutters to the courtyard and the basin.

An absolute must if you are wondering what to do in Marrakech. Come here early if you want to enjoy the peace and take beautiful pictures.

Madrasa Ben Youssef Marrakech Kids
Madrasa Ben Youssef Marrakech Detail Mosaic

Unwind at Le Jardin Majorelle

A little outside the medina is Le Jardin Majorelle, one of the main attractions of Marrakech. The garden was created by the French artist Jacques Majorelle and then further transformed by Yves Saint Laurent into what it is today. He also spent the last years of his life here.

It’s not hard to understand why he loved being here so much. The beautiful house, painted in bright cobalt blue and yellow is surrounded by two hectares of garden. In it you will find colorful flowers and exotic plants from all over the world. You can walk through the gardens, admire the flowers and giant cacti, relax on one of the benches in the shade and enjoy the tranquility.

There is also a café in the garden, which serves Moroccan dishes and offers beautiful views of the gardens.

TIP: Do you want to enjoy the peace and take beautiful pictures? Then come in the morning at opening hours. During the day it can get very busy in the gardens and the queues for an entrance ticket can also increase.

Admire the Bahia Palace

One of the most popular things to do in Marrakech is to visit the Bahia Palace, a beautiful former residence from the 19th century, built by the Grand Vizier of the Sultan. It is a fine example of Moroccan architecture and a must for anyone visiting Marrakech.

When the Grand Vizier Si Moussa designed this gem, he wanted to build the largest and most impressive palace of its time. With its 8 hectares and more than 150 rooms (for his 28 women, among others), he must have succeeded. The Bahia Palace is known for its intricate design, colorful tiles, exquisite stucco work, exceptional carvings, and lavish gardens.

TIP: Although you can only visit part of the palace, it is best to allow enough time to visit this palace. That way you can view all the details and take in the beauty of the place.

Since it is such a beautiful palace and a must-see in Marrakech, there are of course also many visitors and tours. Get here early in the morning or not long before closing time if you want to avoid the crowds and take some nice pictures.

Things to do in Marrakech Bahia Palace
Morocco Marrakech Bahia Palace Kids

Bargain for souvenirs in the souks

The souks are the traditional markets or bazaars of Morocco and those of Marrakech are among the most famous in the country. Walking around and shopping here is an experience not to be missed.

Departing from the central Djemaa el Fna square, you soon end up in the narrow streets of the souks. Everywhere shops and vendors promote their Moroccan objects such as hand-woven carpets, lanterns, jewelry, spices, leather goods, or teapots.

It’s a great place to find home souvenirs or decorate your home. So make sure you have some extra space in your suitcase. Do not immediately pay the asking price, haggling is expected. It’s part of the fun, and often the price you end up paying will be a fraction of what was originally asked.

Morocco Marrakech Medina Souks Souvenirs
Souks Marrakech Medina Things to do

TIP: Don’t be overwhelmed in the souks of Marrakech. Remember that patience and a friendly smile will help you a lot. If you’re dealing with too pushy salespeople, ignore them or politely decline and walk on. But don’t worry, we really liked it.

The souks are divided into different zones, each with its own specialty. Souk Semmarine is a collection of different crafts, but there is also, for example, the souk Cherratine (with leather goods and tanners) or souk Haddadine (metal workers).

One of our favorite places is the square Rahba Kedima or Place des Épices, a very cozy place where you can buy many spices, cosmetics, carpets, and woven baskets or hats.

Place des Epices Marrakech Morocco

TIP: Are you afraid of getting lost in the souks or don’t feel quite ready to brave the sellers? Then you can also book a private shopping tour with your own guide who will show you all the best shops.

Visit the El Badi Palace

The El Badi palace may not be as impressive and well-preserved as the Bahia palace, but we still found it worthwhile and an attraction in Marrakech that you should not miss.

Dating from the 16th century, the complex was once a grandiose palace with over 300 rooms and extensive gardens. Unfortunately, it was dismantled so that now only ruins remain.

Yet as a visitor, you can still imagine what the El Badi palace must have been It had beautiful rooms with tiled floors, swimming pools, ponds, and gardens. Be sure to go higher up the ramparts to get a fantastic view of the domain, the medina of Marrakech, and all the storks that live on these walls.

El Badi Palace Marrakech Things to do
Things to do in Marrakech El Badi Palace
Morocco Marrakech Storks El Badi Palace

Drink a mint tea on a roof terrace or eat something delicious in one of our favorite restaurants

Drinking mint tea is the favorite thing of the Moroccans. It’s something you should definitely order when you’re in Marrakech if only to watch them pour it artfully, pouring it from a great height.

TIP: Moroccan mint tea is traditionally served very sweet. If you don’t like that (like me), be sure to ask for it to be brought without sugar, they will gladly do that.

You can order such a tea on one of the many roof terraces (typical of Moroccan architecture) with a beautiful view of the minarets and pink walls of the medina.

These form a beacon of tranquility in the middle of the very busy medina. A magical moment is when the imam calls for prayer and the chants go over the roofs. Take your mint tea, sit back and enjoy.

Our favorite roof terraces in Marrakech are Maison de la Photographie (this museum has the highest roof terrace), Café France (on the Djemaa el Fna square, ideal for the sunset as well), Café des Épices and Nomad (both on the super cozy Place des Épices), and Kosybar.

Maison de la Photography Marrakech

Keep in mind that in Morocco you normally cannot order alcohol at a café or restaurant, as it is an Islamic country. A good time to stop drinking alcohol for a while, although there are some exceptions in Marrakech.

Looking for a delicious meal? There is no shortage of delicious restaurants in Marrakech, from very traditional Moroccan to fusion and genuine Western cuisine. In addition to the above addresses, we would also like to mention Kabana (they also serve alcohol here) and Café Clock (a very nice place with tasty mixed cuisine and they also give cooking lessons). And of course, there are also very cheap and tasty food stalls on the Djemaa el Fna square.

Marrakech Restaurant Roof terrace Thee Morocco

Relax in Le Jardin Secret

Unlike Le Jardin Majorelle, Le Jardin Secret is in the middle of the medina. You have to pay an entrance fee to visit the garden, but you get a lot in return. Moreover, it is less visited, so it is also a lot less busy. Perfect to escape the hustle and bustle of the souks and the bustling medina for a while and enjoy this oasis of peace.

You can visit the two beautiful gardens and a tower, from where you have a fantastic view of the city and the Atlas Mountains. The gardens symbolize heaven and paradise, typical of Islamic culture.

Relax in a hamman

A hammam is something you should not miss during a trip to Morocco. Since in the past (and still today) not everyone had a bathroom, the hammam was created as a communal bathing place. Moreover, this is also the place to completely relax after a day in the busy medina.

You can choose to go to a (very affordable) local hammam. Men and women are separated here, either in a separate room or at a different hour. Usually, you also have to bring your own soap here.

The more luxurious hammams, for tourists, provide a total experience from scrubbing and washing to massages. We went to Le Bain Blue, the hammam of our riad Dar Justo, and can only recommend this hammam. What a fantastic experience! We got a good wash and scrub and some lovely oils all over us. They even have a separate program for children from 9 years old with massage!

Marrakech Hammam Le Bain Blue Dar Justo

Admire the Koutoubia Mosque

The Koutoubia Mosque is one of the sights in Marrakech that you literally cannot miss. With an impressive tower about 70 meters high, it is visible from all over the city.

It was built in the 12th century and has been a place of worship for Muslims ever since. The Koutoubia Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Morocco and can accommodate 25,000 worshippers.

It is a beautiful example of Moroccan architecture, with its striking minaret, ornate interior, and beautiful location, in the heart of the city.

However, as a non-Muslim, you cannot visit this beautiful monument, but you can walk around it and enjoy the beautiful gardens opposite it. A fantastic place to relax for a while.

Koutoubia Mosque Things to do in Marrakech Morocco

Stay in a riad

An experience that you cannot miss when visiting Marrakech is staying in a riad. A riad (from the Arabic word for garden) is a typical Moroccan house (or sometimes even a palace) built around a courtyard or garden, often beautifully decorated with all kinds of mosaics and carvings.

These gems are usually hidden behind high walls, but once you walk through the door, you suddenly find yourself in a different world. They form a beacon of tranquility in a busy city. And many also have a swimming pool, which offers welcome cooling in the summer.

We stayed in Dar Justo. This beautiful riad has a slightly more modern vibe than the typical riads (fewer mosaics and stucco), with a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by plants. There is also a restaurant with a roof terrace and they even have their own hammam, Le Bain Blue.

Other beautiful riads that are definitely worth a look at are Riad Tizwa, Riad l’Oiseau du Paradis, and Riad Sakkan (run by a Belgian!).

We recommend you anyway to book a riad in Marrakech medina. Everything is within walking distance and you can really immerse yourself in the atmosphere that prevails in this lively part of the city. Check out the nicest riads and hotels in the medina of Marrakech here.

TIP: Most riads are popular and fill up quickly (they only have a few rooms). So be on time to book one!

Dar Justo Riad Marrakech Swimming pool Morocco
Restaurant Dar Justo Riad Marrakech Morocco

Visit the Saadi Tombes

The Saadi Tombs, just outside Marrakech, are the final resting place of the members of the Saadi dynasty, who ruled Morocco for several centuries. They were built in the 16th century but it was not until 1917 that all this was discovered again.

Built according to traditional Moroccan architecture, the tombs are decorated with intricate carvings, mosaics, and Arabic calligraphy and are surrounded by a beautiful garden. The site also contains a ruined palace, which was once the home of the Saadi rulers.

Although the Saadi Tombs are not as well known as some of Marrakech’s other tourist attractions, they are well worth a visit.

Join a cooking class or street food tour

Moroccan cuisine is known all over the world. No doubt you have already eaten a delicious couscous or tajine. But they never taste as good as in Morocco itself.

So no better place than here in Marrakech, the heart of Morocco, to learn how to prepare Moroccan food in a cooking course. Usually, you first go to the souks to buy all the ingredients and then prepare a delicious meal together. Let’s eat!

Don’t feel like cooking yourself? But you would still like to discover Moroccan food with a local? Then you can also choose to do a street food tour through the streets of the medina.

Things to do in Marrakech cooking course

Discover the Dar Si-Saïd Museum

The Dar Si-Saïd Museum is a must for anyone who loves art. Housed in a beautiful 19th-century palace, the museum features an impressive collection of Moroccan art and artifacts, including pottery, jewelry, metalwork, and tapestries.

Dar Si-Saïd is also known for its beautiful gardens, which are worth a visit in their own right. Dar Si-Saïd offers a nice insight into Moroccan culture and history.

Visit the Maison de la Photographie (House of Photography)

Maison de la Photographie in Marrakech is a beautiful photography museum in the medina of Marrakech. It was founded in 2009 by French photographer Claude Dityvon and Moroccan writer and historian Mohammed Sijelmassi.

Maison de la Photographie focuses mainly on the history of Morocco and Marrakech, but you will also find international photography. The museum also houses a library and darkroom and offers workshops and classes for both amateur and professional photographers.

In addition to the exhibitions, the Maison de la Photographie also organizes lectures and performances. It is an important cultural center for the city of Marrakech.

The roof terrace is also very nice (the highest in the medina). It’s the perfect spot to have a drink after you visited the museum.

Maison de le Photographie Museum Marrakech
Maison de la Photographie Roof terrace Marrakech

Extra tips for your Marrakech city trip

Almost every Moroccan city has a medina, the old town, with small streets, often walled and largely car-free. Most of the sights in Marrakech are also located in the medina.

  • If you have rented a car for your road trip through Morocco and are staying overnight in the medina, you can park it just outside the walls in one of the paying car parks. We were close to the Koutoubia mosque. Here you usually pay between 20 and 70 dirhams per 24 hours.
  • If you land in Marrakech by plane and have not rented a car, it is best to arrange a pick-up from the airport to your hotel in advance. That way you avoid paying too much and a lot of hassle on arrival. Someone with your name on a sign will be waiting for you. Keep in mind that if your hotel is in the medina, you will still have to walk a little bit.
  • In the medina of Marrakech (and also in many other places in Morocco), it is easy to get lost. Many locals, often children, have a habit of wanting to show you the way. Only they often want money for that. Just try to ignore them, because even if you politely decline, they will keep trying. Don’t worry too much though, we weren’t too bothered by it.
  • In Marrakech, they have had tourist police for several years. Since these were introduced, tourists are a lot less bothered by pushy salesmen and locals. If you do have a problem, call 0524 38 46 01 or visit them. They are located on the edge of the Djemaa el Fna square, near the Koutoubia Mosque.

Multi-day trips or day trips from Marrakech

Due to its central location, Marrakech is also an excellent base for day trips or multi-day trips to discover more of Morocco.

Below we discuss some places that are very much worth visiting from Marrakech. You can choose to rent a car in Marrakech and from there you can go to the places below. Or you can also book organized trips with transport and a guide via GetYourGuide or Viator, for example, so that everything is arranged for you.

TIP: Would you like to rent a car in Marrakech? Then we can definitely recommend SunnyCars. You pay a little more, but you get a lot in return. Everything is arranged upon arrival and they only work with all-inclusive insurance. This ensures that you don’t have to pay anything extra while traveling. Still very reassuring in Morocco.

Bad surprise: Own risk that you don't dare to drive

Essaouira, the cozy coastal town

The charming town of Essaouira is a short 3-hour drive from Marrakech. If you have some time left, definitely go for a few nights. We stayed 4 days at Musta Apartments and thought it was one of the nicest towns in Morocco.

The whitewashed houses of the medina form the backdrop for the cozy souks where you can buy beautiful souvenirs. At the sea, you can eat delicious fresh fish, walk on the fortified walls or admire the very authentic and lively port.

Don’t have time to go there for a few days or don’t have a car? Then you can also choose to take private transport to Essaouira or do a full-day trip with a guide from Marrakech.

Essaouira Sqala Daytrip Marrakech

Discover the desert

When in Morocco, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the desert. There are several options from Marrakech.

If you want to go for the real experience, including sand dunes, then you should head towards Merzouga. From Marrakech, you can book a multi-day tour to Merzouga. These tours also pass along the Atlas Mountains, Aït-Ben-Haddou, and the Todra Gorge. With these tours, you usually spend the night in the desert, in beautiful tent camps.

Read more: Merzouga and the desert in Morocco

If you have less time, another option is the Agafay desert (without sand dunes), which is only an hour’s drive from Marrakech. You can discover the Agafay desert as a day trip, where you will also ride camels. Do you have some extra time? Then book a multi-day tour with an overnight stay in one of the beautiful desert camps.

Merzouga Desert Morocco Tour Marrakech

Aït-Ben-Haddou, the oldest ksar in the country

Aït-Ben-Haddou is one of the best-preserved ksars (a walled city built of clay and stones) in Morocco and definitely worth a visit. However, it is just over 3 hour’s drive from Marrakech. You can go there on a day trip from Marrakech, where you also drive through the Atlas.

Only that is a very long day where you visit the city at the busiest and hottest time and spend many hours in the car. It is better to stay overnight in Aït-Ben-Haddou, as we also explain in this complete guide to a visit to Aït-Ben-Haddou.

When you book a multi-day trip to Merzouga, you also pass through here.

Ait Ben Haddou Morocco Day trip Marrakech

Ouzoud waterfalls

The Ouzoud waterfalls are about a 2 to 3 hours drive from Marrakech. With a height of 110 meters, they are the most impressive waterfalls in Morocco. Especially in spring and early summer, when there is still a lot of water, they are extra large and you can also take a dip.

From Marrakech, several (not too expensive) day tours are offered to the Ouzoud waterfalls, including a boat trip and a walking tour around the falls.

Imlil and the Atlas mountains

Only 1 to 2 hours drive from Marrakech, you are in the middle of the Atlas Mountains. It is wonderfully cool in the summer. There are beautiful valleys and you can visit traditional Berber villages. Be sure to bring some extra clothes, as it can get cold in the evenings. In winter you can even ski there.

We went to a Berber village near Imlil and stayed at the fantastic Berber Family Lodge. From there you can organize walking and hiking trips.

Imlil is also the base for trekking to the summit of Toubkal, Africa’s second-highest mountain after Kilimanjaro. Anyone in normal, good condition can undertake this tour. You can arrange it on-site or book an organized 2-day trip to the top of the Toubkal from Marrakesh.

If you especially want to discover the Atlas and the local Berber villages, you can also book a day trip from Marrakech (with a walk and Berber lunch) or book a 2-day hike (with an overnight stay in a local Berber village).

Berber Family Lodge Imlil
Imlil Atlas Mountains

What is the best time to travel to Marrakech?

Spring (March-May) and autumn (September – November) are the best times to visit Marrakech. The temperatures are then very pleasant (not too hot and not too cold) and the number of tourists is also not too bad.

From June to August, it is very hot during the day and also busy. Fortunately, Marrakech offers plenty of places to cool off and escape the crowds. Plan your visits early in the morning and in the late afternoon. And definitely try to book a hotel or riad with a swimming pool in the summer.

In the winter months, it is not warm, but still pleasant. Everything is a lot cheaper then. And you can go skiing in the Atlas Mountains.

If you visit Marrakech during Ramadan (March-April), keep in mind that the sights may close earlier. Also during the Christmas period, it is best to check whether the opening hours change.

With this, we have come to the end of our article with what to do in Marrakech and the most beautiful highlights in Marrakech. We hope you enjoyed our article. Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a message under this article.

Have fun discovering Marrakech!

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Things to do in Marrakech: highlights and tips

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