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The 13 essential things to do in Marrakech.

Last update : 18/05/2024 15:54

Marrakech: A Journey into Moroccan Splendor

Marrakech, often referred to as the "Red City" of Morocco, is an alluring blend of rich history and vibrant culture. Immerse yourself in its UNESCO-listed Medina, a captivating maze of bustling souks and the lively Jemaa el-Fnaa square, where storytellers and musicians create a mesmerizing spectacle.

Discover the city's architectural treasures, from the intricately designed Bahia Palace to the historic Saadian Tombs. The iconic Koutoubia Mosque stands tall with its majestic minaret, a symbol of Marrakech's heritage.

Culinary enthusiasts will delight in the diverse flavors of Moroccan cuisine, found in the savory tagines, aromatic spices, and sweet pastries available in local markets and eateries.

Marrakech is a haven for art and culture, boasting galleries such as Maison de la Photographie and the Museum of Marrakech. For an authentic experience, consider staying in a traditional riad, where serene courtyards and rooftop terraces offer an oasis of calm.

Use Marrakech as a gateway for exciting day trips, whether it's exploring the Atlas Mountains, visiting the UNESCO-listed Ait Ben Haddou, or experiencing the tranquility of the Ourika Valley.

The Majorelle Garden, with its cobalt blue structures and lush botanicals, provides a serene escape from the city's vibrant energy. Marrakech comes alive during sunset, casting a warm glow over its historical landmarks and dynamic street life.

In Marrakech, every corner tells a story, and every experience is a sensory delight, making it a destination that lingers in the memories of those who wander its captivating streets.

1 - Walk in the Medina

Walk in the Medina

A mesmerizing stroll through Marrakech's Medina provides a captivating journey into Moroccan history and culture. Starting at the lively Jemaa el-Fna Square, where storytellers, musicians, and vendors infuse the atmosphere with energy, the journey heads towards Rue Riad Zitoun el-Jedid, offering a less touristy glimpse into local life. The exploration of the opulent Bahia Palace, with its lavish courtyards and lush gardens, enchants the senses. The walk continues through the maze-like souks, where stalls brimming with spices, carpets, and Moroccan craftsmanship add vibrant hues to narrow alleyways.

The Mouassine Fountain, a symbol of history and tranquility, provides a moment of respite before delving into Rue Bab Doukkala, less frequented but rich in authenticity. The Mouassine Mosque, with its ancient architecture, adds a spiritual touch to the journey. Continuing towards the hidden Jardins de la Médina, concealed behind unassuming walls, reveals green oases perfect for relaxation. The loop eventually concludes back at Jemaa el-Fna Square, where one can settle into a terrace café, sipping mint tea while observing the lively ballet of daily life in Marrakech. This stroll offers a comprehensive immersion into the Medina, blending the hustle of the souks with the serenity of gardens, capturing the vibrant essence of this magical city.

2 - Visit to Jemaa el-Fna square

Visit to Jemaa el-Fna square

Jemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakech is a vibrant epicenter of culture and activity, offering an immersive experience into the heart of Moroccan life. As the day unfolds, the square transforms into a dynamic spectacle where storytellers, musicians, and performers captivate the crowds. The rhythmic beats of traditional music blend with the aromatic scents of spices, creating an intoxicating atmosphere that is quintessentially Moroccan.

During the day, the square is a bustling marketplace where locals and tourists alike peruse an array of stalls offering everything from spices and textiles to handicrafts. Snack on traditional street food like grilled meats, tagines, and freshly squeezed orange juice, embracing the culinary delights of the region.

As the sun sets, Jemaa el-Fna undergoes a magical metamorphosis. The square comes alive with the glow of countless lanterns, and the evening air is filled with the sounds of lively conversations and street performances. The aroma of Moroccan delicacies becomes even more tantalizing, beckoning visitors to explore the surrounding alleys and try local specialties from food stalls.

The perimeter of the square is lined with cafes and rooftop terraces, providing perfect vantage points to observe the vibrant scene below. These elevated spots offer panoramic views of the illuminated square, making it an ideal setting to unwind with a cup of traditional mint tea while absorbing the enchanting ambiance.

While Jemaa el-Fna is undoubtedly a major tourist attraction, it remains deeply ingrained in the daily life of Marrakech. Locals frequent the square to socialize, shop, and enjoy the diverse entertainment on offer. The UNESCO-listed square is not just a place; it's a living, breathing testament to the rich cultural tapestry of Marrakech, where ancient traditions and modern vibrancy coalesce in a captivating display of Moroccan identity.

3 - Excursion to the Majorelle Gardens

Excursion to the Majorelle Gardens

The Majorelle Gardens, nestled in the heart of Marrakech, constitute an enchanting botanical oasis that seamlessly blends artistic creativity with natural splendor. Conceived by the French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s, the gardens unveil a vibrant color palette, with Majorelle blue hues prevalent in the buildings and structures.

The botanical diversity of the Majorelle Gardens is a source of wonder, housing exotic plants, striking cacti, and refreshing water basins. The serene atmosphere is enhanced by shaded pathways, blooming alleys, and murmuring fountains. The former residence of Jacques Majorelle, later owned by Yves Saint Laurent, adds a historical and artistic dimension to this lush space.

The garden also hosts the Berber Museum and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, providing visitors with insights into Morocco's cultural richness and the legacy of the renowned fashion designer. The Majorelle Gardens, with their unique fusion of art, nature, and history, offer a tranquil escape in the heart of Marrakech, where one can lose oneself in visual beauty while experiencing the serenity that pervades this exceptional botanical haven.

4 - Relaxation in a hammam

Relaxation in a hammam

Relaxing in a hammam in Marrakech is a sensory journey that transports visitors to a haven of well-being steeped in ancient traditions. Upon entering, the captivating atmosphere of the hammam entices the senses with enveloping warmth, intoxicating eucalyptus scents, and the gentle murmur of water. The ritual begins with a relaxation phase, where the warm steam delicately prepares the skin to receive the benefits of the treatments.

The exfoliation with black soap, often performed with a kessa glove, becomes a purifying moment, eliminating impurities and reviving the skin's radiance. Clay masks, rich in minerals, nourish and revitalize. The session, much more than a mere physical treatment, offers a soothing meditation where stress evaporates in the soft and warm atmosphere of the hammam.

After the treatment, a refreshing shower or a cold water bath awakens the senses, stimulating circulation. Some hammams also offer relaxing massages, perfect for extending this sensory escape. It's an experience that transcends the body to touch the soul, leaving visitors not only with renewed skin but also with a profound inner relaxation. The magic of the Marrakech hammam lies in its ability to provide a refuge of tranquility, where the tumult of everyday life fades into the rediscovered harmony of body and mind.

5 - Visit to the Bahia Palace

Visit to the Bahia Palace

The Bahia Palace, located in the heart of Marrakech, is an architectural gem that reflects the opulence and refinement of the Arab-Andalusian era. Built in the late 19th century for the Grand Vizier Ahmed ben Moussa, the palace spans eight hectares and provides an immersion into Moroccan art and history. The name "Bahia" means "the beautiful," and the palace lives up to its name with its interior courtyards adorned with lush gardens, lavishly decorated lounges, and elegant fountains.

Visitors are captivated by the intricate architectural details, colorful zellige tiles, finely carved cedar wood ceilings, and delicately latticed moucharabieh screens. The quarters of the concubines, audience halls, and expansive courtyards offer a glimpse into the palatial life of the time. The layout of the palace, with its numerous rooms, mysterious corridors, and secret passages, creates an enchanting atmosphere that transports visitors to another era.

The garden of the Bahia Palace, with its rose beds, orange trees, and palm groves, is an oasis of tranquility where one can escape the hustle and bustle of the surrounding medina. Every corner of the palace tells a story, making the visit an immersive experience that blends architectural aesthetics, cultural history, and wonder at the splendor of a bygone era. The Bahia Palace remains a shining testament to Moroccan art and craftsmanship, drawing visitors from around the world into its enchanting realm.

6 - Discovery of the Saadian Tombs

Discovery of the Saadian Tombs

The Saadian Tombs in Marrakech are a true historical gem, providing visitors with a captivating journey through Morocco's past. Built in the 16th century, these tombs are a remarkable example of Moorish architecture, showcasing exquisite artistic elements such as zellige tilework, Islamic calligraphy, and finely carved cedar wood ceilings.

The tombs house the burial grounds of members of the Saadian dynasty, including Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur, and were rediscovered in the early 20th century after being neglected for centuries. The main chambers, like the Hall of Twelve Pillars, exude a mystical and solemn atmosphere. The surrounding gardens add a sense of serenity to the entire complex, with shaded pathways and fragrant roses.

A visit to the Saadian Tombs provides a unique opportunity to connect with Morocco's glorious past and witness the deep respect the Saadian dynasty held for their deceased. The palpable history within these walls, combined with exceptional artistic craftsmanship, creates an experience that transcends time, transporting visitors to a bygone era of royal splendor and remarkable architectural tradition. The Saadian Tombs are a must-visit for history enthusiasts or those appreciative of artistic beauty, offering a poignant glimpse into Morocco's heritage.

7 - Hiking in the Atlas Mountains

Hiking in the Atlas Mountains

Hiking in the majestic Atlas Mountains of Morocco offers a captivating experience, blending natural splendor with a deep immersion into Berber culture. Snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, and picturesque Berber villages create a breathtaking tableau throughout the journey.

Hiking trails wind through diverse landscapes, providing breathtaking panoramic views. Hikers can explore the richness of local flora and fauna while venturing into remote valleys. Encounters with locals are an essential part of this experience, offering a unique perspective on mountain life and traditions rooted for generations.

Mountain refuges welcome hikers, providing well-deserved rest and unforgettable starlit evenings. Ascending iconic peaks such as Toubkal, the highest point in the Atlas, rewards hikers with spectacular views that evoke a sense of accomplishment.

The Atlas Mountains are a living canvas where adventure blends with cultural discovery, creating lasting memories. Hiking in these majestic mountains is an invitation to explore Morocco's pristine nature while forging authentic connections with a resilient and welcoming mountain community.

8 - Dinner in a Riad

Dinner in a Riad

Dining in a riad in Marrakech is an immersive sensory experience, blending the elegance of traditional Moroccan architecture with delectable local cuisine. Riads, often concealed behind modest doors in the medina, offer an oasis of tranquility away from the bustle of the surrounding streets.

The meal typically begins with an array of appetizers, including marinated olives, fresh salads, and traditional breads. Main courses feature flavorful tagines, richly adorned couscous, and succulent grilled meats. The exquisite flavors of Moroccan cuisine are accentuated by the use of spices such as saffron, cumin, and cinnamon.

The table is often set in patios adorned with zellige tiles and soothing fountains, creating an intimate and warm atmosphere. The glow of lanterns contributes to a magical ambiance, while traditional Moroccan music adds an authentic touch.

Riads also emphasize attentive service, offering warm hospitality and knowledgeable advice on local dishes. Dining in a riad transcends the mere act of eating to become a celebration of Moroccan culture, where each dish tells a story, and every corner of the riad reveals timeless beauty. It's an experience that nourishes not only the body but also the soul, leaving lasting memories of an enchanted evening in Marrakech.

9 - Camel ride

Camel ride

Camel riding in Marrakech is an unforgettable experience that transports visitors to another era, evoking the charm of the desert and nomadic culture. Camels, graceful and majestic, provide a unique way to explore the surrounding landscapes, whether on the outskirts of the Agafay Desert or along the palm groves.

Camel rides often begin in desert areas near Marrakech, where undulating dunes create a spectacular backdrop. The leisurely pace of the camel allows travelers to fully appreciate the panoramic views and capture the essence of the Moroccan landscape.

Camel guides, often from Berber families, generously share their knowledge of the region, providing insights into local traditions and nomadic life. Camel rides can be arranged at sunset, creating a magical ambiance as the sun sets over the desert landscape.

The camel riding experience is not only a picturesque adventure but also a dive into the cultural richness of Morocco. Whether for a day trip or a sunset excursion, camel riding in Marrakech remains an iconic experience, offering an authentic connection with nature and Moroccan tradition.

10 - Day trip to Essaouira

Day trip to Essaouira

Visiting Essaouira, perched on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, is an immersion into history, culture, and coastal beauty. This port city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, captivates with its unique charm, blending Arab, Berber, and European influences. The medina of Essaouira unveils winding alleyways where one can explore shops of talented artisans, art galleries, and picturesque cafes.

Essaouira's ramparts offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the medina. The bustling port is a lively scene, with fishermen unloading their daily catches and brightly blue boats swaying gently with the waves. Essaouira's beach, conducive to relaxation, beckons visitors for moments of serenity facing the ocean.

Seafood enthusiasts will be delighted by the culinary delights of the port, where fresh fish and seafood are prepared before you in coastal restaurants. The Skala de la Ville, a historic fortress, provides spectacular panoramic views and a tranquil atmosphere.

Essaouira also pulsates to the sounds of music festivals, attracting artists from around the world. In essence, a visit to Essaouira is an invitation to explore authenticity, savor local gastronomy, stroll along the ramparts, and succumb to the enchanting charm of this Moroccan coastal city.

11 - The Agdal and Menara Gardens

The Agdal and Menara Gardens

The Gardens of Agdal and Menara, situated in Marrakech, are two green gems that testify to Morocco's historical richness and natural splendor.

The Agdal Gardens, part of the royal palace, are historic gardens dating back to the 12th century. They provide an oasis of serenity with shaded alleys, fountains, basins, and meticulously maintained flower beds, creating a peaceful atmosphere away from urban bustle.

The Menara Gardens, also dating back to the 12th century, are characterized by a vast irrigation pool surrounded by majestic olive trees. The location offers panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains, creating a picturesque landscape. Historically, the gardens were used as a relaxation spot for rulers, providing a haven of peace adorned with traditional Moroccan architecture.

These gardens not only showcase architectural and landscaping prowess but are also steeped in history, serving as silent witnesses to bygone eras. By visiting the Gardens of Agdal and Menara, visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Morocco's natural beauty and feel the tranquility that pervades these lush oases in the heart of Marrakech.

12 - Agafay Desert and Sunset

Agafay Desert and Sunset

The Agafay Desert, an oasis of tranquility near Marrakech, offers an enchanting escape from urban hustle. Unlike a traditional desert, Agafay is characterized by stretches of rocks and arid hills, creating a captivating lunar-like landscape. The silent vastness of the desert creates a peaceful atmosphere, perfect for those seeking serenity and a change of scenery.

At sunset, Agafay transforms into a spectacle of dazzling colors. Golden and orange hues ignite the sky, casting dramatic shadows on the rocky hills. Travelers have the opportunity to settle on comfortable Berber cushions and gaze at the magnificent panorama as the sun slowly retreats on the horizon.

Some nomadic camps offer nighttime experiences, allowing visitors to spend the night under the sparkling desert stars. It's a unique opportunity to connect with nature, savor local cuisine prepared around the campfire, and immerse oneself in Berber culture. Thus, the Agafay Desert and its sunset offer an enchanting getaway, revealing the ephemeral and timeless beauty of Morocco.

13 - the Berber villages of the Ourika valley

the Berber villages of the Ourika valley

The Ourika Valley, nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, is home to a series of Berber villages that provide an authentic immersion into Moroccan rural life. These villages proudly preserve centuries-old traditions of Berber culture, featuring adobe houses in ochre tones, narrow alleyways, and vibrant markets where local artisans display their handmade products.

The valley is adorned with spectacular landscapes, lush gardens, and winding rivers, creating a picturesque setting. The welcoming locals willingly share their way of life with visitors, offering warm hospitality and enriching cultural exchanges.

Each village has its unique charm, whether it's Setti Fatma, renowned for its refreshing waterfalls, or Tnine de l'Ourika, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Hiking through these villages allows for the discovery of artisanal traditions, such as the crafting of Berber carpets, and an opportunity to savor authentic local cuisine.

The Ourika Valley and its Berber villages make for a perfect getaway from Marrakech, offering a tranquil respite in an exceptional natural setting and an immersive experience into the culture and daily life of Moroccan Berbers.

Marrakech - Where to Stay?

In Marrakech, several neighborhoods offer accommodation options catering to different tastes and preferences. Here are some suggestions to help you choose the location that best suits your needs:

  1. Medina: For an authentic experience: Choose a traditional riad in the heart of the Medina, close to the souks, Jemaa el-Fna square, and major historical attractions. This provides total immersion in the charm of the old city.

  2. Gueliz: For a modern atmosphere: Gueliz is Marrakech's modern district with chic shops, trendy restaurants, and cafes. It's an excellent choice if you prefer a more contemporary environment while still staying close to the city center.

  3. Hivernage: For luxury and relaxation: Hivernage is known for its luxury hotels, high-end spas, and trendy clubs. It's a quieter neighborhood than the Medina, ideal if you're looking for an elegant and peaceful atmosphere.

  4. Palmeraie: For exclusivity: Palmeraie offers hotels and riads surrounded by palm trees, creating a peaceful and luxurious atmosphere. It's a perfect choice if you seek a more secluded and upscale getaway.

  5. Kasbah: For a compromise: Kasbah is an intermediate option between the Medina and Hivernage. It provides easy access to the Medina while offering a quieter atmosphere. You'll also find traditional riads in this area.

  6. Agdal: For a family stay: Agdal is a residential neighborhood with family-friendly hotel complexes. If you're traveling with family, it's an ideal place often equipped with facilities for children.

When choosing your accommodation, consider your preferences regarding style, budget, ambiance, and proximity to the sites you want to visit in Marrakech. Whether you opt for the historic Medina, the modern comfort of Gueliz, or the elegance of Palmeraie, Marrakech offers a variety of options for all types of travelers.

Marrakech - How to get around?

In Marrakech, there are various transportation options to facilitate your movement around the city. Here are some common means of transportation:

  1. On Foot: Most attractions in Marrakech, especially in the Medina, are easily accessible on foot. Strolling through narrow streets allows you to discover numerous markets, shops, and historical sites.

  2. Horse-Drawn Carriages (Caleches): Horse-drawn carriages, known as caleches, are popular for romantic rides or traditional city exploration. You can find them mainly around Jemaa el-Fna square.

  3. Taxis: Taxis are abundant in Marrakech. Ensure the driver uses the meter or negotiate the fare before getting in. Taxis can be useful for longer trips or reaching places outside the Medina.

  4. Tuk-Tuks: Tuk-tuks, small motorized vehicles, are also available for short rides around the city. Negotiate the fare before departure.

  5. Bicycle and Scooter Rentals: You can rent bicycles or scooters for greater mobility. This can be particularly convenient for exploring neighborhoods beyond the city center.

  6. Buses: Marrakech has a public bus network covering different parts of the city. However, buses may be less frequent and less convenient for tourists.

  7. Car Rental: If you want to explore the outskirts of Marrakech or plan excursions in the surrounding areas, car rental can be a convenient option. However, traffic can be dense, especially in the Medina.

  8. Uber: Uber is also available in Marrakech, providing an alternative to traditional taxis with often preset fares.

It is advisable to combine several modes of transportation based on your specific needs. Keep in mind that the Medina is mostly pedestrian, and to access it, it's often preferable to walk or use non-motorized modes of transport.

Marrakech - Best period

The best time to visit Marrakech depends on your preferences for climate and activities. Here is some information about the seasons in Marrakech:

  1. Spring (March to May): Spring is often considered the best time to visit Marrakech. The temperatures are pleasant, with sunny days and mild nights. Gardens are in bloom, and the city is lively but not as crowded as during the peak tourist season.

  2. Summer (June to August): Summer in Marrakech can be very hot, with temperatures often exceeding 40°C (104°F). It's the high tourist season, but the hot afternoons can make outdoor sightseeing challenging. However, nights are generally milder.

  3. Fall (September to November): Fall is another pleasant time to visit Marrakech. Temperatures start to cool down, but remain comfortable. It's an ideal time for exploring the city and its surroundings, as well as participating in festivals and cultural events.

  4. Winter (December to February): Winter temperatures are generally mild during the day but can be cool in the evenings. It's a popular season to visit Marrakech, but be prepared for cooler evenings.

In summary, spring and fall offer an ideal balance of pleasant temperatures and more moderate tourist crowds. However, if you prefer warmer temperatures and don't mind the heat, summer can also be an option, especially if you want to enjoy the long, mild evenings. Avoid July and August if you are sensitive to intense heat.

Last update : 18/05/2024 15:54

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