Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

With its ancient walls, over 20 huge gates and a central courtyard, in the medina of Marrakech people continue to live a traditional lifestyle.

No visit to Marrakech is complete without at least a day spent here walking through the winding alleys, trying to discover its hidden jewels, visiting the chaotic souks, its souvenir shops and immersing yourself in the local culture.

Marrakech is divided into the old city, the Medina, surrounded by the walls, and the new city which is totally different. There most of the things to see in Marrakech are located in the Medina.

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Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

Before we talk about what to see in the Medina of Marrakech, there are some things you should know.

La Medina of Marrakech it has a lot of charm, but some might find it “challenging” both for the difficulty in finding your way and for the vendors who can be really insistent with tourists, to the point of becoming terribly annoying.

Personally DON'T I consider the Medina of Marrakech a dangerous place, but still pay attention especially to pickpockets and be careful to photograph people, it could be an unwelcome thing to locals.

Also pay attention to rip-offs that some shady individual might try to fool you, like the free visit to the tanneries. In reality you will then be taken to a leather shop and it will be difficult to get out without buying anything (they will become so insistent as to be psychologically violent), or you will be asked for a payment anyway.

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

Di Balate Dorin /

My advice is to participate in some guided tours. Having a guide will make you feel calmer, you will not run the risk of getting lost, you can ask questions to learn more about Moroccan culture and the vendors if there is a guide are much less insistent (and no one will take the risk of offering you some rip-off if you are accompanied by someone from the place).

Basically you will really enjoy it to the fullest, without worries.

The offer of guided tours is huge. I personally recommend you THIS GUIDED TOUR (in ENGLISH) that accompanies you for 3 hours to discover not only the best things to see, but also through the history of the city, telling its secrets and mysteries.

If you want to do another really cool tour instead THIS NIGHT tour of the Medina it's an interesting choice.

The best choice however is to opt for THIS PRIVATE TOUR in ENGLISH: not only is it customizable, but if you are with friends or family you also save a lot (the tour costs 60 euros, so 15 euros per person if you are at least 4).

The Medina is also one of the best areas to sleep in Marrakech. Even if there is chaos along the streets from morning to night, in the Medina there are the most beautiful Riads and it is amazing how, as soon as you cross the threshold of your Riad, the chaos disappears completely, and you will find yourself in an environment of calm and tranquility, while remaining in the heart of the city.

This my guide on what it's like to sleep in a Riad and how to choose it, it might come in handy.

I slept in the Riad Matins De Marrakech which, in addition to excellent value for money and an enviable and central location, also has a wonderful roof terrace (with swimming pool).

Try to get on comfortable shoes: You'll walk a lot through puddles, donkey shits and holes so opt for something that has a good grip. Also remember to dress appropriately for Islamic culture, especially if you are a woman you will avoid situations that could be unpleasant.

After this few but essential information it's time to talk about what to see in the medina of Marrakech!

1 - Piazza Djema El Fna

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

By Matej Kastelic /

You could not begin to tell what to see in the medina of Marrakech without starting from its famous main square: Djemaa El Fna, a plethora of activities from dawn until late in the evening, is the beating heart of the city.

Get ready for a real immersion in the undisputed charm of this square, from women who paint henna, to snake charmers, from acrobatic monkeys to dancers. And stalls. Many stalls.

You'll see locals selling everything from rugs and clothes to spices and herbs. You'll see tourists struggling their way through the many stalls selling some traditional Moroccan dishes, such as camel spleen, sheep's head, or liver sandwiches.

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

By Andocs /

Try to dive deep into this one hectic atmosphere but at the same time be careful of rip-offs!

An advice: you will surely find someone who will put a monkey or some exotic animal in your arms to take the picture (and will then ask you for a payment).

Try to avoid: these little friends, however tender, are exploited for tourism. Seeing the little monkeys with long and heavy chains around their necks is one of the things that made me most uncomfortable during my visit to Marrakech.

A real PRO tip

Almost all the bars and clubs around the square have a panoramic terrace from which to sip a mint tea while observing the square. But if you are looking for IL balcony, the one from which to take the iconic photo of the square you have to go to the "Le Gran Balcon du Café Glacier". Try not to get food, food is not the best. Opt for another drink.

2 - Bahia Palace

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

By saiko3p /

Don't be fooled by the unassuming entrance, behind the gate you will find a pleasant surprise. The Bahia Palace worth a visit for its incredible architecture and charming rooms with mosaic ceilings and ornate stone carvings.

When you enter you may have a deja vù: it seems to be catapulted directly into theAlcazar of Seville in Andalusia!

The palace, a paradise when the climate of Marrakech is very hot, is richly decorated; the multicolored tiles, green ceramic roofs, bright yellow and blue arches, and courtyard gardens filled with jasmine and cypress trees are a photographers dream.

If you want to learn some history of the Bahia Palace, it would be a good idea take part in a GUIDED TOUR IN ENGLISH, your guide will be only too happy to share his knowledge with you.

3 – Medersa Ben Youssef

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

At Anibal Trejo /

One of the most beautiful buildings in the city: the  Medersa Ben Youssef, the largest and most beautiful former Koranic school in Morocco. Its baroque designs, brightly colored zellij tiles and wood carvings will amaze you.

You can take your time and savor the tranquil atmosphere as you wander the many narrow corridors or enjoy the pleasant views of the central courtyard from the upper levels.

Every inch of this stunning historic site has been lavishly decorated and is one of the finest examples of Moroccan furniture and architecture around.

4 – Hammam!

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

Di aleks333 /

For those who don't know how a hammam actually works, she should imagine this: lots of water, a soapy massage, hot steam, a mildly aggressive exfoliation and an energetic massage.

In Marrakech, living the hammam is an integral part of the tourist experience.

Now choose the right hammam it really depends on your budget. If you feel ready to experience it with the locals, you can find small hammams scattered throughout the medina (usually away from the tourist areas) which cost around 10dh to enter, with additional costs for a scrub (15-30dh) and a massage (50 - 100 dh).

If you don't feel ready and prefer a much more luxurious experience suited to tourists, consider one of the best hammams in Marrakech.

Make sure you book in advance because they are incredibly popular and you may not find a place.

It is also possible to book this much appreciated online Hammam experience.

5 - The Gates of the Walls

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

By freeshot /

Le walls surrounding the Medina they were built in the 12th century to protect the people who inhabited the city from attacks by the Berber populations.

The walls remain as the icon of the city and cover over 10km with over 20 impressive gates surrounding the old city. Do not get lost Bab Agnaou, the main door and the most beautiful.

Other doors worth seeing are Bab is Rob (brings some grape juice), Bab Doukkala, Chapter Berrima, Bab Debbagh (door of the tanners) e Bab El Khemis (Thursday door)

The walls are lined with hedges, gardens and benches and are a nice place to take a stroll or a buggy ride at sunset, when the walls take on the color that gave Marrakech the title of “Ville Rouge”.

6 - Koutoubia Mosque

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

By Jose Ignacio Soto /

Landmark of the city, la Koutoubia Mosque it is the largest in Marrakech and its minaret, decorated with ceramic tiles and curved arches, is visible from miles away.

In a world where cities compete for the tallest skyscrapers and where buildings are expanding visibly both in height and in width, ancient cities can lose some of what makes them so special.

This however does not happen in Marrakech, a city protected by ancient local laws which state that no building can be taller than a palm tree.

It is this decree that makes the Koutoubia mosque, located in the heart of the medina, a tourist attraction and a extraordinary landmark of the city.

The mosque is surrounded by beautiful gardens with roses, oranges and palm trees that provide shade from the midday sun and are therefore a great place to take a break while visiting and from the hustle and bustle of the Medina in the hottest hours of the day.

Off-limits to all but Muslims, its minaret, visible about 30 kilometers away, catches the eye and dominates the horizon.

7 - Museum of Marrakech

Stop at Museum of Marrakech from the XNUMXth century and embrace peace and tranquility as you stroll among arches and columns, beautifully decorated with colorful mosaics and appreciating Moroccan art, both old and new.

Don't forget to have mint tea at the bar outside!

8 - Saadiane Tomb

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

By Jon Chica /

Le saadiane grave they are the place where over 100 princes and Ahmed el Mansour, sultan of the Saadi dynasty are buried.

If Saadian Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour Eddahbi spared no expense in his final resting place, a magnificent mausoleum decorated with vivid tiles, Arabic calligraphy and intricate carving, he also built beautiful memorials to honor the lives of those close to him.

He built lavish mausoleums with marble and gold, tiles and intricate woodwork. He has created a resting place of disarming beauty. Those who held the sultan's greatest favor were buried closer to the center of the complex.

Others were buried in the vast gardens of fragrant orange trees.

Unsurprisingly, this serene spot of incredible beauty is one of the most popular things to see not only in the Medina of Marrakech, but in all of Morocco as well.

To be fair the Saadian tombs are located just outside the Medina of Marrakech, on Rue de la Kasbah, near the Koutoubia Mosque.

It is best to try to get there early to avoid the tourist crowds.

9 - Souk

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

By doleesi /

Getting lost in the souk di Marrakech that's part of the fun, but if it seems like too much, then hire a guide the first time you walk in, as it might help you not only find your way around, but also have a more peaceful visit.

The souks are generally very busy and are a favorite hunting ground for pickpockets. Pay attention to the valuable things you carry with you.

  •  ⇒ very popular Marrakech souk tour (highly recommended)

If you want to try to tackle the labyrinth of alleys full of colorful fabrics and clothes, ceramics, souvenirs, lanterns on your own (I could go on for hours to list everything you can find here) a good paper guide with map of the Medina of Marrakech it will help you not to get lost.

These listed below are only part of the souk di Marrakech which are worth a visit.

One of the largest and most popular souks in the city Souk Semmarine it is one of those markets where you can truly find everything from clothing to pastry shops to ceramics and Berber carpets.

Also known as the Spice souk, the Souk Ableuh is located just outside the Jemaa El-Fnaa.

If like me, you like to line your pockets with spices (or take some as gifts to friends back home) here you will find tons and tons of spices and herbs at very affordable prices.

If you are looking for dried fruit, almonds and walnuts, Souk Kchacha it is the market you must visit. And while there's an abundance of wonderful food items on display, dates, figs, olives, walnuts, and almonds are especially good.

The sights, sounds and smells of the souks will invade every fiber of your being, it is an experience not to be missed.

Do you like Moroccan lamps? To the Souk Haddadine you can choose from thousands of lanterns in different shapes, colors and designs and you can also have something tailored for you.

Well known for its amazing range of jewelry, especially traditional and replica Berber designs, the Souk Siyyaghin definitely worth a visit although I wouldn't recommend buying expensive jewelry here.

10 - House Of Photography

Medina of Marrakech: the 10 Best Things to See

Inside this small building is a truly exceptional collection of street photography and portraiture that takes your breath away, including some stunning shots from over 150 years ago.

If you have an interest like me in photography, or just want a snapshot of Moroccan traditions and people, the House of Photography it is a must see place (for me it turned out to be one of the favorite things to do in the Medina of Marrakech).

I spent hours here, even allowing myself some time for mint tea in the rooftop bar, a place with arguably one of the best views in town!

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