Do you have just a weekend to leave, reach a destination far enough away to get out of the daily routine and savor a magical place?
Don't be afraid that a couple of days are too few to visit a beautiful city like Marrakech!
From the charming area of the Medina, enclosed within the ancient medieval walls, in which to visit the famous souks and be hypnotized by snake charmers, to the splendid Koutubia, the most important mosque in the city to reach the most modern and glamorous districts, Marrakech is a city that knows how to win the sympathy of tourists and how to make their stay magical.
COUNCIL: discover Marrakech with this private tour in ENGLISH (with an exceptional price, from € 60 per group!)
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Marrakech will be able to give you the general idea of its particular uniqueness by taking advantage of the main points of interest, walking through the streets of the old city and staying in the riad, the characteristic houses of the Berber tradition: you will be able to take with you a dense, colorful memory, with spicy scents and the atmosphere of a Thousand and One Nights.
You can be inspired by this city teeming with traditions to take unforgettable photographs, narrate your emotions in a travel story and share your experiences with virtual friends and not through social networks.
Below you will find a guide on what to see in Marrakech and the places of interest you shouldn't miss: let yourself be carried away by this splendid city and take advantage of the few hours at your disposal to make even a small holiday special.
Are you ready to condense your energies and leave for the red city making full use of the days available?
Here then are the best things to do and see in Marrakech!
- 1 – Madrasa Ben Youssef
- 2 - Giardini Majorelle
- 3 - House of Photography
- 4 - Take a cooking class!
- 5 - Get lost in the Medina
- 6 - Go shopping in the souks
- 7 - Relax in a Hammam
- 8 - Bab Agnaou
- 9 - See the Koutoubia Mosque
- 10 - Saadiane Tomb
- 11 - Visit the El Badi Palace
- 12 - Place de la Kissaria
- 13 - The Dar Si Said museum
- 14 - El Bahia Palace
- 15 - Stay in a Riad
- 16 - Admire the view over Jeema El-Fnaa Square
- 17- Lunch with local specialties
- 18 - Take a ride in a hot air balloon
- 19 - Visit the tanneries
- 20 - Take a day tour from Marrakech
1 – Madrasa Ben Youssef
At Anibal Trejo /
La Ben Youssef Madrasa is a school founded in the fourteenth century dedicated to teaching Islamic writing and law. It was the largest madrasa in Morocco and housed hundreds of students. The madrasa was associated with the Ben Youssef Mosque, which is nearby and is the oldest mosque in Marrakech and one of the most important.
The Ben Youssef Madrasa closed as a school in 1960 and was later restored and opened to the public as a historic site in 1982.
Inside the madrasa there is not much information in English, so if you want to know more I recommend that you take a guide. But on your own you can explore the dormitories and courtyard of the building and see the carved wood interior and colorful tiles.
Before or after your visit to the Ben Youssef Madrasa, you should make your way to the fountain of Shrob ou shouf (also spelled Chrob ou chouf) which is located near the madrasa.
Where it is: Ben Youssef Square
Opening Hours: 9: 00-19: 00 (18:00 in winter) - Attention it was still closed in February 2020 for restorations it should however reopen in 2020.
2 - Giardini Majorelle
By saiko3p /
If you visit Marrakech, you will not be able to miss the marvelous ones Majorelle gardens and enjoy the serenity that only nature can give!
This enchanting immense green space was created by the French painter of the same name over forty years and extends over 12 acres of cacti, plants and decorative fountains.
Yves Saint Laurent then became the owner of the gardens after Majorelle and contributed to the renovation of this enchanting green heart.
Here you can relax and enjoy the authentic beauty of nature!
Where are: Rue Yves St Laurent
Opening Hours: From 1 October to 30 April from 8:00 to 17:30
From May 1st to September 30th from 8:00 to 18:00
During the month of Ramadan from 9:00 to 16:30
3 - House of Photography
By stesilvers /
La House of Photography it's a gem and one of my favorite places ever, a real gem as far as I'm concerned.
I happened a bit by chance to tell the truth… and thank goodness I decided to visit it.
The photographic exhibition on display inside is a series of street-photography and portraiture shots, some from over 100 years ago and I assure you it is breathtaking: a collection of snapshots that tell the people and traditions of Morocco.
No photography lover should miss this place (other than Instagram!)
And if you have time, have a mint tea in the rooftop bar: from here you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city.
Where it is: 46, Rue Souk Ahal Fassi
Opening Hours: Every day from 9:30 - 19:00
4 - Take a cooking class!
Lately, when I travel, I have had the desire not only to discover the local cuisine in the restaurants, but also to learn how to create traditional dishes.
In Marrakech we opted for the Souk cuisine, which was an excellent decision: sometimes, in fact, just by eating, one does not fully realize the ingredients, their origins and the care used to create the dishes.
Our tour took place first by going shopping in the local markets: we returned to our Riad with the shopping bags literally bursting.
Then, the 3 girls of the Riad taught me how to cook a real Moroccan meal with 4 courses.
Apart from the fact that I have never done it again at home and I don't know if the result would be as satisfying, but it was a fantastic experience, very “local” that also led me to discover places that I would otherwise have missed.
Although I didn't find the exact tour I took online, I found this cooking class to prepare the tagine, best selling and with great reviews!
5 - Get lost in the Medina
Di Balate Dorin /
Let's say that if I could divide Marrakech into zones I would divide it into 3 distinct parts.
There is medina (the old city), la new city, that is, the one outside the city walls (and which houses the vast majority of residents), and then there are the islands of tourist luxury of inclusive resorts outside the city.
If you want to have a real experience, then Medina is the place where you should spend most of your time (read my post on the Medina of Marrakech to know what to do and see!).
No doubt you will get lost, as I did.
All the medinas in Morocco seem to be designed exclusively to confuse tourists, to divert them to dead ends, deceive and shake them.
While it can be frustrating, looking on the bright side of the matter during "your getting lost" you might drop into some wonderful shop, discover hidden non-touristy sides, and sometimes (the other side of the coin) you might even feel agitated by people's looks. .
But think one thing: this is all part of the traveling game. Discovering, not always on the beaten track and bringing home wonderful memories.
Taste freshly fried sugary donuts from street stalls, try to learn a few words in Arabic to ask for a coffee or a glass of water, stop and chat with this and that.
It's free, it's rewarding, and it's the best way to truly understand the city.
If you don't feel like doing it alone, or as a first approach to the city, you can take part in a guided tour like THIS with guide in ENGLISH.
Personally I prefer to spend a little more but do a personalized and private tour just for me (and my husband, of course): having a local person dedicated to answering your questions, not being forced into the times of a tour with 20 other people, being able to ask to stop when you want for a tea, to shop for souvenirs. In short, for me it is priceless.
Tip for traveling to Morocco
Remember, the Morocco is a conservative country, so it is important to dress appropriately to avoid any unwanted attention.
Read more on How to dress in Morocco to make sure you blend in with the local culture instead of standing out.
6 - Go shopping in the souks
By Baptiste BRULANT /
Berber men offer thick handmade carpets (I have full of them), young traders offer Moroccan lamps (I have full of those too), colorful stalls show off incomprehensible spices of a thousand colors, flavors and scents, countless little shops display everything from wonderful handcrafted ceramics to traditional leather shoes, bags and jackets.
I souk di Marrakech they are a place made for those who love to bargain and do business.
You start from a very important premise if you want to shop in some countries: if you are a person who wants a fixed price, who wants to enter the store, buy and leave, then the souks are certainly not the right place for you.
Shopping here is a form of art and fun, it's like a game of cards. you know yours and you know your chances of winning, but you don't know what your opponent is hiding! enjoy the fun and don't reveal your cards right away.
If you want some information on how to bargain because it is your first time read the my post on the Khan el Khalili market in Cairo (true it is in Egypt, but it gives you a series of info that you will see will be very useful to learn how to bargain like a real professional!)
The souks of Marrakech are as fascinating as they are baffling - don't panic.
And if you don't feel like tackling them alone the first time, check out this tour dedicated to the souks of Marrakech.
7 - Relax in a Hammam
Di aleks333 /
If you still don't know what a hammam I'll explain it to you in a nutshell: imagine a hot and steamy bath, plenty of warm water to spill over your body with a tub, a soapy massage, a slightly aggressive exfoliation and an enthusiastic massage (if you want to know more: hammam step by step guide for your first time)
In Marrakech, spending an afternoon or a few hours in a traditional hammam is a must for both locals and tourists.
Now, choosing your hammam-du-jour depends a lot on your budget and how much you know how to adapt. For those who feel ready for a very local experience (but hygiene can sometimes be a bit of an optional), you can find small hammams scattered throughout the medina (usually away from the tourist areas) that cost around 10dh to enter, with additional costs for a scrub (15-30 dh) and a massage (50 - 100 dh).
If you are looking for a much more luxurious experience suitable for tourists instead, consider the Royal Mansour, The Mamounia, Heritage spa o The Baths of Marrakech. Make sure you book in advance as they are incredibly popular.
Here you find a list of best hammams in Marrakech (both luxury and otherwise)
It is also possible to book online this very popular and best-selling Hammam experience, with great reviews.
8 - Bab Agnaou
By freeshot /
In the XNUMXth century, during the Almohad dynasty, they were built well 19 entrances that led to the city of Marrakech: these represented real gates which, thanks to their refined and magnificent architectural style, constituted a real work of art to accompany those who went to the city.
Crossing Bab Agnaou, you could reach the qasba, the so-called small royal city.
9 - See the Koutoubia Mosque
By Jose Ignacio Soto /
In a world of looming buildings, skyscrapers and shady streets, where cities grow almost compulsively and expand well beyond the expected limits, what made them a bit special, unfortunately gets lost.
For example, I have in my eyes the view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, where the beautiful Old Town has horrible buildings and skyscrapers in the background.
Unbelievable but true, this 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 an extraordinary landmark of the city. Off-limits to all but Muslims, its minaret, visible about 30 kilometers away, catches the eye and dominates the horizon.
This place of worship dates back to the XNUMXth century AD and the completion of the architectural work took place during the Berber empire of the caliph Yaqub al-Mansour.
The style in which it was built is the Almohad Arab one and its layout agrees with that of the most traditional of mosques, the Qayrawan.
La room dedicated to prayer it is 90 by 60 meters wide and ranks among the most spacious in the West.
Il minaret, overlooking the mosque, it is older even if it was finished later than the completion of the mosque. It is 69 meters high and, inside, there are six rooms placed one above the other.
In addition to being a religious place, the Koutubia mosque is a large and fascinating work of art to be admired in its majesty.
Where it is: Medina Jamaa El Fena
Opening Hours: entry not allowed to non-Muslims. Possible to visit the outside.
10 - Saadiane Tomb
By Jon Chica /
Oranges full of juicy fruit, gardens and birdsong can be found in one of the most finely decorated mausoleums I have ever seen; the Saadian tombs they are proof that even in death, for some, wealth can truly survive.
The Saadian Tombs constitute the most important testimony of the sultan's dynasty Ahmad al-Mansur: the tombs were found at the beginning of the twentieth century and represent a truly fascinating artistic-architectural work.
The interiors are decorated with an incredible wealth of details and on the outside you will find equally well-kept and enchanting gardens.
They are a very popular tourist destination, so arm yourself with patience and try to reach them early.
Where are: Rue de La Kasbah
Opening Hours: every day from 9: 00 to 17: 00
11 - Visit the El Badi Palace
Legend has it that on the day of the great inauguration of El Badi, the Saadian sultan turned to the court jester for his opinion on the extravagant new palace. The jester's answer? "It will be a magnificent ruin."
This palace, or rather, the ruins of this palace represent another very important tourist destination if you want to visit Marrakech.
Built in the 300th century by the Sadian sultan Ahmad al-Mansur al Dhahabi, it originally had over XNUMX rooms finely decorated with marble and African gold. The magnificence of this structure, its gardens and its particular architecture will leave you speechless.
For a few dirhams, you can also admire the mimbar, which is the pulpit of the famous Koutubia mosque, the most important in Marrakech.
That jester was the wisest man in the whole palace!
Where it is: Ksibat Nhass
Opening Hours: every day from 8:00 to 17:00
12 - Place de la Kissaria
Place de la Kissaria it is a large and spacious square surrounded by shops and buildings with a Moroccan architectural style.
Visiting this fascinating place, you will come across not only its structural wonders but also the oldest mosque in the city, the Ben Youssef, and the museum of Marrakech.
This square is a real wonder, let yourself be enchanted!
13 - The Dar Si Said museum
After your lunch break, you could immerse yourself in the local culture: the Dar Si Said Moroccan art museum he will wait for you with his numerous works.
This museum is the oldest in the city, it is on two levels and has numerous finely decorated internal courtyards.
The building itself is a work of art, but the pieces preserved in it make up the most important Moroccan collection.
Where it is: 8 Rue de la Bahia
Opening Hours: mer – lun 10:00 – 18:00
14 - El Bahia Palace
By saiko3p /
Near the Da Si Said Moroccan art museum there is another architectural marvel to admire: the El Bahia palace it is one of the most architecturally important structures in the entire city of Marrakech. The palace dates back to the late 1800s and it took over a decade to complete its construction.
The palace extends over 8 hectares and consists of 150 rooms that surround numerous gardens and courtyards. The Palace's Courtyard of Honor will undoubtedly leave you speechless and the rooms, although completely empty, will fascinate you with the decorative details of the ceilings.
The most fascinating place to visit inside the palace is the Harem of the 4 brides and 24 concubines.
Where it isAvenue Imam El Ghazali
Opening Hours: Every day from 09:00 to 16:30
15 - Stay in a Riad
If you are looking for where to sleep in Marrakech, I would like to give you some advice: although there are many splendid hotels, to get a taste of this centuries-old city, try to opt instead for one of the wonderful Moroccan riads within the walls of the medina.
As well as being fantastically, uniquely Moroccan, they offer an oasis of aesthetic and tranquil calm, essential for any visitor spending a day or two in this city.
16 - Admire the view over Jeema El-Fnaa Square
I personally don't love Plaza Jemaa el-Fnaa; compared to the beauty found in the medina of Marrakech, in my opinion this square represents all that is the ugly side of tourism.
There are men with chained monkeys, unsavory characters, scammers and pickpockets abound, restaurants are expensive far above average, and typically the price doesn't justify the dubious quality.
But I have to be completely honest: sitting sipping another mint tea (probably the thousandth in two days in Marrakech) on a terrace overlooking the square I thought that was one of the best moments of my entire trip.
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.
Even if you want to avoid it, you probably won't be able to avoid visiting Jemaa el-Fnaa on your visit to Marrakech.
There will be things you won't like, but try to get the best of them: try the fried fish offered at one of the many lively stands and let yourself be carried away by the din and chaos.
This evening food tour, which takes you through the souks and then to dinner at Jemaa el-Fnaa, is a popular thing to do in Marrakech.
17- Lunch with local specialties
If you want to take a break and stop for lunch, the Medina area offers many ideas to taste some local delicacy of tradition.
You could taste the tagine, a dish that combines meat and vegetables cooked together for hours in terracotta: an unmissable flavor that comes directly from the past!
Have you ever thought of going to Morocco without taking away the satisfaction of tasting a real and authentic dish of couscous? I guess not! You will have the chance to taste the authentic Moroccan couscous prepared by the most skilled and expert hands you can find.
If you like particular flavors and you are not afraid of the combination of dishes that you would never have thought of eating together, surely you will have to try the pastilla: a light pastry created starting from a sort of batter filled with meat, almonds, onions and spices accompanied by powdered sugar.
18 - Visit the Agafay desert
If you wish to visit the desert, then the Agafay desert - although not as famous or sandy as the Sahara - it is easily accessible from the city (sadly visit the Merzouga desert from Marrakech takes 3 days minimum).
Located between the Atlas Mountains and Marrakech, the Agafay is a great day trip.
Here you won't find the particular sand dunes you might imagine, but you will find rocky, barren and seemingly lifeless terrain that is difficult to fully comprehend in its scarcity.
Honestly, even if it lacks the charm of the dunes, I find it very interesting: you could visit some local villages and discover in disbelief how people managed to survive and thrive in a place like this!
There are various tours that I can recommend:
- Quad tour in the Agafay desert
- Camel ride in the desert with dinner and show
- Complete Agafay Desert Tour: Quad Ride, Camel Ride and Dinner
- Atlas Mountains and Agafay Desert Safari
19 - Visit the tanneries
After your days of intense tourism, culture and history, relaxing with some local crafts never hurts! And why not, if you are fascinated by the products, you can also indulge in shopping!
In Marrakech you will find several concerie, of ancient origin and where tradition reigns supreme. Inside them, you will be able to learn the process by which leather becomes leather, listening to traditional Moroccan techniques and observing the craftsmen at work.
Okay, they have nothing to do with the Fez tanneries that they are a bomb, but a visit, if you have time, they deserve it.
The Marrakech tannery is about a 15-minute walk from the souks. At the entrance to the tanneries, someone will inevitably offer to offer you a guided tour of the tanneries, but if you really want to do it negotiate the price.
During the short tour (10 minutes) you will see dozens of workers working on open-air tubs, soaking the leathers to treat them before dyeing them in various colors and then stepping on them in the hot sun to distribute the pigment.
The smell in the tanneries is pretty awful, they will offer you a sprig of mint to put under your nose, I advise you to accept it.
A big problem with Marrakech tanneries is that travelers are often scammed into coming here. The “tannery scam” is a very well organized and common scam in Marrakech and one that local authorities seem not to do too much to prevent.
This actually happened to us on our second day in the city, as does dozens of tourists every single day. You will be offered by some guys to take you on a tour of the livestock market and they will actually take you to the tanneries. Be careful not to get fooled. If you want to organize a tour ask your Riad for a reliable guide.
Obviously after the tour you will be taken to a leather shop (it also happens in Fez), you decide if you want to buy something or not.
Be careful because you will be asked for money in an insistent way, so insistent that it makes you uncomfortable. They also showed aggression to me and in the end I screamed more than them, only for this reason I managed to escape it.
20 - Take a day tour from Marrakech
Two days to visit Marrakech are enough in my opinion. After two days spent in the streets, you will be dead tired and you will also be a little tired of the vendors who pull you all over the place, who force you undeterred to enter their shops.
You will be tired of doing the slalom between donkey shits and holes on the roads and you will want to give yourself a few moments of relaxation but without losing even a minute of your visit.
The best choice is then to opt for aday trip from Marrakech!
In fact, there are many exceptional tours: if I had to recommend two of them (probably committing a pity because they are all beautiful) I would choose either the excursion to the Ouzoud Falls or a ' excursion to Ouarzazate with guide in English.