T here is nothing better than listening to the vocals of the Muezzins, smelling the scented aroma of the numerous spices and watching the fascinating mosaics you can find all over the city. Marrakech is a city for all senses and an enrichment for everyone who loves to feel and see a vibrant, colorful and busy place.
No matter if the hustle and bustle at the main square Djemaa el-Fna, a coach tour through the city or the wonderful oasis Jardin Majorelle: Marrakech lets you get carried away in another world full of exotic colors, spices, sounds and people.
I was in this Moroccan city for overall four days and could get a first impression of Marrakech. Here I listed everything you need to know from things to do and see to restaurants, bars and cafés to a sleeping place in one of the wonderful riads. But the best thing you can do is to wander around the side streets, negotiate about souvenirs and drink a mint tea in a nice little café. But read here everything in details!
What to see in Marrakech
Right in the city center you find probably the most famous and most impressive place in Marrakech: the Djemaa el-Fna. Here orient fantasies come true. Shop owners sell their handmade products and storytellers, musicians and performers fill the square every day. By night dozens of food stalls spoil you with delicious food which is fresh and cheap. So a visit in the evening is a must!
If you want to take photos of the street artists, you should be prepared to give some tip. So make sure to have some coins in your pockets. Unfortunately, there’s nothing for free in Marrakech. If you want to watch the busy life from above, enjoy the Djemaa el-Fna from the roof top of the Café de France – especially during sunset.
Whether you’re looking for a beautiful traditional rug, handicrafts or just a spot for delicious food and spices, you shouldn’t miss out the winding souks north of Djemaa el-Fna. Between all these wonderful treasures you will definitely find a souvenir for yourself or your beloved ones.
Just take your time and enjoy it, because I could have spent hours in the souks. You better cross the main alleys first, then the side streets where you can also watch the dealers in their workshop producing their stuff. Don’t forget to negotiate when buying something! You should come at least under the half of the first mentioned price.
Tip: A perfect little gift is the golden, nutty tasting argan oil. It’s natural, healthy and a benefit for face and skin. You find it in the souks or at the Djemaa el-Fna.
The Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret is a famous landmark in Marrakech. It’s 77 m (253 ft) high which makes it to the highest building in the city. The mosque was built in the 12th century and has space for overall 25.000 believers. Although I’m not religious it was nice to walk around and listen to the muezzin (leads and recites the call to prayers).
The minaret counts to the most beautiful and oldest buildings of Morocco and acts as architectural example. As non-Muslim you’re not allowed to enter the Koutoubia Mosque, but it’s close to the Djemaa el-Fna and is surrounded by a little palm tree garden.
The Bahia Palace was built in the 19th century to be the greatest palace of its time. The epic complex stretches out for an area of 8.000 m² (86.111 ft²) and offers 160 rooms and inner yards. I almost got lost in the similar looking rooms, but it’s absolutely worth it. Besides the beautiful mosaics, the artfully decorated room ceilings are another highlight of the palace. So make sure it will be on your agenda! The entrance fee is 10 MAD (1€/1$) and it’s open everyday from 9am to 4.30pm.
Medersa Ben Youssef
The Medersa Ben Youssef is an old Koranic school which was built in the 14th century and counts to one of the most beautiful sights in Marrakech. About 900 students from all over the world slept, ate and studied theology there (Medersa means university of theology).
In 1960 the famous school was changed into a museum and still impresses with the filigree stucco and mosaic work. You can find the school in the north of medina near the souks. Due to construction, unfortunately it was closed when I was there. It will probably open for tourists again in 2021.
Located next to the mosque of the Kasbah, you can find the Saadian Tombs in a little side street. The tombs are the only remains of the Saadian period (16-17th century) and were rediscovered in 1917. You will find there more than 100 tombs plus two mausoleums with 66 tombs in total. I got mostly fascinated by the beautiful mosaics and the lovely garden. The entrance fee is 10 MAD (1€/1$) and it’s open everyday from 9am to 4.45pm.
Everyone who needs a break from the vibrant heart of Marrakech can enjoy the beautiful Jardin Majorelle. The French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his wife bought the garden in 1980, renovated the once ragged place and made an oasis for everyone out of it. It offers palm trees, cactuses and bamboo and takes about 30 minutes on foot from the Djemaa el-Fna.
Also photographers get their money’s worth. You can take gorgeous photos there. Please note that the waiting line can be really long, so make sure you bring some time. And compared to the other gardens, the Jardin Majorelle is with 70 MAD (6€/7$) very expensive. Still it’s worth a visit and has been one of my highlights in Marrakech!
Les Jardins de la Ménara
Les Jardins de la Ménara is located near the airport of Marrakech. It was created in the 12th century as an olive plantation which was irrigated with a widely branched canal system. Today it’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is at first glance not as spectacular as the Jardin Majorelle. But it costs no entry and is frequented by significantly fewer tourists.
Maison de la Photographie
If you still have time on your trip and want to see the history of Marrakech in photos, I can recommend the Maison de la Photographie. It’s situated north of the medina and is just a few minutes away from the Medersa Ben Youssef.
The museum offers 800 photos taken from 1870 to 1950 which take you on a journey into the past. But the museum also presents contemporary Moroccan photo art and is especially for those who want to take a little time-out from the busy hustle and bustle of the city.
Tip: The entrance fee is 40 MAD (3€/4$) and if you don’t have enough time, you can go on other days. The same ticket is valid for max. 7 days.
If you stay longer than a weekend, you can think about doing day trips. Either you can go to another city like Essaouira at the coast side which I heard is very beautiful. Or you can have a ride to the Atlas Mountains like I did. They are 1.5 hours away by bus and offer an amazing scenery. I booked with Marrakech Day Trips and had an awesome time with them. Check out their page here to get all information about the tour.
The driver picked me up from the Djemaa el-Fna at 9.15am and dropped me off there again around 6 pm. At first, we stopped for a camel ride which was so much fun. I haven’t done that before, but it was a great experience. After the ride we drove to one of the oldest villages in Morocco and visited an argan oil farm where we saw how the oil was made.
After that we went to a busy farmer market which was very crowded and kind of an adventure. Our final stop was the village Imlil which is also the starting point for most hikers to walk their way to the top of the Atlas Mountains. There we had lunch and walked to a very nice waterfall.
I can highly recommend doing such a trip, because unless Marrakech the Atlas Mountains show how wonderful the landscape in Morocco can be. If you want to check out more tours, have a look at this page. Marrakech Day Trips also offer great 3-4 day tours and different one day trips.
Where to eat in Marrakech
Morocco is famous for its culinary treasures such as oranges, dates and almonds. Whether you go to the souks or to the market stalls on the Djemaa el-Fna, you find lots of regional and delicious fruits in any way. Besides the markets, there are lots of nice and cozy cafés and restaurants in Marrakech to spend the afternoon or night at. Here are my favorite cafés where I really enjoyed my time with good food and drinks in a wonderful atmosphere.
At Earth Café you don’t have to worry about getting a place since the café is spread over a total of three floors. They serve vegetarian and vegan food only which is perfect for people who don’t eat meat.
Tip: They offer cooking classes which are fantastic to learn the way of Moroccan cooking as a vegetarian or vegan.
Café des Épices
If you want to enjoy a coffee with a fantastic view over the spice and handicraft markets, stop by the Café des Épices. There you can have the typical Thé à la Menthe. It’s sweet green tea with fresh Moroccan mint, served in small decorated tea glasses.
After a long walk, the Café Arabe was my saving island. It offers a beautiful terrace where you can eat and drink cocktails, wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks. I enjoyed a strawberry smoothie which was the perfect choice to get some energy again.
Not far from the Café des Épices you find the NOMAD Café. You don’t get alcohol there, but fresh juices and delicious tea instead. If you come in the evening you should book a table since it can be really full.
The name already tells it: the Kosy Bar is super cozy and offers a nice view of the Place des Ferblantiers. It’s a little hidden, but you can find it between the markets. On some days they play live music which makes the evening even more fun.
As a small thirst quencher in between, market stalls sell freshly squeezed orange juice for 4 dirham (about 40 cents) all over the city. It’s very delicious, healthy and gives you the energy you need for more sightseeing.
Where to sleep in Marrakech
If you’re looking for a sleeping spot in Marrakech, you should definitely choose a riad instead of a hotel. Riad literally means “garden” and refers to traditional Moroccan houses and palaces built around a leafy courtyard. Now many of these buildings have been converted into small accommodations, each with only a few rooms on two or three floors. Breakfast is often served on the rooftop with beautiful views over the city.
I stayed in the Riad Alian, which is a lovely place in the east of the medina. Unfortunately, it’s a little hidden and not reachable by car. I marked it at the right spot on the map below, because Google showed me a different place. Since it’s in one of the side streets and I was in my own, I avoided getting out by night. But if you are in a group it should be fine.
The riad itself was very beautiful. It has three floors, a little pool in the inner yard and a nice lounge on the terrace. Breakfast is included which was always good (bread, pancakes, jelly, honey, tea or coffee and orange juice).
Riads in Marrakech
Riads are available for all budgets. So you can stay in a riad very cheap and enjoy a wonderful place at the same time. Since riads usually lie in hidden alleys and behind nondescript doors, they are not so easy to find, but you can make the last way on foot in just a few minutes. But please, be careful if someone wants to show you the way. They want money in return and get really aggressive if you don’t give them anything. So make sure you have some cash or just say no if they want to help.
Have you ever been to Morocco? If not you should read my posts about the things you should know before going to Morocco. Otherwise I hope you find my tips helpful and you will enjoy your trip to Marrakech!
I just wanted to let you know that this page contains affiliate links. If you decide to buy something using one of these links, I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry that’s at no extra cost to you, but it does help to fund my travels and keep the website running. Thank you!