Marrakech is a city that encapsulates all the exotic North African charm of Morocco. The name of the city formed the basis for the name of the country itself and described the importance of this city throughout the centuries. In the hustle and bustle of the medina, you’ll find the city’s main points of interest in a dizzying fusion of old and new. Simply soaking up the atmosphere tops the list of things to do here, with snake charmers and smooth-talking shoppers both vying for your attention amidst a bustling, colorful bustle that encapsulates Morocco’s vibrant soul.
For shoppers, this city is famous as a frenzied hub for bargain hunting. For history-loving tourists, the many museums and monuments are some of the attractions the country has to offer. And for those who just want to dive into the local culture, the medina offers Moroccan life in all its frenetic glory. Marrakech is also the gateway to Morocco’s High Atlas region, where you can enjoy the scenic mountain beauty after your Marrakech metropolis adventures.
SwatiTravel is supported by readers and may earn a commission from purchases made through links in this article.
1 Medina Souks
For many visitors, the labyrinthine medina (old city) of Marrakesh is the city’s main attraction. The narrow alleys are a kaleidoscope of colors, smells and sounds and are undoubtedly the highlight of your trip. As well as just wandering (and getting lost) amidst the bustling maze, there are countless shopping opportunities, where you can don your hat-sharing hat and trade to your heart’s content. Buyers may. Don’t miss Babouche (Shoe) Souk , Chouari (Carpenter’s) Souk , El-Attarine (Perfume and Spices) Souk , and the Cherratine (Leather) Souk . Just west of the souk area, at the end of Rue Bab Debbagh, you will find the tanneries of Marrakesh, where animal skins are still dyed the old-fashioned way.
Location: main entrance of Djemaa El Fna
2 Djemaa El Fna
Djemaa El Fna
This large square at the entrance to the Medina is the center of Marrakech life. The Djemaa El Fna (gathering place of the nobodies) is a lively hub of bric-a-brac stalls, musicians, storytellers, fortune tellers and snake charmers who never seem to rest. Here the whole spectrum of Moroccan life is in front of you. If you get too small, it’s also easy to escape to one of the many surrounding rooftop terraces and restaurants where you can watch the crazy scene from above.
Address: Avenue Mohammed V
The Koutoubia Mosque is Marrakech’s most famous landmark with its striking 70-meter minaret visible for miles in every direction. Local Marrakesh legend tells that the muezzin (man who calls the faithful to pray) for this mosque had to be built first, because the minaret was so large that it overlooked the ruler’s harem. The mosque was built in 1162 and is one of the great achievements of Almohad architecture. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the mosque itself.
Address: Avenue Mohammed V
4 Medersa Ben Youssef
Built in 1565 by the Saadians, the Medersa (madrassa – Islamic school of learning) of Ben Youssef is the largest theological university in Morocco. The warriors’ rooms (with student cells that once housed 900 pupils) are clustered around small internal courtyards in typical Islamic architectural style, but the main courtyard is the real highlight here. The fine zellige tile work, stalactite ceilings, cedar wood details and Kufic inscriptions used as decoration in the courtyard courtyard make this medersa one of Morocco’s most beautiful buildings and an attraction for the Medina of the Stars.
Location: off Place Ben Youssef, Medina
5 Saadian Tombs
This 16th-century cemetery is home to 66 members of the Saadian dynasty, who ruled Marrakesh between 1524 and 1668. The tombs here include those of the ruler Al-Mansour, his successors and their close relatives. It is a walking, atmospheric place, with the mausoleums in the middle of a rather overgrown garden. In particular, the main mausoleum (where Moulay Yazid is buried) has a fine surviving mihrab (prayer niche). The Saadian Tombs were walled off by their Alawite successors and were not rediscovered until the early 20th century.
Address: Rue Kasbah, Medina
6 Bahia Palace
This beautiful peacock of a palace was built in the late 19th century as the residence of the Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed, who served Sultan Moulay al-Hassan I. The interior furnishings are a dazzling display of zellige tiles, painted ceilings, and ornate wrought-iron features that demonstrate the lavish lives of those highly in favor of the sultan at the time. The haram area’s huge marble grand courtyard and lavish salons are its two main attractions, while the grand riad’s lavish courtyard, with its banana leaf plants and citrus trees, is a tranquil moment from the city.
Address: Rue Riad Zitoun el Jedid, Medina
7 Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts
This beautiful old palace built by Vizier Si Said is home to a beautiful collection of Berber jewelry in finely worked silver, Taroudant oil lamps, pottery artifacts, embroidered leather and marble. There is also a display of Moroccan carpets and an amazing collection of traditional Moroccan door and window frames, highlighting the local architectural styles of this country. For anyone interested in the evolution of North African arts and crafts, it’s a lovely place to spend a few hours crafting.
Close to the Dar Si Said, the Maison Tiskiwin has a rather wonderful collection of costumes, jewellery, weapons, musical instruments, textiles and furniture (focusing on Saharan culture) curated by Dutch art historian Bert Flint. Another branch of the museum is located in Agadir.
Locatie: Off Rue Riad Zitoun el Jedid, Medina
8 Marrakech Museum
The Marrakech Museum has an eclectic collection, ranging from contemporary art to Quranic inscriptions, with local ceramic work, textiles and coins tossed for good measure. For most visitors, the real highlight of a visit here is the building that houses the museum. Built in the early 20th century, the Dar Me’nebhi was once home to a minister in the government of Morocco. The architecture is a harmonious blend of local North African form with Portuguese elements and features a very impressive central courtyard with a lavish chandelier.
Address: Place Ben Youssef, Medina
9 Almoravid Koubba
The Koubba Koubba, also known as the Koubba Ba’adiyn, is Marrakech’s oldest monument – built in the 12th century during the reign of Ali Ben Youssuf. While its original use is unknown, some experts have suggested it may have been the wash house of a mosque that once sat next door. The simple exterior design (a squat, square building topped by a dome) is an interesting interior, with a ceiling in Almoravid motifs. The koubba was one of the few buildings to survive the damage of the Almohad conquerors, who destroyed much of the earlier Almoravid architectural heritage.
Address: Place Ben Youssef, Medina
For Cheap flights – Swatitravel.com
These lush tropical gardens full of cacti, palms and ferns are the work of the painter Jacques Majorelle. Originally the city of Nancy in France, Majorelle came to Marrakesh for health reasons and became known for his paintings of local Moroccan life. His most famous work, however, was this garden and the vibrant blue (the color now known as Majorelle blue) painting studio in which he lived on the property. After Majorelle’s death in 1962, French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent purchased the property and after his death in 2008, his ashes were scattered in the gardens. Majorelle’s old painter’s satel now houses a beautiful museum dedicated to Berber art. A museum dedicated to YSL’s life and famous fashion legacy is also currently being built on the site.
Address: Avenue Yacoub el Mansour
11 Badi Palace
The ruins of the once grand palace of Al-Mansour are one of the Kasbah’s most atmospheric sights. The Saadian ruler built the lavish palace, with pavilions set amid a huge garden with reflecting pools, during his triumphant reign, but it was looted and destroyed soon after. Now the scant remains of mosaic tiled floors, ruined pavilions and the high surrounding walls are all that remains. There are excellent views over the medina from the top of the walls, where storks have also built their nests.
After viewing the palace, head to the Mellah – the old Jewish quarter of Marrakech. It was founded in the 16th century and is now populated mainly by Muslims. The small synagogue here has been nicely restored and can be visited, as can the huge Jewish cemetery.
Location: Behind Place Ferblantiers
12 Manara Gardens
Once a royal retreat, this huge garden is a bubble of tranquility hidden in the heart of Marrakech. It is a favorite place for locals, who want to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy some peace and quiet. Most of the area is occupied by olive groves, but for visitors the main attraction and reason to come here is the large reflecting pool with its pretty pavilion. Built in the late 19th century, the pool and pavilion are a favorite spot for many local Marrakech families, who come here to picnic and stroll around. There are excellent photo opportunities here from the pool with the Atlas Mountains reflected in its water, on a clear day.
Address: Avenue Menara
13 Tizi-n’Test Pass
Even in a country brimming with sublime road-trip scenery, the Tizi-n’Test Pass stands out. This winding mountain road runs south from Marrakesh to Taroudant in a dizzying series of twists and turns that can give the wobble to those who don’t like heights. The mountain scenery along the way is simply lush, introducing you to Morocco’s vast and beautifully rugged countryside. A road branches off from the pass, just past Taliouine, is the start of the high pass in the Draa valley.
The charming mountain village of Imlil is the starting point for excursions to Toubkal National Park . It is a laid-back place that offers tranquility if you have been in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh for a while and are looking for some peace and quiet. The village is also home to a rather impressively restored kasbah (fortress) which is a great place to come for a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the rural mountain scenery. The structure is now one of the city’s top hotels and played a starring role in the Martin Scorsese film Kundun .
Location: 57 kilometers south of Marrakesh
15 Toubkal National Park
This national park is the country’s most popular, mainly because it’s home to Morocco’s (and North Africa’s) highest mountain, Djebel Toubkal , as well as some fantastic hiking options that range from multi-day trekking adventures to afternoon hikes. If you don’t feel like tackling the 4,167-meter peak of Toubkal, then you can opt for the pretty, scenic village-to-village Aremd circuit , which has all the lush views without the sweaty effort required for mountaineering. next time is summer, when all paths are open; even in spring, snow can mean a curtailment of walking activities.
Location: 57 kilometers south of Marrakesh
Where to Stay in Marrakech for Sightseeing
If you’re visiting Marrakech for the first time, and you want to be right in the middle of the action, the best place to stay is in the medina, near Djemaa El Fna, the main square at the entrance. Some of the best-value accommodation options here include riads, traditional Moroccan guesthouses with courtyards shielded from the hustle and bustle of the medina outside; breakfast is usually included in the price. Here are a few top-rated hotels and riads in this popular location:
- Luxury Hotels: Oranges and rose blossoms perfume the air at La Villa des Orangers, a stone’s throw from all the medina attractions and the Koutoubia Mosque. This is a Relais & Châteaux property with three patios, a rooftop swimming pool and a spa with a hammam. In the medina, at the entrance to the old souk, Riad Dar Anika is a more affordable luxury option, with a beautiful courtyard pool and warm Moroccan hospitality. If you prefer to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the Medina, the Four Seasons Resort Marrakech can be reached by taxi. Facilities include palm-lined pools, spa, fitness center and kids club.
- Mid-Range Hotels: In the heart of the medina, the evocatively named Riad Romance is housed in a restored 17th-century building, with a beautiful courtyard pool, cozy rooms, and a rooftop garden. Dar Charkia, with a heated swimming pool, is also located in the medina in the district of Dar el Bacha. All rooms are air-conditioned and many have a fireplace. Orange trees grace the courtyard at the welcoming Riad Aguerzame, on a quiet side street in the medina, a short walk from Djemaa El Fna.
- Budget Hotels: The Riad Dar Thalge is located in a maze of alleyways, a ten-minute walk from Djemaa El Fna. It is good value for money, with simple but clean rooms, a large terrace and a swimming pool. Also in the medina and with a swimming pool, Riad Sadaka has comfortable and cozy rooms and serves delicious Moroccan cuisine, while Riad L’Orchidee has air-conditioned rooms, a swimming pool and plenty of inviting corners to relax and dine.
Tips and tours: how to get the most out of your visit to Marrakech
Taking an organized tour is a great way to see all the highlights of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains and experience the traditional culture without the hassle of finding your way around. Along the way you will learn all about the history of the area as well as insider tips and stories. These tours also include convenient pickup and drop-off at select hotels. Below you will find some nice tours and day trips that guarantee the lowest price:
- See the Views: On the Marrakech Discovery Tour, relax and enjoy the sights as a local guide takes you on a tour of the city’s labyrinthine streets and bustling souks, as well as historic highlights such as the Bahia Palace and Koutoubia Palace. mosque. This full-day tour includes lunch at a Medina restaurant, entrance fees, and pick-up and drop-off at selected hotels.
- Take a day trip:The perfect complement to a hectic city stay is the 3 Valleys Day Trip from Marrakech with optional visit to Takerkoust Lake and Kik Plateau. This full-day tour gives you a great overview of the Atlas Mountains, with a visit to three lush valleys, traditional Berber villages, Ourika Valley waterfalls, an optional lunch in a Berber house, and an optional upgrade to Lake Takerkoust and Kik Plateau. This is a small-group tour with more personalized service and a maximum of seven people. For a different perspective on Morocco’s dramatic landscapes, consider the Atlas Mountains aerial tour from Marrakech with Berber Breakfast and Desert Camel Experience. On this full-day adventure, travel into the desert by 4×4 and board a hot air balloon for panoramic views of the sun rising over the rippling desert and the Atlas Mountains below. Further descend to the ground floor for a delicious Berber breakfast and a camel ride through the desert dunes. Also included is a flight certificate as well as pickup and drop-off from select hotels.
The Almoravides made Marrakesh the capital of an empire that covered most of the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) and stretched far into Europe. With the Almoravid conquest of southern Spain, Marrakesh was invested in the cosmopolitan culture of Andalusia and became a bastion of Islamic civilization and an intellectual center where the most famous scholars and philosophers of the time gathered. Lavish buildings were built and beautiful gardens designed. The city’s ancient ramparts and gates are monuments to its medieval preeminence.
Almohade armies stormed the gates of Marrakesh on March 23, 1147 and captured the Almoravid capital. The Almohads under Abdal Mou’min continued their conquest of North Africa, expanding their empire through Algeria and Tunisia and crossing the Mediterranean to conquer Seville, Cordoba and Granada. Under Abdal Mou’min, Marrakesh became an even greater Islamic capital.
Marrakech went into a period of decline under the Merenids, who conquered the city in 1269. The Merenid capital was already centered in Fez, and Marrakesh fell into neglect for two and a half centuries. The fortunes of Marrakesh revived under the Saadian dynasty. The Saadians were tribesmen from the Souss region, who conquered all of southern Morocco in a war against the Portuguese colonialist in Agadir. When the Saadians took control of all of Morocco, their leader, Mohammed Al Mahdi, made Marrakech his capital in 1551 and began to restore the city. Although the new urban area of Marrakech was built in 1913 during the French occupation and reflects this European influence , most of the city (like Fes) is a truly Islamic city in both its origins and traditions.