Marrakech is a wonderful city to explore if you’re looking for a taste of the exotic without having to travel too far. This North African city is an eclectic mix of east and west, with so much to see and do it’s hard to know where to begin.
In this guide, we’re going to give you some practical tips about travelling around Marrakech as well as some advice about the must-visit attractions and top things to do in the city.
We’ll just mention accommodation briefly – it’s best to stay in a central hotel in Marrakech to ensure you’re in the thick of the action and don’t have to waste valuable sightseeing time travelling to and fro.
Where you stay is entirely up to you – in the area around Djemaa el Fna square there are lots of riads (traditional guest houses) where you can enjoy authentic Moroccan hospitality, while in the Gueliz district you’ll find a selection of more modern hotels.
Make sure you dress conservatively when you’re visiting any of the Islamic monuments in the city (Ben Youssef Medersa or the Koutoubia Mosque, for instance) – this is respectful to the culture.
You should always be prepared to barter for goods in the souks and when you’ve agreed a price ask the vendor to put it down in writing for you so that they can’t claim you misunderstood when you come to get your cash out.
Pack some tissues and antibacterial gel in your handbag or backpack so you always have a way to wash your hands and keep clean while you’re out and about.
Must-dos in Marrakech
There are a lot of sights that are considered to be essential on any tour of Marrakech, including Djemaa el Fna square, the Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian Tombs and the Majorelle Gardens. You can find plenty of information on all these places and many more landmarks in a guidebook, so we’re going to focus on a few must try experiences in Marrakech.
Do – Buy food and drink from the stalls in the main square. There are some amazing flavours to be discovered here, such as the fresh orange juice and the traditional tajines.
Do – Drink a mint tea. This is the quintessential Moroccan drink and there’s no better place to enjoy a cup of mint tea than in the peaceful courtyard of one of the riads in the medina.
Do – Explore the tanneries. The area where Marrakech’s leather goods are produced may be smelly, but it’s fascinating. Wandering around the streets here will give you a glimpse into the Marrakech of years gone by.
Do – Travel into the desert. If you’ve got time during your trip to Marrakech, a desert excursion is a must. One option is to go on quad bikes, although horses, camels and 4-wheel-drive vehicles are also available. This will give you an insight into the Berber culture that has changed little over the centuries.
Do – Make the trip to the ruins of El Badi Palace. It was built in the 16th century by Sultan Ahmed el-Mansour and then ransacked by his successor. Storks build their nests on the remains of the walls and are a quirky addition to the site, while the views from the palace’s terrace are truly spectacular and allow you to look right across Marrakech.