Traffic floods the streets of Marrakech, where pedestrians, vehicles, and animals form a uniform mass; the sound of the horn mixes with the voices of pedestrians and the call to prayer. These are the 10 things not to miss in Marrakech.
1. Stroll around the Yamaa el-Fna Square
I do not know if there will be anyone who has visited Marrakech without passing through this square. Located inside the Medina (the Medina is the historical area that is considered the center of Marrakech and is surrounded by a wall), the huge square of Yamaa el-Fna is the heart of the city and the reference point for orientation in any walk or sightseeing.
2. Go shopping in the souk
In few cities would I recommend shopping as a must-do, but in Marrakech it is a totally differente experience.
The souk market is an experience in itself; it's less about buying or what to buy, but more about seeing how the vendors communicate with tourists (whatever your language, you're sure to hear them address you in it), appreciating the handicrafts (the artisans are usually at the back of the souk past a covered alleyway) or trying the sweets they sell at street level (they don't look very hygienic, but tasting them is part of the local experience).
3. Visit the Bay Palace
Also known as the Palace of the Beautiful as it is the Arabic translation of Bahia. It was by this nickname that the favorite of the vizier Ahmed ben Moussa was known, who was the one who commissioned the construction of this palace that took 14 years to complete. The highlight of the place is its lavish ornamentation that completely covers the building (and if you are wondering I will tell you that the mosaic tiles were placed one by one).
4. Discover the Saadian tombs
Near the Bahia Palace are the Saadian tombs. Although it is also open until half-past four in the afternoon, it is better to visit early in the morning to avoid crowds due to its small size. Inside you will find famous tombs and an ostentatious decoration of stucco and marble worthy of the glory of the most notable sultans of the S.SVI. By the type of decoration of each tomb and mausoleum, you will guess the purchasing power of each of the notables buried there.
5. Marvel at the Ali Ben Youssef Madrasa
If you have been to the Alhambra in Granada or the Alcazar in Seville, the scenery of this mosque will be familiar to you. If the Bahia Palace was already a symbol of the greatness of men, this temple is a symbol of the greatness of Allah and it is incredible.
It is one of the few churches in the country where non-Muslims are allowed to enter, so take advantage of the occasion (of course, during religious holidays you will find it closed). Its strong point is the patio: marble floor, delicate tones, ornamental art, sculpted calligraphy, latticed balconies, mosaics, and other elements make it a work of art.
6. Explore the Jardin Majorelle
When you go to the Majorelle garden the first thing that will catch your attention, even before you reach the door, is the area of the Ville Nouvelle in which it is located. Just by taking a cab from the medina you seem to have arrived in a completely different city with tall buildings and manicured sidewalks. Indeed, this is the rich part of the city and yes: it is also part of Morocco.
As for the Majorelle garden, I think it is one of the best visits you can make in the city if not the best. The image you will find when you cross the gates of this garden (open 365 days a year) has nothing to do with what is associated with the Arab world: it was built in the decades of the 20s and 30s of the last century. It is decorated with species of exotic plants and the taste of the buildings and streets that compose it is exquisite.
7. Take an excursion to Essaouira
Marrakech is a city with much to enjoy, but the hustle and bustle of its streets makes it a welcome escape from the center to enjoy a more relaxed part of Morocco. The fishing town of Essaouira is the perfect destination for this. It is located three hours from Marrakech and there are different excursions to Essaouira where you can go and come back in the same day.
Its main attraction is the quietness of its streets, the sea views and, of course, the cheap and quality fish that you can eat in the port area. If you want to spend a few more days in this city you can make hiking trails or visit its mountain resorts, but in the different excursions that depart from Marrakech you will have time to know and explore at your leisure the main points of interest.
8. Take a camel ride
It may seem a cliché to go to Morocco and ride a camel, but it is a cliché that ends up being a very rewarding experience. Camel routes not only allow you to use this animal as a means of transport, but also to know the deserts near Marrakech and the Berber villages distributed along them.
Contrary to what many people think, it is not necessary to go to the Sahara desert to ride a camel. You can take different camel treks from Marrakech to various points in the surroundings (including the famous Marrakech palm grove) that can last from a few hours to a whole day.
9. Take a tour of the city
There are many ways to visit a city, but the best way to really get to know it is to have contact with a local who can explain what is beyond the tourist's point of view.
You will be able to choose between several options of tours and excursions in which a local guide will show you the most unknown corners of the city, tell you the history of its main emblems and tell you interesting stories about the way of life of its inhabitants.
10. Go hiking in the surroundings
There are countries where no one would think of going without visiting their landscapes. However, many of the tourists who travel to Marrakech stay in the city because they do not know the natural wealth of its surroundings.
To avoid that you just have to look for pictures of the Atlas Mountains, the Ourika Valley, the Ouzoud waterfalls, or the village of Ban Haddou. If your main reaction is "But is this close to Marrakech?", again, you can read more about all the day trips organized from Marrakech here.