Marrakech has many places to discover and enjoy, but to immerse yourself in the life of Morocco and take back from your trip an idea of the nature and landscape of the country is advisable to leave the city and do some excursions.
1. Medina tour with local guide
The Medina of Marrakech is the central area of the city where the social, economic and commercial life takes place. It is surrounded by long adobe walls, composed of narrow and bustling alleys and was declared a World Heritage Site. With this description it is easy to guess that a guided tour of this area is a must during the trip to know the main corners of modern Marrakech.
The main value of this guided tour of the Medina in English, is not in the points that you are going to go, but in the orientation of the local guide who will accompany the group during the tour. His experiences and knowledge of Marrakech and its way of life are an attraction that you will not have access to by doing this same tour on your own.
- The Bahia Palace.
- The Saadian Tombs.
- The minaret of the Kutubia.
- The Yamaa el-Fna square.
- The souk.
2. Guided tour of Marrakech
On this private guided tour of Marrakech in English, lasting about three hours, you will visit the Koutoubia Mosque and the Bahia Palace, and you will see some of the most emblematic places of Marrakech, such as the Jewish quarter, known as "Mellah", the Kasbah Mosque, the Saadian tombs, or Bab Agnou, one of the 19 gates that formed the entrance to the walled city.
Together with an expert guide you will walk through the alleys of the city and learn about the history and culture of Marrakech. In addition, you will also have time to relax and explore the city on your own.
- Jemaa el Fna square.
- Bahia Palace.
- Jewish Quarter.
- Kasbah Mosque.
- Saadi Tombs.
- Bab Agnaou.
- Koutoubia Mosque.
3. Private day tour of Marrakech
The lovers of tours will find in this modality the best option. In this private tour of Marrakech, the guide is dedicated exclusively to a traveler and his travel companions instead of an organized group. It is the most complete way to know the city of Marrakech because in addition to the personalized attention it is one of the longest tours: from 7 to 9 hours touring the city and its attractions.
The duration of the tour allows to address several aspects. There is a part of the tour that will be focused on the more "traditional" tourism; that is, you will visit the most important monuments of the city and you will learn about their history and the reason for their importance (note that the entrance fees to them are not included in the price of the visit).
Afterwards, the guide will take you through the different stalls of the souk where you will be able to talk to the merchants and artisans and learn more about their profession and their way of life. Finally, throughout the tour the guide will also talk about Arab culture and tradition.
- The Ben Youssef Mosque
- The Almoravids dome
- The square of Jamaa el-Fna
- The Saadian tombs
- The Jewish quarter
- The Bahia Palace
- The Kutubia minaret
4. Tour of the souks of Marrakech
The tour of this tour of the souks of Marrakech is mainly focused on the stalls and souk and to know the crafts and objects for sale: pottery, painting, leather, tea, carpets, clothing, jewelry, spices, etc.. However, three hours is plenty of time and you will also see other parts of the Medina that are less commercial and, most importantly, you will have time to chat with your local guide about what catches your attention.
You will meet your guide at the Yamaa el-Fna square. If you are wondering what is the best day to book this tour, let me tell you that it doesn't matter: the center of Marrakech is a constant weekend. You have the possibility to choose the private tour option, so the guide will be dedicated only to you and your travel companions.
Why I like this tour
The heart of Marrakech is undoubtedly in the souk and its stalls of spices, food, leather, handicrafts, cosmetics and a long etc. Walking around there is to gawk at every corner, not because you are necessarily looking for something; rather because you feel that there are thousands of objects looking for you to tell you their story.
Each spice is used for one thing, each artisan has his technique, each painter has his favorite corner of the city and each color has its meaning. For this reason, among all the tours I took during my visit, my favorite tour of Marrakech was the one that took me "shopping" in the Medina.
A word of advice: bargaining is an art in Marrakech so do not get carried away by high prices or by the claims of the shopkeepers.
5. Gastronomic tour of Marrakech
Food is one of the great attractions of this city, but, although it may seem otherwise, it is not always easy to find good dishes during your visit. So, if you like to try new things and experiment with flavors, I recommend this guided gastronomic tour to get to know the local specialties. Do it at the beginning of your trip, it will be very useful to choose restaurants and dishes in the following days.
The most important thing to know if you are interested in the food of Morocco in general and Marrakech in particular, is that in this culture eating and drinking is not just a formality, but a way of life, a way of sharing customs and relationships. In this tour the guide, in addition to offering you some tastings (keep in mind that you will not sit down to eat, but the idea is that you try different foods and flavors) will teach you the true meaning of Moroccan culinary culture and typical dishes.
Typical dishes of Marrakech
- Moroccan salad
- Tajines (meats and vegetables simmered and spiced)
- Mechoui (lamb cooked in a gentle way)
- Tanjia (lamb stew with spices and candied lemons and cooked for hours)
- Kaab el-ghazal (croissants stuffed with almond paste and flavored with orange blossom water)
6. Excursion to the Atlas Mountains and the Agafay desert with camel ride
The main attraction of this day trip is an in-depth visit of the Agafay desert, which is a desert near Marrakech (very popular for camel rides like the ones included in the tour) where the plants that produce Argan oil grow (if you have the opportunity I advise you to buy a bottle as in other countries it is usually more expensive and not always pure).
The price of the excursion also includes drinks, guide, transportation from the hotel, camel ride and, for a supplement, lunch.
- The Agafay desert
- The Atlas Mountains
- The Atlas waterfalls
- The valley of Imlil
- The valley of Asni
- The valley of Amizmiz
- Berber villages
- Naqab waterfall
7. Tour to Ouarzazate and Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou
Known as "the gateway to the Sahara desert", Ouarzazate is a city 200 kilometers from Marrakech that is surrounded by fortified spaces of Berber origin known as kasbahs. If this doesn't tell you anything, surely the names of movies shot in this clay village, Ait Ban Haddou, such as: The Mummy, Star Wars, Laurence of Arabia, Gladiator or Alexander the Great.
The excursion to Ouarzazate and Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, available in Spanish, English, French, Italian and Arabic, can take about twelve hours (the site is about 4.5 hours away from Marrakech) and you will have the possibility to hire guide and lunch for a supplement.
8. Excursion to Ourika Valley
The Ourika Valley is one of the most beautiful areas of Morocco both for the attractiveness of its landscape and for the tranquility and calm that permeates the area. If you are looking for an excursion where you can disconnect and go at your own pace and learn a little more about the way of life of the locals, this is one of your best options.
During the visit to the Ourika Valley you will take a group walk through the areas with the best views of the region and then you can walk around the village at your own pace. Lunch is not included and neither is the local guide (although you can count on his services for an additional supplement of three euros); the excursion consists of the transfer from the hotel in Marrakech in a vehicle with capacity for about 15 people equipped with air conditioning.
9. Excursion to the Ouzoud waterfalls
The Ouzoud waterfalls is one of the longest day trips (a total of about 10 hours). This landscape is about three hours drive from Marrakech, but the spectacle you will enjoy on arrival is well worth it. Located in a landscape of arid hills, these are the highest waterfalls in North Africa and this excursion will allow you to walk them, relax on the banks of the same or see the monkeys that inhabit the area.
The Ouzoud waterfalls are one of the main mountain attractions in Morocco and this plan is designed for you to walk them at your own pace. The point of departure and return will be your hotel in Marrakech and you can bring your own lunch (I recommend it) or buy something in the cafes in the area.
10. Excursion to Essaouira
Essaouira is a fishing village far from the mountain scenery and deserts, but it is still one of the most popular excursions from Marrakech. This city known as "The pearl of the Atlantic" is ideal for a day break from the bustle of Marrakech, taste its excellent fish and, if you go more than a day, do some of the hiking trails that start from there.
Practical information about guided tours in Marrakech
Beware of unofficial guides you will find in the Medina
It is common that walking through the souk some locals (often children) will approach you asking to "show you" the city in exchange for a tip. These are not specialized guides and the only thing they will do is take you for a stroll through the souk without explaining anything.
In fact, sometimes it can even be a bit risky because the "tour" is far from the safe tourist area. Keep this in mind and be wary of such propositions (better safe than sorry) and book your tour in advance to avoid disappointment or deception.
Make the most of your guided tour
Take advantage of the opportunity offered by the guided tour to ask your guide any questions you may have; whether or not to accept mint tea if offered, the best way to dress, how to greet the locals, how to behave in sacred places, etc.
In Morocco you may find everything so exotic that it is common to want to take a thousand and one pictures; in the monuments there will be no problem, but if you are going to take pictures of people or handicrafts ask permission before.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Be wary of locals who come out to meet you in the souk to offer you a tour on their own.
If you are interested in tours and excursions in Marrakech, you will also be interested in
The best thing about guided tours of the city, at least for me, is being able to feel like a local for a few hours and not only see the main sights, but have information to understand them and put them in context. If you are looking for a similar feeling, I recommend you to choose a camel ride where you have contact with the Berbers who live in villages in the desert. Here you can read my guide about Camel Rides and Tickets in Marrakech.