The Moroccan city has captivated celebrities of all ages, from Nicole Kidman to Winston Churchill who used to visit it to paint some canvases. During the summer, the intense blue sky contrasts with the reddish landscapes of its streets creating an exotic and undoubtedly captivating atmosphere that increases the number of things to do during a trip to Marrakech. And if the temperatures rise too high, you can take advantage of the excuse to reach the beaches of Essaouira.
1. Experience the atmosphere of Eid al Adha
Eid al Adha, literally "celebration of sacrifice", is the feast of the lamb and the most important celebration in the Muslim world. On this day a biblical episode is remembered: when God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his firstborn to test his faithfulness before stopping him at the last moment and ordering him to kill a lamb instead of his son. The Feast of Sacrifice takes place after the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Therefore, the date changes every year.
In the days leading up to it, you can already sense the magnitude of the event: the locals go to the markets to buy sheep and then transport them to their homes by any means of transport. You should not be surprised if you see a goat stuffed in the trunk of a car!
They also prepare typical sweets such as ghribas (almond-based cookies) or the iconic Kaab el Ghazal, crescent-shaped biscuits with almonds, orange blossom water and cinnamon. If you want to know more about the local delicacies, I advise you to read the article Moroccan food: the dishes you can't miss.
The feast day begins with prayers. Subsequently, families gather in their own homes for the slaughter and, in the evening, they go out in the streets for the celebrations. During the two days of this feast, the locals go to the outskirts of the city (musallas) to eat sheep and lamb dishes. Moroccans tend to use all their parts, from the most common parts to less "noble" parts such as brains, stomachs and feet.
Most stores, cafes and museums will be closed for at least the morning and, in some cases, for a day or two. Make sure you have alternative plans for the day of Eid al Adha.
2. Visit the Saadi Tombs
Located in a garden between the Bab Agnaou Gate and the El Badi Palace, the Saadid Tombs are a cemetery guarding the remains of Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur and five other members of his family. Undoubtedly, the most famous room is the Hall of the twelve columns, a room with a wonderful dome carved in cedar wood, Carrara marble columns and a pavement covered with mosaics.
For many years, the tombs fell into oblivion. After the fall of the Saadid dynasty, the Alawite Sultan Mulai Ismail took power and condemned his predecessors to "damnatio memoriae". He therefore ordered to destroy all traces of the past. Fortunately, the Saadian Tombs were discovered in 1917. During the colonial era, the French photographed Marrakech from the air for a topographical survey and upon analysis realized that something could be hidden in this place.
Being a mausoleum, the heat of the city remains outside the threshold. You can visit the Saadi Tombs every day of the week from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 14:30 to 18:00. The ticket costs approximately 7 €.
3. Refresh yourself in the pools of the Red City
When the heat begins to be suffocating, there is nothing better than a good dip. Most hotels and riads in Marrakech allow you to enjoy their pools even if you are not staying there. Not bad, right? Now that you know, pack a towel, sunscreen and a swimsuit and get ready to spend a day in the pools of the Red City.
In the heart of the city is Riad Ambre Et Epices, the former mansion of a wealthy spice merchant. Completely renovated in 2009, the hotel has a wonderful outdoor swimming pool surrounded by olive trees. Another recommended destination is the Palais Namaskar, a luxury hotel characterized by its oriental style.
By purchasing a day pass you can relax on the sun loungers and enjoy the scented towels and citrus sorbets. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, you can opt for the Manzil la tortue, a hotel with a quiet private pool and a golf course.
Some noteworthy pools can be found in the nearby Agafay desert. Terre des Etoiles, for example, is an oasis with luxury camping and a pool overlooking the arid hills nearby. A few kilometers away is also La Pause, a luxury eco-resort with no electricity or Wi-Fi, the ideal place to unwind. To enjoy its swimming pool you will have to spend at least one night there. If you want to discover this natural spot, I recommend you to read the article Excursions to the Agafay desert from Marrakech.
In the summer, the swimming pools are usually very crowded. If you want to avoid being left out, I recommend you to book your place a few days in advance.
4. Take a breath of fresh air at the Ouzoud waterfalls
The Ouzoud waterfalls are the highest waterfalls in Morocco and are located less than three hours drive from Marrakech. If you want to visit them in the day, it is best to choose an organized excursion. There are several options available and most of them provide for pick-up from your hotel or riad. After leaving the city, the bus or minivan crosses the valleys of the High Atlas, passes in the middle of some Berber villages and finally arrives in Ouzoud. E
From below, you will be able to appreciate the 100-meter waterfall and the mist generated by the fall. To enjoy the view, you can start the climb up the mountain, which usually takes about an hour. Halfway up, you will come across a colony of monkeys, but don't worry, these animals are more than used to human presence. If you bring some food with you, they will approach you right away.
Once you have descended, you can complete the excursion with a boat ride. The river formed by the Ouzoud waterfalls is crossed by curious wooden boats that give an adventurous touch to the experience. This visit is one of the 12 best excursions from Marrakech.
The path leading to the summit is quite steep. To avoid falling, it is preferable to wear hiking boots. When traveling in summer, it is advisable to drink water frequently.
5. Discover the Pearl of the Atlantic
With this nickname is identified Essaouira, a fortified city on the shores of the ocean. Its fine sandy beach and the trade winds that blow constantly attract thousands of surfers from all over Europe. The coasts of Tagharte, Safi and Sidi Kaouki are perfect for surfing the waters taking advantage of the strength of the winds and if you do not practice this discipline, you can choose from several alternatives. For example, you can head to the port and eat fresh fish in the local restaurants. Another attraction worth mentioning is the Medina, the old part of Essaouira with its typical Arab architecture.
Getting to the Pearl of the Atlantic from Marrakech is very easy, just take a bus. There are many companies and the trip takes about two and a half hours. However, buses do not usually respect fixed schedules. If you want to save time, it is preferable to book an organized tour. If you want to know more, you can read the article How to go from Marrakech to Essaouria.
6. Travel through the history of Morocco at the Musée des Confluences
Before being converted into a museum, Dar el Bacha was the residence of Pasha Thami El Glaoui. The Moroccan nobleman was a very wealthy man, known for his style of dress and his frequent trips to Europe. In fact, he built his estate to impress guests that included personalities such as Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle and Charlie Chaplin.
The aim of this museum is to deepen the history of Morocco and the influences that have interested the country over the centuries. The main exhibition space is dedicated to Islamic art but you can also admire the international collection of Patti Cadby Birch, American archaeologist and lover of the Red City. Her collection includes more than 3,000 ancient objects from the Mayan, Cretan and Chinese civilizations. The works of art range from 5000 B.C. to the present day.
Having opened in 2017, the Musée des Confluences is quite unknown among most tourists. Take advantage of this to see a traditional residence with beautiful courtyards full of greenery, ideal for escaping the heat.
7. Have fun on the slides of Oasiria
Oasiria is the largest and most important water park in Morocco and the ideal place for a family day out. The little ones can play pirates in the Pirates' Lagoon while teenagers speed down the slides or go down the Crazy River. As for adults, Oasiria has an attraction designed exclusively for them: the Calme & Chauffée, a pool with water at 28 degrees where children are not allowed. Here you can relax while your children have fun at the Moussaillons, a club that organizes fun activities.
In addition to a water park, Oasiria is a luxuriant green area so much so that its own website advertises itself as "Le plus grand jardin de Marrakech". And when hunger strikes, you can choose from 5 restaurants. Oasiria's flagship is called Le Jardin & les Cabanas and offers seasonal cuisine with fresh, quality ingredients. Alternatively, the beach bar Le Café Ola has a simpler menu with sandwiches, salads or refreshing ice cream.
At Oasiria it is forbidden to bring food and drink, although it is allowed to enter with a few bottles of water.
8. Lose yourself among the creations of Yves Saint Laurent
When the temperature rises, visiting a museum is always a good idea. The latest addition to the Red City is the Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech Museum which houses 5,000 garments, 15,000 haute couture accessories, sketches and objects of all kinds. The cultural institution was inaugurated in 2017 and is located a short distance from the Majorelle Gardens. Built in terracotta, concrete and Moroccan stone, the building fits perfectly with its surroundings while its brick facade evokes the lattice of a fabric.
The museum's extraordinary collection is the result of an artist's intuition: Yves Saint Laurent was the first designer of his generation to systematically archive his work. After a stroll among the garments, you can relax at Café Le Studio, a bar/restaurant with a menu that fuses Mexican and Californian cuisine. To prepare ceviches, tacos or the green aguachile, the chef uses organic ingredients from the Marrakech region.
The Yves Saint Laurent Museum opens at 11:00 and closes its doors at 17:00. The last entrance is at 16:30.
9. Be captivated by the scents of the Perfume Museum
Located in a riad in the Medina, the Perfume Museum is the creation of Abderrazzak Benchaâbane, Moroccan perfumer and main restorer of the Majorelle Gardens. It is located in the heart of the old town and has good reviews from tourists and locals alike. Here you will discover all the steps involved in making a fragrance; you will also learn the secrets of incense, argan, floral waters and other essential oils.
If you think you have a talent for scents, the museum offers perfume creation workshops as well as olfactory awakening workshops for children. In the Perfume Bar you will find several Soliflore, i.e., essences composed of a single note. You can mix them to create original creations that you can take home as souvenirs.
The museum is located at 2, Derb Chérif, Rue Diour Saboun. If you do not find it, you can ask someone in the Medina who will accompany you in exchange for a few dirham.
10. Treat yourself to a cooking course
A Moroccan cooking workshop will teach you traditional recipes so that you can replicate them at home. Most courses start with the purchase of fresh ingredients in the souks of the Red City. Subsequently, you will return to your hotel/riad or course location to prepare the culinary creations. At all times, an expert cook will teach you the tricks of the trade and once the process is finished, you will be able to taste the dishes you have prepared.
In Marrakech you will find all kinds of courses. You will learn to prepare traditional recipes such as harira, cous cous, chicken or beef tajine and Moroccan pastries. In addition, these workshops will be useful for the proper use of spices (cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, ginger and saffron). These courses usually cost 50 € and are highly appreciated by tourists.
Choose this workshop if you have some notions of cooking. You don't need to be an expert cook but it is preferable to have some basic skills.
Temperatures in Marrakech in summer
In the Moroccan city, summer starts in mid-June and ends in mid-September. In the "border" months, the nights are usually a little cooler (minimum temperatures usually reach 15º/17º) while the daytime temperatures easily reach 35º. Everything changes when we talk about July and August which is the most torrid season in Marrakech. In these months, the highs exceed 45 degrees for several days and in some cases the temperature limit of 50 degrees is bordered. If you want to travel in the milder months, you can consult the post about Marrakech in April or Marrakech in October.
Alternative plans to protect yourself from the heat in Marrakech
When the heat is on, you can seek some refreshment in Marrakech's air-conditioned museums. In addition to the aforementioned institutions, there are other options such as La Maison de la Photographie (Rue Ahl Fes, 46 Rue Bin Lafnadek) or the Boucharouite Museum, a former guesthouse converted into an exhibition of local crafts). To cool off, you can opt for La Plage Rouge (a pool with sun loungers on the outskirts of Marrakech) or Nikki Beach, a glamorous pool with a dj set.