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... I could give you different tips for traveling to Marrakech, but these are undoubtedly the 10 things you should not miss in the city.
1. Stroll around the Yamaa el-Fna square
I do not know if there is anyone who has visited Marrakech without passing through this square. Located inside the Medina of Marrakech (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. If you have to choose a first place to go on your arrival in Marrakech, I recommend without a doubt this square.
2. Go shopping in the souk
In few cities would I recommend shopping as a must-do, but in Marrakech it is a whole new experience that you may be used to.
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 the 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 alley) or tasting the sweets they sell at street level (they don't look very hygienic, but tasting them is part of the local experience). Of course, be especially careful with your belongings during your walk through the souk is one of the basic safety tips in Marrakech.
3. Visit the Bahia Palace
Also known as the Palace of the Beautiful as it is the Arabic translation of Bahia. It was by this nickname that was known to the favorite of the vizier Ahmed ben Moussa who was the one who commissioned the construction of this palace that took 14 years to complete. The highlight of the place is a 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 sixteenth century. 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 courtyard: marble floor, delicate tones, ornamental art, sculpted calligraphy, latticed balconies, mosaics and other elements make it a work of art.
6. Explore the Majorelle Garden
When you go to the Majorelle garden the first thing that will catch your attention, even before you reach the door, is the Ville Nouvelle area 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. If you want more information on how to get here have a look at this post on how to get around Marrakech.
As for the Majorelle garden, I personally think it is one of the best visits you can do 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 exotic plant species and the taste of the buildings and streets that compose it is exquisite.
7. Take a trip to Essaouira
Marrakech is a city with a lot to enjoy, but the bustle of its streets makes it grateful to be able to escape one day from the center to enjoy a more relaxed area of Morocco. Visiting the fishing town of Essaouira is perfect for this. It is located three hours from Marrakech and there are different excursions to Essaouira in which you can go and return in the same day; in any case here is a post about how to get from Marrakech to Essaouira.
Its main attraction is the tranquility 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 go hiking or visit its mountain resorts, but in the different excursions departing from Marrakech you will have time to explore the main points of interest at your own pace.
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. The 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 scattered across 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 surrounding area (including the famous Marrakech palm grove) that can last from a few hours to a whole day. Tip: if you go to Marrakech with children do not miss this activity.
9. Take a city tour
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 can choose from several options of tours and excursions from Marrakech 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 and the gastronomy of Morocco. Take advantage and ask your guide for restaurant recommendations in Marrakech; he will be happy to help you.
10. Go on an excursion 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, just 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.
Excursions to the desert of Marrakech: a must do
Of all the excursions that can be done from Marrakech, the excursions to the desert of Morocco are undoubtedly the most popular. The first thing you should know is that from Marrakech you can visit the desert of Merzouga, the desert of Zagora or the desert of Agafay. Although you can see the desert of Marrakech in one day, my recommendation is to spend the night in the desert as the experience is unique. I also recommend that to get to the desert from Marrakech you hire an organized excursion as it is not worth doing it on your own as the activities that can be done in the desert are mostly organized by those who do the excursions.
Finally, choose the best time of the year for your trip
If you are wondering when to travel to Marrakech, I will tell you that both :::link|text=visiting Marrakech in summer element=sc-192-2310::: and visiting Marrakech in winter have their advantages. Each month of the year offers a number of attractions that you can check in this list:
- Marrakech in January
- Marrakech in February
- Marrakech in March
- Marrakech in April
- Marrakech in May
- Marrakech in June
- Marrakech in July
- Marrakech in August
- Marrakech in September
- Marrakech in October
- Marrakech in November
- Marrakech in December
Also, if you are still not sure how many days to spend in the Moroccan city, here is another list of itineraries depending on how many days your trip lasts. Enjoy!