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The Ultimate Guide to Marrakech

Marrakech Landmark and architecture.Scenic landscape.Scenical Menara garden.Travel to morocco.Marrakech

Marrakech is an energetic and eclectic city in the southwest of Morocco. Though it is not the capital, it is considered the cultural hub and home to a walled medieval city and marketplace from the Berber Empire. The vivid architecture and colourful textiles found in Marrakech draw in a hip, bohemian crowd to this already lively city.

This guide will show you all of the top things to do in Marrakech, Morocco, including what to see and where to stay.

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How to get to Marrakech

The city’s Menara Airport is served by over 30 international airlines. Layovers in Casablanca are common, but there are many direct flights from Europe and a few Arab countries. The airport is six kilometres from the centre of Marrakech, so you will have to catch a shuttle bus, taxi or private transfer. The transport company ASLA runs reliable buses every 30 minutes between the medina, the new town and the airport. When taking a taxi, the fare is typically 150 dirhams.

If you’re travelling to Marrakech from elsewhere in Morocco, the railway system links most of the major cities. Trains to Marrakech from Casablanca and Rabat take about four hours. You can also look into the comfortable and air-conditioned CTM and Supratours buses.

Marrakech, Morocco - The facade of international Marrakesh Menara Airport.

What to expect in Marrakech

Darija (aka Moroccan Arabic) and Berber are the official languages of Morocco. However, French is commonly spoken and is even considered an unofficial language. Signs in Marrakech, for example, are typically written in both Arabic and French. As Marrakech is a huge tourist destination, you will find that most hotel and restaurant staff will be able to communicate with you in English. At the very least, English menus will be available.

Moroccan dirham is the local currency, and can only be acquired once you arrive in the country. It can be hard to exchange lesser-used currencies, so it’s best to travel with euros, U.S. dollars, or even British pounds. You can easily convert these currencies at Moroccan airports, banks, or even hotels. If you’re making an expensive purchase, euros and USD may be accepted, but it’s best to use dirham day to day. For reference, one euro currently equals about 10 dirhams. If you have any cash left over at the end of your trip, remember to exchange it back before you leave.

When it comes to tipping, there is no set rule. If you’re at an upscale restaurant, a service charge might be added to your total. If tipping is something you’re concerned about, round up the final bill to at least the nearest 10 dirhams. It is generous to leave 15 to 20 dirhams to taxi drivers and hotel porters, while 100 may be appropriate to leave a maid after a week-long stay.

How to get around Marrakech

The most convenient way to wander Marrakech is on foot. Many of the streets and alleyways are winding and narrow, making some areas difficult for cars to pass through. Fortunately, most of the must-see attractions are within walking distance.

If your accommodation is a little far out from the medina, you can catch a shuttle provided by your hotel or take a taxi. Apps like Uber and Lyft aren’t available here, but you can find plenty of taxis with running meters.

Marrakech Morocco. Shop owners and a taxi are waiting for customers while people are walking past the Moulay El Yazid Mosque in Marrakech Morocco on a sunny morning

The best time to visit Marrakech

Spring and Autumn are the ideal times to visit Marrakech and Morocco in general. From March to May and October to November, the weather is mild and perfect for exploring. You’ll also avoid heavy crowds that are common during the summer holidays.

Speaking of which, summers in Marrakech are known to be extremely hot, so avoid visiting during June to September. Ramadan also occurs at the beginning of summer, since the majority of the population are Muslim. Specific dates vary year to year, but it generally begins in May and ends in June. However, if you want to partake in this religious holiday and think you can handle the heat, you will certainly have a memorable trip. In fact, you may have a more authentic experience and become more familiar with the culture by visiting during Ramadan.

Marrakech Morocco - Park and muslim people walking in it in Marrakech city

Things to do in Marrakech

Many tourists flock to Marrakech for the incredible textiles, ceramics and handmade crafts. Simply put, it’s a fantastic and unique shopping destination if you know how to haggle. Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square, engages all your senses and is unlike any market you’ve ever been to. It’s considered the centre of the city, and you must experience this lively place for yourself. Just beware of the snake charmers, monkey handlers, and even the occasional wandering tortoise!

Marrakech, Morocco - Jemaa el-Fnaa square and market place at dusk.

You will find souks upon souks filled with elegant lanterns, colourful plates, eclectic rugs and glittering jewellery. It can be intimidating at first, so take your time looking around and come back the next day to make your purchases. Even if shopping isn’t your priority, a visit to the square is still a must. People-watching while enjoying some fresh orange juice or mint tea can be one of the most enjoyable Marrakech activities.

Marrakech, Morocco - : A typical Friday atmosphere at the aisles Souk in Marrakesh Medina

Since Morocco is an Islamic country, you may be wondering about things to do in Marrakech at night. Venturing into the square is all it takes to have an exciting evening. Late at night, the live music and drumming go crazy in the best possible way. If you prefer to observe the chaos rather than be amongst it, grab a drink at Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier. The balcony has an amazing view of Jemaa el-Fnaa that you won’t find anywhere else.

Marrakech, Morocco - Marrakechs Central Place Djemaa El Fna at sunset

Places to visit in Marrakech

When wondering what to see in Marrakech, you won’t want to miss Jardin Majorelle. This bold botanical garden is one of the most frequented spots in all of Morocco. When you’re done exploring the outside, take a look at the Berber Museum and Islamic Art Museum. The complex is also home to the newly-built Yves Saint Laurent Museum, dedicated to the French fashion designer who made Marrakech a second home.

MARRAKECH MOROCCO - The Majorelle Garden is a botanical garden and artist's landscape garden in Marrakech Morocco.

The fascinating, intricate architecture makes the mosques and palaces the best places to visit in Marrakech. Bahia Palace was built in the 19th century with the intention of becoming the greatest palace of all time. It is considered to be a masterpiece, with colourfully stained glass windows and engraved columns. El Badi Palace, on the other hand, is a former royal residence in ruins. The 16th-century palace once contained over 350 rooms made from gold, onyx, marble and cedar wood. The enormous complex fell into decay following a civil war in the late 17th century.

Marrakesh Morocco - : Inside the beautiful Bahia palace with the fountain in Marrakesh Morocco Africa.

To keep the history lesson going, you must explore the Saadian Tombs. Conveniently, they are only a few hundred metres from El Badi. Though only discovered in 1917, the tombs date back to the Saadian Dynasty of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Marrakech, Morocco - The room with the twelve columns in Saadian Tombs. These tombs are sepulchres of Saadi Dynasty members and are a major attraction for visitors in Marrakech

If you’re looking for free things to do in Marrakech after spending all your money at the souks, head to Koutoubia Mosque. It’s the largest mosque in Marrakech, and you will immediately spot its 77-metre high minaret tower. It is illuminated in the evenings, so be sure to visit during sunset.

travel concept around the world.Koutoubia mosque Marrakech Morocco.Landmarks and architecture

Lastly, you can’t forget one of the most gorgeous Marrakech sites, the Ben Youssef Madrasa. 500 years ago, it was the largest Islamic school in northern Africa. It has since become a museum and is open to the public daily. You’ll be in awe over the incredible attention to detail here, with stunning mosaics, marvellous carvings and beautiful marble patios.

Marrakesh, Morocco - Inside the five century old school or Ali ben Youssef Medersa in the center of Marrakesh. The Ben Youssef Madrasa was an Islamic college in Marrakesh, Morocco.

What to eat in Marrakech

Moroccan cuisine is a fascinating mix of Arabic, Mediterranean, Berber and Andalusian foods. Couscous is the country’s main dish, and beef, chicken and lamb are commonly consumed. Middle Eastern flatbread known as khubz is also a favourite. Dishes are limited if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, but you will always find some delicious and authentic vegetable tagine. There’s also zaalouk, a popular cold salad made from tomato and eggplant.

The best food in Marrakech is often where you’d least expect, and typically out of the main tourist hot spots. However, if you’re in a main area like Jemaa el-Fnaa and want to grab a bite, only eat at stalls the locals are also eating at.

The atmosphere at Atay Cafe will make you want to indulge in a three-hour lunch. You’ll taste some of the most delicious tagines in Marrakech here, whether lamb or vegetarian. Relax with a cup of mint tea and watch the sunset from the inviting rooftop terrace.

Plats Haj Boujemaa is the ultimate restaurant for meat lovers. Though they serve a range of both international and Moroccan foods, grilled meats are their speciality. This local spot boasts affordable prices and is open until one in the morning, ideal for when hunger hits late in the evening!

Zaalouk - Moroccan Eggplant Salad , close up meal

Where to stay in Marrakech

The most intriguing place to stay in Marrakech is at a traditional Moroccan home known as a riad. You can identify a riad by the interior courtyard (often featuring a swimming pool) and the colourful tiles. Here are a few of the most memorable places for you to stay at while in Marrakech.

Although Riad Idra is located right within the medina, it’s an idyllic oasis inside. Escape the hustle and bustle in the luscious courtyard or on the romantic rooftop terrace. There are only seven rooms and suites available, making your stay even more private and intimate. Each space is adorned with Moroccan and Islamic-inspired furnishings. The riad is a few hundred metres from the Museum of Women and Le Jardin Secret, and a 10-minute walk from the main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa.

Riad Al Jazira is elegant and modern while still maintaining Moroccan charm. This boutique accommodation brings together three separate riads and patios, including a rooftop terrace and a swimming pool. The earthy tones of the rooms and suites give a warm and cosy feel, with stunning lanterns and Berber rugs everywhere you look. Take a pottery workshop or Arabic calligraphy class, then end the day at the relaxing spa.

Kasbah Le Mirage diverges from the traditional riad, but still captures the essence of Morocco. It’s ideal for a quiet retreat, as it sits along the Tensift River 15 kilometres from the city centre. A free shuttle is offered twice daily, so this slight distance won’t be an issue. You’ll see classic Moroccan architectural elements throughout the rooms, such as bejmat tiles and tadelakt walls. Choose from a range of pampering treatments during your stay, or get outdoors and partake in the numerous activities offered.

Namaskar palace, Marrakech, Morocco - Namaskar palace, luxury hotel and spa of Marrakech, Morocco

Tours to do in Marrakech

Want to tick something off your bucket list? A hot air balloon ride over the Atlas Mountains is an experience you will never forget. Marrakech By Air and Ciel d’Afrique Hot Air Ballooning both run sunrise flights with a complimentary Berber breakfast. While group tours are the cheapest, you can book a private flight for a more romantic occasion. It is absolutely one of the top things for couples to do in Marrakech!

Dades Gorge is a gorge of the Dades River and lies between the Atlas Mountains and the Jbel Saghro of the Anti Atlas mountain range in Morocco

Another enjoyable tour is a sunset camel ride. Palmeraie is an oasis of palm trees right outside of the city, waiting for you to explore via camel. At the end of the ride, M and A Tours can take you to a local Berber house to drink mint tea and learn about the culture and people living in the area. This experience is truly one of the most unique things to do in Marrakech and guarantees you an authentic Moroccan experience.

Horizontal banner with caravan of camels in Sahara desert, Morocco. Driver-berber with three camels dromedary on sunrise sky background and traditional moroccan houses

If you want to know how to eat like a local, take a four-hour food tour with AXS. By bike, you will stop by bakeries, spice shops, and other spots to sample delicious Moroccan foods.

Marrakesh, Morocco - Piles of vibrant, colourful herbs and potpourri in bags at a market stall in a souk in Marrakech, Morocco.

Day trips from Marrakech

One of the ultimate day trips to take from Marrakech is an adventure to the Atlas Mountains. On this full-day trip run by Trekking with Morocco, you’ll be driven through the Moulay Brahim Gorges and to the picturesque Imlil Valley. Your guide will take you on a one to three-hour trek to the Berber village of Ait Souka, followed a visit to the waterfalls at Arouz.

Imlil city in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco

If you want a bit of a sea change, you can take a day trip to the coastal city of Essaouira. You can make the three-hour-long journey, stopping along the way at an Argan oil co-op, and explore the laid-back town at your own pace.

Fort of Essaouira in Morocco on a sunny day with blue boats on the water and selective focus

This guide has hopefully answered your questions regarding what to do in Marrakech. You will absolutely fall in love with everything this bustling and vibrant city has to offer!

Want to learn how to travel on a Budget? Check out our dedicated “Budget Conscious Travel Guide”

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The Ultimate Guide to Marrakech

The Ultimate Guide to Marrakech

The Ultimate Guide to Marrakech

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious!With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!