Although it’s not the country’s capital, Marrakech has managed to become the most visited city in Morocco. Therefore, we can easily call it the capital of Moroccan tourism.
The Red City, as they name it due to the buildings made mostly of copper clay, will reveal more of a commercial part of Morocco. A place where trade and negotiations prevail.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have authentic experiences in Marrakech. You will definitely discover well-preserved traditions, specific dishes, beautiful places, and hospitable locals.
In this guide, you will read about the 10 best things to do in Marrakech, to turn your trip on the Moroccan lands into the best possible version. Not to mention that most of them are free things to do in Marrakech.
10 best things to do in Marrakech
1. Stay in a riad
Riads are really special because most of them are family businesses and are hundreds of years old. They are authentic Moroccan houses, available for the tourists to book them.
The beautiful riads in Marrakech are like desert oases. From the outside, everything looks insipid and maybe even unpleasant to the eye. But the interior will surprise you with a multitude of colors and textures.
The houses are part of the same color palette with shades of sand, but inside there is an explosion of colors and ornaments.
Some combine the oriental style with European designs, while others are extremely modern and Instagrammable. You will find riads with a pool in the middle of the inner courtyard, decorated with lush vegetation and all kinds of traditional objects that will make you feel part of an oriental story.
We stayed in the Dar Pamela riad, located right in the heart of the medina and only a 5-minute walk from Jemaa El-Fnaa square.
It’s a riad that has a beautiful courtyard, but no swimming pool, and with a dim light in the rooms. Therefore, I recommend you to check the suggestions below:
The most beautiful riads in Marrakech, depending on your budget
- low budget: Riad Naya, Riad dar El Arsa
- medium budget: Riad Adika, Ryad El Borj
- luxury: Dar Diaf, Royal Mansour Marrakech
READ NEXT: 14 amazing things to do in Fes, Morocco
2. Try Moroccan cuisine
In general, I consider myself a big fan of Arabic dishes. I love all their combinations of rice, spices, and sauces!
But things are a little different when it comes to Moroccan cuisine. Although it is very diverse and can be liked by many, it is not one of my favorites.
I admit I haven’t tried everything that could be tried, but that’s also because most of them are prepared with a lot of meat, and I don’t eat too much.
However, I recommend you to not leave Marrakech until you have tested at least some of the traditional dishes. Trying Moroccan food is one of the best things to do in Marrakech.
The most popular dishes are tagine, couscous, zalouk, harira, sheep head, pigeon pie (a big NO for me), and kefta.
3. Visit Jardin Majorelle
One of the most beautiful places in Marrakech is, without a doubt, the famous Jardin Majorelle botanical garden.
Located away from the chaos and bustle of Marrakech’s central square, the Jardin Majorelle is like an oasis that welcomes you with lush vegetation and bright shades of blue.
Not any blue, but blue Majorelle. Name taken from the creator of the garden, the French painter Jacques Majorelle. It took the artist over 40 years to reach the final form of the wonderful sanctuary.
A little later, the fate of the garden was taken over by the famous designer Yves Saint Laurent. He is committed to continuing to maintain and improve one of the most beautiful places in Marrakech.
Jardin Majorelle doesn’t occupy an extremely large space, but on its surface lives over 135 species of plants from several corners of the world.
The center of the garden is occupied by a house with ArtDeco influences, dominated by the blue Majorelle mentioned earlier. Jardin Majorelle is not part of the free things to do in Marrakech but is definitely one of the best.
•Schedule: 1 October – 30 April: 8 am – 5:30 pm
1 May – 30 September: 8 am – 6 pm
During Ramadan: 9 am – 5 pm
•Adress: Rue Yves Saint Laurent
•Price: 70 Dhs
4. Admire the Koutoubia mosque
The largest and most popular mosque in Marrakech watches over the city right next to Jemaa El-Fnaa Square. With an age of over 800 years and a 77-meter-high minaret, the Koutoubia Mosque is an impressive and easy-to-notice tourist attraction.
Although Muslims are not allowed access inside, the mosque can be seen and admired from the outside. Its name has several variants, and two others are Kutubiya Mosque and Jami ‘al-Kutubiyah.
Even if they vary, they all mean the same thing: the booksellers’ mosque. The reason is simple: the streets around it were full of such booksellers. Even today you can see a few stalls.
Koutoubia Mosque should be checked off on the list of the most beautiful places to visit in Marrakech.
Admire it independently or find out more about it in a 3-hour tour that will take you to several popular places in Marrakech.
5. Get lost in the medina
Are you somehow looking for a place to get lost, in the true sense of the word? Then the medina of Marrakech is the answer to your search. Or, any medina in any city in Morocco.
Medina is a universe of flavors of all kinds, colors, narrow and winding alleys, street vendors, spices, leather products, and aromatic mint, used in the preparation of delicious Moroccan tea. You can’t visit Marrakech without exploring the medina.
For all these qualities, the medina of Marrakech has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 1985.
Like the medina in Fes, it is well delimited by some high walls, hundreds of years old. More precisely, dating from the 12th century. The walls stretch for a length of 18 km and are divided by 20 huge gates.
If you want to stay in a riad, you must know that they are inside the medina and that it is a real challenge to get your luggage at the accommodation.
Make sure in advance that you know exactly where in the labyrinth of the medina is the place where you will stay and try to get a method of transport to get there in time.
• Visit the medina in a 3h tour with an expert guide
WATCH MY VLOG: One day in MARRAKECH | Jardin Majorelle & crowded medina
6. Go to Jemaa El-Fnaa Square during the day and at night
Whether you are a fan of urban chaos or not, Jemaa el-Fna Square cannot be missing from the list of best things to do in Marrakech.
Because it is practically the heart of the city, the area where craftsmen, sellers, tourists, locals, peacocks, snakes, monkeys, and the list can continue, meet.
I did not exaggerate when I added the exotic animals to the above list. They can really be found in the Jemaa el-Fnaa market and, unfortunately, are exploited for money.
If you don’t want to encourage these practices, then avoid taking photos for them or even looking at them. It is a tactic they use so they can ask you later for money for the picture taken.
During the day, the market is relatively quiet. So I recommend you take a tour, then relax in a cafe next door or go to admire the Koutoubia Mosque.
Everything changes completely after dark, and only then you will really understand why it is considered one of the craziest places in Morocco.
They open all the stalls with traditional products, natural juices made of oranges and pomegranates, the stalls with meats, spices, and it will be a lot of noise, dancers, shows, oriental rhythms. Anything you can possibly think of.
Careful! For animal lovers it will not be a very pleasant experience to walk among the tables with heads of sacrificed goats, ready to be cooked
So, to avoid situations that can make you sad, avoid the center of the medina and go only to the places where you will find souvenirs, goods, and spices.
• Visit the medina on a night tour
7. Go shopping for souvenirs and spices
Shopping in Marrakech, at the stalls in Jemaa El-Fnaa, is a very special experience. You must follow two rules: don’t make lists at home, and be prepared for negotiation.
Negotiation is a talent that comes with practice. Don’t be embarrassed to do this because it is a normal and popular custom among Moroccans. It’s one of the top tips for visiting Marrakech.
Regardless of the object you want to buy, if there is no fixed price written on it, then you are free to negotiate. Don’t expect it to come out very cheap, though.
Sellers will try to use their persuasion skills to sell at the price they want.
What you will find in the souvenir shops in Jemaa El-Fnaa? Colorful textiles and clothing, ceramics, jewelry, leather shoes, lanterns, slippers, magnets, scarves, handbags, soaps, etc.
So, the simplest question with a shorter answer would have been: what can’t you find where you are going for shopping in Marrakech?
8. Day trip to Ait-Ben-Haddou
Visiting Ait-Ben-Haddou is one of the best things to do around Marrakech.
The distance between the city and Ait-Ben-Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage fortified village, is a 3 h and a half drive. Therefore, one day is enough to visit the famous ruins of the Ouarzazate province.
You can’t miss this place if you visit Morocco because you will have an impressive view and you will be able to admire up close a place where many successful film productions have been made.
Among the best known are Lawrance of Arabia, The Gladiator, Jesus of Nazareth, The Mummy, Game of Thrones, and the famous Brazilian series Clone.
9. Day trip to Ouzoud waterfall
Formed on the river El-Abid, 160 km away from Marrakech, in the Atlas Mountains, lies a corner of paradise. A stunning place that you find it hard to believe that it can be located in the aridity of Morocco.
It is the second-highest waterfall in Africa, a splendid waterfall that forms a landscape that you can not miss.
Add Ouzoud waterfall to your list of best things to do in Marrakech. Or, well, things to do around Marrakech.
There is no fee for visiting the waterfall, and if you want to see it on an organized tour, you can opt for a 10 h tour, with pick-up from the hotel where you are staying.
10. Experience a hammam
A hammam cannot be missing from the list of the best experiences to try in Marrakech. Moroccans have been going to the hammam for hundreds of years, and they say it helps them purify both their body and soul.
The ritual is even more common before the Friday prayer, the most important in the Muslim world. It consists of three phases:
- phase 1 – the hot steam room, in which your pores will dilate
- phase 2 – washing with black soap made of olive oil, using an abrasive glove; hot water is used
- phase 3 – washing with cold water and massage with argan oil
The best time to visit Marrakech
> It is preferable to avoid the summer and winter months if you want to visit Marrakech. The best periods for your Marrakech trip are March-May and September-November.
How to get around Marrakech
> The major tourist attractions in Marrakech are located near Jemaa El-Fnaa. So, it is very easy to walk and get to all the places you are interested in.
> Another great way to travel long distances is by taxi. In general, the price of a ride is negotiable.
> Avoid public transport in Marrakech and especially horse-drawn carriages.
> You can also reach the most beautiful places in Marrakech on a tour organized with a local guide.
How safe is Marrakech
> It’s a fairly safe city, but make sure you don’t walk alone in dark places and don’t carry valuable things
> You also have to be very careful when you buy something of value. There are quite a few scammers in Marrakech
> I do not necessarily recommend to visit Marrakech as a single woman. Try to have at least one travel partner
> Wear decent clothes that can keep you away from insistent looks and biased comments