Marrakech is a striking clash between tradition and modernity. This clash produces a captivating vibrancy that will stick with you, even after you leave. As a former imperial city, it’s a sought-after tourist destination.
There are countless attractions in Marrakech, some that invoke its rich traditions. Other spots in the city feel more contemporary. Here you’ll find the 9 top things to do in Marrakech.
#1 Ben Youseff Madrasa
The Ben Youseff Madrasa has an astounding history, going back to the 14th century. It was established as an Islamic school, once the largest madrasa in North Africa. Taking in the exquisite architecture of the courtyard and student rooms might be better with a guide.
Marveling at history is always better when there’s someone to explain it! Also, double-check that the Madrasa is open, as it may be closed for construction from March 2018.
#2 Jardin Majorelle & Museé Yves Saint-Laurent
Created by French painter Jacques Marjorelle, the garden is one of the most popular attractions in Marrakech. Instead of flowers, the Jardin Majorelle spotlights many types of cacti.
The garden was once owned by French designer Yves Saint-Laurent, who loved spending time in Marrakech. In 2017, a museum opened next to Jardin Majorelle about the life and works of Saint-Laurent, featuring hundreds of garments he designed throughout his career.
Jardin Majorelle is gorgeous and crowded, meaning you might struggle to get good photos once inside.
#3 Jemaa el-Fnaa
The massive square is at the heart of Marrakech. Henna-tattoo artists, snake charmers, and countless food stalls line the winding alleys of Jemaa el-Fnaa. As you make your way through the city, the square will be almost unavoidable due to its size and central location.
Take caution as you pass through, though, because it tends to be a tourist trap in some spots. Try sitting on one of the rooftop cafés nearby that overlook the square from above – enjoy the view without all the hustle and bustle.
#4 Bahia Palace
The ornate 19th-century palace is a quiet retreat from the busy city streets. The estate is the perfect example of Moroccan architecture, and the brilliance of each room will leave speechless. If you go with a tour guide, you can learn more about the palace and its significance in Moroccan history.
#5 Saadian Tombs
Another peaceful escape in Marrakech is visiting the Saadian Tombs. Devoted as the final resting place of Saadian Sultan Ahmed al Mansour ed-Dahbi, the tombs were forgotten until about 1917.
They are now open to visitors, who can see Arabic calligraphy, ornate carvings, and delightful orange trees at the site. It’s located just outside of the city and could be a nice alternative to some of the cities’ more crowded outdoor gardens.
#6 Souk Semmarine
The souks are a staple of Marrakech life and countless ones can be found in the medina, or old town. The biggest souk is Souk Semmarine, full of shops and trinkets.
For the true Marrakech experience, wander the marketplace and haggle with the shopkeepers. Don’t idle along too much, though. The endless labyrinth of vendors might make you lost if you’re not paying attention!
#7 Maison de la Photographie
One of Marrakech’s many museums, the Maison de la Photographie can be found in the new town. Its fascinating exhibits display historical photography as well as contemporary art.
The museum is a superb gallery of visual history and culture of the city of Marrakech and may be one of the finest museums in town. After hours of gazing at the photography, head up to the rooftop café for a mint tea and some excellent views.
An essential Marrakech experience, the hammam is another one of the top attractions. A hammam is a bathhouse, where you can sit in a sauna, have an exfoliating scrub, or get a massage.
There are hundreds of bathhouses all over the city, ranging in price. Some are smaller and patronized mostly by residents, others are catered toward tourists. Do your research but don’t wait too long to book one, because it might fill up!
#9 Take a Cooking Class
Food is an integral aspect of Moroccan culture. While you’re sure to eat some Moroccan food while in Marrakech, take it a step further and join a cooking class.
There are dozens of workshops, classes, and tours available for those who want to dive deeper into Moroccan cuisine. There are even some groups that will take you shopping in a souk – where you have to haggle for your ingredients – then head to a traditional riad where they instruct you on preparing the meal. It can’t get more Moroccan than that!
You go to Marrakech to soak up the Moroccan tradition – the hammam, the souks, the mint tea. But amidst that tradition you’ll find pockets of fresh originality and newness. Whatever draws you toward the city, Marrakech is sure to leave an impression. Feel free to ask any question in the comments section below or in the forum.