Marrakech: hot days and dreamy nights defined by opulence and spicy flavours. Hit Morocco’s hotspot and do not miss on any of those 15 things to do in Marrakech…
1. The Marrakech souks
The souks brilliantly summarise everything that Marrakech, and why not the whole of Morocco, stands for: lively, busy, colourful, spicy and intoxicating. The Medina is a labyrinth in which you can easily get lost – get lost shopping. Could be a lot worse.
2. Jardin Majorelle
You’ll be making a mistake thinking Marrakech is just in sandy gold and red stone. Truth is, you can find a welcome retreat amidst the lush tropical gardens of Jardin Majorelle boasting plants from five continents. Named after the French painter Jacques Majorelle, famous for his paintings of Moroccan life, the gardens were later bought and renovated by Yves Saint Laurent himself!
3. Jemaa El-Fna
There is no way to miss Jemma El-Fna. During the day this massive square is full of anything you would expect – snake charmers, medicine men and even tooth-pullers. Come dusk it turns into a colourful vision out of a fairytale, gradually filling with storytellers, fortune-tellers, acrobats, musicians and entertainers. One thing is for sure: whenever you visit, it will be full and providing an interesting insight into traditional Moroccan life.
4. Visit the museums
However, when you want to escape the heat you can head straight to the museums and explore the rich cultural heritage of the region. Start with Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts and admire the fine collection of jewellery, carpets, oil lamps, pottery and leatherwork. Then, head to the Marrakech Museum – a beautiful example of Andalusian architecture, the museum hosts both traditional and modern Moroccan art.
5. Indulge yourself: visit a hammam
After all that sightseeing, it surely is time to relax the Marrakech way. With plenty of spas to choose from, both affordable and luxury ones, everyone is welcome to fully unwind. Indulge yourself as you step in an authentic Moroccan hammam – the full programme includes a scrub, a massage and utter relaxation. Most hotels in Marrakech offer in-house hammams but there are also plenty of spas all over the city, including in the Medina.
6. Bahia Palace
Those famous palaces need to be visited if you truly want to transport yourself back to the golden days of Marrakech. The gorgeous Bahia Palace, for example, was converted into a palace only in the late 19th century for Grand Vizier Ba Ahmed ben Moussa said Hmad. Located right in the medina of Marrakech, the palace is set in extensive gardens and is believed to be one of the finest in Morocco. So go visit.
Leave Marrakech just for a moment and visit Palmeraie – a palm oasis with several hundred thousand trees! Fragrant and colourful, this is a refreshing retreat just outside of vibrant Marrakech. There is a golf course, too, in case you want to make the most out of your time here.
8. Koutoubia Mosque
Obviously you can’t miss out on the most famous landmark in Marrakech. The Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque here and as a place of worship, non-Muslims cannot enter. However, the exterior is a gorgeous sight in its own right.
9. Saadian Tombs
Another sightseeing opportunity not to be missed, the Saadian Tombs are based near the Kasbah Mosque. Italian Carrara marble and gilding honeycomb muqarnas with pure gold make this a pretty glamorous mausoleum only suitable for Saadian Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour ed-Dahbi (and his entourage of course).
10. Toubkal National Park
An example of stunning natural beauty, the Toubkal National Park is where you’ll see Morocco’s highest mountains, Djebel Toubkal. Based 57km south of Marrakech, this is a perfect opportunity to do some mountain climbing and hiking. Or alternatively (and more lazily), enjoy the gorgeous views from one of the picturesque villages near its base.
11. Have a delicious dinner
You can’t go to Marrakech and not have a delicious traditional dinner. The food here is spicy and flavoursome, a real triumph for the senses. Have mouth-watering, tender lamb in a tagine with plenty of couscous; a delicious B’stilla (layers of thin pastry with pigeon meat, almonds, eggs, cinnamon and saffron), and always finish with a cup of sweet, sweet mint tea!
12. Shisha? Yes, please
Visit a shisha café for the ultimate Marrakech experience. Chilling out in a shisha lounge is only comparable to relaxing in one of those gorgeous hammams – but oh so different still. Choose your flavour and be ready to transport yourself to a world of fortune-tellers and snake charmers…
13. Hit the night scene
Don’t be fooled into thinking Marrakech is one just for the hot days. The city offers quite an exciting experience in the evenings, too, defined by belly-dancers and fine cocktails. Leave the Medina and hit the city in style: pool parties, trendy bars, shisha lounges and glitzy nightclubs. Sophistication oozes from wine bars while candles lit up the atmosphere in more private bars frequented by diplomats, starlets and, now, you.
14. …and enjoy the views from a rooftop
Rooftops are a fantastic way to appreciate the beauty of Marrakech. Be it savouring the views from the stylish rooftop bar in Hotel La Renaissance or dining at one of the many rooftop restaurants around the city: you’ll be in a for a true panoramic treat.
15. In the meantime: stay in a riad
Have you considered staying in a riad (traditional Moroccan house)? It’s all the craze right now and for a reason: opt for the authentic Moroccan experience, rounded up with a lovely courtyard (some of them come with sparkly pools, too).