A cataclysm of vibrant colours and lively promises, Marrakech holidays typify what Morocco has to offer, with the city’s spice-scented air, teeming souks and compelling culture.
Here you will find an atmosphere that thrives with the prospect of bustling markets, verdant gardens and all-night party potential – the Red City has it all.
The dynamic city showcases how Morocco is evolving by combining a host of natural attractions with powerful traditions and authentic practices, the country becoming an emerging location for holidaymakers to experience something new, something inspiring, and a city break or unlike any other.
Traverse the narrow alleyways and meander through the lanes created by market stalls. You will find majestic palaces, decorative mansions and plenty of history brimming beneath the surface. From afar you will be able to spot the Koutoubia Mosque, a landmark that will help you understand the grandeur with which the city was created, and not far away from here can be discovered the Saadian Tombs.
Morocco can also be explored through its multitude of museums, many of the best being a prominent presence on Marrakech city breaks, whereas Casablanca is famous for displaying the country’s world-class art galleries. Delve into the city’s culinary genius with a light lunch under banana palms or a romantic, candle-lit meal in one of the many top quality restaurants that hide away between narrow side streets and down well-lit alleys.
Libzar is well-known throughout the area for providing high quality Moroccan cuisine, whereas the award-winning L’Annexe provides something a little closer to home in the form of French foods. Make sure you head to Fez for an equally rich assemblage of fine eateries, whereas Agadir’s roots as a fishing harbour will not disappoint the adventurous foodie – perfect food before a night out on the town.
Most popular hotels in Marrakech
Labranda Targa Club Aquapark
Eden Andalou Aquapark & Spa
Aqua Mirage Club
Labranda Aqua Fun
Iberostar Club Palmeraie Marrakech
At a glance
- Currency: Morocco Dirham
- Language: French
- Time Zone: GMT +0
- Average flight time: 3h 30m
When to go
(°C) Avg. High Temp
Morocco’s Red City presents a hypnotic array of sights, smells and flavours that intoxicate visitors with the charms and traditions of a different world.
Marrakech can be naturally divided in two, with the historical medina surrounded by the modernised district of Gueliz, decked out with chain restaurants and brand stores. Jemaa El-Fna, Africa’s largest square, is the spiritual heart of the city and one of the most compelling attractions in Marrakech. The square is full of both the spice of life and actual spice, and you’ll find various types sold on the many stalls that adorn the area, alongside fruits, carpets and traditional garb.
By night, Jemaa El-Fna is invaded by sizzling and aromatic Moroccan food stands, all vying for your attention. The city also boasts a number of beautiful, green gardens, access to the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and steamy Sahara Desert, as well as being in touching distance of other popular destinations in Morocco, including Agadir and Casablanca.
Morocco is famous for its relaxing hammams, something that Marrakech has no shortage of. These traditional spas are a great place to come for some relaxing treatments. One of the best is Les Bains de Marrakech where you can enjoy massages, scrubs and relaxing pools; they even have their own skin product range. If retail therapy if your method for recharging your dwindling batteries, then you should take to the endless maze of the souks. Wander around and score some bargains, but brush up on your haggling skills first if you want to act like a real local.
Wine and Dine
It’s impossible to miss the white, umbrella-clad stalls that descend on Jemaa El-Fna every night. The searing joints cook up a variety of cheap and traditional grub including a plethora of tajines, couscous dishes and soups. The atmosphere is as engaging as the flavours and aromas that emanate from the stalls – you will be spoilt for choice! The square is home to more international fare too, mainly found in the various cafes that are spread around the perimeter. Café Mabrouka serves up meals like pizza and pasta amongst traditional dishes of Morocco, while the classier ambience of Le Marrakchi comes complete with delicious food and some alcohol – which is hard to come by in these parts. The square is also a great place to get a glass of fresh orange juice every morning, squeezed before your very eyes. Many of the cafés in this area serve up sweet, traditional mint teas that you can drink alongside the locals and, in our eyes, it’s one of the most pleasant things to do in Marrakech, especially with a decent view of the square below.
Marrakech is also a city for the whole family to enjoy. While its impressive culture and history might appeal to mum and dad, the kids will probably be more impressed by a day at Osaria; the large water-park which features numerous water slides as well as swimming pools. Also, when visiting the Koutoubia mosque, be sure to let the children run around the beautiful Cyber Park next door.
Why not take your family out for a horse-and-cart ride around the city? It is a great way to explore, and the kids will love it.
The medina is a magical place to visit, full of sights and sounds that children will be abosorbed by, bear in mind that at rush hour the little alleyways become clogged with motorbikes and donkey carts, which can be intimidating especially to small children. The Four Seasons Resort in Marrakech is an exclusive, family friendly hotel nested in a convenient location. It has swimming pools and a kids’ club to keep the little ones entertained, with a serene ambience that appeals to everyone.
Action and Adventure
Marrakech in itself encompasses action and adventure. The city is always flowing at an incomprehensible speed, especially in the heart of the city’s various souks. Taking a stroll around these giant marketplaces is a fantastic experience. You will, sometimes quite literally, get lost in the maze of colour, spice and barter. At some point you’ll probably end up in a carpet shop sharing a mint tea with your new best friend – it actually happens! You’ll have to head a little bit out of the city to discover the adventurous Marrakech attractions. The city is a gateway to the desert and is home to many tour companies offering trips to the sand; two of the best are Hip Marrakech and Marrakech Desert Tours. Trekking across the desert on the back of a camel will accomplish your Lawrence of Arabia fantasies. Marrakech is also the natural jumping off point for trips to the Atlas Mountains. The mountains are littered with beautiful, traditional villages, towns and souks, and a stay in a charming Kasbah is a fantastic experience. Those more eager for action will find satisfaction in the hiking opportunities in the mountains; just make sure you have a guide with you.
Life's a Beach
Due to Marrakech's inland location, there are no beaches to be found here. However, many hotels have beautiful swimming pools, and several public swimming pools offer an equally rewarding escape from the heat. What it lacks in beaches, Marrakech surely makes up for in culture, with a huge number of cultural and historical attractions located throughout the city; drawing a huge numbers of visitors each year.
Jemaa el-Fnaa stands out; it is one of the best known and largest squares in Africa, and is a place where Moroccan traditions encounter modern life and past meets present, it is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Furthermore, Marrakech is home to the largest Berber market in Morroco, and the city is also known for its many souks (markets). These spectacular places provide visitors with an all-encompassing experience involving all of your senses; the smell of spices in the air and the sound of thousands of people bartering while traditional music is played on the side of the street.
The city also has an abundance of spectacular gardens, palaces and mosques to explore. The Menara gardens located in the west of the city were built around the year 1130; they have since been expanded and renovated to include orchards and olive groves, as well as an artificial lake used for irrigation. The El Badi and Bahia palaces are epicentres of history, while the Ben Youssef mosque, the oldest in the city, features some stunning traditional architecture and is also famous for its green tiled roof.
Marrakech has a long reputation as a trendy destination for sumptious dining and entertainment and is now a hotspot for the wealthy and famous so expect to find up-class establishments here. You will always find somewhere to party with internationally renowned DJ’s and clubs of various exclusivity. Marrakech is more liberal than some places in Morocco and so there is always something going on. If you want to go for a glamorous night out, Le Comptoir Darna is popular with celebrities and is in a beautiful building. Nights out here start late but you can eat and watch dancers and later DJ’s play upstairs. Places like Bo Zin and Jad Mahal are gorgeously decorated mixes of restaurants, bars and clubs and for full on clubbing head to Theatro for a night of dancing.
Couple holidays to Marrakech will be focused on exploring the history and culture of this wonderful city. Take a romantic stroll through the city’s many beautiful and serene gardens and perhaps hire a tour guide to guide you through the exquisite palaces; explaining their rich history and what it means to modern Moroccans.
Take a walk through the historic Media (old town), which will feel like a step back in time. Meander through the many souks found throughout the city, where you'll encounter everything from spices and local foods, to handmade souvenirs. Don't be shy; try to barter to receive an exceptionally good price!
All this walking might tire you out, and the best way to recover is to visit a traditional Moroccan hammam, or steam bath. Les Baisins de Marrakech is recommended as it is slightly tourist orientated, in the sense that couples can enjoy a private hammam to themselves.
Morocco is a major foodie destination, making cooking courses an ideal couple activity. Learn to make the local tajine and how to properly prepare couscous, as well as making use of spices such as cinnamon, saffron and paprika.
There is so much history in Marrakech, centuries of people flocking to the city and leaving their mark. The Jardin Majorelle is a gorgeous garden in itself now owend by Yves Saint Laurent, with birds and flowers among fountains and lush gardens but it also contains the Museum of Islamic Art. The museum has a great collection of traditional art work including pottery and jewelry from all over North Africa.
Marrakech holds an annual film festival that attracts film fans and film makers the world over, the festival started in 2000 mainly due to the tradition of using Morocco as a location in hollywood films.
Marrakech hosts the World Salsa Congress, a festival celebrating salsa which has become huge in the last few years. The festival lasts a week and includes performers from all over the world and includes workshops, a procession and much celebrating and dancing in the streets.
For museum lovers, Marrakech museum is a good way to get a feel of Morrocco’s history and is in a 19th century palace that has beautiful examples of Islamic tiles and even a hammam. For modern art work, the Matisse Gallery displays work from local emerging artists.