Marrakech, often referred to as the “Red City” due to its red sandstone buildings, is a vibrant city located in western Morocco that is rich in history, culture, and tradition. It is a major economic center and home to mosques, palaces, and gardens, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a blend of history and modernity.
The city is divided into two distinct parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the Ville Nouvelle, the new city. The Medina is home to narrow winding streets and bustling souks (markets), while the Ville Nouvelle is characterized by modern restaurants, fast food chains, and big brand stores.
Marrakech is also the gateway to the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, making it a popular starting point for treks and desert tours. Whether you are looking to explore the bustling city streets, embark on an adventure in the surrounding natural beauty, or simply relax in a luxurious riad, Marrakech has something to offer every traveler.
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Attractions & Things to do in Marrakech
1. Jardin Majorelle
This is a beautiful garden created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle and later owned by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. It is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city with exotic plants, fountains, and a vibrant blue villa.
Travel Tip: Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
2. Bahia Palace
A 19th-century palace with stunning architecture and beautiful gardens. It was built for a former slave who rose to power, and its name means ‘brilliance’.
Travel Tip: Hire a guide to fully understand the history and significance of the palace.
3. Koutoubia Mosque
The largest mosque in Marrakech, with a 77-meter tall minaret that dominates the city skyline. It is a great example of Almohad architecture.
Travel Tip: Non-Muslims are not allowed inside the mosque, but the exterior and the surrounding gardens are worth a visit.
4. Saadian Tombs
These tombs date back to the 16th century and are the final resting place of members of the Saadian dynasty. The tombs were rediscovered in 1917 and are known for their intricate decorations.
Travel Tip: Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat.
5. Medersa Ben Youssef
An Islamic college that is a stunning example of Moroccan architecture with its intricate carvings and mosaics. It was one of the largest theological colleges in North Africa.
Travel Tip: Take your time to explore all the rooms and courtyards.
6. Marrakech Souks
The souks are a maze of narrow streets filled with shops selling everything from spices to carpets. It is a sensory overload with all the colors, smells, and sounds.
Travel Tip: Bargaining is expected, so don’t be afraid to negotiate prices.
7. El Badi Palace
A ruined palace that was once a magnificent structure built by the Saadian king Ahmed el Mansour. Today, visitors can explore the remnants of the palace and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
Travel Tip: Visit during sunset for the best views.
8. Jardin Menara
A large garden with olive trees and a large basin that is fed by an ancient hydraulic system. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Travel Tip: Bring a picnic and enjoy a meal by the water.
9. Dar Si Said Museum
A museum housed in a 19th-century palace that showcases Moroccan art and crafts. The collection includes jewelry, textiles, and ceramics.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the stunning Andalusian-style patio.
10. Le Jardin Secret
A recently restored garden in the heart of the Medina. It is divided into two parts: an exotic garden and an Islamic garden.
Travel Tip: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a cup of tea in the cafe.
Unique Activities in Marrakech
1. Quad Bike Experience: Desert and Palmeraie
Gear up for an exhilarating quad bike experience in the Desert and Palmeraie. Traverse the sandy dunes, explore the palm groves, and feel the thrill of riding through the desert landscapes. A must-do activity for thrill-seekers visiting Marrakech.
2. Hot Air Balloon Ride with Traditional Breakfast
Soar high above Marrakech in a hot air balloon and witness the city from a bird’s eye view. Enjoy the serene flight, watch the sunrise, and indulge in a traditional breakfast upon landing. A memorable experience that offers unparalleled views of the region.
Day Trips from Marrakech
1. Ouzoud Waterfalls
A day trip to the Ouzoud Waterfalls will take you to one of the most stunning natural sights in Morocco. The waterfalls are located in the Middle Atlas Mountains and are surrounded by lush greenery.
Travel Tip: Bring your swimming suit if you want to take a dip in the pools.
A coastal town located on the Atlantic Ocean, Essaouira is known for its medina, fishing port, and wide sandy beach. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has a relaxed atmosphere compared to Marrakech.
Travel Tip: Try the fresh seafood at the port.
3. Atlas Mountains
A trip to the Atlas Mountains will take you through traditional Berber villages and stunning mountain landscapes. There are various trekking options available, from easy walks to more challenging hikes.
Travel Tip: Hire a local guide to make the most of your trip.
Where to stay in Marrakech
Marrakech, a vibrant city in Morocco, boasts a rich tapestry of history, culture, and luxury. As a popular tourist destination, the city offers a plethora of hotels catering to various preferences and budgets. From opulent palaces to cozy riads, Marrakech’s hospitality scene is as diverse as its culture. Whether you’re seeking the best-reviewed accommodation, a luxurious retreat, a budget-friendly stay, or a family-friendly environment, Marrakech has something for every traveler.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Hôtel Racine (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Offering an outdoor pool and sun terrace, Hôtel Racine is located in Marrakech, a mere 5-minute drive from the iconic Djemaa El Fna square. The hotel also provides a fitness center and free Wi-Fi access throughout.
- Price: €60 per night
- Rating: 8.2 (Very good)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Savoy Le Grand Hotel Marrakech (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Boasting an outdoor pool, Savoy Le Grand Hotel is situated in Marrakech, just 500 meters from the serene Menara Gardens. The hotel also offers a barbecue and free Wi-Fi throughout the premises.
- Price: €180 per night
- Rating: 7.8 (Good)
3. Budget Hotel
Hotel Lawrence d’Arabie (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located a mere 20-minute walk from Jemaa El Fna Square, Hotel Lawrence d’Arabie offers an outdoor swimming pool and a café terrace with traditional Moroccan décor.
- Price: €44 per night
- Rating: 7 (Good)
4. Hotel for Family
El Andalous Lounge & Spa Hotel (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: This 4-star hotel, located in the Hivernage residential area, features a spa with a hammam and a fitness center. Guests can also enjoy a shaded terrace by the swimming pool in the garden.
- Price: €53 per night
- Rating: 6.7 (Pleasant)
5. Hotel for Couples
Wazo Hotel (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Situated in the Marrakech-Tensift-Haouz Region, Wazo Hotel is 4.1 km away from Majorelle Gardens. The hotel boasts a spa center and a fitness center.
- Price: €62 per night
- Rating: 7.3 (Good)
6. Hotel for Solo Travelers
Hotel Almas (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Centrally located in Marrakech, this hotel combines traditional Moroccan style with contemporary design. It offers a terrace with views of the Gueliz district and free Wi-Fi access.
- Price: €46 per night
- Rating: 7.9 (Good)
Did you know? Facts about Marrakech
- Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco and is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco.
- The region of Marrakech has been inhabited by Berber farmers since Neolithic times.
- The city was founded in 1070 by Emir Abu Bakr ibn Umar as the imperial capital of the Almoravid Empire.
- The red walls of the city, built by Ali ibn Yusuf in 1122-1123, have given the city the nickname of the “Red City” or “Ochre City”.
- Marrakech comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls, known as the medina, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Marrakech is served by Ménara International Airport and by Marrakech railway station, which connects the city to Casablanca and northern Morocco.
- The city is known for its largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco, with some 18 souks.
- The city has several universities and schools, including Cadi Ayyad University.
- Marrakech has been known as the location of the tombs of Morocco’s seven patron saints.
- In the 21st century, property and real estate development in the city has boomed, with a dramatic increase in new hotels and shopping centres.
FAQ about Marrakech
What is the best time to visit Marrakech?
The best time to visit Marrakech is during the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) when the weather is warm and pleasant.
Is it safe to travel to Marrakech?
Marrakech is generally considered safe for travelers, but it is always advisable to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
What is the currency used in Marrakech?
The currency used in Marrakech is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD).
Do I need a visa to travel to Marrakech?
Visa requirements vary by country, so it is advisable to check with the Moroccan embassy or consulate in your country before traveling.
What is the official language of Marrakech?
The official language of Marrakech is Arabic, but French is also widely spoken.
What are the must-see attractions in Marrakech?
Some must-see attractions in Marrakech include the Medina, Jardin Majorelle, Bahia Palace, Koutoubia Mosque, and the Saadian Tombs.
What is the traditional food of Marrakech?
Traditional food in Marrakech includes couscous, tagine, pastilla, and mint tea.
What is the dress code in Marrakech?
While there is no strict dress code in Marrakech, it is advisable to dress modestly out of respect for the local culture. Women should avoid wearing revealing clothes, and men should avoid wearing shorts.