Number one is the Jemaa el Fna Square, the open space in the centre of the city. The world-famous market hums with energy, music and the cry of market stall sellers. The city’s other architectural attractions are no less compelling. With the magnificent Jardin Majorelle and the delicate Saadian Tombs, Marrakech is a city that has an alluring appeal like no other.1. Wander around Jemaa el Fna Square
Marrakech lures you in with its winding souks, magnificent architecture and its boundless energy. With fantastic food too, Marrakech has it all.
This is the best thing to do in Marrakech if you want to soak up the energy and vibrancy of this dazzling city. Watch magicians perform tricks, hear calls of storytellers and see dancers prance around the space. It’s an addictive place where you’ll definitely come back for more. Expect compelling energy during the day which sifts through into the evening, too. Quite simply one of the most fascinating places to see in Morocco.
Simple but beautifully proportioned, the Koutoubia Mosque’s minaret is the most perfect in North Africa. It’s a classic piece of Almohad architecture. Thrusting through the sky at nearly 70m high, the building is visible for miles on a clear morning. Its proportions - a 1:5 ratio of width to height - established the classic Moroccan design. The mosque to which it is attached (closed to non-Muslims) is the largest one in Marrakech.
Exploring the souks is a unique experience and is not to be missed while visiting Marrakech, or anywhere in Morocco in fact! The best souks in Marrakech are found near Jemaa el Fna Square. Think unique jewellery pieces, lush carpets and even love potions! Trundle down Rue Souk Smarine for plenty of lanes filled with more traditional Moroccan goods. Rue Souk Smarine cuts off into two separate parts - Souk el Kebir and Souk el Attarine. The area around Souk el Kebir is home to endless leather satchels and twinkling lamps, while the space around Souk el Attarine showcases plenty of Moroccan crafts such as metal and pottery works. If you’re looking for a souvenir in Marrakech, the souks are the perfect place to explore.
This is one of the most relaxing things to do in Marrakech. To have a breather from the fast pace of Marrakech, head to the Majorelle Garden, a meticulously planned twelve-acre botanical garden. It was created in the 1920s and 1930s by French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962). It was later owned by fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent. When Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008, his ashes were scattered in the garden, which contains a memorial to him.
Southwest of the Hivernage district, the Menara Gardens are a popular picnic spot for families in Marrakech. Tourists also enjoy the rectangular pool providing a classic postcard image beneath a backdrop of the High Atlas. Aside from the pool, the garden is largely filled with olive trees. There’s usually someone by the park entrance offering camel rides.
Visiting the Ben Youssef Medersa is one of the most beautiful things to do in Marrakech. An intricately decorated building, it shows lashings of classic Moroccan decor. From stucco plasterwork and carved cedar wood, the Ben Youssef Medersa has it all. Wander through the central courtyard, where you can find carved cedar-wood lintels and wide, sturdy, columned arcades.
The Saadian Tombs is an incredible complex of grand mausoleums and tombs. The area is home to the remains of the Saadian dynasty’s founder. Remains of other significant figures and princes can also be found. With its use of lavish Italian marble, deep green and azure blue tiling, this is one of the best things to do in Marrakech.
What to do in Marrakech if you’re looking for a traditional spa experience? Head to a hammam. Moroccans are regular goers and they often hang out in hammams for a catch up with friends. In Marrakech’s medina, there are plenty of hammams such as Hammam Polo and Hammam Bouloukate. Women and men enter separately. Being slathered in mud and being scrubbed with a mitt until you are red raw may not sound that appealing. But trust us, you’ll feel all shiny and brand new when you’re done!
We all know couscous and tagine. But have you tried tanjia before? This is the dish Marrakech is known for. Tanjia, or jugged meat, is usually made with beef but sometimes lamb and is a slow-cooked stew. Strictly speaking, the tanjia is the jug itself. The traditional way to make the dish is to go to the butcher with your jug (or use one of the butcher’s), buy the meat and spices to put in it. It’s then taken to a hammam and is cooked slowly in the bathhouse’s furnace. When the urn emerges a few hours later, the meat is soft and tender. Affordable tanjia can be found at the stalls opposite the olive souk near Jemaa el Fna Square.