What are the top tourist attractions to visit in Marrakesh, Morocco?
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Known to be the most vibrant city in Africa, if not the entire world, Marrakesh is a city that’s always in the move and is properly dubbed as the ‘Pearl of the South’. The city was founded hundreds of years ago and is now known as the cultural hub of Morocco more so that its capital. Whereas the capital Casablanca is steadily getting modernized, stepping onto Marakesh is like stepping is like traveling back in time with its buzzing ancient medina, fragrant spices, traditional buildings, and mosaic-tiled mosques.
Looking for the best things to do in this vibrant city? Here are 15 of the best things to do in Marrakesh.
Visit Bahia Palace (Palais Bahia)
Built during the 1860s and later expanded and embellished from 1894 to 1900, the Bahia Palace is a relatively new structure in Marrakesh by any means but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful attractions in the city by far. The palace was built to capture the authentic Moroccan style that’s specifically built for the grand vizier Si Moussa’s personal use.
The palace is 2 acres and 150 rooms of beautifully intricate designs and lavish spaces for visitors to admire. It’s the best glimpse of how the Moroccan elite’s royal homes.
Stroll Through Majorelle Garden
The Majorelle Garden or Jardin Majorelle as the locals call it is a refreshing green space in Marrakesh. This 2.5 acre of green space was built by French landscape painter Jacques Majorelle in 1923 with over 300 desert plant species from all five continents. Upon his death, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge bought the garden to preserve Majorelle’s vision in 1984. The public is welcome to visit and visitors can’t miss the stunning indigo blue art deco house located at the garden’s center.
Visit Koutoubia Mosque
Located at the southwestern side of the medina, the Koutoubia Mosque is one of Marrakesh’s iconic landmarks and can be seen from a distance from anywhere in the city with its 75-meter high minaret or tower. Visitors can admire its intricate tilework and Moorish architecture that dates back to the 12th century.
Only Muslims are allowed to enter the mosque though but non-muslims are welcome to explore the mosques plaza and beautiful gardens for free. It’s a great place to relax and escape the chaotic medina.
Be Entertained at Djeman El Fna
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Djeman El Fna is right at the center of Medina as a square where every entertainer, merchant, and cooks congregate to make up this high energy always on the go open-air square. The market and entertainment in Djeman El Fna has been in progress since the 11th century and has seen an evolution in its content of entertainers from street theatre to snake charmers, there’s always something to witness.
The best time to visit is after sunset were street-side restaurants start off their day lighting up the square with their grills and musicians come out to play.
Marvel at the Saadian Tombs
The Saadian Tombs is a grand mausoleum for the Saadian family who ruled the Kingdom of Morocco between 1546 to 1659 and are said to be descendants of the prophet Muhammed himself. The tomb was built by Saadian Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour Ed Dahbi for his final resting place and he spared no expenses. The entire tomb is decorated with colorful and intricate plasterwork and is made up of Italian marbles. Many of the sultan’s family members are also buried in tombs in their own similarly decorated chambers.
View Exhibits at Dar Si Said Museum of Weaving and Carpets
Recently opened last 2018 after major renovations on the building, the Dar Si Said Museum of Weaving and Carpets is just one o Marrakesh’s unique museums that tourists must visit to learn more about Morocco’s unique traditions and heritage. The museum exhibits intricately made carpets and other traditional cloths weaved in the distinct Berber technique and style with some dating back centuries.
The building itself was used as a grand palace for a wealthy local and is a worthy attraction in and of itself.
Go Back in History at El Badi Palace
Another legacy left by the Saadian dynasty, the El Badi Palace was once an opulent palace by the Saadian rulers of Morocco. Built during the 16th century when the Saadian rulers were at their most powerful the palace was known to be the grandest palace in the Muslim world. Nowadays, all that’s left of El Badi Palace are sandstone ruins, sunken gardens, empty reflective pools, and skeletons of its courtyard.
Just a walks away from the Saadian Tombs, visitors can explore the palace grounds and view exhibitions about its history.
Explore Ben Youssef Madrasa
Ben Youssef Madrasa was once the largest Koranic school in the Maghreb Region at one point housing as many as 900 students. It was built in the 14th century and was expanded and redecorated by the Saadains in 1570. However, the school closed in 1960 and was reopened to the public as a historic site in 1982.
It’s a must-visit for travelers in staying in Marrakesh as the building is beautifully decorated with intricate tiled patterns and designs at its every corner. Much like stepping into a continuous piece of art.
Appreciate Fashion at Musee Yves Saint Laurent
Just next door to the Majorelle Garden, a small but exquisite museum dedicating its exhibits to the works of French designer Yves Saint Laurent, the same French designer who purchased Majorelle Garden with his partner. The museum displays some of the best finely crafted haute couture clothing and accessories that spanned over 40 years of Yves Saint Laurent’s career. It’s a guarantee that even non-fashion fanatics can appreciate his work.
View Historic Photographs at Maison de la Photographie
Tucked within the ancient Medina of the city is a three-story riad turned museum/gallery housing 4500 photographs, 2000 glass negatives, and 80 documents dating back from 1870 to 1950. Maison de la Photographie or House of Photographs is owned by Patrick Menac’h and Marrakshi Hamid Mergani and curated the impressive collection that captures the Morrocan lifestyle and landscape.
This amazing collection greatly emphasized the unchanged features of Morocco and visitors can purchase selected photographs from the collection.
Learn to Cook Moroccan Dishes
Moroccan cuisine is just as vibrant as its cities and there’s no better place to try and learn to cook it than at Marrakesh. The city has a huge food culture with souks everywhere in urging passersby to try their specialty Moroccan dish, especially at the previously mentioned Djeman El Fna.
Visitors shouldn’t miss out on learning to cook the amazing Moroccan dishes and sign up for a cooking class which can usually be found included in tour packages. The best part is are usually at the beginning of these classes where everyone buys their ingredients at the souks.
Learn about Spices at Souk Place des Epices
In connection to the entry above, there’s no better place to get authentic Moroccan spices for your Moroccan dishes than Marrakesh’s Souk Place des Epices. It’s as an open-air market full of souks selling the best quality spices where you can find everything you’re looking for. It’s like a mini Djeman El Fna except only for spices. Even if you’re not looking to buy some spices for a dish it’s still worth a visit to take in its unique atmosphere.
Relax at the Hammams
Hammams are Moroccan public baths and you can practically find at least one at every neighborhood in Marrakesh with the best ones and some of the most luxurious are located at the medina. Its a great way for locals to come together after a long week to relax and catch up with one another. First-timers can be often intimidated and need some time to adjust to the required public nudity but many hammam attendants are great at putting people at ease which makes many visitors leave with a great experience.
Explore Marrakesh’s Old Medina
If you want to get in the middle of all the action in Marrakesh then go straight to its old medina or old town where anything and everything takes place. The hustling and busy streets of the ancient walled town center of the city is unchanged for centuries with its winding pathways, labyrinthine alleyways, and countless souks and people going out and about.
There’s no other place in the city that truly captures its vibrancy than the old medina. It’s the ideal place to get a good deal for souvenirs and finding a special place to eat.
Get a Unique Experience at the Mellah
Mellah is a Moroccan word that means Jewish Ghettos meant to describe small districts in cities that segregated small Jewish communities from the dominant Muslim population in Morocco. The Mellah in Marrakesh currently has barely any Jewish population left ever since the creation of the state of Israel but the remnants of its past that’s left is still a unique and worthy visit and tourists can find here a beautiful synagogue, houses, graveyards, and vibrant souks.
Marrakesh Travel and Tour Packages
Searching for the best Marrakesh hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of Marrakesh affordable hotels and resorts via Agoda, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.