Exploring the Magic of Marrakesh: A Guide to What to See and Do
Marrakesh, in Morocco, beckons travelers with its exotic charm, rich history, and vibrant culture. This captivating city, often referred to as the “Red City” due to its rose-tinted buildings, is a feast for the senses. Boasting a myriad of sights and experiences, it will leave you in awe.
Let’s take a journey through Marrakesh must-see attractions.
What to See in Marrakesh
Marrakesh is a city that weaves together history, culture, and natural beauty into an unforgettable tapestry of experiences. From the bustling energy of Djemaa el-Fna to the tranquil gardens and historical landmarks, each corner of this city has something unique to offer.
Djemaa el-Fna: The Beating Heart of Marrakesh
A visit to Marrakesh would be incomplete without experiencing the pulsating energy of Djemaa el-Fna, the city’s main square. As the sun sets, this vibrant hub transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle of entertainment and flavors. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of snake charmers, storytellers, and musicians, while the aroma of freshly cooked Moroccan delicacies fills the air. Sample traditional dishes at the food stalls and witness the enchanting atmosphere that has captivated visitors for centuries.
The Majestic Bahia Palace
Step back in time and marvel at the opulence of the Bahia Palace, a 19th-century architectural masterpiece. This stunning palace, which means “Brilliance” in Arabic, showcases the finest Moroccan craftsmanship with its intricate tilework, ornate ceilings, and lush gardens. Explore the various rooms, courtyards, and peaceful patios, and imagine the lives of the sultans and their concubines who once resided within these walls.
Discover Serenity at Jardin Majorelle
Escape the bustling city and find serenity in the breathtaking Jardin Majorelle. Designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle and later owned by Yves Saint Laurent, this oasis is a botanical wonderland featuring exotic plants, vibrant blue buildings, and charming water features. Take the opportunity to enjoy the lush gardens and take some Instagram-worthy photos in this enchanting paradise.
Medina: A Maze of Treasures
Lose yourself in the labyrinthine alleyways of Marrakesh’s Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Home to an array of traditional souks (markets), the Medina offers an authentic Moroccan shopping experience. Bargain for handcrafted pottery, intricately woven carpets, colorful textiles, and aromatic spices. Don’t forget to embrace the art of haggling for the best deals and take home unique souvenirs to cherish.
The Iconic Architecture of Koutoubia Mosque
No visit to Marrakesh is complete without gazing upon the majestic Koutoubia Mosque, an iconic symbol of the city. This impressive structure features a towering minaret visible from various points in Marrakesh. While non-Muslims cannot enter the mosque, you can explore the surrounding gardens and capture the beauty of the mosque’s architecture from the outside.
Saadian Tombs: A Glimpse into History
The Saadian Tombs are an exquisite burial site dating back to the Saadian dynasty. These tombs, hidden for centuries, were rediscovered in 1917 and offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives and afterlife of Morocco’s historical rulers. During a visit you can admire the intricate mosaic work and pay your respects to the sultans and their families laid to rest within this hidden gem.
Relax at Menara Gardens
Take a tranquil respite at the Menara Gardens, situated just outside the city walls. The lush olive groves, a reflective pool, and the pavilion make for a picture-perfect setting. Enjoy a leisurely stroll, indulge in a picnic, or simply unwind as you soak in the peaceful atmosphere and the stunning views of the Atlas Mountains in the distance.
Other attractions outside the city
On a trip to Marrakesh, there are some places worth visiting even if they are outside the city.
The Atlas Mountains
If you love nature and adventurers, a day trip to the Atlas Mountains is a must. Less than two hours away from Marrakesh, these majestic mountains offer breathtaking landscapes, picturesque valleys, and an opportunity to experience traditional Berber villages. You can hike the trails, savor traditional Berber cuisine, and interact with the warm and hospitable locals.
Another gem near Marrakesh is the picturesque Ourika Valley, nestled in the Atlas Mountains. The valley features lush landscapes, terraced fields, and charming Berber settlements. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike to the Setti Fatma Waterfalls, a series of cascades that reward your efforts with a refreshing dip in their cool waters.
For a more extensive adventure, venture further to the Ouzoud Waterfalls, located about 150 km from Marrakesh. These stunning waterfalls cascade down rocky cliffs and form a mesmerizing natural spectacle. Enjoy the sight from the viewing platforms or take a boat ride to get closer to the falls, feeling the refreshing spray on your skin.
The Sahara Desert
Marrakesh serves as a popular starting point for exploring the Sahara Desert.
There are two main desert areas that you can access from the city.
The Zagora Desert is the closer. The journey from Marrakesh takes around 6-7 hours by road, passing through scenic landscapes and traditional Berber villages. The Merzouga Desert is farther from Marrakesh. The road trip takes approximately 8-9 hours, passing through the stunning Atlas Mountains and picturesque oases. Merzouga is known for its towering sand dunes, including the famous Erg Chebbi, which can reach up to 150 meters in height.