The 50 Best Things to Do in Marrakesh
It’s easy to fall in love with the energetic and spellbinding city of Marrakesh, Morocco. For fashion and design lovers, art enthusiasts and foodies, Marrakesh has it all: Colorful souks selling handmade ceramic pottery and hand-woven Berber rugs, stunning gardens draped in flowers and delicious restaurants serving up everything from traditional Moroccan food to international cuisine. While you could visit Marrakesh multiple times and still find new treasures, here are 50 of the best things to do and see.
1. Book a room at Villa des Orangers, an immaculately decorated riad in Marrakesh complete with a stunning pool and courtyards shaded by orange trees.
2. Or for less of a splurge, P’tit Habibi is a fashionable boutique hotel with minimalist Scandinavian decor and an excellent location in the center of the Medina.
3. Fuel up for the day at your riad on a typical Moroccan breakfast of msemmen, flaky, pan-fried Moroccan crêpes that are served with butter, fresh fig jam and honey.
4. Stop for a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice at one of the city’s many juice stands. You’ll find them all over Marrakesh, especially in the main square.
5. Just outside your hotel’s walls, get lost in the serpentine old city (called the medina), which is lined with souks.
6. Speaking of those souks, bring out the haggler in you—it’s the norm to bargain. So get some practice negotiating to take home everything from decorative kaftans and traditional slippers to silver necklaces and vintage brass lanterns.
7. Go carpet shopping in the medina, where you’ll learn about all the intricacies of hand-woven kilim and Azilal rugs. Then find one that fits perfectly in your living room.
8. For jewelry, seek out Magasin Berbere in Souk Labbadine and Chez Faouzi (across in another souk). You’ll find silver pieces decorated with colorful stones, delicate beaded earrings, and necklaces made of carved stones and shells.
9. Then head to l’Art du Bain, a closet-sized shop, to pick up fragrant black soap (called savon noir) infused with argon oil, lavender and eucalyptus.
10. At the Place des Épices, hundreds of aromatic spices are piled high on display, and you can buy everything from turmeric and cumin to za’atar and saffron.
11. Visit Medersa Ben Youssef, one of the largest koranic schools in Marrakesh that dates back to the 15th century. The enormous courtyard is a gorgeous example of Moroccan design, filled with carved wooden doors, intricate mosaic tiles and marble columns.
12. Walk through the Musée de Marrakesh, an art museum housed within the Moorish-style Menebhi Palace where Berber jewelry and ceramic pottery are on display.
13. There’s also the Maison de la Photographie, a small museum where the walls are lined with striking, vintage street photography and portraits that date back to the 1870s. Before you leave, check out the rooftop terrace for gorgeous views of the old city.
14. When you need a break from the crowds, seek out the Jardin Secret, a peaceful oasis tucked away in the busy medina streets.
15. Check out the tanneries in the medina’s Bab Debbagh quarter, where skins are soaked and treated, then dipped in giant vats of natural dyes and turned into leather.
16. For lunch, order lamb couscous, Moroccan gazpacho and roasted cauliflower in turmeric butter on the outdoor terrace Nomad, which overlooks a bustling square in the Medina.
17. Or for something a bit quieter, head to La Famille. Ask for a table in the garden, which is dotted with lemon trees, and enjoy mostly vegetarian dishes like gnocchi with roasted tomatoes and flatbread with creamy vegetable dips.
18. Marvel at the verdant gardens, painted cedar wood ceilings, stained glass windows and intricately carved doors that make up the Bahia Palace, a giant 19th-century residence right in the old city.
19. For a bit of history, wander around the Mellah, Marrakesh’s old Jewish quarter, which is located in its own section of the old city near the Bahia Palace.
20. The Royal Palace can get very busy. To escape the crowds, we suggest walking around the peaceful orchards surrounding the property, lush with grapefruit, fig and olive trees.
21. Spend an afternoon taking a cooking class at La Maison Arabe, where you’ll learn to make delicious spiced tagines and Moroccan bread.
22. Or get pampered at a hammam. These traditional bathhouses can be found all over the city and at most hotels. For a real local’s experience, visit the public Hammam Dar el-Bacha, or for something more upscale and private, La Sultana and Amanjena are great options.
23. If you find yourself near La Mamounia, spend some time walking around this palatial five-star hotel, which is a testimate to the beauty of Moroccan design and architecture.
24. A 15-minute drive from the old city is the Ville Nouvelle, or new town. There, you’ll find the vibrant Jardin Majorelle, a two-and-a-half-acre botanical garden dotted with lemon trees, succulents, bougainvillea, water lilies and palm trees.
25. Just next door, visit the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. The late designer was influenced by Morocco’s colors and aesthetic, and inside the museum you’ll find amazing couture, colorful accessories, photos and sketches.
26. If carpet shopping in the souk is too overwhelming, check out Anitan. This trendy boutique right near the garden and YSL Museum boasts beautiful rugs. It even ships back to the States.
27. Get ready to shop ‘til you drop at Galerie des Tanneurs, a heaven for leather bags, jackets, luggage and more. You’ll find convincing knockoffs of designer ware from Chloé tote bags to Gucci mules.
28. Then make your way to Atika, a shopper’s heaven for stylish leather loafers in just about every color.
29. In-the-know shoppers will point you to Topolina, a fashionable boutique full of flowy dresses and blouses in beautiful fabrics, eye-catching colors and bold patterns.
30. When you’re tired of shopping, head back toward the old city and wind down with Moroccan mint tea, an afternoon tradition at the stunning and luxurious Royal Mansour. In any case, you’ll want to see this lavish hotel.
31. Or for a more casual tea spot, opt for the rooftop patio at Terrasse des Epices.
32. Visit Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakesh’s main square, at sundown and take in the snake charmers, street performers and storytellers.
33. Just across the way, you can watch the sun set over Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakesh’s largest mosque and one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
34. While you’re there, pick up some Medjool dates, the addictively sweet specialty grown throughout Morocco and historically reserved for royalty.
35. Once the sun is down, snake through the medina in search of the best Moroccan food in Marrakesh at Le Trou au Mur. Make sure to order the slow-roasted Mechoui lamb served with spicy chermoula sauce.
36. Or if you need a break from Moroccan food, Pepe Nero is perfect for an Italian meal of sizzling eggplant Parmesan, homemade pastas and local wines. Request an outdoor table in the romantic courtyard.
37. There’s also Chez Mado for fantastic seafood. This French-inspired restaurant in the Ville Nouvelle is known for its generous seafood towers, fresh fish tartare and buttery, grilled langoustine.
38. For some post-dinner entertainment, make your way to Comptoir Darna to watch the city’s best belly dancing show.
39. Or make your way to Le 68 Bar a Vin, a trendy wine bar in Gueliz where you can sample local vins alongside cheese and charcuterie platters.
40. Speaking of wine, make sure to try Moroccan vin gris, or gray wine, a cousin to rosé with an almost grayish tint. Zesty, bright and easy to drink, you’ll find it on most wine lists.
41. If you’re more of a cocktail person, seek out Le Baromètre in the Guéliz district, one of Marrakesh’s best speakeasies.
42. If you’re looking for the adventure of a lifetime, book a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the city.
43. For more activity, football (aka soccer) is a big deal in Morocco. If you visit during the season, try to snag tickets to a Kawkab Marrakech match, the city’s football club.
44. Once you’ve thoroughly explored Marrakesh, take a day trip to the seaside town of Essaouira, which is about two and a half hours away. As you drive, watch out for dozens of goats climbing the argan trees on the side of the road.
45. Visit the Skala du Port, a walled fortress that offers the best views of the port, nearby Île de Mogador and the old city.
46. End your visit to Essaouira with sunset drinks and a bite at hipster-favorite Beach and Friends. It’s right by the beach, the cocktails are the best around and there’s usually a live band playing.
47. Or head 40 minutes outside the city into the High Atlas Mountains to hike in Toubkal National Park. You’ll see colorful villages built into the mountains, blossoming cherry trees and waterfalls.
48. On the way back, make a pit stop at Sir Richard Branson’s stunning Kasbah Tamadot for lunch with a mountain vista.
49. Then pop into one of the many mountain cooperatives to buy pure argan oil for your hair and skin—and some for friends and family back home, OK?
50. Before returning to the city, stop at the Saadian Tombs, an ornate mausoleum built by Sultan Al Mansour in the 16th century. It’s an architectural feat, decorated with Italian Carrara marble and gold vaulted ceilings.