If you travel to Marrakech and want to find out about the best activities and places to include in your itinerary to make the most of your trip and stay in this wonderful city. In this article we will tell you which are the essential places to visit and see in Marrakech.
WHY VISIT MARRAKECH
It is not the capital of the country, but it is one of the main tourist destinations. It’s an almost obligatory destination if you go to this North African country. Its medina is fantastic, with tiles of a thousand colors, doors carved in incredible shapes, mountains of spices and lamps. It’s for all this that to see Marrakech when we travel to Morocco is indispensable.
THE BEST ACTIVITIES AND PLACES TO SEE AND DO IN MARRAKECH
We tell you the best activities to do and places to see in Marrakech:
1. JAMAA SQUARE
Surrounded by mosques and many cafes, is the most famous and main square of the city of Marrakech. In which many tourists meet for the start and end of each of its activities; making it a unique spectacle to visit this place because you will find much diversity of cultures.
Its main feature is the ability to change during the day; because in the mornings you can enjoy the storytellers, snake charmers, water carriers, dancers (very from their culture). At night you will notice an invasion of small food stands that will delight you with their diversity in colors, smells and flavors (the magic of Moroccan food).
2. KOUTOUBIAN MOSQUE
The Koutoubia or Kutubia Mosque, located southwest of Jamaa Square; is the largest mosque and at the same time the highest building in Marrakech, where the Islamic religion is practiced.
This mosque is built in red stone and impresses with its minaret with a Moroccan-style spire at the top. Its semi-curved windows and the beautiful gardens.
3. KASBAH MOSQUE
Also known as Moulay Al – Yazid Mosque, Mansouri Palace Mosque. Unfortunately like all mosques in Morocco except for the Tinmel Mosque and the Hassan II Mosque, if you are not a Muslim you cannot enter. The only way to see a little bit of the building inside is through the big doors as when you were little and you were curious to see through the windows of your neighbor’s house… well, that’s the way it is.
In spite of this limitation, it is really worth visiting the mosque and trying to see the washing process carried out by the Muslims before entering to pray, as well as its gardens. Also the outside of the mosque is really beautiful for photography lovers and the entrance for the Saadian tombs is located just behind the south part of the mosque.
4. SAADI TOMBES
It is one of the places with the greatest attraction for tourists and that is that its beauty is really amazing. The Saadian tombs were built in the late sixteenth century and discovered only in the twentieth century. That is why they are very well preserved and is one of the places you must see in Marrakech.
There you will find architectural beauty and great history of the Saadi dynasty starting with:
- The Saadi Necropolis (Royal Necropolis): lalla Messaouda, mother of Al Mansour, is buried here.
- The mausoleum of al Mansour: in this mausoleum you will find three rooms; The room of prayers, The room of the twelve columns and The room of the three niches. Here the beauty of the room of the 12 columns stands out and because Al Mansour is buried here.
- The Qubba of Lalla Messaouda: in this room are buried members of the family of Al Mansour.
5. PALACE OF THE BAY
Built in the 19th century by Si Moussa for the Sultan, it is named after one of his wives whose meaning is brilliance. This palace has an area of 8000 m² in gardens and the main objective; of its construction apart from being the personal enclosure of the Sultan was to build the largest palace of the time. This palace is undoubtedly one of the sites you must see in Marrakech.
6. EL BADI PALACE
Built at the end of the 16th century by Ahmed al-Mansur to honour the victorious battle against the Portuguese in 1578. By that time the palace was one of the wonders of the Muslim world with 360 rooms decorated with the richest materials of the time (gold, silver). However, today nothing remains of this wonderful palace but the ruins, because the Sultan Moulay Ismail in 1696 sent it to be dismantled taking all its precious decorations to build the imperial city of Meknes.
However, despite the fact that there are only ruins left, it is worth visiting and is located just a few meters from the Plaza Jamaa.
7. THE SOUK: LABYRINTHINE STREETS OF THE MEDINA
It’s the most important commercial center of the city distributed in a great extension as labyrinths where you will find craftsmen grouped by different guilds. In the souk you can find and buy typical Moroccan crafts for details or simply a beautiful souvenir to decorate your home, as well as food.
These are the different souks and their products:
- Rahba Kedima: souk where you will find food.
- Henna: all beauty cosmetics.
- Smata: there you will find all kinds of belts.
- Siyyaghin: to buy jewelry.
- Nejjarine: wooden handicrafts.
- Alcaicerías: for clothes.
- El Maazi: all kinds of skins.
- Zrabia: the most beautiful carpets you can find.
In these small shops you can apply your agility to negotiate (haggle price) as it is considered almost a sport in the country, so keep this in mind and do not pay large amounts of money for something you can get at a good price. Another important tip, don’t let them fool you by offering you a tour of the souk, they will take you to the most expensive places and you will regret it.
8. MADRASA BEN YOUSSEF
It is the largest school in Morocco Founded in the 14th century by Sultan Abou al Hasan with a capacity for more than 800 students in his time. Undoubtedly one of the places you must see in Marrakech and, of course, if it houses a great sample of Moroccan art and architecture.
The highlight of this school is the impressive decoration of the prayer room where you will see pineapples and palm trees, as well as the impressive patio with a central pool.
¿WHAT OTHER PLACES CAN I VISIT AROUND MARRAKECH?
We have already seen the main sites to see within the city of Marrakech (downtown), but let’s look at other places and activities that should not be missing from your itinerary; if you have time and we assure you that it is worth the effort.
1. MAKE AN EXCURSION TO THE MARRAKECH DESERT
This is one of the key activities you should do when you go to Marrakech and should not be missing from your itinerary. You can’t avoid the experience of riding a camel and walking on the hot desert sands while getting some fresh air and sunburn. Going in the afternoon and enjoying the sunset, and then the sunrise; are two experiences that will remain in your memory forever, ideal for photography fans and photographers.
If you are going to spend the night, sleeping in a jaima (leather tent), alone or accompanied, in the middle of the desert of Merzouga; is one more check to your list of adventures to live. Some tours include a night of Berber partying to the rhythm of percussion instruments.
2. MARRAKESH WALL
Built in the 12th century, with the main objective of protecting the medina. This wall currently divides the medina (old city) from the neighbourhoods that have been built more recently. It has 10 gates and the most impressive thing is the colour that the wall reflects when the sun sets on it. You can visit it by taxi as it is approximately a 30 minute walk from the medina.
Remember to avoid scams and it is best to ask how much you charge for a ride or to keep an eye on the meter before getting into the taxi.
3. TINMEL MOSQUE
The Tinmel is a small town located 100km from Marrakech, where one of the only 2 mosques you can visit and enter to see. Remember that the mosques inside the city are not allowed to be visited by non-Muslims. So if you want to see what a mosque looks like, it’s worth going to Tinmel, which is about 1 hour and 30 minutes away.
The mosque was built in 1156 to commemorate the founder of the Almohad dynasty, Muhammad ibn Tumart and after the fall of the Almohads this was isolated and abandoned reaching the ruins. But in the 20th century it was restored leaving it in an excellent state with its original appearance.
4. MELLAH: JEWISH QUARTERS
This is the name given to the Jewish quarters, where the Jewish population was confined at the beginning of the 15th century in several of Morocco’s cities starting in Fez. One of the particularities of these quarters is that they were surrounded by a fortified wall to protect the Jews. The rulers of that time provided protection to the Jews as they used their skills in crafts, medicine, mathematics and even managed to play a large role in the economy of Moroccan cities.
Near Marrakech, you will find a Mellah and is one of the poorest neighborhoods of the medina you can visit and is not very touristy. But if you are one of the travelers who like to know other attractions apart from the most colorful places, we advise you to visit this neighborhood. There you will find souks with craft shops that offer products at a better price than in the souk of Marrakech.
5. QUAD BIKE TOUR OF THE MARRAKECH PALM GROVE
Walking in the desert is one of the activities for your trip to Morocco that you can’t miss, and even more if it’s through the palm grove of Marrakech in Quad. This is a tour that combines an extreme sport with the adventure of knowing, this inhospitable but seductive space; and can cost you between 30 to 40 euros per person if you hire the tour directly in Marrakech.
Avoid doing graces or pirouettes, you won’t get hurt. Follow the tracks of the other quads or listen to your guide when driving.
6. OUZOUD WATERFALLS
The Ouzoud waterfalls are located in North Africa and are considered the largest in the sector. From Marrakech, you can get there by car in two hours. If you can, hire a guide from your country and avoid the discomfort of having to look for a local guide and perhaps be afraid of possible scams.
The waterfalls have a 110 meter waterfall and the water is very cold so be careful when you dive. The vegetation surrounding this natural attraction adds to the splendor of this area. You may see monkeys living there. Book this destination as one of the activities for your trip to Morocco, it’s really worth it if you have time and it’s not that far from Marrakech.
ADDITIONAL ADVICE FOR YOUR TRIP TO MOROCCO
Avoid the scams
Knowing Morocco is not getting rid of scams, always try to walk accompanied; in a group of tourists or if you walk alone, use your common sense and do not walk afraid. If you have doubts, ask and don’t let any stranger try to do you a “favor” or sell you something. It is best to travel with your activities prepared from Spain.
Wear hiking shoes
Either boots or special shoes, which are ideal for hiking (if used better). We emphasize the characteristic that they are used because if you use a new one. It can cause you some discomfort, and this is what you need less.
Don’t forget the internet
Always try to walk online, this is very practical to locate yourself and ask for taxi service if you need it. Find out which is the best internet option in Morocco in our post: How to have internet in Morocco
Especially if your itinerary includes visiting mosques and madrasas (schools); religious places that can be intolerant – in some cases – to how one can dress, especially if you are a woman.
Don’t be rude
In Moroccan culture, kindness is highly valued; even if it is in basic and short words like “thank you”, “sorry”, “hello” and “goodbye”.
Haggle but not all
You can haggle but sometimes it is not possible; such as tickets to museums, palaces, transportation or restaurants, in conclusion, any rate already established.
Whenever we travel, whatever the destination, a good medical insurance is essential. From sunstroke, dizziness from the weather, intoxication… there are countless reasons why you should take out insurance and receive ideal care in the event of illness. Avoid creating worries for your family and friends and ensure your health there.
Be careful with displays of affection
Try to be careful with displays of affection. In the Maghreb country some sexual practices are forbidden and you can get into trouble even by criminal means. Especially be careful with homosexual relationships.
Find out more travel tips for Morocco