The 11 best things to do in Marrakech
From souks and museums to fabulous restaurants, here are the things in Marrakech ( the Red City) you should not miss
Somewhere craving food you’ve never tried before, getting lost in markets and stunning seaside sunsets? Welcome to Marrakech, the cultural capital of Africa, where you will be surrounded by sights, sounds, and smells as you enter. Everyone and everything is in motion here – you just have to go with the flow.
If you’re a foodie, there are some great Moroccan restaurants in town to try (many of them on rooftops, which is a win). But maybe you travel to Marrakech just to explore its museums, admire its architecture, and spend the day wandering through its many fantastic souks. Whatever you want, we have it all for you. Read on to find out the best things to do, see and eat in Marrakech this year.
1. Bahia Palace
What is it? Bahia Palace (which roughly translates to ‘beautiful palace’) was built in the late 19th century, and now forms the epicenter of the city’s culture.
Why go? You will not believe the decor until you see it, with high, gilded ceilings, rooms filled with paintings, mosaics, and stuccos, and a huge, open garden to wander. Find a spot in the shade and sit for hours to take it all in.
2. Souk Semmarine
What is it? One of Marrakech’s many souks (meaning markets), Souk Semmarine is a must-see. The market sells everything under the sun, from leather goods to silverware and crockery.
Why go? Did you even go to Morocco if you didn’t come back with something to remember it by? Haggle with the traders for that beautiful rug you spotted – you will not regret it.
3. Maison de la Photographie
What is it? A three-story riad-turned-gallery housing the vintage Moroccan photography collection of Patrick Menac’h and Marrakshi Hamid Mergani. The images document the lifestyle and landscapes of Morocco between 1870 and 1950 – more than a century later, many things remain exactly the same.
Why go? To immerse yourself in the visual history of Morocco. The rooftop café is also one of the highest in the medina and is a great spot for a drink.
4. Jardin Majorelle
What is it? Created by French painter Jacques Majorelle, this botanical garden features more cacti than can sway in a terrarium, and is centered around a stunning indigo-blue Art Deco house.
why go? Phone cameras at the ready – Jardin Majorelle is a prime Instagram location. While you’ll see some creepy photos, it’s impossible to get a bad photo here. Arrive early to avoid unnecessary photo bombers.
5. Musée Yves Saint Laurent
What is it? The French designer loved spending time in Marrakech so much that he bought the Majorelle Gardens in 1980. Opened in 2017 next to the garden, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum is dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent’s couture legacy and features a permanent exhibition featuring hundreds of garments from his 40-year career.
why go? The YSL collection is a stunning piece that even the non-fashionista can appreciate. It is housed in one of the city’s most distinctive buildings, alongside a beautiful garden café, bookshop, temporary exhibition hall, and auditorium.
6. El Badi Palace
What is it? The epic ruins of the once magnificent palace of Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour are set in sunken gardens and surrounded by epic walls, with views of the medina from the collapsed towers panorama.
why go? El Badi may be in ruins, but it offers a fascinating glimpse into the power and wealth of the Moroccan dynasties of yesteryear. Among the ruins, you can also find the treasure of the Koutoubia minbar (prayer pulpit), made by Córdoba artisans in the 12th century.
7. Musée des Confluences
What is it? Former Governor’s Palace and residence of the infamous King of Atlas, Thami El Glaoui. Today, it is the Musée des Confluences, home to the Patty Birch Archaeological Collection in the United States, and hosts exhibitions that explore the cultural intersection of East and West.
why go? Possibly the finest building in the medina, it is ambitious and intricately detailed: coffered cedar ceilings, geometric tiles, and stucco in intricate floral patterns. Don’t miss the best coffee shop in Marrakech, Bacha Coffee House, serving more than 40 beers in the same building.
8. Musée de Mouassine
What is it? A jewel of 16th-century Saadian architecture, this douiria (guest apartment) was built by a chorfa (noble) family and retains all its exquisite original decoration that acts as a backdrop to thoughtful exhibitions and musical events.
Why go? Every Monday and Friday from October to May, the museum hosts concerts of classical Moroccan music. Set in such beautiful surroundings, the events are super-atmospheric and accompanied by tea and pastries.
9. The Mellah
What is it? The Jewish quarter of Marrakech has undergone an extensive renovation program. Make sure to visit the Al Azama synagogue and the extraordinary Miara cemetery.
Why go? Tours give an insight into a fascinating part of Marrakech’s (and Morocco’s) history. This area of the city is rarely explored by tourists other than Jewish heritage groups – get down before everyone else cottons on.
10. Souk Place des Épices
What is it? Moroccan cuisine is famous for its rich, aromatic flavors. Place des Épices is the traditional spice souk where you’ll find merchants selling everything from allspice to ras al hanout (a mix of more than a dozen spices).
Why go? This open-air souk is truly atmospheric. As well as bags of spices, you can pick up colorful basketry or simply watch the show from one of the cafés that ring the square.
11. Jamaa el Fna
What is it? The vast open square at the heart of the medina is one of Marrakech’s biggest attractions and is a Unesco world heritage site. Expect snake charmers, street entertainers, and over-enthusiastic henna artists at every turn.
Why go? Locals and tourists descend on the Jemaa every night, drawn by the ceaseless hoopla and halqa (street theatre). Grab some food from one of the barbecue stalls, listen to some music, head up to a rooftop bar, and marvel at the sunset.