18 Of The Best Things To Do In Marrakech

Spend at least a weekend in Marrakech, so you can complete every activity on this list.

My very first time in Marrakech was back in 2009, it was a mid-point stop during a carefree summer road trip with my French-Moroccan friends. The Red City wow-ed me from the start, from eating kebabs late into the night at Jamaa el Fna Square to posing in front lotus ponds at Jardin Majorelle. Marrakech and spirited snake charmers left a deep imprint in my mind as a vibrant city fuming mystical air of hospitable ease.

Since then, the more I’ve found myself plunging further into Parisian culture, I’ve also returned to Marrakech several times as most Parisians do. The colorful escape has now expanded into tranquil stays at riads, snuggling upon Moroccan tribal textiles while beleaguered by antidotal handmade Zellige tiles. Like good skincare, I’ve compiled a Marrakech routine and it’s a simple one: buy a few kaftans, henna inked on my tanned skin from the brazen North African sun, consume tagine in all its salivating variations paired with golden coucous, followed by soothing glasses of sweet mint tea.

Morocco will always remain in a special place in my heart, but Marrakech glimmers right on top. Arabic glamor, rooftop fun until dawn. If you do it right, the city is a shiny reminder that living is one thing. To live well, though, is to have indulged in the middle of medina, with both friends and strangers alike.

Safety tips!

As much as I love Marrakech, it’s not a destination I recommend for female solo travelers. Please organize your trip with friends or family, especially when traversing inside the medina, the zigzag roads are difficult to identify while cell service is limited. Visit the medina during the day, if you stay at a riad, try to return not too late.

SEE

Jardin Majorelle-Yves Saint Laurent Mansion (Jardin Majorelle)

Rue Yves St Laurent, Marrakech 40090, Morocco

One of the most photographed places in Marrakech is the stunning Jardin Majorelle. Gifted to the city by French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent, the piercing blue art deco building contrasts against the green cactus garden which has been cultivated since 1924. The botanical garden was originally created by French artist Jacques Majorelle and features plants and flowers from different countries around the world.

In the 1950s, due to Majorelle’s ugly divorce, he was forced to sell the land which led to the garden in neglect until the 1980s, when Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé rediscovered the estate and decided to renovate and save it. In 2008, when Saint Laurent died, his ashes were scattered throughout the garden.

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech
Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Jamaa el Fna Square

Rue Yves St Laurent, Marrakech 40090, Morocco

Popular among tourists and locals, the Jamaa El-Fna market in the Medina quarter of Marrakech is a shopper’s paradise. With gorgeous glowing Moroccan lamps, beautiful traditional dresses, silver bohemian jewelry, incredible pieces of art, great leather goods, and a plethora of food options, you can easily fill up an entire suitcase with fantastic local products. But such a labyrinthine market can be overwhelming if you are not well-prepared for both the chaos and the customs of Jamaa El-Fna. Click hear to read more about “5 Things To Watch Out For When Walking Through Jamaa El-Fna.

Marrakech Jamaa El-Fna
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Bahia Palace

Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco

Built in the 19th century by Sultan Si Moussa, Palais Bahia was meant to be the greatest palace of its time. The name itself signifies “brilliance” and is also the name of one of his wives while there are several rooms for concubines. The beautiful palace showcases the best of Islamic and Moroccan designs.

Bahia Palace Marrakech
Photo by Abdelhamid Azoui on Unsplash

El Badi Palace

Ksibat Nhass, Marrakech 40000, Morocco

El Badi Palace
El Badi Palace commissioned by sultan Ahmad al-Mansur of the Saadian dynasty. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

There are plenty of palaces in Marrakech, another renowned one is El Badi Palace, which was funded by a ransom paid by the Portuguese after Battle of the Three Kings. Today, this is home to many festivals, travelers can also visit a museum as well as various exhibitions. 

House of Photography in Marrakech

Rue Ahl Fes, 46 Rue Bin Lafnadek, Marrakech 40030, Morocco

The House of Photography of Marrakesh or Maison de la Photographie is conveniently situated in the middle of Marrakech’s busy medina. Opened in April 2009, the museum takes place in a modernized funduq – a former inn. Founded by Patrick Manac’h and Hamid Mergani, the establishment was meant to share vintage photographs of Marrakech with the world, hence its collections span from 1870 to the 1950s. 10,000 photographs depict unique perspectives of Morocco, including the Berber culture, archeological destination Volubilis and beautiful casbahs, or North African citadels.

Maison de la Photographie
FACEBOOK Maison de la Photographie

Koutoubia Mosque

جامع الكتبية،، Avenue Mohammed V،, Marrakesh 40000،, Morocco

marrakech mosque
Photo by Mehdi El marouazi on Unsplash

The symbol of Marrakech is the Koutoubia Mosque, it’s also the largest one in the city. You can snap the perfect photo from its gardens.

Henna

Henna tattoos are traditional designs that Moroccan women receive on their hands and feet to beautify themselves for special occasions, including: weddings and anniversaries. Every part of the country may vary in style, but they’re mostly red or brown dye derived from henna shrub’s dried leaves.

henna
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Kabareh Cheikhats

If you’re lucky enough to catch a cabaret theatrical performance by Kabaret Cheikhats, then you’re in for a treat! The troupe based in Casablanca is a group of male actors playing the roles of famous women in folk music, as a tribute to popular female entertainers. It started out as a small workshop in Casablanca, now the performance has garnered international attention in France, Belgium and the UK. It makes an incredibly fun night in Marrakech, unlike any other!

KABAREH CHEIKHATS
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

EAT

Le Jardin Restaurant Marrakech Medina

32 Souk Jeld Sidi Abdelaziz, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco

Hidden in the alleys of the Medina, Le Jardin is an oasis oozing Bohemian vibes, with Marrakech’s trendsetters. International travelers stop by here for turtle sightings, and a tasty chicken tagine cooked with pears rather than the usual olives and lemons. Don’t miss the pigeon pastilla, it might sound bizarre for the unadventurous folks but it’s as delectable as a sweet and savory chicken pie! If you like Le Jardin, make sure to also make a reservation at NOMAD and Café Des Épices.

Le Jardin Marrakech
Chicken tagine with pears. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Al Fassia

55 Bd Mohamed Zerktouni, Marrakech 40000, Morocco

Al Fassia is probably one of the best meals you’ll have in Marrakech. The outdoor terrace with old-school Moroccan lush décor. Make sure to reserve ahead of time because it truly is a hotspot, even with two locations. Both are equally popular in flavor and in style. Since its opening in 1987, it has topped every list as a Marrakech dining institution. Similar to Korean little plates, your meal will start with 12 mezzes – a variety of tapas that span from pickled vegetables to eggplant sauces. Of course, any tagine dish here will be heavenly. But we got the giant rack of lamb which was out of this world.

Marrakech Al Fassia
Facebook/Al Fassia

Moroccan Mint Tea

Moroccan mint tea is aromatic, sweet and completely addictive. Usually served by a male in the family, the tea is also the center of a social gathering with a ceremony to pouring the tea which is made from strong green tea, lots of mint leaves and sugar. Poured by holding the pot high above the glass.

Moroccan mint tea
UNSPLASH Jaida Stewart

Street Food

For as many times as I’ve been to Morocco, I’ve loved every indulgence of its charred, smokey and savory street foods. From kebabs, sausages to sandwiches; you’re in for a mouthwatering treat. The best way to find a good street vendor is to ask a taxi driver or a hotel concierge, they’ll provide their personal favorites.

Marrakech Jamaa El-Fna
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

DRINK

Baromètre Marrakech

Rue Moulay Ali, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco

Baromètre might be known for its speakeasy cocktail bar, but the chefs at its restaurant utilize molecular gastronomy to craft a perfectly balanced seasonal menu. The restaurant serves interesting, high quality food without trying to be Moroccan. Rather, the menu is more Mediterranean-inspired with hints of Marrakech thrown in.

Baromètre cocktail bar was the first speakeasy in Marrakech. Although Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, Morocco is not a dry country. That being said, it is highly illegal to drink in the streets and Moroccan law states that there must be at least 300 meters of distance between a mosque and an alcohol vender.

Not only does Barometre offer delicious and unique cocktails, but the bar is also sustainable and eco-responsible. Bartenders are careful to reuse and repurpose products in order to create little waste. Even more, the bar uses 90% local products to avoid harming the environment through food transport. And with a limited amount of alcohol options in Morocco, the expert bartenders at Barometre are forced to get creative. Their inventiveness is showcased throughout the menu, from utilizing smoked date seeds instead of coffee beans to making its own vodka rose out of flowers from M’gouna.

Barometre Marrakech
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Comptoir Darna

Av. Echouhada, Marrakech 40000, Morocco

For the utmost glamorous going out experience in Marrakech, you’ve gotta hit up Comptoir Darna. It is FABULOUS! Belly dancing, white wine, red lights, grand staircases, multiple floors…and did we mention clowns on stilts? Such the institution that completely lives up to lofty expectations, Comptoir Darna opened its ritzy doors in 1999 and instantly captivated a party crowd from local elites to international visitors.

I highly recommend dining somewhere else, then come here for a post-dinner drink. Go upstairs by the bar, order a bottle of white wine, and wait for the belly dancers to come out and hype up the joint, even gliding on the bar table.

Comptoir Darna
Facebook/Comptoir Darna

Theatro Marrakech

Rue Ibrahim El Mazini, Casino de Marrakech Es Saadi Marrakech Resort، 40000, Morocco

After Comptoir Darna and you’d still like the soirée vibe to continue, head to the Casino in Marrakech. Zig zag by slot machines, you’ll arrive at Theatro where music pumps and tequila shots flow as fast as the live band’s bass busting through loud speakers.

Theatro Marrakech
Instagram/theatromarrakech

STAY