Renowned for being a melting pot of Mediterranean, Arabic and Berber cultures, Marrakech is a hive of frenetic energy where colourful souks and shoulder-width alleyways unfurl from the carnivalesque main square, Djemaa El Fna. Stumble upon quiet courtyards where donkeys bray in the shade, right beside bustling open spaces where snake charmers cut through the clamour with tuneful trills.
There’s more to the Red City, however, than haggling and street performers: desert landscapes, lush gardens, Berber villages and a rich tea culture are just a few of the Red City’s many charms. Here’s our roundup of the 10 best things to do in Marrakech.
1. Quad bike across the Sahara
Ask any adventurous type what to do in Marrakech and they’ll point you in the direction of the Sahara Desert. You can traverse the rippling dunes by foot, on a camel or by 4WD. However, there’s no better way to explore the arid landscapes than by quad bike, heading off-grid and bouncing across the rough terrain.
Dunes & Desert offers half- and full-day tours, where you’ll hurtle across the Agafay Desert, before tracing the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and visiting a traditional Berber hamlet.
2. Get lost among the labyrinthine Medina
The walled Medina is a maze of alleys and souks – one of the essential places to visit in Marrakech. There is, however, order in the chaos: each section is dedicated to a local speciality – ironwork, leather, silver, crafts. But the best way to explore is to simply lose yourself among the dusty passageways, browsing the closet-sized stalls piled with babouches (leather slippers), spices and pottery, weaving beneath perforated lamps and lanterns, dodging scooters, bicycles and animals in your path. Going around in circles is inevitable, but you’re guaranteed not to see the same thing twice. Don’t forget to haggle – it’s all part of the fun in the Marrakech souks.
3. Stay in a courtyard riad
If you’re unsure of the best places to stay in Marrakech, we recommend bedding down in a traditional riad. Most are arranged around an open-air courtyard and are decorated with intricate tiles, swirling stucco and ornately carved wood. A few of the finest are Dar Hanane, a tranquil oasis with a glorious rooftop terrace, Riad Les Yeux Bleus, with a swimming pool and fountain-dotted courtyards, and Riad Ta’achchaqa, with a hammam and original Arabic mosaics.
4. Visit the tanneries
To the northeast of the Medina, the tanneries are an assault on the senses – from the initial scent to the colourful dyes and cacophony of market calls. You can watch everything from leather bags to dresses being dyed by hand here – and even buy some of the finished products. This is what to do in Marrakech if you’re into fashion and clothes.
5. Climb the Atlas Mountains
Head to the Atlas Mountains for some outdoor pursuits: hiking, cycling or horse riding are some of the best ways to wind through the peaks. Jbel Toubkal, At 4,167 metres, is Morocco’s highest mountain, luring intrepid visitors to its summit. Whichever activity you opt for, you’ll pass age-old Berber villages, where you can pause for traditional Moroccan dishes, and may spot birds like falcons, Egyptian cultures and golden eagles.
6. Jardin Majorelle
A visit to the magical Jardin Majorelle is a must for an afternoon of calm. Intersected with pretty pathways, streams and babbling pools, the garden is an ideal spot for some relaxation away from the frenzy of the city. Head for the blissful blue Moorish-style house at its centre – home to the fascinating Berber Museum. Peppered with colourful plant pots and huge cactuses, Jardin Majorelle started its life as a botanical ‘laboratory’ and plays hosts to flora from the world over. Quite the contrast to the city’s otherwise desert landscape, this place is a lovely oasis in which to while away some time.
7. Do go chasing waterfalls
If you need some respite from the heat but don’t fancy travelling to a Marrakech beach, the mountains shelter a number of secluded waterfalls. An hour’s drive south of Marrakech, Ourika Valley is popular with locals for its cooler temperatures and cascading Setti Fatma falls. Over to the east, Ouzoud Falls is concealed among the High Atlas Mountains, where you’ll doubt spot a few inquisitive macaques on the way to this natural wonder as well. It may be a 2.5-hour drive from the city, but the curtain of water is breathtaking, and you can combine it with hiking among the peaks or a boat trip.
8. Float above the city in a hot air balloon
For a different perspective of Marrakech, a hot air balloon ride will skim above the city’s rooftops. It’s a jaw-dropping way to watch the serpentine alleys and minaret-studded skyline give way to dune-swept desert landscapes and hazy mountains. Ciel d’Afrique offers a sunrise tour – this is what to do in Marrakech if you’re on a romantic getaway.
9. Explore the lush gardens
Marrakech is dotted with exotic gardens. The most colourful and famous is Jardin Majorelle, but other must-sees include Menara Gardens, whose large pool is surrounded by olive trees and a mountainous backdrop, and the Royal Palace’s Agdal Gardens, where several pools are hidden among olive groves and fruit trees.
10. Immerse yourself in the tea culture
Mint tea is a traditional part of Moroccan culture, and trying the sweet drink is a must in Marrakech. For a brew with a view, the rooftop terrace of Zwin’ Zwin’ Café offers panoramic vistas as far as the Atlas Mountains, while Café Guerrab overlooks the carnival of Djemaa el Fna and serves great Moroccan dishes.
Get ready for your next adventure! Our luxurious villas in Marrakech are the great base for you to prepare yourself for a fun-filled day out in the buzzing city. Have a look and get inspired!