Marrakech is a city that fizzes with energy, where colourful souks and shoulder-width alleyways unfurl from the carnivalesque main square, Djemaa El Fna. But there’s more to the Red City 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.
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.
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. Not sure where to start? Try Criée Berbère for woven carpets and handmade Berber rugs, Kissaria for clothes and fabrics, or the shops around Souk des Teinturiers for pottery, lanterns and metalwork. Don’t forget to haggle – it’s all part of the fun in the Marrakech souks.
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.
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.
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.
Visit a windswept Marrakech beach
If you fancy combining a city break with beach time, spend some time on the Atlantic Coast. Essaouira is the best Marrakech beach for windsurfing (this is the Wind City, after all); Oualidia, the “oyster capital” of Morocco, wraps around a lagoon; while Agadir is a buzzy beach resort dotted with sandy stretches. All three are around three hours from the city by car.
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 and home to Barbary macaques. 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.
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.
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.
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!