Marrakech, with its castles, mosques, marketplaces, and gardens, is one of those towns that you just must-see. Its Medina, which is encircled by a massive wall and gates, is breathtaking, and staying in a riad is the finest way to see the city’s true spirit.
Marrakech is Morocco’s most visited city, with a lot of tourists, which may be overwhelming if you arrive at rush hour in the most popular areas, so planning your visit wisely will allow you to enjoy the genuine Marrakech.
Based on our 5-day vacation to Marrakech and Essaouira, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten must-see attractions in Marrakech. Let’s get this party started!
1. Jamaa el Fna Square (Jamaa el Fna Square)
The Jamaa el Fna Square is Marrakech’s nerve hub; all roads through the Medina finish or begin here. In the morning, you’ll find everything from monkeys to snake charmers, water carriers, and fresh orange juice vendors, while at night, it transforms into a food market. While having a mint tea on the terrace of Café Glacier as the sun sets, one of the greatest spots to watch the shift and continual activity in the plaza is from the terrace of Café Glacier.
Booking with Moroccan Desert Tours of Marrakech!, considered one of the greatest free tours in Marrakech, or a private tour where you determine the schedule, both with an English-speaking guide, is an option to have a good first touch with the Medina and the Jamaa el Fna Square.
2. Youssef Medersa, Ben Youssef
Without a question, entering the Medersa Ben Youssef is one of the top things to see and do in Marrakech. The biggest Muslim school in Morocco, it was constructed in the 14th century. The center courtyard is stunning, with a magnificent iron chandelier, tiled arches and walls, and handcrafted zellige, cedar, stucco, and marble panels covering the walls. Until 1960, 800 pupils learned the Koran in each of the 130 cells. It has now become one of Marrakech’s must-see attractions.
Visiting hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day.
3. Tombs of the Saadians
The Saadian Graves in Medina are difficult to find, so it’s no surprise that these sixteenth-century tombs were not unearthed until 1917. This is one of our favorite spots to visit in Marrakech, since it is positioned on the right side of the Moulay El Yazid Mosque, near the huge Bab Agnaou gate, and is only accessible through a short corridor.
The tomb of the Hall of the Twelve Columns is the most stunning, with twelve white marble columns supporting a magnificent handcrafted cedarwood dome. Desierto Marrakech The Hall of the Three Niches and the Hall of Mirhab are just next door, but they’re smaller and less ornately adorned, but they’re still worth a look. Members of the Saadi Dynasty are buried in all of the tombs, while slaves and warriors are buried in the gardens.
Visiting hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day.
One of the greatest locations to see in Marrakech is the Saadi Tombs.
In Marrakech, we propose the following hotel.
Riad Assalam is a centrally located riad that is about 10 minutes from Djemma el Fna Square. Breakfast is delicious and diverse. Large, spotless room with Moroccan bathroom and two patios with spectacular views of the city. The owners and employees go out of their way to make your stay as pleasant as possible.
4. The Souk
Get lost, bargain, buy or even get a little angry, are some of the premises that you have to know before entering the souk and one of the best tips for traveling to Marrakech. In the heart of the Medina and entering the north side of the Jamaa el Fna Square you will enter a maze of narrow streets full of stores and the occasional food stall. Morocco Sahara Trips
In the souk you can buy the typical metal lanterns, slippers, djellabas, tea sets, spices or clothing … among many other typical items of the country. You will see that the artisans of the same branch are grouped in the same area of the souk, making it much easier for the traveler to find what he is looking for.
Our favorite is the dyers’ souk, with its colorful wool dried in the sun, although there are many others worth finding and visiting such as the Henna souk, with cosmetic items, the silk, cotton and slippers souk called Kissaria Serrajine, the carpet souk known as the Tillis souk, the cauldron souk called Es-Seffarine or the Nejjarine souk with wooden items.
As a tip we will tell you that you should not pay attention to the guides who want to make you a route through the souks, as you will surely end up in a store buying more expensive.
Although at some point it can become overwhelming, this is certainly one of the most essential places to visit in Marrakech.
Visiting hours: every day from 9.00 to 19.00h. Closed on Friday mornings.
5. Mellah, is one of the best places to visit in Marrakech
Mellah or the old Jewish quarter is one of the least visited areas of the Medina, but one of the most interesting places to see in Marrakech. The creation of the neighborhood dates back to the sixteenth century with the expulsion of many Jews ordered by the kings of Spain and Portugal, which led to the formation of one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. Although now its presence is testimonial, it still retains some synagogue as the Al Azama, which together with the Jewish cemetery are two of its main attractions. To access the Mellah you have to get to the beautiful Plaza des Ferblantiers (square of the tinsmiths), gateway to the neighborhood and about 15 minutes walk from the Jamaa el Fna Square.
Its streets are not full of stores like those of the souk but there are good markets and prices are cheaper than in the rest of the Medina.
The riads are small old Arab palaces with an inner courtyard that have been adapted as hotels. It is the perfect place to stay in the medina of Marrakech, with the noise of the fountain in the courtyard, the smell of the plants, the roof terrace overlooking the Medina while sipping a mint tea, the Arab hospitality, the delicious breakfasts and the tranquility of its few rooms.
We stayed at the
Riad Assalam and it met all these requirements we were looking for, as well as exceeding all our expectations.
Whether or not you stay in one of them, you can also go to dinner at a famous riad like Dar Cherifa or visit the Tiskiwin House, an old riad converted into a museum. Be warned, though, that sometimes it is hard to find your riad in the labyrinthine medina, but don’t worry, there will always be someone willing to guide you for a small tip.
Some of these riads are perfect to try the local specialties such as couscous or the delicious tajine, although we recommend you to follow this list of the best restaurants where to eat well and cheap in Marrakech.
7. Majorelle Gardens
The Majorelle Gardens are the most beautiful of the city and one of the places to visit in Marrakech. These botanical gardens designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle were acquired in 1980 by fashion guru Yves Saint Laurent and today are a perfect place to disconnect from the stressful Marrakech and take refuge from the heat sitting under the shade of the trees. The garden has species from all over the world, from cactus, bamboo, and aquatic plants to coconut and banana trees. Its fountains, lakes and blue buildings make the whole place really beautiful and photogenic, being also one of the most visited places in the city.
It is a half-hour walk from the center, although you can also go by cab, or as we did, taking advantage of a visit to the Palmeral to be dropped off nearby and then walk back to the center.
Visiting hours: every day from 8:00 to 17:30h.