Marrakesh is a city that enchants and captivates travelers, with its exotic architecture and food paired with genuinely warm hospitality and kindness. Over the city’s 1000 year history, it has been shaped by European, African and Middle Eastern influences, which has added greatly to its richness and made it one of the most fascinating places to visit in Morocco.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, here’s our guide for the top 5 things you can’t miss in Marrakesh.
1. Watch the Sun Set Over the Square
The main meeting place for both travelers and locals in Marrakesh is Jamal El-Fnaa, which houses a market where you’ll find cool drinks, various bags and homewares, as well as the odd snake charmer and henna artist. While it is definitely worth spending some time at the square, head to one of the rooftop terraces and enjoy a coffee while the sun goes down, to really soak up the atmosphere.
2. Shop ‘Til You Drop at the Bazaar
Take home a piece of beautiful Marrakesh by adding some gorgeous souvenirs into your backpack. The main bazaar is located just off of the main square, and has a dizzying array of good from homewares to spices to clothing. Just looking is an experience in yourself, but you’ll have to have your wits about you if you plan to leave empty handed – the stallholders here are master salespeople and will have you parting with your money in no time!
3. Stay in a Riad
One of the most noticeable things about Marrakesh is the overwhelming hospitality. As a traveller, you are treated with the utmost respect and kindness, and Moroccans seem genuinely interested to exchange culture. There’s no better way to experience this than staying in a riad, one of Marrakesh’s traditional guesthouses. Plus, while they may seem humble from the outside, they are generally spectacular on the inside.
4. Badi Palace
Given that back in the 17th Century the Palace was adorned with thousands of precious stones, it’s crazy to think it was only used as a palace for a short 75 years before it was looted (maybe the jewels weren’t such a good idea). Over time, it eventually fell into ruin, and restorations continue to this day. However, the Palace still retains its distinctive architecture and makes for a great visit, especially if you try to imagine the previous grandeur.
5. Koutoubi Mosque
The largest and most impressive of Marrakesh’s many mosques, it draws its name from the fact that when it was built in the 12th Century, it became the main meeting point for the city’s many booksellers (kutubiyyin). The booksellers may be gone, but the mosque remains, and 5 times per day the Call to Prayer reverberates from 70m tall minarets. While the mosque is not open to non-Muslims, it is worth looking at from the outside due to its beautiful design and significance in the lives of everyday Moroccans.