Nicknamed "the red city" or "the ochre city" after of the colours of its buildings, Marrakech is one of Morocco's four major cities along with Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. Because it is really close to Western Europe, Marrakech is the ideal destination for romantic or family holiday. The city is renowned for its cultural heritage and monuments representative of its common history with Andalusia.
You're going away for a few days and you don't know where to start? This guide is for you!
In Arab cities, the Medina is the oldest district and the historic centre of the city. It is where most of the monuments and activities are concentrated. If you don’t like crowdy places, avoid this neighborhood at all cost as it seems to never stop being agitated!
In this district, you can find the Koutoubia Mosque, the Lalla Hasna Park, the Marrakech Souk, the Ben Youssef Medersa, the Jemaa-el-Fna Square, the Bahia Palace and the Marrakech Museum. They are presented below.
Do you want an accommodation at the heart of the city ? Find our most beautiful riads and villas in the Medina.
The Koutoubia Mosque is located in the Medina district and it is one of the city's emblematic monuments. It is 70 meters high – 77 with the spire, which makes it visible from afar. Its access is forbidden to non-Muslims. If it is your case you can only admire the external part of the building but it is totally worth it! Each side is decorated differently, with details and sumptuousness.
Next to the mosque, you will find the archaeological sites where the old mosque was discovered. The Koutoubia mosque is the little sister. In fact, the Koutoubia Mosque was built after it was discovered that the Qibla, the place where the prayer takes place, was not exactly pointing at Mecca!
If you want to take a quiet break, you can go to the Lalla Hasna Park, located just next to the mosque. It is very popular among lovers, who meet on the benches. The public library of Marrakech is right in the middle of the park.
The souk is full of people and you will find anything you want: fruit and vegetable sellers, babouches (oriental slippers), spices, carpets, djellabas... A symbol of Moroccan life, it is recommended to visit it even if you have no plans to buy anything.
Beware of swindlers and pickpockets who know how to spot tourists from afar. Moreover, don't hesitate to negotiate the prices of the items you are interested in, they can easily be halved down! We advise you to prefer the Ensemble Artisanal market for your purchases: the products are the same but the prices are fixed and way more reasonable.
This former Koranic college was built in the 14th century and became a museum in 1960. It has hosted more than 900 law and theology students staying on site since its construction. Since its transformation into a museum, it enabled visitors to admire Moroccan architecture. Emblematic of Arab-Andalusian cross culture, this monument has to be on your bucket list!
Be careful, the site is closed for renovation until 2020, don’t forget it when preparing your stay.
Official website for more information (schedules, prices): https://www.medersa-ben-youssef.com
This place is part of UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage and it deserves its place: the place is unforgettable. Every day, from late morning to late at night, the square is bustling with activity and all kinds of entertainment: falcon trainers, snake charmers, traditional dancers, henna tattoo artists, fortune tellers, etc. In addition to all these people, there are also souvenir sellers and mobile restaurants that set their stalls up in the late afternoon.
Be careful, nothing is free, especially not shows and photos, even taken on the go. Locals often demand a financial contribution in exchange of a snapshot.
The Bahia Palace was built in the 19th century and is covering 8 hectares of ground. It is one of Marrakech’s unmissable landmarks. It is the former residence of Ahmed Ben Moussa, vizier of King Hassan I. I was built for his favorite mistress, hence the nickname of the palace being "the beautiful, the brilliant".
The houses that make the palace up are quite different from each other but very pretty. There are 150 marvellous rooms in the palace. The garden is also very pleasant: there, you can take a break in the shade of orange or banana trees while you admire hibiscus or jasmine flowers.
As it is currently occupied by the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, part of the palace is inaccessible to visitors.
The museum is worth a visit: the collections are as impressive as the architecture and some of the rooms in the building. It is located in an old palace dating back to the late 19th century, and it exhibits ceramics, weapons, carpets, etc.. It is also possible to visit a traditional hammam there.
The Guéliz district, also called “new city”, is the modern district located north of the Medina. It is the most "westernized" district of Marrakech: you can find American fast-food brands alongside European ready-to-wear stores (Zara, Mango...). In this district, there are fewer tourists (with the exception of the Majorelle garden), prices are displayed and alcohol is allowed to be sold. It is the ideal place for a one-day getaway out of the continuous hubbub of the Medina!
The Majorelle Garden is a go-to place during your stay in Marrakech. It was purchased in 1980 by Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint-Laurent when it was abandoned. The garden was originally designed to house hundreds of different varieties of plants.
If you are into photography, don't forget your camera! The house is designed in Art Deco style and the famous "majorelle blue" covering the walls with a vibrant colour is renowned for photogenic aspect.
You want to know more about the Majorelle Garden? Discover our dedicated article!
Also located in the Guéliz district, Ensemble Artisanal market is the place where craftsmen sell products similar to those sold in the souk of the Medina. However, in this place, the prices are fixed, so you don't risk fraud. In addition, some craftsmen manufacture their products in front of you, which reassures those of you who are the most worried about the authenticity of the products.
Here are some tips to follow to make sure you enjoy your trip in the best conditions possible.
Beware of pickpockets: there are many of them in the city and they know how to spot tourists. You won't even realize they took something from you! Do not put any valuables in the front pocket of your backpack and avoid keeping your phone and wallet in your trouser pockets.
Scams are also really common, especially in the souk: sellers often advertise a price that is sometimes 10 times higher than the price at which they actually plan to sell! Feel free to negotiate. Stay polite and smiling and prices will easily fall.
Counterfeits from high-end brands are also really common in the souk: if you see a deal that seems (too) beautiful to be true, try to look at the product in detail, including the brand label. Know that most high-end brand easily deliver certificate to prove the authenticity of the product. If yours doesn’t have one, it is a copy.
Are you looking for accommodation in Marrakech? You can check all our villas and riads available.
Looking for inspiration for your future meal? Browse through our selection of best restaurants, selected by our local guide, Riad.