The old and magical Marrakech, full of palaces, mosques, markets and gardens, is one of those cities that you cannot miss visiting. Its Medina surrounded by a great wall and entrance doors, is spectacular, where staying in a riad is the best thing you can do to enjoy the authentic essence of the city.
Marrakech is the most visited city in Morocco where you will find a lot of tourism, even being a bit overwhelming if you are in the rush hour in the most visited places, so organizing the visit well will help you savor the true Marrakech.
We have made a list of what we believe are the 10 essential places to visit in Marrakech, based on our trip to Marrakech and Essaouira in 5 days. Let’s start!
1. Jamaa el Fna Square
Jamaa el Fna Square is the nerve center of Marrakech, all routes through the Medina end or start in this square. In the morning you will find from monkeys, snake charmers, water carriers or vendors of natural orange juices, while at night it transforms, filling up with food stalls. One of the best places to see the change and the constant movement in the square is from the terrace of the Café Glacier sipping a mint tea, while it gets dark.
An alternative to have a good first contact with the Medina and the Jamaa el Fna Square is to book this tour of Marrakech! or a private tour in which you choose the itinerary, both with a guide in English.
2. Medersa Ben Youssef
Entering the Medersa Ben Youssef is one of the best things to see and do in Marrakech, without a doubt. This Muslim school is the largest in Morocco and was built in the 14th century. The central courtyard is spectacular with an incredible iron lamp, the arches and walls decorated with tiles, and the walls covered with panels of zellige, cedar, stucco and handmade marble. At the time, 800 students memorized the Koran in its 130 cells until 1960. Now it has become one of the essential places to visit in Marrakech. Visiting hours: every day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
3. Saadian Tombs
The Mausoleum of the Room of the Twelve Columns is the most beautiful place, with its twelve white marble columns supporting a handmade cedar wood dome that is a true wonder. The Hall of the Three Niches and the Hall of Mirhab are next door, but they are smaller and not so decorated, although of course they are also worth a visit. In all of them rest members of the Saadí Dynasty while in the gardens there are the graves of servants and soldiers.
Visiting hours: every day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
4. The Souk
In the souk you can buy the typical metal lanterns, slippers, djellabas, tea sets, spices or clothing … among many other typical items in 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 they are looking for.
Our favorite is the dry cleaner’s souk, with its colored wool dried in the sun, although there are many others that are worth finding and touring as the Henna souk, with cosmetic items, the silk, cotton and slippers called Kissaria Serrajine, the of the carpets known as the souk Tillis, the one of the cauldrons called the souk Es-Seffarine or the souk Nejjarine with wooden articles.
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, since you will surely end up in some store buying more expensive.
Despite the fact that at some point it may become overwhelming, this is undoubtedly one of the most essential places to visit in Marrakech.
Visiting hours: every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They close on Friday mornings.
5. Mellah, 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 16th century with the expulsion of many Hebrews ordered by the kings of Spain and Portugal, which caused the formation of one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. Although now its presence is testimonial, some synagogue like the Al Azama is still preserved, 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), the gateway to the neighborhood and about a 15-minute walk from the Jamaa el Fna Square.
Its streets are not full of shops like those in the souk, but there are good markets and prices are cheaper than in the rest of the Medina.
Whether you stay in one of them or not, you can also go to dinner at a famous riad such as Dar Cherifa or visit the Tiskiwin House, an old riad turned into a museum. Of course, we warn you that sometimes it is difficult to find your riad in the labyrinthine medina, but do not worry, there will always be someone willing to guide you for a small tip. Without a doubt, riads are one of the essential places to visit in Morocco.
7. Majorelle Gardens
They are half an hour walk from the center, although you can also go by taxi, or as we did, taking advantage of a visit to the Palm Grove so that they will leave us nearby and then walk back to the center.
Visiting hours: every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The Medina of Marrakech is surrounded by an impressive 15-kilometer wall that separates its oldest part from the new neighborhoods. Built in clay and adobe, it has a height of about 10 meters and has 10 impressive entrance doors, among which the 12th century Bab Agnaou Gate stands out, with bas-reliefs and with green colors. It is a protection wall, another of the places to see in Marrakech, you can walk a good part or all of it on foot or by buggy, and thus find other interesting doors such as Bab el Robb, Bab Doukkala, Bab el Debbagh, Bab el Jadid and Bab el Khemis.
9. Koutoubia Mosque
The name of the mosque translates as “that of the booksellers” and is a good point of reference when you get lost. Like the rest of the mosques in the city, non-Muslims are prohibited from entering. The atmosphere around the mosque when calls to prayer start is really interesting.
10. Bahia Palace
This set of buildings and gardens made in the Arab style at the end of the 19th century occupies 8 hectares and among the most prominent is the harem, with a pond in the central courtyard and surrounded by the concubine’s rooms. Although it is a little abandoned and without any object inside, the decoration of the walls, the wooden doors and the ceilings are worth the visit. It is located in the southern part of the Medina about 20 minutes walk from the Jamaa el Fna Square.
Visiting hours: every day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Remember that in order not to pay commissions and always have the current exchange rate, we recommend using the N26 card to pay and the Bnext and Revolut cards to withdraw money at ATMs. They are the ones that we use, they are free and they will mean great savings.
You can find more information in this article about the best cards to travel without commissions.
If you have more time you can take a desert excursion from Marrakech.