Marrakech these days is one of the most popular and trendiest places to see. It is doing a great job attracting people from all over the world with it’s glamour, authenticity and exotic mood. Marrakech feels way more glamorous compared to the rest of Morocco: it attracts a lot of young people, who came here to see it’s beauty and have a glimpse of Africa without too much husstle, but with fun and good time. This is good news: compared to many places in Africa, Morocco and Marrakech feels very organised and well suited for the travellers from developed countries. It have enough of good accommodation, the roads are relatively organised, transportation is good, not too much scams around (still, be aware and don’t trust anyone on the streets who is reaching you) and generally Marrakech is the best choice if you want to have a good glimpse and experience Morocco and it’s culture.
Here is my list of suggestions of things to see and do in Marrakech!
Jemaa el-Fnaa square
This place is historically one of the crossroads of the world and easily can be called Times square of Africa. It is busy, crowded and got very special energy in it. There are tons of sellers, entertainers, numerous food stalls and generally the place is overwhelming, but not to be missed. The best thing to do here is to browse around and sit at one of the numerous cafes to watch around for couple of hours sipping your mint tea and watching what’s going on around.
Explore Yves Saint Laurent heritage
Yves Saint Laurent was the one, who has opened Marrakech to the public in 60’s. He has bought a house in Marrakech, where he spend some time during the year and where he create his works. That explains some of the influence in his works as he was obsessed with the colours and patterns of Morocco and his impact on Marrakech image cannot be underestimated. Now there is a street named in his honour, famous Jardin Majorelle, which he has bought to save (now it is one of the most popular sights in Morocco) and recently opened Musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech. There are 2 museums dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent art, which were opened in late 2017: one in Paris and one in Marrakech. It is not huge (still, it’s bigger than the one in Paris), but it showcase some of YSL best works, tells the story of an artist and his career and generally got very cool architecture.
As there are huge lines to enter Jardin Majorelle, you can buy your entrance tickets at the Musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (they have combined tickets and separate entrance tickets). It will save you tons of time.
If you are up for something really special, it is possible to visit Yves Saint Laurent house, but it could be done only by special appointment and costs around 2000$ for a group of up to 8 people. Still you can notice the gates of his house, which are not very famous, but worth trying to find.
Compared to many places in Africa, Morocco and Marrakech feels very organised and well suited for the travellers from developed countries
Medina of Marrakesh
Same as almost in any city in Morocco, Marrakech got it’s own medina. Generally Medina is a place, where the city was originated, kind of “Old city”, surrounded by huge walls. It is still a place where lots of people live till now. Filled with lots of small tiny streets, numerous shops and real life (which can be beautiful and ugly at the same time) it is definitely of the major places to see in Marrakech. Generally speaking, all medinas are pretty similar, so exploring this Medina will give you an idea what it could look like. Just make sure to be aware of “Helpers” as most of them are part of scams, which unfortunately are not rare in this part of the city. Just say “No, mercy” and walk away.
Bahia palace is a palace in Marrakech, which was build in 19th century and was made to be the best of the best. This is great place to see beautiful garden, awesome patterns and incredible ceilings, inspired by Moroccan and Islamic traditions. This place is pretty cool as it is really well preserved, well kept and shows how other places are supposed to look like. If there is one palace to visit in Morocco to learn about Moroccan art and patterns, it should be Bahia palace.
Find places, where “Sex and the city” movie was filmed
Do you remember “Sex and the city” movie, where Carrie Bradshaw has visited Abu Dhabi, lived in a fantastic hotel, browse the market, meet her ex-love and has lost her passport? Big news: all the scenes were filmed not in Abu Dhabi, but in Marrakech! For some reason, the crew couldn’t film it in Abu Dhabi (actually, when i was in Abu Dhabi, i was surprised how it could be filmed there, nothing in common), so they have spend 8 weeks shooting in Marrakech and around.
The hotel scenes were filmed at The Amanjena Hotel. The market scene where Carrie meets up with Aidan (John Corbett) was filmed in the Marrakech medina. All the desert scenes were filmed in the Western Saharan dunes south of Erfoud, just outside a small town of Merzouga. The dunes are called Erg Chebbi. Several scenes were shot in Rabat, which is the current capital of Morocco.
The Saadian tombs is the mausoleum of the Saadian dynasty sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603). They were discovered in the beginning of 20th century and renovated. This is beautiful and peaceful place with gardens full of roses and some nice decoration around. All of it makes it very popular place to see, so expect crowds around.
El Badi Palace
El Badi Palace is a huge ruined palace in Marrakech, which is still possible to see. It dates back to 16th century, when it was commissioned by sultan Ahmad al-Mansur of the Saadian dynasty sometime shortly after his accession in 1578. The palace once was a huge structure, but rapidly was forgotten after the fall of the dynasty. Still now it is possible to browse around it as the structure can be seen clearly and some underground rooms serves as exhibition area. Also for an extra fee it is possible to see one of the most unique wood pieces of art, which dates back to 12th century: restored minbar (kind of special stairs) that once stood in the Koutoubia Mosque
Try Camel burger
If you had enough of regular burgers, maybe it’s time to try the one, which is made from the camel. Famous Café Clock in the Kasbah area of Marrakech generally is a nice and modern place, which also got this special kind of burger in their menu. Camel meat is considered to be very healthy as it contains almost no fat in it. I have tried it and it tastes almost the same as ordinary beef, maybe just a bit more rough, so nothing ugly. Cafe itself is on the pricey side (don’t go just to eat, there are less pricey places), but it is worth it for this experience.
Royal Palace of Marrakech
Every city in Morocco got a Royal palace, which is always ready to meet and accommodate the King. It is not possible to enter inside of it, but it’s interesting to see it from the outside. Usually the palace got huge doors and very high walls around. It’s interesting to see these huge structure and try to imagine what’s inside of it.
Le Jardin Secret
This small garden inside the medina is a nice place to walk around for a while. It serves as a tourist attraction and pretty expensive to enter for Moroccan standards. The main benefit is that it is not so crowded as Jardin Majorelle and generally a nice place to enjoy without the crowds.
Marrocco is famous for it’s tanneries, which are inscribed as UNESCO Heritage site. The most famous are located in Fez and if there is one to see it will be definitely the one’s in Fez. Still the tanneries in Marrakech are worth seeing if you don’t plan to visit Fez. They will give you a good idea what it is. The main thing here is to be really very careful about the scammers around as tannery visit is one of the major scams in the city. If owner of the shop try to show you something or you accept someone’s help, make sure to tip them few dollars to avoid big problems. Anyone who reach you here expect to get some money in return.
Where to stay in Marrakech
Marrakech got a lot of different places to stay from super luxury to budget-friendly. Famous Riads (typical hotels) are good options to stay as an experience for a night or two, but generally speaking are not too comfortable for a longer stay.
If you want to have the best of two worlds and combine good time with authenticity, make sure to check Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech. The grounds of the hotel once were the place of the first luxury hotel in Marrakech, which was opened in 90’s. It was reopened few years ago after a big renovation and now is one of the major and largest hotels in Marrakech.
Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech impress you from the first steps: the entrance to the hotel, which is inspired by Mansour Eddahbi (former ruler of Morocco) is absolutely incredible and impress you by huge bird cages, the pathway with the fountains and huge installation, made in the form of a drop of a water in the lobby. With 3 pools, 7 buildings with the rooms for the guests, 5 restaurants, some special events (when i was there, local street artist put some cool works around the hotel), spa and gym this hotel from the famous Swiss chain is a great choice to stay while exploring Marrakech.
Also Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech got amazing breakfast buffet and traditional Moroccan style dinner, Spanish a-la carte restaurant with Spanish chef (feels very authentic, i was pleasantly surprised by the quality and how real it was) and cafe for daily doze of coffee and cake. From 5 to 6pm each Movenpick hotel serves complimentary tea and chocolates for all the guests.
My room was huge and got a “super-big” bed, amazing bathroom, very good cosmetics, large terrace, coffee machine, wardrobe room and everything to have the great time, relax and recharge. Very stylish and very comfortable!
Marrakech is a great travel destination: it knows what you want to see, you can have a good overview of Moroccan culture without having to sacrifice any comforts. So definitely a place just to enjoy and have fun and learn a lot during your time here!
Disclaimer: My stay in Marrakech was partly sponsored by Movenpick Hotels & Resorts. Still all opinions here are completely mine!