21 Things to do in Marrakech
21 Things to do in Marrakech: A culturally rich gem straddling the Sahara Desert and set against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is an exciting city teeming with history, art and architecture, a melting pot of old and new that never ceases to amaze travelers with its bustling markets, well-preserved monuments and incredible flavors.
21 Things to do in Marrakech
If you’re looking for a new adventure or some time away from your everyday life, this Moroccan destination offers a plethora of activities to keep you busy not only during the day (from traditional craft markets to unusual museums) but also at night: rooftop bars, belly dancers, boat cruises, you name it!
So, if you’re looking for some of the most exciting things to do in Marrakech, look no further. Morocco‘s sun-drenched red city and its famous medina with its red sandstone walls await you.
1 – Admire the magnificent Bahia Palace
The Palais de la Bahia, with its finely decorated walls and domes and sprawling courtyard, is an architectural masterpiece – one of many in this ancient city.
Built in the late 19th century, the palace is now a museum open to the public, and curious visitors can wander through its fabulous rooms and lush gardens.
Today, it’s one of Marrakech’s most impressive sites, which is why many visitors opt for a guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. For the best value, consider a tour that also stops at the equally impressive 16th-century Grand Badii Palace.
2 – Explore the Palmeraie
Home to over 100,000 submerging palm trees, some of which have stood for almost 1,000 years, the Palmeraie is the very definition of an oasis, ideally located on the northern outskirts of the city.
As you explore the peaceful palm-fringed paths on foot, camel or quad bike, it’s hard not to get lost in this tranquil paradise.
3 – Immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere of Place Djemaa el Fna
21 Things to do in Marrakech: The bustling, world-famous Place Djemaa el Fna is the city’s most important square and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right.
The hustle and bustle of traders, storytellers, musicians and many others, scattered around the square every day to delight locals and tourists alike, is a colorful demonstration of traditional Moroccan culture.
The square is also home to an abundance of food stalls offering local specialties, including the famous Moroccan pastries. While there’s no harm in wandering around on your own, to discover the authentic hidden gems, a walking tour accompanied by a local is your best bet.
4 – Relax in one of the city’s magnificent gardens (notably Majorelle)
Marrakech is a city with no shortage of tranquil, colorful gardens, and its green spaces offer a wonderful escape from the chaos of the streets.
The Majorelle Garden, named after its creator Jacques Majorelle – and subsequently purchased by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in 1980 – is one of Marrakech’s most famous gardens. The exterior is as much a feast for the eyes as the interior, thanks to art deco architecture and an incredible collection of plants.
Yet it’s far from the city’s only breath of fresh air…
Les Jardins de la Ménara, almost a thousand years old, (another UNESCO World Heritage site) is set around a lake with enchanting sunset colors; Anima Garden, the work of artist André Heller, is packed with unusual spaces and sculptures; the Secret Garden, known for its air of luxury, is attached to a palace and features a boutique and bookshop; and the Arsat Moulay Abdeslam Cyber Park (or Cyber Park for short), offers charming ornaments and fountains in its botanical garden, as well as an interactive telecommunications museum and children’s play area.
As you can see, wherever you stay, a breath of fresh air is never far away.
5 – Spend a day exploring Marrakech’s Medina
21 Things to do in Marrakech: Marrakech’s magical Medina is an ancient city within a city, originally an Islamic capital dating back to the 11th century.
Today, its labyrinth of cobbled alleyways is home to some of the country’s finest souks, hammams and madrasas (Islamic schools), testimony to its rich history – not to mention the fact that they all make incredible photo subjects!
A range of walking tours pass through this popular district, and some stop off at the Bahia Palace and Secret Garden, but exploring on your own is also a good idea.
6 – Explore the Agafay desert on a quad bike
The Agafay Desert is a beautiful section of the Sahara that lies just outside Marrakech, and it’s one of Morocco’s most popular spots for quad biking, sandboarding and camel riding.
Tourists visiting Morocco will find quite a bit of information about the desert, but for those who’d like to explore the region a little more, many excursions also include visits to the Atlas Mountains and the sparkling lake of Takerkoust.
Star gazers, take note: make every effort to spend the night at one of Agafay’s desert campsites.
7 – Take a walking tour of Marrakech’s old town
21 Things to do in Marrakech: Covering countless themes, from modern market tours to gastronomic strolls, Marrakech walking tours are the ideal way for visitors of all ages and backgrounds to immerse themselves in the vibrant heart of this lively city.
For those who want a deeper insight into daily life here – without having to experience it themselves – there are also many tours that stop off near local monuments, mosques and houses.
On a tight budget? Then simply join a free walking tour and tip as much as you like!
8 – Hiking in the Atlas Mountains
A wonderful option for a day trip, hiking in the Atlas Mountains is a great way for travelers to see (and experience) the best of nature.
These excursions don’t just involve hiking through untouched wilderness: they also offer many opportunities to learn more about Moroccan life and traditions, including visits to local shepherds, traditional Berber festivals and swimming in natural pools.
Be sure to choose a tour that includes a stop at Ait Ben Haddou, a postcard-worthy, fortified ancient town that has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1987.
9 – Stroll through the halls of the Marrakech Museum
An activity for culture lovers and art enthusiasts alike, the Musée de Marrakech, housed inside the Dar Menebhi palace, is a wonderful place to explore the rich history and traditions of the region.
With a sprawling collection covering everything from ancient artifacts to weapons, jewelry, musical instruments, pottery, tiles and intricate carpets, there’s so much to see here, not to mention regularly changing exhibits, that repeat visits are almost essential.
10 – Fly over the city in a hot-air balloon
21 Things to do in Marrakech: To see the beautiful city of Marrakech from a whole new angle, it’s well worth booking a hot-air balloon flight over the region.
As well as offering breathtaking views – and plenty of photo opportunities – these excursions also provide a glimpse of rural Moroccan life, offering an incredible contrast between the city and the desert, and the Atlas Mountains.
the best possible experience, Pair your sunrise flight with a camel ride and berber breakfast!
11 – Ride a camel in the Sahara Desert!
When people think of Morocco, they often think of the Sahara Desert – and rightly so!
Just outside Marrakech, a visit to the desert is an experience everyone should have had at least once. Enjoy breathtaking views as you explore this austere environment set between the humps of these beautiful creatures, and learn about the traditions of the nomadic Berber tribes along the way.
If you can’t make up your mind, both Zagora and Merzouga are popular choices, allowing you to easily integrate a visit to Ouarzazate and Fez, the country’s second largest city.
12 – Visit the Orientalist Museum in Marrakech
Another (small but great) museum to visit while you’re in Marrakech is the Orientalist Museum: this is a wonderful place dedicated to the preservation of Moroccan art and culture, and also showcases various Western European art movements.
Located next to the picturesque Riad Star, the museum boasts an incredible collection of paintings and sculptures (including by Delacroix and Majorelle) and is considered one of the best things to do in Marrakech for culture lovers.
Exhibitions change regularly, so be sure to check the website to see what’s on before you go!
13 – Cycle around town
21 Things to do in Marrakech: Cabs and tourist buses? Nah. For those with energy to spare, it’s worth booking a bike tour of the city.
With cycle paths through the medina and beyond, cycling is a great way to see this fascinating part of Morocco and get off the beaten track, especially if you’re looking for routes that avoid heavy pedestrian traffic.
Combining history lessons with a bit of exercise, either on a mountain bike tackling the Atlas Mountains or the Ourika Valley, or on a bike through the city center, these tours are a great way to get a new perspective, learn a thing or two from expert guides and leave you with many memories.
14 – Step back in time at the Saadian Tombs
After a few days exploring this fascinating city, it’s time to dive deeper into the past and discover a bit of history!
The Saadian Tombs, located in the city’s Royal Kasbah district, are an incredible example of the breathtaking architecture of the Saadian period, and served as a resting place for the royalty of yore.
In all, more than 66 princes and personalities of historic importance lie in the Saadian tombs, and hundreds of chancellors and wives are spread across the two mausoleums and the wonderful gardens.
Although the tombs have been open for decades and can be visited on your own (with the help of a few maps available at reception), a guided tour is well worthwhile to learn more about their historical significance.
15 – Take a (surf) day trip to Essaouira
Once you’ve spent a few busy days exploring Marrakech and its surrounding sites, why not escape for a day to Essaouira, a beautiful and colorful coastal town?
Just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Marrakech (Supratours buses have regular departures), this seaside town is renowned as one of Morocco’s top destinations for surfing enthusiasts (many courses are offered), but it’s also worth a detour for its unique architecture and lively medina.
Don’t forget to visit the peaceful beach of Diabat, or head for the stone ramparts of the city’s fortified walls, home to some excellent cafés where you can relax with a drink (or a delicious Moroccan sandwich) while taking in the sights and sounds of this beautiful city.
16 – Discover fashion at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent
If you’re a fan of fashion, it’s well worth visiting the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, an impressive museum that offers a fascinating look into the creative mind of a man focused on fashion.
Located in the heart of Marrakech, a stone’s throw from the Majorelle Gardens, this unique attraction houses a diverse collection: some 5,000 garments, 15,000 accessories and tens of thousands of sketches dot the museum, many of which come from the Pierre Bergé Foundation.
Even the museum itself, adorned with exquisite architecture, is impressive.
17 – Jump on a multi-stop bus
21 Things to do in Marrakech: For those who want to see the majority of Marrakech’s main attractions, taking a ticket to get around easily and affordably on a double-decker bus is definitely worth it!
These big red buses run on set routes through Marrakech’s main districts: with buses passing every 20 minutes, you can simply hop on and off as you wish, without having to worry about finding your way around the city.
What’s more, audio commentaries are included, so you’re sure to learn a thing or two about the city’s history, architecture and culture along the way.
18 – Explore the bustling souks
A must for foodies, a food- or shopping-themed tour by a local through one of Marrakech’s bustling and colorful souks is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Each adventure is different, but you’ll travel through the labyrinthine souks and discover local traditions and customs while sampling various delicacies along the way. You’ll stop at stalls selling spices (like saffron or cumin), colorful fruit juices, sweets galore – like dried fruit dipped in sugar syrup – and much more!
19 – Get your heart racing with a buggy ride
Usually lasting between 2 and 4 hours (depending on the adventure of your choice), a buggy tour near Marrakech, over the rugged or open terrain of places like the palm grove or the rocky desert, is a great activity for any thrill-seeker’s bucket list.
Not only are these all-terrain vehicles the perfect way to explore Marrakech’s beautiful surroundings, whether on slow-paced tours or bumpy desert adventures, but you’ll also be picked up and returned to your hotel, and tours often include a lip-smacking lunch!
20 – Dine at the Arabian Palace!
A great way to round off a busy day exploring the city is to visit one of the city’s refined yet fairly affordable (by Western standards) restaurants.
A feast for the stomach and the eyes, thanks to its varied entertainment, from traditional singers to belly dancers, snake charmers and circus performers, the Palais Arabe, a restaurant housed in a magnificent Oriental-style building on Djemma El Fna square, is a must-visit in Marrakech!
21 – Discover the carpets of the Boucharouite Museum
21 Things to do in Marrakech: For an interesting insight into one of Morocco’s oldest and best-loved crafts, stop off at the Musée Boucharouite, a museum dedicated to Berber carpets.
Fascinating exhibits show how these beautiful pieces are made: from dyeing and spinning the wool to weaving and finishing, which requires expert design work. And while not strictly speaking a craft museum, visitors can also watch weavers in action during certain exhibits.
What’s more, the museum’s curator and founder, Patrick de Maillard, lives on site, sharing many stories and laughs about his collection.