Day 1: Medinas and Markets
Everything in Marrakech goes on within the hustle and bustle of the Medina, the walled, most ancient part of the city. Spend a day soaking up the sounds, smells, and sights of this remarkable area, experiencing the souks and squares.
1. Wander Around the Medina
The most beautiful part of the Medina is its maze of narrow streets that transport you back in time. Throw your map in the garbage and lose yourself in the excitement while dodging donkeys and carts.
Admire the colors of the walls and buildings, the smells of the food and spices, and speak to friendly locals. It’s also possible to book a street food tour by night to discover a variety of flavors and local delicacies while exploring the markets.
Most unique of all is the sound of the call to prayer echoing among the narrow streets coming from the many mosques situated close by. To experience this high up, head to one of the many rooftop cafes to experience panoramic sounds and views.
2. Jamaa El Fnaa
At the heart of the Medina lies the world-famous Jamaa el Fnaa square. Walking through this square is an experience like no other! Feel the heat beating off the stone floor as you worm your way through snake charmers, entertainers, and street food stalls selling fresh juices.
By night, the square comes to life with music, with flute players, dancers, and artists all showing their talents under the twinkling lights of the stalls. This amazing demonstration of Moroccan culture is not to be missed!
Tip: Pickpockets happen in this area so always be wary and keep an eye on your belongings.
3. Explore the Souks
If the square is the heart, then the souks are the true soul of Marrakech. Wander just off the main square to discover an extraordinary labyrinth of markets. It’s easy to lose yourself in the covered markets and the network of tiny streets that all seem to look the same.
Don’t worry about this, and enjoy the fantastic colors of the textiles, the magical smells of the vibrant mountains of spices, the high-quality leatherwork, and the glittering lights bouncing off the lanterns and colored glassware. Make sure to visit the main souk: ‘Souk Semmarine’, located just off Jamaa el Fnaa. A little further away is the ‘Souk Place des Epices’, which is the traditional spice souk.
4. Find the Best Places to Eat and Drink
Marrakech has a great selection of traditional and fusion restaurants that serve up delicious tagine and couscous. Our personal favorite was Cafe Atay. There is also Cafe Clock, which is more of a fusion one but also very good!
Day 2: Incredible Architecture
Enjoy day 2 by jumping between beautiful buildings. See the traditional Moroccan architecture and designs of arches and blue tiles, but also the more innovative designs of artistic buildings and museums.
5. Stay in a Traditional Riad
Staying in a traditional riad (guesthouse) is the best way to see the stunning details of Moroccan architecture. On the outside, they are normally a sandy color with basic architecture. However, once you open the door, there is a whole different world. This is the link to the riad below in the photograph.
Later the house was bought by Yves St Laurent, who restored the house and botanical gardens to their former glory. This truly feels like a tropical oasis, with green plants from all over the world that look beautiful against the blues and yellows of the house.
7. Ben Youssef Madrassa
Explore a world of stunning symmetry, and intricately patterned mosaics, in this former Islamic school. Located near the medina, Ben Youssef Madrassa used to be the largest Islamic college in Morocco. Spend an hour or so here, admiring the beautiful Moroccan architecture, especially the remarkable interior terrace that’s centered around a tranquil pool.
8. Bahia Palace
This extraordinary palace, with 150 rooms, was built in the 19th century by the grand vizier of the sultan, who hoped for it to be the greatest palace of all time. Discover the traditional Moroccan architecture of the courtyards, filled with orange trees and fountains, and the beautiful stained glass windows and tilework.
Most impressive of all is the huge, luxurious marble courtyard at the center of the palace complex. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of the grand vizier, his family, and his many wives.
Note: Only a portion of the palace is available to see, but it’s definitely worth it, especially as it’s located just a 20-minute walk from Jamaa el Fnaa square. Entrance is 70 Dhs (7 USD), and it’s open Monday to Sunday from 8 AM – 5 PM.
9. A Day Trip to the Atlas Mountains
Take a day trip to the jaw-droppingly beautiful atlas mountains, situated just an hour or two drive away from Marrakech. Book a tour that offers a return journey to Marrakech and that takes you through beautiful valleys and traditional Berber villages. This is a perfect way to see some of the amazing nature in Morocco and get up to the cooler climates of the mountains.
Tip: Visiting in the winter? Take advantage of the fact you can go skiing in the Atlas mountains! If you’re visiting in summer, don’t forget that the mountains get a lot cooler as it approaches the evening, so make sure to take an extra layer.
10. Aït Benhaddou
Situated on the Atlas mountains south of Marrakech lies the movie-like scenery of Aït Benhaddou. Earthen, sandy buildings that make up this ancient village date back hundreds of years. The UNESCO site is exceptionally well preserved and allows travelers a glimpse into a simpler way of life.
Spend some time here, wandering through the village admiring the surrounding mountains, and enjoy a mint tea as the sun sets over the red clay. Experience Aït Benhaddou and explore the nearby Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate as part of a day tour (book your tickets here).
No trip to Morocco is complete without seeing the epic scenery of the Sahara Desert. Adventure by jeep or foot amongst the rippling sand dunes by day. By night, experience some of the most incredible stargazing in the world by a roaring campfire. Most drives to the Sahara take about 8 hours, stopping at villages and natural sights along the way. Because of this, it’s recommended to book a 2-3 day tour of the Sahara.
Tip: Looking for a desert day trip? Head for the nearby Agafay Desert instead! It might not be as impressive as the Sahara, but you’ll still find just as much adventure!
How to Get to Marrakech
Once you’re in Marrakech, all the sights are within walking distance of each other. Walking is the perfect way to see the city! However, if you plan to see more of Morocco, it’s worth it to rent a car to get around.
Where to Stay in Marrakech
Take the opportunity to stay in one of the beautiful riads! Whether you’re looking to splash a bit more cash or something a bit more budget-friendly, there is amazing accommodation for every kind of traveler in Marrakech.
Best Time to Visit Marrakech
The best time to visit Marrakech is in the shoulder seasons of March-May or September-November. In these months it will be beautifully warm and sunny but not too hot. The winter months can still be lovely and sunny and are a great time to visit if you want to ski in the Atlas Mountains.