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The Ultimate First Timer’s Travel Guide to Marrakech, Morocco

Located to the north of the foothills of the African Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is the fourth largest city of Kingdom of Morocco. It is often referred to as a city that can be overwhelming to your senses with its various scents, sights, and colors mixing together leaving visitors in a state of utter amazement and disbelief. Incredible architecture, history, and culture completely different to what is known to average Westerner makes Marrakech one exotic destination definitely worth visiting and exploring.

What to do in Marrakech walking map

Morocco 9 Day itinerary Travel Video:

The Best Things To Do in Marrakech in 48 Hours:

Marrakech is without a doubt a must-see on everyone’s Moroccan itinerary guide. Marrakech is the type of city that will make you want to stay for days.  Luckily if you do it right, you can get a great taste of this cultural city in 2 days. In this guide we are sharing our favorite spots and things you must do in Marrakech.

Walk around the Jemaa El Fna

Large square jemaa El Fena (assembly place of the nobodies) at the entry to the Medina is the center of Marrakech life bustling with life and colors, filled with musicians, storytellers, fortune-tellers and snake charmers. If it all becomes a bit too much, you can find rest on one of the many surrounding rooftop cafes and restaurants where you can overlook the hustle and bustle from above.

Tip: Be careful as you can get scammed if you partake in anything that looks “free”. You should always be aware of your surroundings while traveling anywhere in the world, but especially when visiting areas like this.

Get lost at the Medina Souks

The Ultimate First Timer's Travel Guide to Marrakech, Morocco

Trade and commerce have been thriving in Marrakech souks for over a thousand years and all that passed with omnipresent overwhelming vibrant sights, smells and sounds are a unique experience that you have to prepare yourself for.  There are two main routes into the heart of Medina souks, rue Semarine (aka Souk Semarine) and rue Mouassine.

Before taking a stroll past stalls and shops specializing in pottery, pâtisseries, textiles, spices, carpets, jewelry and all kind of other craftsmanship definitely learn how to say NO and brush up on your negotiating skills!

The medina souks can make you feel overwhelmed as it seems never-ending, but the best thing to do is just to go with the flow and enjoy your time waling around.

Tip: Remember to always bargain and never pay the full price. Prices are doubled and shop owners are ready to bargain the prices.

Visit the Ben Yossef Madrasa

Visit the Ben Yossef Madrasa

An educational institution founded in the 14th century and rebuilt by Canadians in the 16th century, over the period of 4 centuries it has hosted and educated students in the fields of different sciences as well as theology. A fine example of Moorish architecture displaying Moroccan art, colors, and ornaments, the Madrasa is one of the most visited buildings in the Marrakech. 

➳ Opening hours are Monday – Sunday, 8am to 5pm. Price : 22 DH

Tip: Go upstairs and see the courtyards from the rooms and take photos across the courtyard from the windows.

Take a photo of the Koutoubia Mosque

Take a photo of the Koutoubia Mosque

Marrakech’s most famous symbol is the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque. Although it is only 77 meters high due the local topography and a rule that any other building in Medina cannot be higher than a palm tree, the Koutoubia mosque rules over its surroundings. As it is still an active place of worship non-Muslims may not enter but it is possible to get a good view of the exterior by walking around either side.

Explore the Bahia Palace

Explore the Bahia Palace

A magnificent example of Moroccan architecture originating from the late nineteenth century, The Bahia Palace is located along the northern edge of the district Mellah or Jewish quarter. The Bahia Palace came to be after a set of houses were converted into a palace with the best workmen and craftsmen of the country working continuously on it for six years (1894-1900).

Today, only one part of the Palace’s eight hectares and 150 rooms are open to the public, but there is enough of the area open to enjoy the finest examples of the intricate floor to ceiling ornamental decorations, lavish interior, endless mosaics and gardens.

It is open Monday to Sunday from 8am to 5pm.  The ticket cost 10 DH.

Go inside the Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts

Located in a palace that itself is a work of art with stunning cedar wood complete with intricate carvings, Dar Si Said Museum speaks of times past and customs with a display of items that are still pretty much in use in some of the mountainous regions of Morocco.

The museum features amazingly decorated weapons, decorative clothing, traditional Berber jewelry and an incredible variety of carpets from around the world, a small courtyard with exquisitely decorated doors and window frames. They all make Dar Si Said Museum a relaxed and enjoyable Marrakech hideaway.

Opening hours are Wednesday to Monday,  9 am to 4:45 pm. Price: 10 DH

Visit the Marrakech Museum

Visit the Marrakech Museum

Within Mnebhi Palace, a fine example of classical Andalusian architecture is located the Marrakech museum exhibiting a collection of Moroccan art forms, both modern and traditional. With a display of historical books, coins and pottery explore Berber, Moroccan Jewish and Islamic cultures that have all marked life in the area.

Opening hours are 9am to 7pm, to 6pm from October through March. Price: 50 DH

Walk around the Almoravid Koubba

Walk around the Almoravid Koubba

The Almoravid Koubba is an oldest building and shrine in Marrakech situated next to the Museum of Marrakech built in 1117. Part of it was used as a place where believers could wash before prayers.  The interior is stunning with its rich floral decorations and calligraphy.

Pay attention to the oldest inscription in cursive Maghrebi script in North Africa at the entrance and at the top of the prayer room: It was created for science and prayer, by the prince of the believers, descendant of the prophet, Abdallah, most glorious of all Caliphs. Pray for him when you enter the door, so that you may fulfill your highest hopes.

Walk around the Mellah Marrakech

The Mellah in Marrakech is an area where the Jewish community resided. Mellah is a reminder of  Morocco’s rich history where Arab and Jewish communities lived and worked alongside, respecting each other’s differences.The Mellah reached its peak in the 1500s with Mellah Jews working there as bakers, jewelers, tailors, sugar traders, artisans and craft people.

Today, in Mellah the Lazama Synagogue is still used for religious purposes and is open to the public. Next to the Mellah, is the Jewish Cemetery

Take photos at the Majorelle Gardens

Take photos at the Majorelle Gardens

To find a refuge from Marrakech’s hot sun and business of its streets, visit Majorelle garden. Majorelle garden is a twelve-acre botanical garden designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s. It took him 40 years in total to create this wonderful retreat marked by Moorish charm, with a hint of Art Deco and painted in vibrant primary colors, with an intense blue the artist perceived in the Atlas Mountains. Inside you will find over 300 different types of plant species including beautiful cacti, agave and bougainvillea.

The property was saved by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1980’s from being destroyed and converted into a hotel. After Yves Saint Laurent who owned the garden since the 1980s died, his ashes were scattered in the garden. On the premises is also located Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, with a collection of North African textiles from Saint-Laurent’s personal collection as well as ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by Majorelle.

It is open every day of the year with the following hours:

  • October 1 – April 30: 8 am to 5:30 pm
  • May 1 – September 30: 8 am to 6 pm
  • The month of Ramadan: 9 am to 5 pm

The price to visit the Garden is 66 DH and to visit the Museum is 33 DH.

The Saadian Tombs

The Saadian tombs date back from the time of the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, from the 16th century. The sultan spared no expense on his tomb making himself one glorious mausoleum in gold,  Italian marble, and decorative plasterwork.  The tombs are accessible only through a small passage in the Kasbah Mosque and remained hidden until aerial photography exposed them in 1917.

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm. Price: 10 DH

Kasbah mosque

One of the biggest and second-best-known mosques in Marrakech dates from the year 1190.  After the restoration, it is still used for prayers with the entrance being strictly prohibited to non-Muslims.

Marrakech tanneries

Known for its leather goods, the tanneries have been around since the Medina was founded over a thousand years ago. As with most things in Marrakech, the experience is often an overload of smells and colors and can be heavy on sight too while watching men working by using pre-industrial age techniques.

What should you eat in Marrakech?

I did not grow up eating different types of food, so no matter where I travel I find it really hard to eat local food. Yet, on this trip my husband, Steven, told me I needed to eat Tagine. It is one of the most popular traditional Moroccan dishes. I am happy that I did, as it is one of the most delicious dish I have ever eaten. Tagine is typically offered with several different options of meat or veggies, making it a safe bet for all different types of eating restrictions.

Where to stay in Marrakech?

While you are in Morocco we strongly recommend you to stay at riads, which are traditional Moroccan houses turned into guesthouses. It has the vibes of a boutique hotel and it is built around a courtyard or garden. We stayed at two different riads.

While looking for a riad try to stay inside the medina, as it gives you easy access to most of the top things to do and see in Marrakech.

Luxury option: Riad Star

Have you ever felt like you are entering a new world? Stepping through the doors of the Riad Star we became a prince and princess in a Moroccan fairytale.

Read More: Luxury accommodation in Marrakech

Budget Friendly: Sherazade Hotel

Our stay at the Sherazade Hotel at the heart of the medina was an oasis in the bustling city. The small and intimate riad provides amazing personalized service to all its guests.

Read More: Budget Friendly accommodation in Marrakech

Follow along on with our complete daily itinerary with more behind the scenes photos and videos on our TraveLibro account.

More articles from Morocco that might interest you:

Read More: The Complete Walking Guide of Fes Morocco

Read More: The Ultimate 9 Day Itinerary to visit Morocco 

Read More: 14 Photos to inspire you to visit Essaouira

Read More: 14 Photos to inspire you to visit Chefchaouen

Read More: Budget Friendly accommodation in Marrakech

Read More: Glamping Guide: The Best Luxury Camp in the Sahara Desert in Morocco

Read More: Luxury accommodation in Marrakech

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Travelling to Marrakech for the first time? Check out this first-timer's guide to Marrakech, Morocco. An endless sensory and cultural experience awaits! The best things to do in Marrakech in two days The best things to do in Marrakech in two days

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Abdeloihid Aouragh

Tuesday 16th of January 2018

Interesting to read your experience, I went to Morocco with my girlfriend and we were quite fine. Morocco is great with a lot of beautiful places to explore. Except the Jemma el Fna Square and few other places in Marrakech, it was all fun. With all the places left to visit, I do think I will make Morocco an immediate priority. It's a beautiful country and your photos show everything about it. Thanks for the heads up! ;)

Travel To Blank

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

Yes, Morocco is such an amazing and unique country!

lakshmi

Thursday 3rd of August 2017

Marrakech sounds like an amazing place to visit. The photographs are beautiful too.

Farah

Monday 31st of July 2017

Such beautiful images of the cityy. I really need to visit Marrakech!!! Great job on this post. F

Jivi

Monday 31st of July 2017

This post took me right back to my time in Marrakech, and showed me some things that I missed last time and will have to catch up on in the future. Thank you, for the beautiful journey and photographs!