Ultimate guide to Marrakesh



MARRAKESH

Marrakesh is the popular getaway to Moroccan culture. Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco, after Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. Nevertheless, the capital city of Morocco is Rabat. Marrakesh is a place that people either love or hate. It is a place where tourists need to adapt and show respect. Filled with many vibrant souks (markets), medieval old town or beautiful mosques and gardens. Marrakesh or so called "Red City" has established itself as a cultural, religious and trading center for the Magreb and sub-Saharan Africa.

Things to do and see

1. Jemaa el-Fna

It is apparently the busiest square in Africa. Jemaa el-Fna is the largest and main square in Marrakesh, packed by food, trading stalls, shops and entertainment street performances. It is located right at the heart of Medina (the old city). Visit the square during the day and night, you will find it buzzing from locals as well as from tourists.

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

2. Jardin Majorelle & YSL museum

The Majorelle Garden is a botanical harden created by the French artist Jacques Majorelle. Majorelle was forced to sell the house and land in 1950. After this, the garden was neglected and fell into disrepair. The garden and villa were rediscovered in the 1980s, by fashion designers, Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre BergĂ© who set about restoring it and saving it. Nowadays, this complex consist of the garden, YSL house and a Barber museum. 

Just next to Jardin Majorelle, you can find newly built Yves Saint Laurent museum dedicated to Yves's life in Marrakesh and as an iconic designer. You can purchase the combo ticket to save some money when sitting both sites. The entrance fee for both attractions is about 183 Moroccan Dirham.

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

3. Bahia Palace

Bahia Palace is a palace built in 19th century, and it is a perfect example to capture the essence of the Islamic and Moroccan style. This palace is divided into different rooms with spectacular ceiling details. Each room is opened to a small and large courtyard as well as to a beautiful garden. The entrance fee for the palace was about 70 DH.

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

4. Koutobia mosque

Koutobia mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh, located not far from Saadian tombs and Jemaa el-Fna square. Next to the large tower, you will find excavated remains of the first mosque. The building is built from bricks and sandstone. It is believed that the architecture style is very similar to the first mosque. As with any mosques in Morocco, non-muslims can't enter the mosques, so we can just admire the mosque and its gardens from outside. 

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

5. Saadian Tombs

The Saadian tombs, located nearby to Koutobia mosque, is dated to time of the Saadian dynasty sultan Amad al-Mansur. The museum consist of about 60 members of Saadi Dynasty. Outside of the building, you can visit the gardens and graves of soldiers and servants.

6. Menara gardens

The panorama of the Menara Gardens is one of the popular scenery of Marrakesh, due to the Atlas mountains in the background. The large green space with water basic and vegetation, is located a bit further from the old city, more less on the way to airport. The basis is about 150 m wide and about 200 m long. The pavilion in the middle of the lake against the mountains is the picturesque spot for many tourists. 

7. El Badi palace

El Badi palace is an architectural ensemble built at the end of the 16th century and located near to Bahia palace. The former palace was built by Saadian sultan Ahmed al-Mansur Dhabi. The palace's construction was funded by Portugese after the Battle of the Three Kings. The palace took about 15 years to build, it was completed in 1593. However, after the fall of the Saadians and the rise of the Alaouite dynasty, sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif demolished the building's content, materials and materials so he can use it to build a new palace at Meknes. 

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh
Ultimate guide to Marrakesh
Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

8. Marrakesh museum
Marrakesh museum is housed in the Dar Menebhi Palace, a former residence of Mehdi Mnebhi who was the defence minister of Abdelaziz of Morocco. The building is a great example of classical Andalusian architecture. Apart from extensive museum's collection, the building's highlight is the patio, courtyards and the decorations. 

8. Medina and souks of Marrakesh

If you are travelling to Morocco, you will be flooded with souks, and it is okay to get lost among them. Souks are Moroccan markets, where you will find everything. Simply everything. From spices, food, clothes, handcraft items, carpets to home decors. Always do negotiate if you shop at the markets, and don't ask for prices if you have no interest in buying it.

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

9. Bab Agnaou gate

Bab Agnaou is one of 19 gates of Marrakesh. It was built in the 12th century during Almohad dynasty. Do you know that Bab er Robb was the official entrance to the city. However, Bab Agnaou gave entrance to the royal kasbah in the southern part of the Media of Marrakesh. 

10. Dar Si Said museum

Another interesting and local museum in Marrakesh to visit is Dar Si Said. It is the oldest museum in the city that exhibits many craftsmanship work and art. The museum is officially called the Museum of Moroccan Arts.

11. Le Jardin Secret
A smaller "secret" gardens located just in the old city of Marrakesh is called Le Jardin Secret. Compared to the famous and popular Majorelle, Le Jardin Secret is an elegant 19th century palace complex with traditional Islamic gardens. Within the oasis of these gardens, you may visit also the tower for a view. 

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

12. Ben Youssef mosque

Ben Youssef Medersa mosque is one of the major landmark of Marrakesh old city, named after the Almoravid emir Ali ibn Yusuf. It is the oldest and one of the most important mosques in Marrakesh. Apart from the mosque, Medersa Ben Youseff served as a home for students as well.Yet again, it is unfortunately not accessible inside by non-Muslim visitors.

13. Cyber park

Cyber park is a large green space just nearby Koutobia mosque. The park which dates back in 18th century have many nice fountains or green space for a nice walk and chilling. Very popular among students and locals.

14. Ensemble Artisanal Marrakesh

This artistic and shopping complex consists of many small boutiques and studios where you can admire the craftsmanship of rugs, leather or straw decorations. You will find very similar items as you would in souks. Soaking up the vibrant souks in old medina can be very fun and experiential, but if you are looking for more relaxing alternative, definitely make a visit to Ensemble Artisanal.

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh


15. Marrakesh Tanneries

Tanning is the process of treating skins and hides of animals to produce leather. Sometimes also in a tannery, people process dies and other materials. Fez is the famous place for tanneries. However, Marrakesh has its own small place too. Located about 10 minutes away from Old Medina. 


Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Food & drink

Marrakesh is full of food stands and places to eat and chill. The only thing they are lacking off is supermarkets though!
Nevertheless, do taste local cuisine whenever you are travelling, and Marrakesh has many beautiful local places to offer. From traditional Moroccan restaurants to more modern places. What I loved the most in Marrakesh, was the endless choice of rooftop coffee shops and restaurants. Whilst admiring the beautiful view on the local life, you can even admire the amazing interior design. 
Make sure to always have cash with you, as not so many places accept cards. Below are some of the places you should check out:
1. Azar (great Moroccan/Lebanese dining with shisha and entertainment)
2. Zwin Zwin Cafe (Rooftop cafe and healthy dining place)
3. Le Salama (4 stores dining and bar place in Medina)
4. Nomad (A dining place with a rooftop)
5. Cafe Des Epices (A dining place with a rooftop)
5. Argana (Dining and cafe place at the market square)
6. Le Jardin (Garden dining restaurant in Medina)
7. Atay Cafe Food (3 store dining and cafe place in Medina)
8. La Table de la Kasbah (Rooftop cafe and dining place near Koutobia mosque)
9. Dar yacout (Moroccan restaurant)
10. Katsura (Japanese restaurant)

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Where to stay?

You must have heard that the best experiential place to stay is in Riads in Medinas. They are small guest houses with courtyards. Tourists love it, as they decorated in traditional Moroccan mosaics and colours. Usually riads are located in the Old Town. However, if you looking to stay outside of Medina, outside of the busy rush, you can look into many hotels via hotels.com or booking.com (make sure to use my link to get some discount off your first booking!)

During my stay in Marrakesh, I have stayed at Zwin Zwin boutique hotel which is located just 10 minutes away from Medina. Therefore, the location make it super convenient to get around the nearby tourist attractions. The other place is Dellarosa hotel suite and spa which is about half an hour from Medina by walk. Closer to the main train station, but the location was super clean and quiet. Surrounded by many higher class dining and bars, it was a great stay to relax and see the different part of Marrakesh.

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

How to get around

I have not used public transport in Marrakesh to be honest. The best way how I travel is by foot or getting a taxi. Accommodate yourself either in the old city or nearby, so it will ease your hassle to travel around. The old city is walkable easily and there is no other way of transports apart from bikes and motorcycles. Nevertheless, taxis are affordable and you can get them just outside of Medina or anywhere close to a tourist attraction. Make sure to always negotiate the price for a taxi before getting in, as they don't have meters.
On the other hand, if you are looking to travel outside of Marrakesh, you have 3 ways. Either you can either hire a car and plan your trip yourself.  Book a tour bus with a guide, or lastly, larger towns in Morocco are well connected by trains that are reliable, so you can use get on a train to explore.

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Trips out of the city

Marrakesh is beautiful and vibrant city, full of locals and tourists. However, don't get trapped and don't spend the whole holiday in there. Use your time to explore the surrounding. Go to trips to valleys, deserts and other smaller villages or towns. Morocco is beautiful itself and there is so much you should see. Whether you want more landscape, hiking or chilling, pick a tour and a trip suitable to your needs. There are plenty of tourist agencies in the city to help you book a tour, so don't be afraid to reach out and look out for what you want. Below are some great locations nearby Marrakesh that are worth to consider:

1. Dunes & Desert Quad     
2. Ourika
3. Lalla Takerkoust
4. Ouzoud Falls
5. Ouarzazate
6. Essaouira
7. Casablanca
8. Atlas mountains
9. Agadir
10. Desert camps

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

Ultimate guide to Marrakesh

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