If a day and a half is all you’ve got in Marrakech, you’ve gotta jump right in and do it all. As one of the most vibrant cities in Morocco there’s options for everyone; whether you’re into shopping, relaxing, eating, exploring, photography – you can see and do it all in this deliciously exotic city.
Our suggestion? Make the most of your mornings, afternoons AND evenings, mix up your activities and fit in as much as you can. With that said, here are our top recommendations for the best things to do in Marrakech:
1. Marvel at the palaces, mosques and gardens
Marrakech has no shortage of beautiful architecture, and visiting the top tourist sites is a great way to kick start your time here. With countless gorgeous entryways, ornate ceilings, beautiful tile work and lush gardens, you’ll have a million photo ops at every stop. Check out the Bahia Palace, Jardin Majorelle, Ben Yousset Madrasa and Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret to check off the major attractions from your list.
2. Head to a Rooftop for lunch
The sun gets super-intense in the middle of the day so take a break and hit the shade with a rooftop lunch. There are tons of restaurants around the Jemaa el-Fnaa square with covered rooftop seating and you’ll get amazing views while you’re up there. Lunch is the perfect time to cool down and indulge in local favourites like the various delicious tagine dishes on offer.
3. Explore Jemaa el-Fnaa by day
If you think there’s a lot going on in Times Square, you’ll be floored by the chaos and energy of Jemaa el-Fnaa. Be prepared to get friendly with the locals and vendors as you explore endless rows and clusters of carts and makeshift booths, selling a million variations of Moroccan street food, souvenirs and services such as henna tattoos.
You’ll also find snake charmers, musicians and countless other characters in the square, each one ready and eager to entertain and barter the day away, which makes this one of the best things to do in Marrakech as a tourist.
4. Go for a swim
Temperatures remain pretty hot into the afternoon. The ultimate way to beat the heat and rest from your shopping extravaganza is in the cool waters of your hotel pool or riad. You’ve got a Mo-rockin’ night ahead of you, and some pool time is THE perfect way to recharge.
5. Start the night off with a traditional dinner and dance
No stay in Marrakech is complete without a Moroccan family style feast. Enjoy the scents and flavours of multiple tagines, tasty salads and rich deserts, while belly dancers and local musicians provide the perfect soundtrack and backdrop for your meal.
Look for some great spots around the square such as Azar (Rue Yugoslavia), Al Baraka (Place Jamâa El Fna) and Le Salama (Rue des Banques), and order our favourites like kefta tagine, couscous, zaalouk (eggplant salad) and chebakia for dessert.
6. Experience Jemaa el-Fnaa by night
The frenetic energy of Jemaa el-Fnaa is only escalated in the evening with lower temperatures and higher spirits. All of the vendors and carts light up beautifully like a carnival midway and the deals just keep on going into the night. If you haven’t opted for a sit-down Moroccan dinner feast (or just fancy extra munch or dessert) the street food is also bangin’ at this time of day.
7. Head upstairs for drinks
The rooftop restaurants around the square are the perfect place to re-visit for a relaxing evening drink. With the ultimate happy-yet-mellow ambiance provided by the Moroccan lanterns and local music pumping, enjoy some bevvies and shisha in the moonlight.
8. Visit a Berber Pharmacy
The perfect way to start your next and final morning in Marrakech is to beat the heat and get some real Moroccan retail therapy in the famous Berber Pharmacies. Here you’ll find the highest quality local spices, natural remedies and cosmetics, and a chance to score deals on Moroccan specialties like mint tea, argan oil and saffron.
With so many products to sample and the staff readily available to pitch you on their benefits, you’ll totes walk out with an armful of goodies you didn’t even know you needed.
9. Drink it all in
Staying hydrated in the heat is key, but water isn’t your only option. Opt for one of the dozens of fresh juice vendors in the square selling tropical blends and some of the sweetest orange juice you’ve ever tasted, or hit up a café or restaurant for a pot of Moroccan mint tea. Look out for Moroccan iced-tea options as well for a super refreshing take on the classic.
10. Souk shop ‘til you drop
Now that you’ve explored the main square, head towards the north end and venture into the shade of the maze-like Marrakech Souk for some serious shopping. Bring your best bartering skills and lots of Moroccan dirhams, because the shopping possibilities are endless and the deals are for the taking. With everything from lanterns, local clothing, rugs, spices, real leather goods, tea sets and all of the generic souvenirs you could ever want, this is the perfect place to take some photos and grab all of your Moroccan treasures before you leave.
As a general rule to barter for the best deal; ask for the price, half that price, half it again and start your counter offer there. You and the vendor will go back and forth with counter offers as you move a bit higher and they move a bit lower, and you should ultimately end up at around half of the original price. At the end of the day, if you’re not comfortable with the price, just say ‘no’ politely but firmly and walk away.
11. Go out with a wash
Now that you’ve thoroughly experienced the charm of Marrakech, give your body a fresh start in a traditional hammam. Here you can opt for a full body scrub and exfoliation which will leave you feeling reborn, and will end up being one of the best bonding experiences for you and your squad.
It’s definitely a cultural experience to write home about, and you may just end up bringing a glove and black soap home with you to try and recreate that level of cleanliness on your own. Try as you may however, you’ll never feel that Moroccan-hammam freshness once you leave, so embrace the semi-public nudity and give it a go.