Top Things to Do and See (and Eat!) in Marrakech
There was quite a buzz in Morocco after TripAdvisor recently released the 2015 awards…. Imagine our delight and pride in learning that Marrakech was rated #1 World Travel Destination! We can’t say that we’re surprised – Marrakech has an unmistakable vibrancy and boundless energy. Of course we’re a bit biased, being Moroccan and all, but let us share with you what we consider to be the Top Things to Do in Marrakech.
Wander through the souks of Marrakech’s medina
A labyrinth of mostly covered alleys awaits! Just as the souks of Fes, the various souks of Marrakech’s medina are sorted by craft or specialty and as a practical sense, are named accordingly. Skins are tanned, dyed and sold for a final product of beautiful leatherwork. Cures for whatever ails you, along with traditional spices with proven medical benefits, can be found in a traditional Berber pharmacy. Rugs and carpets abound; some of the most interesting are from Berber villages in the nearby High Atlas Mountains. The metalwork souk is punctuated by the sounds of hammering brass and copper. The Dyer’s Souk vivid display of freshly dyed wool and silk is a sight to behold. And this is just the start…
Jemaa El Fna Square: the heart and soul of Marrakech
By day, Jemaa El Fna Square is filled with snake charmers, henna artists, dancing monkeys, and even a dentist or two! But it’s at night when the square truly comes alive with more exotic acts such as belly dancers and storytellers, and hundreds of food vendor stalls offering quick eats such as dried fruits and nuts, fruit juices, snails and sandwiches. Take in all of the action from one of many coffee shops and tea houses bordering Jemaa El Fna; their rooftop terraces offer great views as you unwind with your beverage of choice.
Koutoubia Mosque: Unmistakable icon of Marrakech’s medina
Perhaps the most easily recognizable symbol of Marrakech, the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque dominates the skyline of the medina. Reaching nearly 70 meters high, the minaret can be seen for miles, and with its wide base, Koutoubia Mosque is considered one of the largest in the Western Muslim world. Started shortly after the Almohad dynasty took control of Marrakech, it was completed under Sultan Yacoub el Mansour by 1199. Koutoubia Mosque takes its name from the hundreds of booksellers and scribes which used to occupy the streets surrounding it. Inside the architecture is stunning – beautiful horseshoe arches mark lines for prayer. It is not open to non-Muslims.
El Bahia Palace: A glimpse into the life of a vizier and his harem
Step inside El Bahia Palace and its gardens, and you can easily imagine the luxurious and sensual lifestyle of a grand vizier and his harem. Originally built in 1866 by Si Moussa, the palace was later enlarged and richly decorated by his son, Ba Ahmed. Sparing no cost for master craftsmen to work with materials from all over Morocco, the spacious palace is beautiful with carved stucco, cedar, painted woodwork and zellige.
Majorelle Garden: A tranquil oasis in Marrakech
In need of some respite after visiting the medina and its souks? Visit the Majorelle Garden, a quiet oasis covering more than two acres in Marrakech’s Ville Nouvelle (“new town”). Jacques Majorelle, a French artist born in 1886 was enchanted by Marrakech and built his home and studios on the site. Also an amateur botanist, Majorelle designed an exquisite garden surrounding his villa which was ultimately opened to the public and later bought by Yves Saint Laurent. Exotic plants, trees and cacti are showcased among fountains and pathways against the hallmark cobalt blue hue of the buildings. Onsite is a museum devoted to Berber art and culture, as well as a restaurant-café, where you can relax with a glass of mint tea and some traditional Moroccan pastries.
Discover Marrakech’s regional food specialty: Tangia
The Red City is known for “tangia marrakchia”, Marrakech’s version of slow-cooked meat, where chunks of lamb or beef, seasoned with olive oil and a proprietary blend of spices, are stuffed into a tall clay jar, sealed and then taken to a communal oven. The ovens are tended throughout the day, and wood shavings are piled onto the fire to ensure slow-roasting and succulent, flavorful and oh-so-tender meat. Traditionally a bachelor’s dish, tangia is served throughout restaurants in Marrakech. One of our favorite restaurants to serve tangia, is Lamine, located in Gueliz neighborhood of Marrakech. Popular with Moroccan families and tourists alike, Marrakech’s mild weather makes sitting at the outdoor tables a pleasant experience, with a touch of quirky, as the tables are made from repurposed sewing machine stands. If your taste buds crave a bit of heat, don’t miss Lamine’s homemade hot sauce which is served on the side – it takes the tangia to another oh-so-delicious level!
In order to get the most out of your visit of the Red City, we recommend a private guided visit of Marrakech. We work with the best English-speaking drivers and guides throughout Morocco to ensure you an unforgettable and authentic experience! The areas surrounding Marrakech are beautiful, too – with departures from Marrakech, our private day trips offer you the best travel choices and services within Morocco! Contact us today to start planning your dream vacation to Morocco.