Marrakech as a Destination

Marrakech is a vibrant city whose walled medina offers labyrinthine alleys, colourful souks and incomparable traditional architecture. This historic and cultural heart of Marrakech contrasts with the surrounding modern districts, creating a unique experience defined by history and fascination.

Upon arrival in the medina, where all of our charming Marrakech Riads are located, you will be enveloped by the aromas of saffron, cumin, cinnamon and leather wafting through the air. As you stroll through the narrow winding streets, artisans in their workshops offer everything ranging from carpets, to brass lamps and pottery, as well as handmade caftans. In our short guide for Marrakech, which is based on our own experiences, we have compiled the most exciting facts and main tips to make sure that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest:

  • Where to stay in Marrakech: Unique stays in hotels and riads.
  • Activities in Marrakech: Discovering the imperial city.
  • Gastronomy in Marrakech: Culinary delights in Marrakech.

Where to stay in Marrakech: Unique experiences in hotels and riads

Our charming boutique hotels and Riads in Marrakech are all located in the urban and lively heart of the medina of Marrakech and are also called riads (if more than five rooms) or dars (with less than five rooms). These mansions, with courtyards open to the top and in which the rooms meet, radiate a special charm - provided they have enjoyed a good restoration. They usually also have a roof terrace where you can relax with a cup of tea and enjoy the panoramic view of the Atlas Mountains. The architecture of these charming accommodations in Marrakech is also absolutely enchanting: hand-carved doors, colorful mosaics and exotic indoor plants transform your retreat into an oasis of relaxation, regardless of the hustle and bustle of the city. In addition to luxurious riads in Marrakech’s old mansions, you'll also find more affordable riads in distinctive homes with traditional decor. Some riads even have a swimming pool, which offers the perfect place to cool off on hot days, and a mini spa with massage facilities that will make you forget all your worries.

Many of the best riads in Marrakech also organize exciting excursions and cooking classes for the local cuisine. At the Palmeraie on the outskirts of Marrakech, for a small fee, you can completely relax your body and soul at the luxurious resort's swimming pool.

All our riads also offer a transfer service, although it is much more practical and cheaper to book everything before you arrive, as cab drivers occasionally are happy to raise prices for tourists. In addition, it is recommended that you do not drink tap water, brush your teeth with drinking water and, at best, dress more modestly out of respect for the local culture.

For a more detailed overview, feel free to browse the list of our, personally selected, best accommodations in Marrakech. In case you already have a more specific idea, our collection of accommodations in Marrakech can certainly help you decide:

What to do: Exploring the imperial city

The medina (or old town) is the heart and backbone of the city and consists of a maze of winding alleys, which can be overwhelming at times. The medina must be explored by foot, as parking is hard to find and cars should only be used for excursions outside the medina. Most tourists want to stay near Jamaa el Fna square, which is surrounded by souvenir stores, bars and restaurants, and just a few meters from the Kutubia Mosque, so it is overlooked by its minaret. However, we think it is more pleasant to book a beautiful hotel a little more off-center, as the atmosphere near the square is very agitated and the prices in the stores increase exponentially the closer you get to the square.

During the day, however, you'll find everything in the square: monkey tamers climbing monkeys, snake charmers, dentists displaying their latest teeth, a variety of orange juice and mint tea stands, and ladies mastering the art of henna tattoos. At sunset, the picture changes and you will find food stalls where you can have dinner or taste tapas (A side tip: pick the stall with the most Moroccans, it's usually the best), also musicians and different types of shows.

The best you can do in Marrakech is just to stroll the streets of the medina. Note that the mosques are only open to Muslims, but there are other religious sites, such as madrassas (schools) and some tombs, that are open to the public. The people are outgoing, talkative, and exceedingly friendly; they speak a variety of languages and have a talent for bargaining that they push to the limit. When entering a store, remember that no matter what you want to buy, you should negotiate a third off, this usually satisfies both parties. Never offer a price if you are not really interested in buying.

In addition, in the medina there are special areas where certain activities and businesses are concentrated, such as the souk of weavers, dyers, spice merchants, blacksmiths and tanners. To make things even more complicated, there are neighborhoods with their own character:

  • Old Medina (Medina): The historic heart of Marrakech with the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square. This is where you'll find bustling souks, markets, and a variety of traditional architecture.
  • Mellah: The old Jewish quarter, known for its narrow streets and historic buildings. Explore the unique architecture and learn about the history of the Jewish community in Marrakech.
  • Kasbah: This neighborhood is home to the Royal Palace and the beautiful Agdal Garden. In this quiet and less crowded area, you will be able to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Riad Zitoun Jdid: Known for its lush gardens and palaces, this neighborhood is an oasis of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the medina.
  • Bab Doukkala: This is the location of the local market for food and fresh produce. It is an ideal place to immerse yourself in the daily life of the inhabitants of Marrakech.
  • Bab Taghzout: This neighborhood is famous for its beautiful gates and architecture. Explore the winding streets and discover the charming stores and workshops.
  • Riad Laarous: This neighborhood is known for its relaxed atmosphere and is great for a leisurely stroll and exploring some charming riads and restaurants.
  • Sidi Bel Abbes: This neighborhood, where the mosque of the same name is located, is a place of pilgrimage with picturesque streets and authentic locals.
  • Bab Aghmat: Here is the famous Jardin Majorelle, a peaceful green oasis in the middle of the medina.

Especially worth seeing are the Spice Square, the Babi Palace, the Saudi tombs, the Kotubia, the Jardin Majorelle, the Yve Saint Laurent Museum, the Madrasa Ben Yousef, the Jardin Secret and of course the Jaama el Fna square.

The medina is like a maze, so take a map or use navigation apps to avoid getting lost.

The best time to visit this beautiful city is between October and June, as in summer the heat can be very oppressive. At night, on the other hand, the temperature can drop a lot (10 °C), especially in December, January and February, so you should also bring warm clothes.

Ramadan (religious fasting) takes place one month a year, although the month changes depending on the lunar calendar, which is different from ours. During this time, it is possible to travel, but people's mood can be somewhat affected during the day. Out of consideration for those who are fasting, it is advisable not to eat in public places during this time and to be patient, as everything can take a little more time during this period.

Be sure to try the hammam, the traditional Turkish bath of the Muslims. It is an extremely relaxing ritual in a sauna where you are rubbed with a black soap made of olive or argan oil, followed by a full body scrub with a glove to remove dead skin. There are public hammams, but from experience we recommend going to a tourist-oriented hammam. Always have cash on hand - you will find plenty of ATMs throughout the city, especially in the tourist and shopping districts.

What to eat: culinary delights in Marrakech

Some riads offer cooking classes that begin with a visit to the market to buy ingredients and haggle with the vendors - an enriching experience that allows you to immerse yourself in Moroccan food culture and learn how to prepare local dishes.

A typical Moroccan spice you can buy at the market is Ras el Hanout. This spice blend is an essential part of Moroccan cuisine and consists of a variety of aromatic ingredients such as cumin, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, coriander, cardamom and many other herbs and spices. It is used to enhance the flavour of dishes such as tajine, couscous and other stews, adding a touch of depth and complexity to Moroccan cuisine. Some typical dishes are:

  • Tajine: These stews in clay vessels are named for the cookware in which they are prepared. Ingredients may vary, but they usually include meat, vegetables, nuts, and spices.
  • Pastilla: A filled puff pastry that may be made of chicken, fish or pigeon and flavored with a mixture of spices and herbs. Usually the pastilla is sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  • Harira: This thick, rich soup is especially popular during the holy month of Ramadan. It is made with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, meat and a blend of spices that make it so delicious.
  • Mechoui: A lamb meat that is roasted for a long time, refined with a mixture of spices such as turmeric, cumin and pepper.
  • Briouats: Delicious triangles or dough rolls filled with meat, chicken, cheese or nuts and then fried until crispy and golden brown.
  • Tanjiya: A typical Marrakech dish, a meat stew that is marinated and slowly cooked in a clay oven. Spices such as Ras el Hanout are added and the dish is served in a clay pot.
  • Kefta: meatballs made of ground meat (usually lamb or beef) seasoned with spices such as cumin and coriander. They can be grilled or cooked in a tajine.

Moroccan sweets are an irresistible treat, from crispy baklava and pastilla (pastries filled with almonds or pistachios and dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon) to ghriba, sweet little almond or sesame morsels. Mint tea, served with pride and generosity, is a tradition rooted in the local culture and offers a combination of freshness and sweetness that perfectly complements the rich flavours of the food.

Breakfast is included in all our riads and usually consists of eggs, bread, "msemen" or "rghaif", a square, slightly crispy pancake that can be filled with cheese, jam or honey; olives, cheese, fresh yogurt and seasonal fruit, orange juice, tea or coffee.

Finding alcohol in Marrakech is a bit more difficult. However, it is more common in the tourist areas and many hotels and restaurants have a license to serve alcohol.