Marrakech in Morocco: Everything You Need to Know

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landscape of palm trees and the atlas mountains in marrakech morocco
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Marrakech, Morocco’s fourth-largest city, is its most famous tourist destination, offering unique cultural experiences within its ancient streets. Explore Marrakech, a city rich in culture and history, from navigating its diverse neighborhoods to uncovering must-visit attractions.

This guide provides essential insights into getting around famous districts and the best places to explore, dine, shop, and stay. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Marrakech.

Getting Around Marrakech

The best way to explore Marrakech is on foot since most attractions are near the medina. You can also take a fun horse-drawn carriage (calèche) or ALSA’s Tourist Buses to get around.

You can reach Marrakech by train from Casablanca’s airport or continue to Marrakech Menara Airport. From there, taxis, ALSA buses, or hotel airport shuttles are available for transportation to the city center.

Popular Neighborhoods of Marrakech

Marrakech has five central neighborhoods: Medina, Mellah, Gueliz, Hivernage, and Chrifia. Each one has its unique vibe. If you’re planning a visit, check out these neighborhoods to find the one that suits your preferences and budget.

Medina

Medina in Marrakech is an old area where you can experience authentic traditions. It has affordable hotels in alleys near the Souks (markets). People there are friendly and known for their hospitality. Most hotels are Riads with regional crafts.

A night in a Riad can cost between 200 and 700 Dhs per person, based on your choice.

Mellah

Mellah, situated close to Medina, is another historic city area. It was once home to only Jews and now has a Jewish Cemetery. Like Medina, it has a Souk, but it’s only very safe to stay in Mellah if you want to rent or buy a Riad.

Gueliz

Gueliz is one of the newer parts of Marrakech. Modern restaurants, friendly hotels, bars, clubs, supermarkets, and small art galleries exist.

The hotels there are for middle- and upper-class people, with a night’s stay costing over 1000 Dhs, depending on your preferences.

In Gueliz, take advantage of the stunning ‘Jardin de Majorelle’ and the ‘Matisse Art Gallery.’

Hivernage

Hivernage combines tradition and luxury, attracting wealthy people and celebrities like David Beckham and Angelina Jolie.

The hotels are expensive, over 10,000 Dhs per night, but it’s a calm, charming, and safe area. Celebrities, including Maître Gims, choose to own property here.

Chrifia

Chrifia is a popular area for the middle class, filled with residential buildings and villas. An average apartment cost around 250,000 Dhs. Hotels in Chrifia are often villas with pools, and a night’s stay can be 3000 Dhs or more.

Like Hivernage, Chrifia offers a calm and beautiful environment. Living here means easy access to grocery stores, schools, local markets, hair stylists, and spas.

Best Places to Visit in Marrakech

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Let’s explore the must-visit spots in Marrakech for a memorable experience.

Jardin Majorelle

French artist Jacques Majorelle designed this garden with many cacti and a stunning blue Art Deco house.

Why visit? Get your phone cameras ready – Jardin Majorelle’s artistic cacti and vibrant blue villa are perfect Instagram-worthy spots. Majorelle’s studio also hosts the Berber Museum, displaying a diverse traditional Moroccan jewelry and fashion collection.

Bahia Palace

Bahia Palace, meaning ‘beautiful palace,’ was built in the late 19th century. It’s the cultural center with stunning decor, including high, gilded ceilings, paintings, mosaics, and a big garden to explore. Why visit? Find a shady spot and enjoy the beauty for hours.

Jemaa el-Fna

The big square in the middle of Marrakech’s old town is famous and a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll find snake charmers, street performers, and henna artists everywhere. Locals and tourists gather at Jemaa every night for the lively atmosphere and street performances.

Why visit? Try food from the stalls, listen to music, go to a rooftop bar, and watch the sunset.

Maison de la Photographie

What is it? A three-story riad is now a gallery showing vintage Moroccan photos by Patrick Menac’h and Marrakshi Hamid Mergani. The pictures capture Morocco’s lifestyle and landscapes from 1870 to 1950. Things have stayed remarkably similar over the century.

Why visit? Explore Morocco’s history at Maison de la Photographie and enjoy lunch with a view at the rooftop café.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent

The French designer loved Marrakech so much that he bought Jardin Majorelle in 1980. Now, the nearby Musée Yves Saint Laurent celebrates his fashion legacy with hundreds of garments from his 40-year career.

Why visit? The YSL collection is impressive, and the museum has a beautiful café, bookshop, library, and auditorium.

Musée des Confluences

The former governor’s palace, once owned by Thami El Glaoui, is now the Musée des Confluences. It displays Patty Birch’s archaeological collection and explores the blend of Eastern and Western cultures.

Why visit? It’s a stunning palace with intricate details, including cedar ceilings and floral motifs in the stucco work. Take advantage of the best cafe in Marrakech, Bacha Coffee House, offering over 40 brews in a beautiful setting.

Musée de Mouassine

A gem of 16th-century Saadian architecture, this douiria (guest apartment) was built by a noble family. Keeping its detailed original decoration, this place hosts carefully curated exhibits and musical events.

Why visit? On Mondays and Fridays, from October to May, Musée de Mouassine hosts classical Moroccan music concerts. The beautiful surroundings make a fantastic atmosphere, and you can enjoy tea and pastries.

El Badi Palace

What is it? It’s the impressive remains of Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour’s palace, with gardens and crumbling towers offering medina views.

Why visit? Despite being a ruin, El Badi gives insight into past Moroccan dynasties. Also, find the Koutoubia’s minbar, a precious piece crafted by 12th-century Cordoban artisans.

Medersa Ben Youssef

A remarkable 14th-century religious school, Medersa Ben Youssef, is Marrakech’s main monument. After a meticulous five-year renovation, the stunning zellij tiling, ancient cedarwood ceilings, and vine-covered stuccowork have been brought back to life. In the dormitories, you can watch videos about the restoration.

Why visit? See the impressive skills of Morocco’s artisans, who still work in the city’s markets.

Marrakech Insiders

Embark on a vintage sidecar motorbike with Marrakech Insiders for a tailor-made tour of the Red City. Explore local neighborhoods and royal gates, and even venture to Art Deco Gueliz, Palmeraie, and the desert.

Why visit? It’s fun, informative, and gives a unique peek into Marrakech that’s hard to find. Great for families seeking an adventurous city tour.

Tourist Facts About Marrakech to Know

Marrakech is a top tourist spot in Morocco, drawing in about 3 million visitors yearly at its international airport. Once there, they’re in for a lot to explore. Here are some tourist facts about Marrakech that you want to know:

  1. Tourist numbers in Marrakech rose by 63% in 2023 compared to 2019, as reported by the city’s Regional Tourism Delegation.
  2. The rise in tourist numbers is due to solid domestic and international tourism performances. Domestic tourism witnessed an impressive 167% increase, while tourists from Italy grew by 23%. Visitors from the UK and France also saw significant growth, with a 56% increase and a 39% increase, respectively.
  3. In 2023, Marrakech had more tourists, with 11% extra stays and a 12% increase in arrivals compared to 2019. The data indicates that tourism in the city has exceeded the levels seen in the benchmark year.
  4. Marrakech is the 6th top trending vacation destination globally in 2024. Despite a recent earthquake impacting nearby areas, the city’s resilience shines. It is known for its historic monuments and vibrant nightlife, as per the latest report.
  5. Morocco will welcome 14 million tourists in 2023, highlighting the sector’s resilience. With plans to attract 17.5 million tourists by 2026, Morocco is enhancing travel connections for the 2030 World Cup. Recent deals with airlines involve launching flights to 9 Moroccan cities in the summer of 2024 and adding 24 new international destinations, strengthening ties with key European markets.

Best Shopping Places in Marrakech

Find the top places to shop in Marrakech for a fun experience with a mix of traditional crafts and unique items. Here are some famous shopping spots you should visit:

Mustapha Blaoui

If you like the furniture and decorations in your riad and want to know where they come from, visit Mustapha’s warehouse in Bab Doukkala. It’s a treasure trove in Marrakech with furniture, lamps, glassware, rugs, and antiques from North Africa.

Take your time, have some mint tea, and let the staff know what interests you—they can find treasures for you. Don’t stress about fitting it in your luggage; they can ship anywhere with a reliable agent.

Norya Ayron

Explore Nyora Nemiche’s stylish boutique at Le Jardin restaurant. She’s a French-Algerian designer blending tradition with a modern touch in her silk and cotton kaftans and abayas. Loved by celebrities like Sharon Stone and Kate Moss, you can also grab beaded belts, soft leather bags, or faux-lizard clutches. Nyora also has a new signature scent based on a captivating oud fragrance.

Al Nour

Shop at Al Nour, a non-profit with a feel-good factor. They offer chic clothes and textiles, including cute children’s wear and fine tableware. Talented women with disabilities craft these items in a light-filled workshop behind the shop. Proceeds support employee professional training, daycare, and health insurance.

Check out stylish silk shirts or linen tunic dresses with embroidered trim. Prices are fixed, but alterations are free, and home textiles can be customized.

Best Restaurants in Marrakech

Marrakech is a city full of vibrant flavors. Explore the best dining spots, from fancy restaurants to lively food stalls.

Nomad

Nomad is Medina’s most vibrant dining spot. Book ahead, especially for a sunset seat on the rooftop. The décor is playful and stylish, with colorful cushions and carpets nodding to its past as a carpet shop.

The menu offers Moroccan-inspired dishes. Some examples include calamari with cumin, chicken in sweet harissa, and a salad with cauliflower and fennel.

Price: Mid-range

Dar Yacout

Dar Yacout is a gorgeous traditional restaurant tucked deep north of Medina. Known for its multi-course Moroccan feast at a set price, it has maintained its allure for over 20 years.

Begin with drinks on the rooftop and then have a fancy meal in one of the pretty rooms.

Price: High-end

La Famille

La Famille offers a delightful vegetarian menu in a peaceful medina garden. Enjoy your meal at cozy lemon-wood tables beneath a banana tree. The menu includes daily dips, salads, flatbreads, and quiches, all light, fresh, and inspired by classic local flavors.

Take advantage of the couscous with sweet onions, mint, almonds, and dried figs. Treat yourself to homemade desserts, like a seasonal fruit tart, and opt for fresh juices and herb-infused water.

Price: Bargain

Marrakech Must Try Food

Moroccan cuisine in Marrakech blends spices and flavors from Berber traditions, Andalusia, Arabia, and France. Let’s explore the top Moroccan dishes you must try in Marrakech.

B’stilla, or Pastilla

B’stilla is a yummy Moroccan pie from Fez. It has thin pastry layers filled with pigeon meat, almonds, and eggs. It’s seasoned with saffron and coriander. It’s a delightful blend of sweet and savory, topped with icing sugar and cinnamon.

For the best B’stilla, check out the street stalls around Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakech. If you prefer a restaurant, locals love Al Fassia, which is exclusively women-run.

Tagine

In Marrakech, you should try tagine. It is a popular Moroccan dish that is slow-cooked in a clay pot.

Tagine is a tasty stew made with meat and fruit. It is loved by everyone in the city. Enjoy it with warm flatbread for a delightful culinary experience.

Fnaque Berbère, located at Souk Laksour, is an excellent spot for it. La Table du Riad by Riad 72 offers a unique lemon-olive tagine. Dar Cherifa, a literary cafe, serves a vegetarian-friendly Berber tagine.

Couscous

Couscous, known as ‘seksu,’ is a popular and delicious Moroccan dish. It’s a delicate wheat pasta traditionally hand-rolled and steamed in a couscoussièr (pot). Usually, it’s a pyramid shape over a stew with meat and veggies, topped with more veggies, and served with broth.

Moroccan families enjoy it on Fridays, often garnishing it with sweet raisin preserve or buttermilk in the Berber tradition.

Best Hotels in Marrakech

Discover our favorite hotels in Marrakech, from royal palaces to charming riads hosting local creatives.

Fairmont Marrakech

Just 30 minutes away from the medina, you can find this desert oasis. It offers luxury with modern architecture, a big pool, and Marrakech’s biggest golf course. Rooms feature spacious bathrooms, dressing areas, and private balconies or gardens with Atlas Mountain views.

The resort prioritizes sustainability, using water-efficient grass and demonstrating a blend of eco-friendliness and beauty.

Royal Mansour

The Royal Mansour, owned by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, is an imperial palace, not just a hotel. Built-in three years with 1,200 artisans, it features 53 guest riads with luxurious amenities and lush gardens.

The courtyards are amazing, and the Moorish architecture is modernized in the pool, spa, and three restaurants by Chef Yannick Alléno. It’s a lavish retreat near the Red City.

L’Hotel

Jasper Conran, an English designer, turned an old palace into a special hotel, his first step into the hotel industry. The space has an ethereal feel, with king-size beds draped in sweeping linens. The restaurant serves traditional Moroccan food, such as beef, quince tagine, and Moroccan salads like Zaalouk and Taktouka.

This retreat, scented with orange blossoms and adorned with antiques, provides a peaceful escape. Although a short walk from Marrakech’s top spots, if you appreciate small details, scented gardens, and intimate spaces, this Conran creation is perfect for you.

Conclusion

In short, Marrakech, Morocco, invites travelers to experience a captivating mix of ancient charm and vibrant culture. Explore diverse neighborhoods, from the historic Medina to the modern Gueliz.

You can visit famous sites such as Jardin Majorelle and Bahia Palace. Additionally, you can learn about Marrakech’s past at museums like Yves Saint Laurent and Confluences. Explore different shopping places, restaurants, and hotels. Embrace the magic of Marrakech.

Q1: Where is Marrakech?

Ans: Marrakech is in the middle of Morocco and a great place to start exploring. You can quickly get to famous spots like the snowy High Atlas Mountains and the beautiful Sahara desert dunes from there.

Q2: How do you save money in Marrakech?

Ans: Use cash to pay at restaurants and avoid exchange rate issues and credit card scams. Most shops don’t accept credit cards, so cash is a hassle-free option.

Q3: Is Marrakech safe?

Ans: While Marrakech is generally safe without violent crimes, it’s known for theft, scams, and con artists. Be vigilant in Marrakech due to crowded streets and constant attention-seeking. To prevent pickpocketing, remain vigilant about your belongings and surroundings.

Q4: Should you exchange money at Marrakech Menara airport?

Ans: Avoid using airport exchange offices to change money. Exchange a small amount into dirham (MAD) at Marrakech airport for your taxi to the city center.

In Marrakech, numerous currency exchange offices offer better rates than the airport. Check Google Maps for locations.

Q5: When is the ideal time to visit Marrakech?

Ans: The best time to visit Marrakech is in spring and fall when the weather is nice. May and September are the top months, with less rain than other times in these seasons.

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