What not to miss with two days in this Moroccan gem, from busy souks to tranquil gardens.
La cité ocre, or Pink City, is an assortment of bustling market stalls, impressive historical sites, and a labyrinth of chaotic narrow streets. Here’s our guide of what not to miss!
The Medina of Marrakech
Begin your visit with a trip to this spectacular market place – a jumble of colours and sights that are the essence of Marrakech. By day and night it’s a hive of activity, with souks selling everything from lanterns to camel leather bags, traditional ceramics and tea sets to tempting jewelry. The market place is the largest Berber one in Morocco and you will definitely get lost in its charming narrow streets, amongst the carts, motorbikes and donkeys – but this is the fun part. Visit the stalls and enjoy the traditional mint tea while you browse and haggle. The friendly owners will persuade you to buy more than you can carry home!
Jamaa el Fna – Main Square
In the center of the Medina lies the beating heart of Marrakech – the city square. This is a major tourist attraction but also a local market place since the 11th C and UNESCO site, with snake charmers, musicians, henna artists and tea sellers all vying for trade. Teaming with food stalls and the smell of sweet cakes and barbecued lamb in the evening, it’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere and sit back on a café rooftop and watch the ‘halqa’ – street theatre.
El Badi Palace
Now this former seat of luxury and power is in ruins, but the 16th C palace still has charming courtyards, gardens and underground tunnels to explore, along with a small historical museum. The view of the Atlas Mountains from the peaceful terrace is beautiful. The Royal Palace complex can only be seen from the outside, but it’s high walls and artful doors are worth a quick detour from the southern Medina. The Bahia Palace complex is still grand and majestic and shows exemplary architecture – definitely worth seeing.
Beautifully decorated within, it’s worth seeing this National Historic Monument during prayer time, when the doors are open to the public. Constructed in 1230, the silhouetted minarets can be seen from around the city.
For Day Two:
These 16th C tombs were restored to a garden containing graves of soldiers and mausoleum for the Dynastic royalty. There are gleaning marble columns and the mosaics are stunning – don’t miss the sultan’s grandson’s room.
Opposite are the ancient city’s ramparts, with 19 gateways to the city. The ornate stone Bab Agnaou gate is the highlight.
Visible throughout Marrakech, The Koutoubia Mosque is great to visit by day or night as it is spectacularly lit. The largest mosque in Marrakech, it has a beautiful 250 ft tall Minaret and is considered an architectural wonder. There are tranquil gardens with fountains to stroll around by day.
A former theological college, the Ben Youssef Madrasa was constructed in 1570 and is a geometric wonder with marble patterns, tranquil pools and traditional design. It’s a peaceful place to detour to if you’re an architecture fan.
A short walk from the chaotic Medina there is an oasis of calm in this frenetic city at these enchanting gardens. Created by 19thC French painter Jacques Majorelle over forty years and restored by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980, the gardens brim with shady palms, rare and exotic plants, all on a background of bright blue and yellow colorful mosaics. The gardens also house the Musée Berbere – an interesting insight into the region’s Berber culture.
Make time for a unique and relaxing hammam visit – a traditional Morrocan spa. Treatments include massages, steams and scrubs. The most famous is the Hamman of the Rose.
Finally, head back to your hostel relaxed! Enjoy a dip in the pool or a rooftop drink at sunset – Equity Point Marrakech