15 Best Things to Do in Marrakech

Marrakech is one of the most unique cities I’ve seen in my world travels.

It has this incredible energy emanating from the medina that draws you into the fold of the city. Soon you’re dizzy with possibility as you ogle jeweled lanterns and silver tea trays in the bazaar.

Even outside of the Medina, the brown-ness of the city should seem bland. But instead, it feels full of life, charged by the energy of the residents. It highlights the spots of greenery outside the city walls, conceals gorgeous mosaics, and supports the city’s history.

If there’s only one city you can visit in Morocco, make it Marrakech.

As you can tell, it was my favourite city in the African country. I visited a few others, but nothing compared to the vibrancy of Marrakech.

The only problem? Marrakech can be intimidating for a solo traveller.

I spent two weeks alone in the city before my mom joined me for a girls trip. At first, I was confused and wary of my safety. I mean, is Marrakech safe for solo female travellers? But I soon found myself comfortable and excited at the opportunity to explore this foreign land by myself.

You can have an incredible trip to Marrakech on your own with these 15 best things to do in Marrakech. They’ll help you learn about the country’s history, discover the amazing local cuisine, and even give you tips on how and where to shop. Plus, I’ve included some unique things to do in Marrakech in this travel guide to help you get off the beaten path.

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15 Best Things to Do in Marrakech

Not sure what to do in Marrakech? Get your pen ready because I’m about to tell you the 15 most unique, authentic, and amazing things to do in Marrakech when you visit.

Whether you’re a solo traveller, a budget traveller, or a luxury traveller, you’re sure to find these 15 must do activities attractive!

local marrakech riad courtyard

1. Stay in a Local Riad

Marrakech has hundreds of fancy hotels around the city, but you won’t get the true Moroccan experience if you don’t stay in a Moroccan riad.

Riads are traditional Moroccan homes built around interior gardens.

People have started to use the term for any guesthouse, so be sure you find an authentic riad. They are usually square or rectangular buildings with rooms along the outer walls and gardens with sitting areas in the center. Most are open air in the middle, inviting the sweet songs of birds to wake up you.

I stayed at Riad Le Clos Des Arts inside the Medina walls. It genuinely felt like being in an old palace with how luxurious it was and the incredible service.

I can’t imagine feeling as in touch with the culture or as pampered at one of the 5-star hotels away from the city centre.

Some riads, like the one I stayed at, at more upscale. Others can be very budget friendly. Find an amazing riad near the medina to have a stunning stay while you’re in Marrakech.

Medina city center - things to do in Marrakech

2. Wander Jemaa el-Fna in the Medina

Although the Medina is sometimes used to refer to Marrakech’s centre square, it actually means the entirety of the walled old city. Within the walled city, the centre square is the Jemma el-Fna.

This is where you’ll find scattered vendors selling photos with monkeys, aggressively trying to henna your hands, and occasional night markets.

When you first arrive in Marrakech, it’s almost required to head straight to the Jemma el-Fna. That might be because of the tourist restaurants around it, which makes it an easy place to find your first meal.

Don't Forget to Pack the Essentials!

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If you can, try to visit at sunrise and sunset to see the entire square painted this lovely pink-orange colour from the sun.

This may not be a unique thing to do in Marrakech but it is something you have to see. You’ll find it in most Marrakech travel guides to help you get acquainted with the city.

3. Get a Moroccan Hammam

This is undoubtedly the best thing to do in Marrakech. Moroccan hammams are still one of my favourite types of spa treatment – along with Turkish baths.

A Hammam is a traditional spa treatment where you sit in a sauna to open your pours, get rinsed off, get scrubbed within an inch of your life, then get bathed in Moroccan black soap.

My mom and I opted for a Western-style treatment to avoid being naked in a room of other people (which I later thwarted by doing a traditional Turkish bath).

Although the Hammam was surprising for Westerners who, to that point, had only had gentle spa treatments and usually got to wear their underwear, I loved it. I was shiny and soft like a baby for weeks afterward, which is an amazing change after the dryness of working on a Spanish mountain in the middle of winter.

Moroccan hammams are a must-do in Marrakech. You can find private versions at Western hotels, or more public ones throughout the Medina.

Check out my guide on Marrakech Moroccan Hammams to find luxury and budget friendly options in the city.

Moroccan palace ruins
Moroccan palace ruins

4. Visit the El Badi Palace Ruins

My riad owner recommended El Badi as one of the best things to do in Marrakech to learn more about Morocco’s history.

The palace was built for a Sultan in the 1600s, but has fallen to ruin since the end of his dynasty. The beautiful marble was stripped away to be used in other places around Morocco.

The ruins of the palace are now open to the public to give you a sense of its former majesty.

I love learning about history when I travel. Roaming the clay towers made me feel a part of history and a bit like I was in Game of Thrones.

You need to see the palace when you’re in Marrakech to fully appreciate and understand the city’s significance historically.

Jardin Majorelles
Photo (c) Wikipedia

5. Explore the Jardin Majorelle

There are lots of beautiful gardens around Marrakech. You’ll find most of them around the high-end resorts outside the Medina.

But the most visited and, arguably, the most beautiful garden in Marrakech is Jardin Majorelle.

Named for the French artist who created it, Majorelle is a beautiful garden surrounding a Cuban-style villa. It took 40 years for him to create this masterpiece that spans over 9000 square metres.

You need to book a ticket to reserve a time slot. This limits the number of people in the garden and allows for a nicer experience.

I highly recommend stopping by the glimpse the stunning fountains and bountiful trees that tower above the walkways. You’ll feel a bit like you’re in Bridgerton wandering the large courtyard.

Spice market stall in the souk of Marrakech where you can shop for spices
Photo (c) Unsplash

6. Barter for Spices at Souk Place des Epices

The best thing to do in Marrakech according to my mom is to visit the spice market.

The Souk Place des Epices is full of shops with overflowing bowls of spices, ranges of herbs for medicinal use, and teas you’ve never heard of before.

If you’re looking for a great Moroccan souvenir to bring home, you should grab your friend a pack of fresh African cinnamon or some tea to make their own fresh mint tea.

The shopkeepers are all extremely friendly and helpful. They let you smell your way around the store, offering suggestions for natural remedies to what ails you, and pointing out the different things around their shop.

I came away with so much, I was genuinely worried I’d have to wear all my clothes on the plane afterward.

Be careful as some spices are not allowed to be imported. I always disclose what I get on my customs slip to let them know what I have in my suitcase. The spices are so cheap in Morocco that if they got confiscated, I’d be fine.

Remember to barter in Morocco. All of the souk sellers expect you to argue them down. If you accept their first price, you’ll be drastically overpaying.

things to do in Marrakech - shopping for carpets at a souk

7. Shop for Carpets at Souk Semmarine

You’ve heard of Turkish carpets, but have you heard of Moroccan carpets?

Everything I read online said that carpet shopping was one of the best things to do in Marrakech – even if you didn’t plan on buying one.

Luckily, my mom needed a new carpet and I was happy to come along. I’ll admit, the swirling of the berber rugs and the intricate designs captured my attention immediately. I left with a rug the next day, even though I was living nomadically so it had no where to go but a closet at my mom’s house.

Remember that you have no obligation to buy a carpet if you go in to look. Going on tours takes away some of the guilt for making them unfurl thousands of carpets for you.

We had ours shipped back to Canada through the seller. If you’re going to do the same, make sure you’re buying from a reputable source.

Check with your riad or tour guide to see if they think it’ll actually make its way to you or if you’ll be scammed.

8. Drink Moroccan Mint Tea (again and again)

Scratch the hammam, the best thing to do in Marrakech – hell, the best thing in Morocco! – is drinking Moroccan mint tea.

Back when I still drank caffeine and sugar, I lived on this glorious concoction of black tea, mint leaves, and sugar. It tastes like a mint-y honey drink, which I had them bring me literally every moment of the day.

Part of the fun of Moroccan mint tea is drinking it from these little glass cups, just taller than a shot glass. It makes you pace yourself, because there is a lot of caffeine in the blend, and it makes you feel super fancy.

I actually bought a tea set to bring back to Canada. I’ve never used it, but the second I buy a van to drive cross country in, that set is coming with me!

To make the tea, you combine the special ingredients (you can get them in an Asian market usually) in the teapot with the boiled water. Then you pour it from a high height into your cup. You dump your cup back in, then pour again. You repeat this until it’s steeped and your sugar has mixed in.

The height of the pour is actually important. The higher you pour, the more respect you have for the guest you’re serving.

It was also used as a sign at engagement discussions for arranged marriages: low pours meant they weren’t interested in the match.

You’ll find mint tea literally everywhere in Morocco – even while you’re shopping for your berber rug.

cookies and moroccan mint tea on a berber rug at Amal Non-Profit

9. Bake with Local Women

The most unique thing to do in Marrakech is an opportunity I’ve tried to replicate around the world: baking with local women at Amal Non-Profit.

I was looking to learn how to bake some of the unique Moroccan delicacies I’d never heard of before. And to get out of the riad for a day when I was feeling a bit low.

My riad recommended I check out a cooking class and gave me a few options. The second I saw the option to bake, I was sold! Little did I know, the recipes wouldn’t be the only thing I learned that day.

Amal Non-Profit requires a taxi ride to get to. It’s not expensive and takes less than 30 minutes. Then you’ll get to work in an industrial kitchen to make your favourite Moroccan treats like gazelle horns.

I made ghriba with two lovely women – the chef and the translator. I got to learn about their lives and how Amal has helped them gain financial freedom.

Amal Non-profit teaches women how to speak English and learn business skills in exchange for some work in the kitchen. These women are single parents, escaping abusive situations, or looking to support their family.

I was so proud to be a part of these women’s growth when all I’d expected was to eat some amazing cookies.

I got about 25 cookies to take home from the experience, some new berber words, and a profound sense of hope for the women of Morocco.

Bahia palace - things to do in marrakech
Bahia palace - things to do in marrakech
Bahia palace - things to do in morocco

10. Marvel at Bahia Palace

Not sure what to see in Marrakech? Visit Bahia Palace!

Bahia Palace is the most beautiful piece of architecture in Marrakech. If you love architecture and mosaic tiles, this is a must-do when you’re in the city.

Bahia Palace is one of the grandest in Morocco. It was built in the 19th century for a Minister’s wife, Bahia. Now, it is one of the best ways to learn about Marrakech’s history.

Touring Bahia takes you through gorgeous rooms with intricate designs up the ceilings. You’ll learn about who stayed in the palace, the divisions of labour and class, and how hard it must have been to maintain such a place.

Bahia is one of the best spots for Instagram shots in Marrakech, so by mid-afternoon, you’ll find line ups for some of the prettier alcoves. Visit in the morning to avoid the crowds.

La Mamounia pool in Marrakech

11. Have a Spa Day at La Mamounia

Another spa day? But you’ve already had a Moroccan Hammam?

Yes, that’s right! One of the best things to do in Marrakech is to take advantage of all of the pampering there is to offer.

La Mamounia is the most famous luxury hotel in Morocco. It’s home to gorgeous gardens, fancy restaurants, and an incredible spa.

If you need to get your nails done, have a facial, or get a full massage, visit La Mamounia.

Trust me, the price is worth it.

Going for a spa visit grants you access to the rest of the hotel. You can spend a full day having tea on the patio overlooking the gardens or swimming at their gorgeous indoor pool.

With the low exchange rate, even this “luxury” experience won’t break the bank nearly as much as it would in the USA or Canada.

things to do in marrakech -

12. Take a Souk Cuisine Cooking Class

Souk Cuisine is the #1 name in Marrakech cooking classes. Almost every blogger out there recommends a cooking class with this amazing company.

Souk works with local women to help teach foreigners local recipes. They take you on a shopping trip to collect your own ingredients, which forces you to learn to barter. They introduce you to the best spice market seller, and help you learn to navigate the winding streets of the Medina.

You cook with all of the people signed up, each taking turns making parts of recipes. While you don’t make the whole thing together, you’ll learn every step by watching others, listening to the instructions, and from the recipe book they give you at the end.

The whole experience was so lovely. I got to cook alongside my mom, making tajines and semolina cookies. I learned how to roll filo pastry and what a traditional communal Moroccan oven looks like.

Working with Souk is easily one of the best things to do in Marrakech for anyone who loves cooking, food, or shopping.

Merzouga desert in Marrakech at sunrise

13. Day Trip to the Desert

Marrakech is surrounded by desert – three of them actually. Take advantage of the beautiful surroundings to go on a day trip to see the billowing sand dunes.

You can visit by car, dune buggy, or camel. I recommend the dune buggy as you’ll see more in less time and there are no animal rights issues to navigate.

I visited the Merzouga Desert, north of Marrakech by the Atlas Mountains. For a day trip, head to the famous Sahara to see it in all its glory.

If you’re considering riding a camel in the desert, check out why I regret riding a camel in Morocco.

I recommend this desert tour!

Marrakech mosque, Koutoubia, to see

14. Visit Koutoubia Mosque

Celebrate the Muslim culture of Morocco by visiting the largest mosque in Marrakech.

Although non-Muslims aren’t allowed inside the mosque, you can explore the beautiful architecture and the gardens framing the tower.

Koutoubia is the highest point in the city. There’s a law that no building in Marrakech’s medina can be higher than a palm tree. That means you can see Koutoubia from all around the city.

It’s a central landmark in Morocco that you won’t want to miss.

Marrakech sunset

15. Eat Dinner at Sunset Overlooking the Medina

There’s nothing like eating dinner outdoors. No matter what time of year it is, the cool desert nights of Marrakech make a diner on a rooftop a brilliant end to a day.

Turn a simple meal into one of the best things to do in Marrakech by finding a rooftop restaurant in the Medina. You can snack on briouates, tajine, chermoula, and more as you watch the sun paint the city a rainbow of pastels.

Have your camera ready for some obligatory shots, then sit back and enjoy the peace of the city going to sleep.

Image of the walls with mosaics and intricately carved detailing on the streets of Marrakech

Uniquely Marrakech

Marrakech is one of my favourite cities from my 8 months in Europe (…and Africa, and Asia).

It was the first city I’d been to in a while that was truly different. I couldn’t find a Starbucks or predict what I’d find in the grocery store.

I loved the adventure of being somewhere that’s still so unique, yet so inviting to tourists.

Ultimately, the best thing to do in Marrakech is to be in Marrakech. Whatever you end up doing will be spectacular because the city itself is.

Plan your trip itinerary in whatever way you prefer: whether it’s filled with shopping trips to the souks or focused on eating your way through the local tagines. You’re sure to have an incredible visit if you do any of these best things to do in Marrakech.

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