If you’re ready to treat your five senses to heightened experiences that are vastly different from your usual travel moments, then you are definitely ready for Marrakech. Boasting of culturally and architecturally important sites aplenty, Marrakech, known as the ‘Red City’, beautifully combines ancient traditions with modern conveniences and unapologetic luxury. There’s plenty of things to do in the medieval and modern parts of Morocco’s captivating capital and here are five awesome things we highly recommend that you explore.
Said to be the busiest squares in all of Africa, the Jemaa el-Fna is somewhat of an open-air theatre and museum combined —the real heartbeat of Marrakech. Here, the heady scent of fresh orange juice clashes with the smell of exotic spices and Moroccan treats and dishes sold from stalls; the soothing music played by the snake charmers intermingle with the loud voices of vendors selling their goods; henna artists, painters and monkey handlers fight for attention from the hordes of tourists flocking to the square from day ’til night. When you start feeling overwhelmed by the pulsating activities in the square, you may seek solace in any of the shops and cafés surrounding the square - or explore the souks with countless treasures dotting the perimeter, if you still have the energy to spare.
Ben Youssef Madrasa
Once the largest in North Africa, this Quranic school founded in the 14th century was dedicated to teaching the Islamic scripture and law. It closed down as a school in 1960 but was restored and reopened as a historical site for the visiting public in 1982. Explore the courtyard and the dormitories with their astoundingly colourful interior. Located nearby is the Ben Youssef Mosque, the oldest and one of the most important mosques in Marrakech.
This magical garden boasting hundreds of plant and flower species complemented by tranquil streams and enchanting little lanes is the creation of renowned French landscape painter Jacques Majorelle. The garden was later bought and restored by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, whose ashes were scattered in the garden and a memorial in his name now stands in the garden as well. Aside from Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech has other gardens and groves that don’t charge fees to enter. These gardens serve as a relaxing escape from the cacophony coming from the souks.
Feed your curiosity about the traditional way of leather-making by visiting the tanneries located in the northeast of the medina. Bags and other small leather goods are being prepped here with dozens of workers working over open vats where the animal skins are dipped and hand-dyeing them before trade in the city.
Overnight stay in a Riad
Historically the city homes of wealthy Moroccans, some of these riads are pretty large with fancy courtyards and gardens. These days, it’s fairly common to see reads renovated into guest houses, apartments, hotels or even restaurants. They range from budget-friendly spaces to amenity-filled luxury riads, and you can simply choose whichever suits your style and budget best.
Looking for other activities within and outside Marrakech? Check out tripsavr’s well-curated list of activities from the adventure-filled desert exploration with camel rides, private Morocco UNESCO World Heritage Discovery trips to luxury city breaks and many more.