EVERYTHING TO DO IN MARRAKECH
This was my second time in Marrakech and it was really nice to have this opportunity to show up with some prior knowledge of the city – from its layout, its energy, the culture. It was like I did not have to spend time getting acclimated to it all and that was really nice. We really hit the ground running this time around.
I always recommend that if folks have the time, they should do a city tour on their first day in a new city. It’s a great little warmup and a nice way to start making notes on places you’d want to return to. GetYourGuide has some affordable tour options from city walking tours to food tours, all worth checking out. There are tour reviews on the site that can help you pick the itinerary that works best for you.
Outside of all that, here are the places I’ve been to, some were worthwhile return visits, others were new discoveries. These are my can’t miss stops in Marrakech. Without further ado, let’s go.
- CHABI CHIC: Home decor you can take home, all the little things that can make a cute difference in your home and affordably priced too.
- AL NOUR: Look good, do good. Everything here is made by local women with disabilities. The project aims to support these women, by providing them with creative outlet and financial support as well as other assistance in the form of skills training, food programs, healthcare and more. This was one of my face stops, you can even get a peek into their little production room in the back.
- SOUK SEMMARINE: The medina is a network of souks each specializing in different things. The main artery of this system is Souk semmarine. If you only checkout one, let this be the one. It’s connected to so many others, that while you navigate, you may find yourself hitting up nearby souks that peak your fancy.
- SOUFIANE ZARIB: If you’re serious about Moroccan home decor and do not want to deal with the haggling and intensity of purchasing in the souks, then head here. There is literally everything you need, want and more. You will be paying a premium but it might be worth it to you. And if you decide you prefer souk prices, then just come here for a well organized inspiration tour that can help you focus on exactly what you want, so that you’re ready before you head back into the souks. P.S. If you’re there after 5pm, head to their one of a kind, too cool for school, where the art kids hang out rooftop terrace for a drink or two.
- RIAD YIMA: Part Art Gallery, Part tea room, part Boutique, all right. This was definitely another highlight. This boutique/art gallery is the brainchild of Morocco’s current most famous living artist, Hassan Hajjaj. This was such a delightful discovery especially as we almost gave up on it. It’s slightly hidden on a quiet alley and so unassuming, you would think you were knocking on the door of a private home and then you step in and AHHHHHH!!!.
- RAQAS: This boutique is so new, they don’t even have their website up yet, so you get map directions so you don’t skip it. Of all the shops I shared in my Instagram stories, this one received the most reactions and follow-up questions. If you love maxi dresses, prints and looking for modern Moroccan fashion, then you know where to go. Prices are in the $100-$200 range.
- NOMAD: This was a fave 6 years ago and they continue to be so. I’ll keep it simple, trust the staff for your order, just make sure you get that reservation or go early so you can dine on the rooftop at sunset.
- LE JARDIN: If you’re in Marrakech in the warmer months, then walking through the medina, haggling, sidestepping motorcycles, bicycles, donkeys and vendors can take a toll. And you’ll need somewhere cool to recharge. This restaurant not only offers a cool, relaxing space, but their food is super tasty too. You can’t go wrong with their grilled lamb or fish dishes and their crispy potatoes with yogurt is one even the young ones can enjoy- just have them put the hot sauce to the side.
- SOUL FOOD KECH: Yes, there’s windy stairs to get to this gem. They served one of my fave meals during our trip. Service was warm but not overly intrusive. The space definitely gives you a sense of place
- EL FENN ROOFTOP: This spot is so popular that even while we were staying at the hotel, we could barely get a seat at the rooftop restaurant. Hang out at the hotel boutique while waiting to be seated, it will be worth the wait. Their menu changes but if you can, get their traditional tagine which was so good, I would go back in a blink just for that.
- HOUSE OF PHOTOGRAPHY: You can learn alot about a place from the photos of that place and that’s what this feels like. The vibe is relaxed, the space is inviting, and the photography is soul stirring. There’s history, culture, education and art here. You can also purchase prints of your faves at a very affordable price point. It’s a few blocks away from the heart of the medina, so walking here will also give you a taste of a different part of the medina.
- VISIT GUELIZ & VILLE NOUVELLE: This is considered the modern “European” part of Marrakech and some folks may try to dissuade you from visiting because it lack the charm of the medina. While that is somewhat true, what Gueliz lacks in charm, it makes up for in up and coming independent and local designers setting up shop. There is a wonderful 5 block radius of boutiques you’d want to visit for gifts, fashion, home decor and inspo. This is not the medina, so prepare for prices similar to what you’d expect at boutiques in other big cities. On average ($100-$300 USD), although there are plenty of things priced below that as well. Start at Lalla Boutique, and if you ask, they will share a map of the area and all the can’t miss spots like Plus 61, Some Slow Concept, Sook Paris, David Bloch Gallery and much more.
- YSL MUSEUM: Since you’ve already made it to this side of town, then you might as well visit the YSL Museum which is a new addition to the already amazing Jardin Marjorelle, which you should also check out. Tourists love this spot, so go early for pics and once you’re done with pictures, you can fully enjoy the one of a kind garden. Less than a block away is the ever popular 33 Marjorelle. My home decor fanatics, make sure not to miss that.
- DAR EL BACHA: In some ways, a smaller cousin to Bahia palace below, but just as beautiful if not more. This is also a museum and now there’s a lovely coffee house that’s part of it as well. A lovely way to spend an afternoon and because of the layout, very kid friendly.
- LE JARDIN SECRET: Oftentimes, you’d be so invigorated by the energy of Marrakech, but there will be moments when you need a breather and this is another amazing relaxing escape in the heart of the medina. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, it’s what you’d imagine a secret garden would be like if it was designed by a wealthy but not extravagant royal. As with many places in Marrakech, there’s a rooftop terrace which I’d recommend to everyone except those traveling with kids, the stairs are plenty and steep. Don’t worry, you don’t need to go up there- there’s loads to do and see at ground level.
MAIN TOURIST SITES
- BAHIA PALACE: We had spent a lot of time here the last time we visited and while we loved it, we skipped it this time in favor of places we hadn’t been to before. I have to say, no visit to Marrakech especially as a first timer is complete without coming here. It’s the history, the luxury, the design, the beauty of Moroccan architecture in one place. Prepare to take your time and for even better context, get the guided tour.
- Jemma El Fna Square: Skipping this, would be like skipping Times Square/Central Park/Statue of Liberty when you visit NYC. It’s the beating heart of Marrakech, it’s what people immediately think of when they think about this city. It’s food, market stalls, entertainment, it is everything. It really starts to come alive around 4pm, when the shop owners start setting up, and it’s in full effect by sundown. Be alert while here, keep small change for tipping performers, come early enough for seating at popular stalls like Stall #14. Have Fun!
- HAMMAM treatment: Moroccans apparently on average do weekly hammam, and I think it’s worth trying one out. If you’re a bit of a prude when it comes to nudity, you may want to get one at a nice riad or hotel where you may have a more private setup suited for folks that don’t do this everyday. I had mine at the Royal Mansour (priced well above average here), and it was absolutely worth it. It was a great introduction, they explained everything they were doing as it happened so that I wasn’t surprised. Maybe now, I’m bold enough to try one with the locals.
For those traveling with kids, we navigated and made our way through Marrakech with a twin umbrella stroller- it’s the most lightweight one we’ve found and collapses into nothing. Nearing 30pounds each, our boys are now too heavy for us to comfortably have them in a carrier. If you have babies under 20pounds, I think a carrier is a smart way to go, because there is so much happening and so much traffic from cars, to motorcycles etc. We were able to do it, which shows it is possible, but there were some harrowing moments there, especially at the beginning as we were still learning our way around, some alleys were so narrow, we had to turn around and find another route. Point is, it is very possible to do this with toddlers and a stroller and have a great time, just be prepared for it to get tricky every now and then. Definitely nothing insurmountable.