Marrakesh was everything I thought it would be: a modern mix of Moroccan and international culture with the most diversity of delicious international food and beautiful architecture in the medina. Though Marrakesh lacked the grit and edge of the rest of the country, it was the most eclectic city on the trip. The chaotic pace exposed a city and people always on the go. The famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square is truly the mess everyone describes: tens of thousands of people at night eating, shopping, getting henna tattoos, listening to bands and storytellers, and watching magicians (and snake charmers during the day). It’s one of the most hectic but fascinating people-watching places in the country. It still blows my mind how big and full it was!
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Marrakesh
1. Explore the town square
2. Visit the Bahia Palace
3. Mosey through the Jardin Majorelle
4. Walk through the Ben Youssef Madrasa
5. Marvel at the Saadian Tombs
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Visit the Maison de la Photographie
The Maison de la Photographie (Museum of Photography) opened up when Parisian Patrick Menac’h and Marrakshi Hamid Mergani decided to combine their collections of vintage Moroccan photography and showcase them in their original context. Together, they collected 4,500 photos, 2,000 glass negatives, and 80 documents from anywhere between 1870 and 1950. Works are on display through three floors, organized thematically by content and region. Most photos are available for sale. Entrance is 40 MAD and it’s open daily from 9:30am-7pm.
2. Get lost in the medina
Watch traditional handicrafts being handmade and sold, and eat some street food while taking in the sights and smells of this busy Moroccan market. Don’t be afraid to get lost in the alleys and tiny streets. You can spend hours here wandering around, taking in the atmosphere and the culture. The alleys seem endless. I found it less intimidating than the one in Fez though!
3. Visit Morocco largest Jewish cemetery
The largest Jewish cemetery in Morocco, the Miara Cemetery, dates back to the 16th century and is still in use today. The graveyard here is divided into three: one for men, another for women, and a third for children. This is an excellent historical site and I highly suggest you visit. The Jewish population, while small now, was once one of the biggest in North Africa!
4. Relax in a traditional hammam
A hammam is a steam bath popular in North Africa. It used to be the only place where people could bathe because private bathrooms were a luxury only few could afford. They are usually found near mosques or toiletry shops and can be upscale or public (traditional). Visit a no-frills traditional one for an authentic and enlightening experience. You will leave feeling cleaner than ever before. Public hammams cost about MAD 10, while hotel hammams can cost MAD 300-500.
5. Hang out on the terrace of Café de la Poste
This is an institution in Marrakesh. While the food is good, most people come for the architecture and atmosphere. The terrace is a fantastic spot to drink a cold beer and, on the weekend, you’ll find tons of locals and expats eating brunch and catching up! It’s a fun spot to hang out at!
6. Hang out in the parks
Marrakesh has a lot of parks. It’s got everything from formal gardens with trees planted in straight rows, to expansive parks neighboring palaces, to Yves Saint Laurent’s blue-splashed garden. There are countless trees to give you a bit of shade from the blazing Moroccan sun. My favorites are: Arsat Moulay Abdeslam Cyber Park (featuring free WiFi), Jardin el Harti (over 80 years old), The Agdal Garden (over 700 acres and next to the Royal Palace), and Lalla Hasna Park (small park right by the Koutoubia mosque).