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Bucket list destination:

Last updated: 23 September, 2023
Expert travel writer: Mandy Sinclair

Note from Matt: Please do still consider travelling to Marrakech and the Atlas mountains, despite the devastation caused by the earthquake. The local people are heavily dependent on tourism and will suffer further if tourists stop visiting. Marrakech sustained some damage, but the souks and Jamaa el-Fnaa are still open and buzzing and the spirit of the people is unbowed. Indeed, according to people I know who have been recently, it’s quite inspiring to see how they are fighting back in the face of adversity…

Morocco’s former capital blends buzzing street life with atmospheric architecture and vibrant Arab culture, suffused with a liberal sprinkling of French influence – which adds up to an exotic,  intoxicating and entirely unique holiday destination.

Known as the Red Rose city, thanks to the dusky pink hue of its buildings, Marrakech is best known for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed Medina (Old City), which is packed with souks and completely encircled by five-metre thick walls, built a thousand years ago.

Visitors can expect beautiful boutique hotels set in old riads, a flourishing food scene and a vibrant shopping experience.

Orientation

Marrakech’s main square, Jemaa El Fna is the city’s beating heart and sits inside the Medina (old town) with its bewildering labyrinth of alleyways and souks.

West of the Medina is the Ville Nouvelle, laid out in the early 20th century during the French Protectorate. To the north-east of the city is the sprawling Palmerie suburb, home to luxurious hotels.

On a broader scale, the city sits between the Atlas Mountains to the south and the Jbilet Hills to the north, surrounded by desert.

Tours, tickets & transfers

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Marrakech City Tour: Private Guided Tour

Marrakech

Marrakech City Tour: Private Guided Tour
Get a feel of Marrakech and enjoy this personalized door to door Marrakech city tour. Explore the ancient city walls, the splendid palaces with their Moorish iconic architecture and discover the prestigious Majorelle Garden, with its French-influenced architecture and connection to the French designer Yves Saint Laurent. Enjoy a genuine guided walk in the 9th century Old Medina with the famous Djemaa El Fna square and Souks, an open air theatre that always seduces its visitors. Your multilingual driver and expert guide will be at your entire service to assist you and to ensure you discover the best of Marrakech. You will be picked up from your hotel in a brand new, air-conditioned minivan and dropped off to visit each monument planned in the discovery of Marrakech.

Price: $24

Min age: 0

Rating 4.64 / 5 [387 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Marrakech Private Tour

Marrakech

Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Marrakech Private Tour
This is not just another city tour; this is the best of Marrakech from a unique perspective! Get to know Marrakech on a city tour that gives you the perfect overview, with city highlights, hidden gems, storytelling, and a local treat - this tour has it all! Forget about big touristy groups and the crowds; it's time to see Marrakech at its best but from the eyes of a local. Check out main landmarks like Bab Agnaou, Bahia Palace, Mellah Square and Souk, and uncover hidden gems and city secrets with the help of a knowledgeable local guide. And the cherry on top, a local treat is included. Withlocals Highlights & Hidden Gems Private City Tour™ is one of Withlocals' signature tours available in major cities worldwide. We work with passionate local guides who earn a fair fee. We support local economies by only offering local produce and prevent over-tourism with only small non-intrusive groups. Our tours are carbon-neutral and away from the standard tourist routes.

Price: €68

Min age: 0

Rating 4.79 / 5 [314 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private Tour: Marrakech Medina By Night

Marrakech

Private Tour: Marrakech Medina By Night
The next time you come on a private tour of Djemma el Fna, ensure the judicious use of your night by feeling the windy streets of the medina, alongside the historic mosque.  The irresistible atmosphere of Djemma el Fna is further highlighted by the maze of stalls, which after the dark, presents a pleasant environment for exploration.  With the presence of a personal guide that keeps you safe and on track, you can rest assured of a rewarding night venture, including rich tastes of indigenous and international foods, good music, and great dances that you do not get before sunset.

Price: $35

Min age: 0

Rating 4.77 / 5 [307 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Marrakech City Highlights Half-Day Tour

Marrakech

Marrakech City Highlights Half-Day Tour
Enjoy strolling along the bustling alleyways and see the mosques, traditional bakeries, old lodging houses and the principal monuments of Marrakesh. On this half-day tour you will get great insight into the culture and people of this exotic city. Enjoy being driven along the fabulous old Marrakech city wall, taking pictures of the magical Marrakech medina and its labyrinth of narrow streets and famous historical sites. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for the walking portions of this four-hour tour.

Price: $29

Min age: 0

Rating 4.32 / 5 [261 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Hidden Sites of Marrakech: ⵀⵉⴷⴷⴻⵯ ⵙⵉⵜⴻⵙ ⵄⴼ ⵯⴰⵔⵔⴰⴽⴻⵛⵀ

Marrakech

Hidden Sites of Marrakech: ⵀⵉⴷⴷⴻⵯ ⵙⵉⵜⴻⵙ ⵄⴼ ⵯⴰⵔⵔⴰⴽⴻⵛⵀ
This is an unrushed walking tour to discover safely and smoothly the hidden sites of the Medina and its souks with a savvy licensed tour-guide and a good story teller. Enjoy 3 to 4 hours in of a flexible SLOW PACE walk in interlinked alleys of the Medina, visiting its bakeries, traditional ovens, caravanserai, and other ancient treasures.You will explore authentic sites that only a few tourists can see. Some of them.are not even open to tourists. While walking, you will not only learn the true history and the story of every district but its ancient roots as well. The focus will be also on the workshops and the old sections of the souks of Marrakesh.Highly recommended to Curious travellers who like history and culture and as a tour to start with your holiday in Marrakech. It will make it more enjoyable and safer.

Price: $39

Min age: 1

Rating 4.91 / 5 [234 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Travel advice

When to go

The best time to visit is during autumn and spring. Temperatures in summer can become oppressively hot – over 40°C – and those locals who can, leave town for the mountains and coast. Christmas and New Year is another popular time for tourists, although temperatures can be cool at night and snow regularly falls in the mountains.

The city is more subdued during Ramadan, which occurs at a different time each year, according to the lunar calendar.

Getting there and away

The quickest way to get from Marrakech’s Menara airport is by taxi – there is a rank just outside the terminal building, but agree your fare before you set off. The city centre is just 6km away. There is also an hourly bus service that departs from arrivals and drops passengers at the main tourist spots in both the Old and New towns.

Getting around

Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. There are two types: petit taxis and grand taxis (usually ageing Mercedes). The former have meters but in practice these are rarely – if ever – used. In both cases it’s best to agree a price with the driver in advance and don’t be afraid to bargain. Cycling is not recommended.

The Medina is best tackled on foot, while trips to the New Town usually involve a short taxi ride.

Few things are certain in life, but getting lost in the Medina is one. So when young local boys approach you to help you find a way out, their help will be welcome. Be sure to pay them a small tip.

Where to stay

First-time visitors to Marrakech should stay in one of the Medina’s delightful riads. These charismatic converted townhouses, usually arranged around a central courtyard, are decorated in varying degrees of simplicity and opulence.  

Just outside the Medina is the Hivernage, a more modern area of town, home to more conventional and resort-style hotels. If you want something more relaxing, with more space and away from the hustle and bustle, The Palmerie offers a number of lavish, tranquil retreats with spas and swimming pools.  

You could also opt for a stay at one of several stunning kasbahs (former local citadels/castles) in the nearby Atlas Mountains, that have been converted into luxury hotels. Great to escape to for a few days after a few days sightseeing in the city.  

Where to eat or drink

The medina is where you’ll find the upscale, palace restaurants. Many medina riads have atmospheric rooftop restaurants, open to non-residents with advanced booking, for something more intimate.

The ultimate Marrakech foodie experience is to eat in the Jemaa el Fna, at one of the twenty or so food stalls that pop up at dusk. Hygiene standards vary wildly, so check out a local blog or website to see which are recommended (each stall is numbered). There are lots of cafes overlooking the Jemaa el Fna, but these are places to go for a mint tea, rather than a meal.

The Ville Nouvelle is home to the more contemporary, European-style restaurants, ranging from classic French brasseries to upscale Morocco and Italian restaurants, cafes and nightclubs.

Where to shop

Among Marrakech’s most celebrated attractions are its Medina souks, a bewildering tangle of lanes lined with stalls selling everything from traditional slippers and spices to perfumes and metalwork. The Medina also has several noteworthy boutiques, offering locally-made fashion, homewares and textiles.  

Gueliz is home to more Western-style shops and chain stores, and some chic Moroccan and French boutiques.