Africa, Morocco

What To Do In Marrakech: Top 8 Tourist Highlights in Marrakech

Going to visit Marrakech? I gathered all of the insider tips to make your stay in the Red City as smooth and fun as possible.

Before we get started, I will share tip number one with you: Staying in the Medina is fun, but only for so many days (for instance Riad & Spa Demeure Bois Précieux, where I stayed through Airbnb). If you are staying for more than 3 nights, book a few nights outside of the Medina as well! Okay. Now it’s really time to get started.

1. Stroll through the Medina of Marrakech

As cheesy as it sounds, the best way to explore Marrakech is by strolling through the Medina. Like I said before, it is fun to look for a Riad in the Medina, but be prepared for the Medina to drive you a bit crazy. You will certainly get lost. And no, Google Maps does not know all tiny streets. But don’t worry, you will find your way somehow.

Where to stay in the Medina of Marrakech, Morocco according to Hashtag Explorers

#Explorers tip: Always be careful with your purse, never listen to people that tell you the road ahead is closed, and cover yourself up. Yes, that means your whole body, from your shoulders all the way down to your ankles. Maybe you don’t have to do this, but it surely made me feel a lot more comfortable.

2. Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech

Just north-west of the Medina, you will find Jardin Majorelle. This beautiful garden, located right next to the Yves Saint Laurent museum, is one of Morocco’s most popular sites. From the fountain at the entrance to the large cactuses, all the way up to the blue building in the middle of the garden, everything about this small park is beautiful and Insta-worthy. 

Address: Rue Yves St Laurent, Marrakech 40000, Morocco

#Explorers Tip: If you have a student card, you get 50% discount on the entrance fee of 70 dirham

The green gardens of Jardín Majorelle with the blue house right in the middle of it. This beautiful garden can be found in Marrakech, Morocco

3. Le Jardin Secret in Marrakech

Even though Jardin Majorelle is more famous, my favourite garden was Le Jardin Secret. This “Secret Garden” lies right in the heart of the Medina. On the outside, you are in a street like all the others in the Medina: Narrow yet crowded. On the inside however, there are two large gardens, covered by tropical flowers and plants. A small pont at the end of the first garden hosts a family of tortoises, and two buildings on either side of the larger garden provide a good spot for Instagram-ladies and hubbies. 

Le Jardin Secret has a rooftop terrace, from where you can enjoy the view of this beautiful garden from above. You can get up there for free, and if you pay extra, you can also go inside a small tower to get up one more floor.

#Explorers Tip: Just outside Le Jardin Secret are two very cute restaurants. The first one is called Le Jardin, which is a peaceful oase in the heart of the Medina. It is a little bit expensive, but so worth it to get out of the busy Medina. The second one is called Terrasse des Epices. I haven’t been here myself, but I heard good stories about it.

A beautiful door in Le Jardin Secret in Marrakech, Morocco

4. La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech

To begin with, visiting this hotel was one of the most surprising things during my stay in Marrakech. If you are anything like me and you follow a few travelbloggers on Instagram, you have probably seen the Instafamous columns of La Mamounia. I dragged my sister to this hotel, which is a bit of a walk outside of the Medina. And oh boy, we do not regret going here.

The experience begins before you even enter the hotel already. After hotel security pats you and your purse, you can see the beautiful front of the hotel. Friendly, smiling men hold the door for you, instantly making you feel like a rockstar. It is only after you walked in, that you realise it is so much bigger than you expected at first.

When you walk inside, you will find those famous columns on the left. Behind closed doors. Yes people, apparently you can only get to them if you’re actually a hotel guest. If you turn right however, walk past the high end stores, you will get to another beautiful area with a fountain, and behind that is the spa. If you keep on going straight after you’ve entered the building, you will be in for an even bigger surprise.

First, you’ll pass through one of the luxurious hotel restaurants/bars, which ends outside on a terrace. Once you step outside here, you’ll only begin to realise how big this place actually is. In front of you, a line of trees hugs a perfect road as far as the eye can reach. There’s a pool area, fancy restaurants, exotic plants, palm trees, several orange trees fields, a small tea house, tennis courts, and much more. Really, you will not regret checking out this hotel. Check a video of the entire property here.

La Mamounia Hotel and Spa in Marrakech, Morocco is the most luxurious hotel I have ever seen

5. Bahia Palace, Marrakech

If you are into enormous, abandoned palaces with large outside spaces, you cannot skip Bahia Palace. Plan quite a chunk of time for your visit, as it is a lot bigger than you would expect at first.

 ExplorerMelissa at Bahia Palace in Marrakech, Morocco Hashtag Explorers at Bahia Palace in Marrakech, Morocco #Explorers Tip: The entrance to Bahia Palace is on Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid, which is on the west side. We ended up walking around the whole palace area. When we were half way, a local told us that the palace was closed until 2pm for prayer (which was a lie), and that he could show us a market instead. Later we found out that Google Maps didn’t indicate the entrance precisely enough, and we should have just kept on walking. What we did eventually, was that we went to restaurant La Famille for lunch, and went to Bahia Palace after, as it is just down the road from there.

ExplorerMelissa at Bahia Palace in Marrakech, Morocco. Picture owned by Hashtag Explorers ExplorerMelissa at Bahia Palace in Marrakech, Morocco. Picture owned by Hashtag Explorers

6. Ben Youssef Madrasa (closed for renovation until 2020)

Did you decide to go to Marrakech after seeing all of those beautiful pictures on the Internet from that place with beautiful green and blue tiles on orange walls, decorated with sculptures and stuccoes? You probably didn’t know it, but that is Ben Youssef Madrasa, a former Koranic school in the heart of the Medina. 

At the moment, this former school is actually closed, and will remain closed for at least another year. But no worries, I actually found Bahia Palace to be a good replacement to take pictures with Moroccan tiles.

7. Jemaa el-Fna Square, Marrakech

The very last spot in Marrakech that you cannot miss, is one that you can physically not miss because it is in the centre of the Medina. Jemaa el-Fna Square. I didn’t particularly like this square. To be honest with you, the best way to describe it is by saying “overcrowded”. During the day, you will see a lot of animal abuse (think monkeys doing tricks and snake charmers). I only crossed this square in the dark, so I managed to avoid a confrontation with the animal abuse.

8. Go into the Sahara desert

Finally, my very last recommendation for Marrakech is to arrange a trip into the Sahara desert. I did a budget trip with Marrakech Desert Trips that I cannot really recommend, but if you don’t want to splurge and still want to ride on a camel back in the Sahara, then this is a good trip. If you want to know more about why I wouldn’t recommend this tour operator, comment below or message me on Instagram, and I’ll tell you more about my experience.

Posing with my camel in the middle of the Sahara desert at sunset

#Explorers Tip: If you want to go and sleep in the “real” desert, you’re going to have to do at least a 3-tour from Marrakech. I did the 3 day tour from Marrakech to Merzouga (and back to Marrakech) for a whopping €109 pp including two upgrades.

We went on a trip into the Sahara desert on camel back. We drove into the Sahara at sunset, and rode back the day after at sunrise.

Bonus tip: Visit Essaouira! 

This beautiful Moroccan coast town to the west of Marrakech is about a one hour drive. The Medina is much easier to navigate, the people are less pushy, and there’s a beach. Definitely worth a visit!

Carpet market in the Medina of Essaouira, Morocco

Did I miss any of your favourite things to do in Marrakech? Let me know in the comments below! If you are visiting Marrakech, you will also like to know where to eat. Check out my blog with the Top 5 Best Restaurants in Marrakech (+ one in Aït Ben Haddou!).

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Melissa is the founder of Hashtag Explorers. She is a Dutch, enthusiastic, and open-minded world traveller. Melissa enjoys her time researching new travel destinations, kickboxing, singing or horse back riding. Her strong desire to experience new cultures and meet new people has led to creating #Explorers. If you cannot find her in The Hague, where she is working as a civil servant, she is probably exploring the rest of the world, where she is reliving memories from the times she lived in Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Singapore, and Malta.

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