City trip Marrakech: The Ultimate Guide
Marrakech is one of the royal cities of Morocco and lies at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. It is a city with a lot of history and a great old centre. The Medina of Marrakech with the Souk Semmarine and the famous Jemaa el Fna square is even included in the World Heritage list of UNESCO. In addition, Marrakech has many special sights. Beautiful palaces and mosques, beautiful museums, the beautiful Jardin Majorelle and much more. Shopping can be done in the souks to the east and in the modern districts of Guéliz and Hivernage to the west. You can spend the night in oriental style in an attractive riad or in a luxurious modern hotel.
Moroccan cuisine is really enjoyable with its many colors, smells and flavors. There are numerous restaurants, cafes, food and drink stalls in the city. You can go out on and around the Jemaa el Fna square, in one of the bars or discover a luxury club. And don't forget to visit a hammam to relax. Marrakech is a popular destination for a city trip for a day, weekend or full week!
- 1. City trip Marrakech: characteristics of the city
- 2. Medina of Marrakech: Souk Semmarine and the Jemaa el Fna square
- 3. The symbol of Marrakech: the Koutoubia Mosque
- 4. Some historical sites of Marrakech: Ben Youssef Madrassa & Saadian Tombs
- 5. Visit the most beautiful museums of Marrakech
- 6. Enjoy in the beautiful Jardin Majorelle
- 7. Must-see sights in Marrakech: El Badi Palace and Bahia Palace
- 8. The modern districts of Marrakech: Guéliz & Hivernage
- 9. Relax for a while in a hammam
- 10. Eating and going out in Marrakech
- 11. On a city trip: stay overnight in a hotel or riad in Marrakech
- 12. Transport to the metropolis Marrakech
- 13. On a city trip to Marrakech? Some tips
- 14. Book a city trip to Marrakech: compare providers
1. City trip Marrakech: characteristics of the city
Do you want to go on a city trip to Marrakech for a day, weekend or week? Do you want to know what there is to do in Marrakech? The characteristics of the city can be found in the table below. In this article we have listed the most popular sights of Marrakech for you.
City trip MarrakechCharacteristics
|Number of Marrakech residents||1 million|
|Number of international tourists per year||2.5 million|
|Flight travel time (direct flight)||3 hours and 45 minutes|
|Time difference with the Netherlands||No|
|Distance from Utrecht||2600 kilometers|
|Best travel period||Lente, autumn|
|Climate||Warm steppe climate|
|Activities||City, culture, art, history, shopping|
2. Medina of Marrakech: Souk Semmarine and the Jemaa el Fna square
The old city centre (medina) of Marrakech has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List for over 30 years. The walled part of the city is a cosy maze of colourful streets. All streets and passageways eventually lead to the central Jemaa el Fna square. The medina of Marrakech is car-free and you will find a large chain of Arab markets, the so-called souks. All these markets together are known as the Souk Semmarine.
There are hundreds of stalls in the alleys where you can buy all kinds of things and food and drinks. Think of clothes, bags, silver and pottery, lamps, rugs, jewelry, spices and much more. It's a cosy combination of colours, smells and sounds. The Souk Semmarine is the most important and busiest shopping area of Marrakech.
The Jemaa el Fna square is the bustling central spot of the Medina. The square is full of street vendors, snake charmers, medicine men, musicians, fortune tellers, belly dancers and other artists. You can grab a terrace or visit one of the many cafes around the square. You will also find various food and drink stalls on and around the square. If you go on a city trip to Marrakech, you should not miss the Jemaa el Fna square.
Jemaa el Fna
3. The symbol of Marrakech: the Koutoubia Mosque
In Marrakech you'll find several mosques. One of the largest and most famous mosques is the Koutoubia Mosque in the city centre. The building has a high six-storey minaret that is visible throughout almost all of Marrakech. Around the building are the remains of old pillars. These are the foundations of the original mosque. The Koutoubia Mosque is an eye-catcher because of its special architecture. From the minaret several times a day there are calls to prayer. As a Muslim you can also visit the mosque. Non-Muslims are unfortunately not welcome inside.
4. Some historical sites of Marrakech: Ben Youssef Madrassa & Saadian Tombs
The Ben Youssef Madrassa is a former Islamic school in Marrakech. The name refers to the sultan Ali Ben Youssef. The building was built around 1570 and was a home for students for over four centuries. There were 132 stone rooms for about 900 students.
The student rooms are very sober and dark, while the rooms for the teachers are nice and light. The courtyard is the most beautiful part of the Ben Joesoef Madrassa. The building is a fine example of Islamic architecture with colorful tiles, large columns, beautiful plasterwork and special carvings.
4.1. Saadian Tombs
One of the most special attractions of Marrakech are the Saadian Tombs. A series of tombs and mausoleums with remains of famous rulers of the Saadi dynasty. After the fall of the dynasty the graves were hidden for a long time and rediscovered in 1917. The beautifully decorated tombs are open to the public. There are two mausoleums with 66 tombs and gardens with more than 100 tombs.
5. Visit the most beautiful museums of Marrakech
In Marrakech there are several special museums.
5.1. La Maison de la Photographie
La Maison de la Photographie is a museum in Marrakech that opened its doors in 2009. In the building you will find more than 10.00 unique photographs from the period 1870 to 1950. You will experience the Moroccan photo history in images of landscapes, portraits, buildings and situations from daily life.
5.2. Musée Dar Si Said
Another special museum in Marrakech is Musée Dar Si Said. Here you can see a collection of works of art made from Moroccan wood, beautiful jewellery, ceramics, pottery, wickerwork and carpets. The museum is housed in a beautiful 19th-century palace.
5.3. Musée Yves Saint Laurent
In 2017, the long-awaited Musée Yves Saint Laurent will open in Marrakech. The French fashion designer spent a lot of time in North Africa and had a holiday home in Marrakech. The museum was built in Moroccan style with lots of terracotta. Here you will find a huge collection of couture, accessories, sketches and photos of Saint Laurent.
6. Enjoy in the beautiful Jardin Majorelle
Are you intensely enjoying your city trip to Marrakech, but would you like a moment of rest? Then look up Jardin Majorelle. This green park north of the city centre was once an uninhabited piece of land. The painter Jacques Majorelle built a cubist blue house here. He then planted all kinds of trees and plants around the house.
After Majorelle's death, the garden and the house fell into disrepair. Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé bought the garden and brought it back to life. After the death of Saint Laurent, Bergé donated the garden to the town of Marrakech.
In Jardin Majorelle you will find, among other things, beautiful cacti and bougainvilleas, beautiful ponds and water courses and flowers in cheerfully coloured flower pots. The blue house is currently in use as the Berber Art Museum with paintings from Berber culture. In the museum's studio are often students or artists at work.
7. Must-see sights in Marrakech: El Badi Palace and Bahia Palace
The Bahia Palace is located in the medina. The building is one of the most beautiful sights of Marrakech. It is a huge complex with more than 160 rooms, a large harem, several hammams, courtyards, gardens and a large courtyard with fountain. The palace is still used by the current royal family when they are in Marrakech.
7.1. El Badi Palace
Another special building in Marrakech is the El Badi Palace. It was originally built in 1578, using luxurious materials such as gold, marble and ivory. Already at the beginning of the 16th century the palace was destroyed. The complex consisted of 360 rooms. There was a large courtyard with a pond.
The El Badi Palace is now an impressive ruin. The courtyard is still almost completely intact. From the walls you can enjoy a beautiful view over the city. The ruin is home to a large number of storks. There are regular concerts and festivals in the palace, such as the Marrakech International Film Festival.
8. The modern districts of Marrakech: Guéliz & Hivernage
Marrakech can be divided into the medina (old district) and the new districts of Guéliz and Hivernage. The new districts have wide streets, luxury apartments and modern shops. The atmosphere is totally different and much more western than in the medina. The strict clothing regulations of the medina (no bare shoulders and legs) do not apply here.
You can do excellent shopping in Guéliz. In Guéliz, for example, you will find the Place du 16 November square with its large fountains. Here you will find various shops for the shopaholics, cosy terraces and even a luxury spa. Guéliz also has excellent restaurants and various entertainment venues. The Hivernage district is known for its expensive hotels, luxury restaurants and chic clubs.
9. Relax for a while in a hammam
Hammam de la Rose. This traditional old bathhouse is located in the medina of Marrakech. There are several saunas and massage rooms with beautiful shades of blue and green. You can book various beauty treatments.
Other beautiful hammams are:
10. Eating and going out in Marrakech
Eating in Marrakech is really a party. In the medina you will find all kinds of restaurants, stalls and cafes where you can buy all kinds of local specialties. Also in the new neighborhoods there are lots of nice and good restaurants and cafes. Some Moroccan specialties are couscous, tagine dishes, grilled meat and vegetable skewers, chicken-pastilla and of course all kinds of sweet dough snacks and biscuits.
In Marrakech you will also find several places of entertainment where men and women can go for a drink. However, do not count on alcoholic drinks. Most Moroccans don't drink alcohol and many bars and restaurants don't even serve alcohol at all. Popular bar-restaurants are Kosybar and Le Comptoir Darna.
Also on and around the Jemaa el Fna square there is plenty to do all night long. There are a number of luxury clubs in Marrakech. These are expensive and exclusive. Some popular clubs are Pacha Marrakech and Bo-Zin.
11. On a city trip: stay overnight in a hotel or riad in Marrakech
During a city trip to Marrakech it is best to spend the night in a hotel. In Marrakech you can choose a simple and cheap hotel as well as a luxurious and somewhat more expensive hotel. To experience Morocco at its best you will spend the night in a so-called riad. This is a traditional hotel/house with rooms that open onto a courtyard.
One of the most beautiful riads in town is El Fenn. The hotel in the centre of Marrakech combines beautiful architecture with beautiful luxury rooms in traditional style. There are also beautiful gardens with all kinds of hidden corners, three large swimming pools, terraces, a restaurant & bar, library and a hammam.
Other beautiful riads in Marrakech are:
The city also has several bed & breakfasts and apartments to stay overnight. For luxury and modern hotels you have to be in the modern districts Guéliz and Hivernage.
12. Transport to the metropolis Marrakech
On a city trip to Marrakech? For a city trip of a day, weekend or full week Marrakech the airplane is the preferred means of transport. From various Dutch airports you fly to the Moroccan city in less than 4 hours. The airport of Marrakech, Marrakech Menara Airport, is located 10 kilometers from the center. By taxi you can reach the heart of Marrakech in about 20 minutes. You can also take the bus. Cheaper, but you will be on the road longer. It can also be difficult to find the right bus line.
A trip by car from the Netherlands to Marrakech is possible, but not recommended. By road the distance is over 3000 kilometers and you are at least 30 hours away. If you're on holiday in the neighborhood, then it is of course fine with a (rental car) a day or weekend trip to Marrakech to travel.
Marrakech has a compact downtown. All sights are relatively close together. If you like you can reach everything on foot during a city trip in Marrakech. For longer distances you can take a taxi or bus. A taxi is not expensive, but please note that the taxi has a meter. If not, clearly agree on a price in advance. It is also possible to discover Marrakech by bike. You then book a guided bike tour. He or she will bring you along the most important sights of Marrakech. Going through the city by horse and carriage is also special.
13. On a city trip to Marrakech? Some tips
- Sturdy shoes: Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes during the city trip. During a day or weekend and certainly during a week in Marrakech you usually walk a lot.
- Marrakech City Card: Would you like to visit several places of interest during your city trip to Marrakech? Then you can choose the Marrakech City Card. With this card you get discounts at various museums, historic buildings, restaurants and shops. You can choose for a card of 24, 48, 72 or 120 hours. You can order the card online. When you arrive at your hotel in Marrakech, the card will be ready for you.
- Best travel period: You can visit Marrakech during all seasons. In winter the weather is very uncertain. The temperature can be below freezing or 30 degrees. It can also rain heavily. In summer it can be very hot. With smog it often feels very oppressive. During the hottest months (July and August) the average temperature is 35 degrees. The best time to plan a city trip to Marrakech is in autumn or spring. It is then very sunny, the chance of precipitation is negligible and temperatures are pleasant.
14. Book a city trip to Marrakech: compare providers
Morocco's pearl city has many attractions, museums, shops and restaurants. The city has a special and pleasant atmosphere and the Moroccan cuisine is really enjoyable. Walk along the stalls in the medina of Marrakech, shop in the modern district of Guéliz, step into a luxury club in the district of Hivernage, relax in a hammam and spend the night in an atmospheric riad. In short, Marrakech guarantees an unforgettable city trip.