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Welcome to Marrakech

Situated near the brink of the Sahara desert and bordered by the Atlas Mountains, the landlocked city of Marrakech unfolds into its surroundings like one of the lavish carpets sold in the Marrakech Souks. The city’s medieval roots reveal themselves on a walk through the souks or kasbahs in the medina (Old Town), whose snake charmers, carpet sellers, spice stalls, and herbalists stimulate each of the senses. Orient yourself on a walking tour, or escape the sweltering heat and tick off attractions such as the Bahia Palace, Djemaa el Fna (Place of the Dead), Saadian Tombs, and Tiskiwin Museum (Maison Tiskiwin) on a tour by air-conditioned car. The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque is visible from all over the city and can help you navigate through twisting alleys if you’re exploring independently. Just beyond the red sandstone walls of the Ochre City, the Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains entice outdoor adventurers. Learn about contemporary Berber culture on a trip to Ourika Valley, stroll along the seawall in the Portuguese-influenced Essaouira, tour the UNESCO World Heritage site at Ait Ben Haddou, or ride a 4x4 to the base of Ouzoud Falls. If you’ve got time to delve deeper in the desert, multi-day adventures combine camel rides, star gazing, and ancient tombs, and reveal the heart of the Sahara.

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Top 10 attractions in Marrakech

Palmeraie (Palm Grove)
#1

Palmeraie (Palm Grove)

A short taxi ride from the bustling Djeema el Fna, La Palmeraie offers a tranquil escape from the lively souks and traffic-laden streets of the Old Medina and Marrakech’s most affluent district has often been nicknamed the ‘Beverly Hills of Marrakech.' A quiet, sun-soaked oasis of palm and orange tree-fringed boulevards, neatly-tended rose gardens and vast swimming pools, La Palmeraie is home to many of the city’s most extravagant resort hotels and luxurious private villas. Even if you can’t afford to stay in La Palmeraie, the scenic district makes a worthwhile detour from downtown Marrakech and the 32,000-acre stretch of palm groves provides a shady backdrop for leisure activities. As well as walking and biking tours, horseback riding and camel riding are popular pastimes, and there’s also a beautifully situated golf course overlooking the villas....
Jemaa el-Fna (Djemaa el-Fna)
#2

Jemaa el-Fna (Djemaa el-Fna)

Djemaa el Fna, or Place of the Dead, a huge open expanse at the core of the medina (old town) of Marrakech, is one of the great meeting places of the world. Traders meet merchants, merchants meet travelers, travelers meet snake handlers. And the past meets the present, with storytellers carrying on a centuries-old oral tradition, keeping their listeners spellbound with tall tales. The square functions as an outdoor market, music hall, restaurant and theatre as well as the point of departure or arrival for exploration of Marrakech’s myriad delights. To get an overview, head for a terrace at one of the cafes which loom over the edges of the square. The price of a coffee will buy you respite from the commotion at ground level and a sensational view of the market, the Koutobia Mosque and the Atlas Mountains. And once the sun goes down the Place of the Dead is anything but. In fact it’s just getting going, with mesmerizing music and the smoke....
Medina of Marrakesh
#3

Medina of Marrakesh

Marrakesh, once the most powerful commercial and political center in the Arab world, was founded in 1062 by Berber chieftain Abu Bakr ibn Umar as the capital of the orthodox-Muslim Almoravid Empire. Full of ornate monuments built mostly between the 12th and 16th centuries, a visit to its medina, or old town, is like a walk through a heavily fortified open-air museum. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1985. Surrounded by ancient walls and enormous gates, the medina contains a huge central courtyard called the Jemaa el-Fnaa, a center of trade and public gatherings since Morocco’s inception. The medina is also home to a series of stunning gardens, including the Majorelle Garden, set beside the Museum of Islamic Art and featuring plants collected from five continents. The lavish Royal Palace and Badi Palace stand adjacent to one another, but neither are open to the public; to get a look inside royal life in the medina....
Bahia Palace (Palais Bahia)
#4

Bahia Palace (Palais Bahia)

The crowning glory of Marrakech’s numerous palaces, even the name of the exquisite Bahia Palace nods to its greatness – ‘Bahia’ translates as ‘Brilliance’. Located by the medina, on the northern edge of the Mellah, or Jewish quarter, the Bahia Palace was once the 19th-century residence of Si Ahmed ben Musa (or Bou-Ahmed), the Grand Vizier of Marrakech, who famously lived here with his four wives, 24 concubines and numerous children. The Palace, a medley of Islamic and Moroccan architectural styles, is one of the city’s most visited attractions, a richly decorated masterwork that was intended to become the ‘greatest palace of all time’. Although ultimately falling a little short of its aspirations, elements of the elaborate design work are exquisite. The dazzling floor to ceiling embellishments took over 7 years to complete, and include intricate mosaics, inlaid wooden ceilings, molded stuccos and gilded finishes....
Koutoubia Mosque (Mosquée Koutoubia)
#5

Koutoubia Mosque (Mosquée Koutoubia)

Built in the 12th century, the Koutoubia Mosque is not only the largest in Marrakech, it is also one of the most influential buildings in the Muslim world. Throughout Spain and beyond you’ll see echoes of its intricate geometric stone work, graceful arches and imposing square minaret. This last feature, flood-lit at night, is a much-needed point of reference when exploring the low-lying tangle of streets and alleyways which comprise the medina. At 220 feet / 61 meters it was quite a climb for the five daily calls to prayer in pre-elevator times, so a spiraling ramp was installed for the muezzin to ride on horseback to the summit....
Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle)
#6

Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle)

The Majorelle Garden is one of the most magical places in a city with no shortage of enchantment. Its founder, French painter Jacques Majorelle, fell in love with Marrakech in the early 20th century and after developing this charming oasis, opened it to the public in 1947. Apart from the huge range of exotic plants, including rare succulents and towering palms, the most distinctive feature is the intense, almost psychedelic shade of blue used in the garden’s walls and buildings. The garden fell into disrepair and in 1980 was purchased and restored by the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. It now also houses the Islamic Art Museum, containing exhibits which belonged to both Saint Laurent and Majorelle himself....
Saadian Tombs (Tombeaux Saadiens)
#7

Saadian Tombs (Tombeaux Saadiens)

The Saadi dynasty, which dominated much of Morocco in the 16th and 17th centuries, is closely identified with Marrakech, and some 60 members of the ruling family are now permanent residents. Assuming your reverence for long-dead Moroccan sultans is limited, the main reason for visiting the Saadian Tombs is the outstanding decorative work on the buildings which house them. Stunning geometric mosaics, minutely detailed stonework and serene courtyards evoke comparisons with the Alhambra. The more important tombs are arranged in three rooms, including the magnificent Hall of Twelve Columns, with lower-ranked notables resting in the garden. The site was sealed at around the same time that El Badi Palace was destroyed and was only rediscovered in 1917. Faithful restoration ensures this jewel of Moroccan architecture continues to delight, and it is one of the most visited sites in Marrakech....
Ben Youssef Madrasa (Medersa Ben Youssef)
#8

Ben Youssef Madrasa (Medersa Ben Youssef)

Some say the entrance to Ben Youssef Madrasa is purposefully humble and bland. Little more than a wooden door facing out towards the buzzing medina, the entrance is nothing more than perhaps a storefront, office, or home. The inscription, however, written above the door, beckons travelers in further: “You who enter my door, may your highest hopes be exceeded.” Indeed, once you duck through the narrow entrance and the medina noise fades behind you, what emerges before you is the soaring courtyard of a 16th-century madrasa. Constructed back in 1570 as an Islamic place of learning, Ben Youssef Madrasa would swell to include over 900 dedicated students. At its peak, it was North Africa’s largest Islamic school and had 132 dorms—some of which are so tiny and small you must crouch down low to enter. Though the madrasa formally stopped educating students back in 1960, extensive refurbishment has turned it into an informative site for visitors....
El-Badi Palace (Palais el-Badi)
#9

El-Badi Palace (Palais el-Badi)

The El Badi Palace is an open-air account of the successive dynasties which have held sway in Marrakech. It was built in the late 16th century by King Ahmad al-Mansur of the Saadi dynasty, who spared no expense, filling his home with the best materials and craftsmanship of the age: Italian marble, Sudanese gold and intricately carved Indian woodwork. But the glories of El Badi (“the incomparable”) were fleeting, and Sultan Mawlay Ismail of the succeeding Alaouite dynasty ransacked the building for his own palace. Even in its ruined state you get a clear idea of the scale of the palace, with high, stark walls enclosing the traces of stately reception halls and other official chambers. The intricate Koutobia minbar (the pulpit-like stairway from which the imam preaches in the mosque) is also on display....

Trip ideas

Ways to Experience Moroccan Culture in Marrakech

Ways to Experience Moroccan Culture in Marrakech

How to Spend 2 Days in Marrakech

How to Spend 2 Days in Marrakech

Frequently Asked Questions