Morocco’s fourth-largest city, Marrakech, also referred to as the Red City, seems destined to remain one of the top destinations in Africa. Located near the Atlas Mountains and boasting of UNESCO-protected medina, markets, and alleys, Marrakech offers a fascinating mix of history, culture, and it is the gateway to the Atlas Mountains and Berber villages.
Marrakech is only 149 miles from Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco, travelers can either fly into Casablanca or to Marrakech Menara Airport. And you have a choice of over 20 airlines that fly daily into Marrakech. It takes just under three and a half hours from London, only under two hours from Madrid, and one and a half hours from Lisbon to Marrakech. After your short flight, you’ll be ready for these 5 things to do in Marrakech:
1. Eat your way around Jemaa el-Fnaa
Like many ancient cities in North Africa and the Middle East, Marrakech is home to open-air markets. But the Jemaa el-Fnaa is like none other. Declared by UNESCO as the “Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2001, Jemaa el-Fnaa is an important cultural and artistic center of Marrakech and Morocco’s most famous square.
Open daily from around 8 am to midnight, the square is most vibrant in the evening. That’s when the square is in full swing with restaurants and food stalls start serving their specialty foods. You can try snails, harira (famous Moroccan soup), grilled meats, sausages, sheep’s head, dates, Moroccan juices, and desserts.
Besides food, there are musicians, dancers, snake charmers, henna tattoo artists, and storytellers luring tourists and locals to part their cash for their unique services.
Note: Beware of pickpockets when in Jemaa el-Fnaa
2. Explore and hone your bargaining skills in the medina of Marrakech
You can wander to the narrow alleys that branch off from Jemaa el-Fnaa, where you can shop for all sorts of leather goods, spices, textiles, pottery, and more. Remember, prices are never fixed in the Medina, and you can make haggling a fun way of interacting with the local merchants.
There are more restaurants to discover in the Medina, and if you have time, check out Nomad Marrakech. The restaurant has four floors and if possible, get a table at one of the two terraces that offer views of the Atlas Mountains and medina.
3. Join a cooking class
Add some fun to your everyday life by learning to cook tagine and couscous in one of the cooking schools in Marrakech. Check out these cooking schools before leaving for Marrakech:
- La Maison Arabe
- Cooking class with Chef Khmisa
- Cooking class with Chef Najlae
4. Visit Jardin Majorelle
French painter Jacques Majorelle created Jardin Majorelle in the 1930s. He acquired cacti, palm trees, bamboo, weeping willows, bougainvilleas, carob trees, and all sorts of other exotic plants and transformed his garden into a masterpiece. The garden was opened to the public in 1947, but the garden was abandoned after his death. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé discovered the Jardin Majorelle, and they were responsible for making Jardin Majorelle into one of Morocco’s most beautiful gardens.
Today visitors can visit this two and a half-acre garden that houses hundreds of exotic plants, a Berber Museum, and Yves Saint Laurent Museum.
5. Experience Berber culture at Atlas Mountains region
There are day trips from Marrakech to the valleys of Ourika, Asni, Sidi Fares, and Oukaimeden. We recommend Berber Village and 3 Valleys Atlas Mountains day trip where you’ll have a chance to lunch at a Berber home, ride a camel and enjoy the beautiful mountain views.