Marrakesh is the city that sums all of Morocco’s exotic North African charm. This city’s name was the basis for the country’s name, a testament to its importance over the centuries. The city’s main attractions are located in the bustle of the medina. It is a fascinating fusion of old and new. You can just soak up the atmosphere in this bustling city, where snake charmers and smooth shop vendors vie for your attention.
This city is a popular destination for shoppers who love to bargain hunt. The many monuments and museums are a must-see for history-loving tourists. For those who want to immerse themselves in local culture, the medina is a great place to do so.
For ideas on the best places to visit, see our list of the top attractions in Marrakesh
1. Medina Souks
Marrakech’s old city district, the labyrinthine madina (or old city), is a popular tourist attraction. These narrow alleyways, which are filled with colors, smells, and sounds, will be the highlight of your sightseeing trip.
You don’t have to wander the maze and get lost. There are many shopping opportunities where you can bargain and trade. The Babouche (shoe) Souk and Chouari (carpenter’s) Souk are must-sees for shoppers.
You’ll find Marrakesh tanneries just west of the main souk, at the end Rue Bab Debbagh. Here, animal skins can still be dyed the traditional way.
2. Djemaa El Fna
The center of Marrakesh culture is this large square, located at the entrance to the medina. The Djemaa El Fna is the assembly place for nobodies. It’s a lively hub of musicians, storytellers and fortune-tellers as well as bric-a brac stalls. The entire spectrum of Moroccan culture is available to you here. You can also escape from the hustle and bustle to visit one of the nearby rooftop cafes or restaurants. Here you can enjoy the amazing scene from the top.
3. Koutoubia Mosque
Marrakech’s most iconic landmark is the Koutoubia Mosque. Its striking minaret, measuring 70 meters tall, can be seen for miles. According to Marrakech legend, the first mosque was built by the muezzin, a man who calls the faithful to prayer. The minaret’s height meant that it could not be seen from the ruler’s house. This mosque, which was built in 1162, is a great example of Almohad architecture. The mosque is not open to non-Muslims.
4. Medersa Ben Youssef
The Medersa, a madrassa or Islamic school of learning, of Ben Youssef was established in 1565 by Saadians. It is the largest theological college of Morocco. While the warrens of rooms, which once housed 900 students, are clustered around small inner courtyards in the typical Islamic architecture style, the main internal courtyard is what makes this place stand out. This medersa is one of Morocco’s most stunning buildings. It boasts stalactite ceilings with cedar-wood detailing and Kufic inscriptions that are used throughout the interior.
5. Saadian Tombs
This 16th century burial ground is home of 66 members the Saadian Dynasty who ruled over Marrakesh from 1524 to 1668. Here are the tombs of Al-Mansour, his descendants, and their closest relatives. The mausoleums are set in a very overgrown garden. It is a beautiful, atmospheric spot.
The main mausoleum, where Moulay Yazid is buried, has a fine preserved mihrab (prayer niche). Their Alawite successors walled the Saadian Tombs, which were only discovered in the 20th century.
6. Bahia Palace
This stunning palace was constructed in late 19th century to house the Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed. Bou Ahmed served Sultan Moulay al Hassan I. The interior decoration features an impressive display of zellige tile, painted ceilings and ornate, wrought-iron details that showcase the luxurious lifestyles of those at the top of the sultan’s list. The main attractions include the large marble grand courtyard, opulent salons, and haram area. Meanwhile, the peaceful inner courtyard of grand riad with its banana-leaf plant and citrus trees is a serene refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city.