Marrakech, the rose city, is the obvious destination for your first visit to Morocco. With its sun-baked walls, tropical gardens, covered markets and a magical main square, it is a city just waiting to be explored and with nine UNESCO World Heritage sites there is certainly plenty to see.

It has wide Parisian-style boulevards in the new part of the city and narrow rabbit warren-like alleys within the old walls of the Medina. It’s fringed with palm trees, olive and orange groves and is sheltered from the fierce Saharan winds by the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains. It is a bustling and energetic city that wears its Muslim heart on its sleeve with pride and shouts about its colourful influences including; Berber, Roman, Arab, French and even Andalusian.

Here our the top 10 things to do whilst in Marrakech…

1 – Bhaia Palace
Bahia meaning beautiful, sums up this impressive 150 room palace, which dates back to 1859, built by Si Musa, grand vizier of Alaouite sultan Muhammad ibn Abd al-Rahman.

2 – The Souks
The area of the Medina, just north of the Jemaa el Fna, is a network of souks, the endless alleyways with their tiny retail cubicles become more interesting the further you delve in. This is where Berber tribes once traded slaves, gold, ivory and leather. Now tourists and locals barter for everything from carpets to kaftans, cooked snails to spices, and clothing to baskets. The two main routes into the heart are Rue Semarine (aka Souk Semarine) which is the full-on bazaar route or Rue Mouassine which is calmer and leads to boutique shops (with their fixed and fair pricing).

3 – Le Jardin Majorelle
Le Jardin Majorelle, in the grounds of the former home of designer Yves Saint Laurent, is amazing. The colours and the cacti in this botanical garden are incredible.

4- Jemaa el Fnaa
The main square of Jemaa el Fnaa is just a big open space during the day with snake charmers, medicine men and soothsayers to entertain you. However, come back at dusk and the square becomes an open-air theatre of storytellers, acrobats, musicians and entertainers. It has been like this ever since this plaza was the site of public executions around AD 1050 – hence its name, which means ‘assembly of the dead’. When you want to escape the bustle, head up to a rooftop terrace, like the Café du Grand Balcon, for a great view over the square.

5 – Koutoubia Mosque
Walk through the luscious gardens around the Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech’s most famous symbol. The minaret, built in a traditional Almohad style and topped with four copper globes is visible from near and far as local ordinance forbids any other building in the Medina to be higher than a palm tree, it towers majestically over its surroundings. Listen out for the regular call to prayer, which can be heard for miles around and use the tower as a ‘compass’ and focal point when scurrying through the mystical Medina maze.

6 – Yves Saint Laurent Museum
The former house of the French designer is now a museum and one of the most popular attractions in Marrakech. There is a permanent display of hundreds of garments spanning his 40-year career.

7 – El Badi Palace
El Badi Palace, which although predominantly in ruins, and entirely reduced to its red pisé walls, is still breath-taking. The scale of the palace, its sunken gardens and impressive mosaics are well worth visiting.

8 – Saadian Tombs
Next to the Kasbah Mosque, the Saadian Tombs were forgotten about until 1917 when they were rediscovered by aerial photography. The lavish tombs were built in the 16th Century using pure gold and Italian marble.

9 – The Mellah (Jewish Quarter).
The Jewish quarter of Marrakech has undergone an extensive renovation programme and is an unexplored part of the city, but well worth a visit. Also make sure you stop at Al Azama synagogue and the Miara cemetery.

10 – Arset El-Mamoun gardens
The world-famous Arset El-Mamoun gardens just outside the Medina were established in the 18th century by Crown Prince Moulay Mamoun. Designed in traditional style with walkways, flowerbeds, orange groves and olive trees, non-residents who want to enjoy the gardens can visit by having a buffet lunch at the poolside restaurant, afternoon tea at Le Menzeh tea and ice-cream pavilion in the gardens, or on the back terrace overlooking the gardens.

Combine the city with more stops…

Marrakech is well connected to its surroundings. Team up your stay with other Moroccan cities for a multi-centre holiday with a difference. Travel first class inexpensively by train to Casablanca, Rabat & Fez in the North or have a few days relaxing on the east coast beaches at Agadir. Trek up in to the High Atlas Mountains for the experience of a life-time visiting the Berber tribes or lay low in a Gite in the foothills or even try out the ski slopes if you’re there between November & March.

The sun is always shining in Marrakech and from March to October it’s pretty difficult to avoid. There are lots of fabulous places to relax & unwind and watch the world go by. There’s so much to see & do with the famous gardens, tombs & palaces, so many more places to explore and so much more to write about…you’ll wonder why you didn’t stay for longer.

 

Dave Felton Senior Travel Consultant

Dave has worked here at eShores since the start of 2010, he's one of the most senior members of the team whos happy to help out anyone at any time. Dave has a wealth of experience, having spent most of his career working in the travel industry, Dave knows everything there is to know about most destinations. His specialist areas are The Far East, Australia and Europe. Dave loves to travel with his girlfriend, at every opportunity you will see him in a different city, taking in the sights and experiencing the culture, and enjoying a cold pint of beer! Whilst keeping his eye on the Football results!