Things to do Marrakech
Things to do Marrakech: Riad Naila is close to many attractions of the Medina, such as the Musée de Marrakech and the Medersa Ben Youssef. If you feel like shopping (and bargaining), or just watching the many handicrafters who work in their shop, the souks are just a few steps away.
GUIDE: If you are interested, we can organize a guide who will help you discover the many cultural and historical aspects of Marrakech. A half-day tour costs 50€.
The following recommendations are from various sources on the Internet. Please do your own research before heading to one of these places since Marrakech is rapidly developing and new attractions (in particular restaurants and bars) rapidly emerge while others disappear.
Bahia Palace (Things to do Marrakech): There are a number or palaces worth seeing in Marrakech, and the Bahia is among those. This palace was once the mansion of Si Ahmed ben Moussa, the son of the vizier in 1894. It’s an incredible architectural work of stucco, carved woodwork, and glazed ceramic tile.
Medersa Ben Youssef (Things to do Marrakech): In the heart of Marrakech’s souks, the sublime Ben Youssef Medersa is a former Koranic school where the main courtyard is a wonder of stucco, mosaics and marble surrounded by balconies of exquisite carved cedar and relatively austere dorm rooms where students lived, memorized scriptures, crammed for tests in Islamic law, and prepared simple hot-plate meals.
A visit here can be combined with a trip to the Musée de Marrakech, a magnificently restored 19th-century mansion built by the Mnebhi family that now displays carpets, jewellery, furniture, ceramics, textiles and manuscripts. Across the square in front of the Ali ben Youssef Mosque is the Koubba el Badiyin, the sole surviving structure of the city’s Almoravid founders other than the mud-brick city walls.
Menara Gardens (Things to do Marrakech): Known as the most romantic place for young couples to walk, the Menara Gardens, situated at the outskirts of the city, provide a beautiful escape from the noise of the medina. Orchards, olive groves, palms and roses, as well as Marrakech’s most photographed landmark – the lake and pavilion, built in the mid 19th century by Sultan Adu r-Rahman, against the magnificent backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.
Dar Si Said Museum (Things to do Marrakech): This beautifully decorated palace, now a museum, was built by Si Said ben Moussa and features intricate tile work, plasterwork and an Andalusian garden with the traditional pavilion and fountain. The reception room is a Moorish treasure-trove of design and does ample justice to the palace. Displays are arranged thematically and include Moorish weapons, clothes and crafts, such as jewellery and ceramics, all examples of exquisite craftsmanship. Artifacts and exhibits are tastefully displayed to reflect the different cultures and unique qualities of Morocco.
Mosque of Koutoubia (Things to do Marrakech): Considered the most important landmark of Marrakech, the Mosque dominates the skyline with its 77 meter tall minaret. An interesting note on this site, is that it was actually first built in 1147, but had to be demolished, as it was not correctly aligned with Mecca. Soon after, the construction of the new building began, and was finished more than fifty years later in 1199. The style of the building’s architecture is Almohad, with a considerable amount of influence from the Andalucian style in details added since. Behind the Koutoubia you will find a rose garden, particularly spectacular in Spring time. And behind the garden, the most beautiful hotel in Marrakech, La Mamounia, whose garden is also worth a visit.
Things to do Marrakech: La Koutoubia
La Mamounia (Things to do Marrakech): This super-magnificent hotel has seen the likes of Winston Churchill, Orson Wells and President Nixon puffing their cigars in the foyer. The hotel is set in park, which spreads over a massive area of 32 acres and was established in the 18th century. If you can’t afford a room, do not despair, perhaps you can sip an afternoon drink in the garden or on the terrace, or enjoy a meal in one of the top notch restaurants.
The ramparts of Marrakech (Things to do Marrakech): Take a walk along the ramparts in the early morning or the last light of the day when the baked walls take on a deep orange-colored hue. The strong walls surrounding the medina have been standing since before the 13th century and are the best examples of fortress walls in Morocco. Thewalls are 12 miles long and up to 2m thick – built to last. The gates are stunning examples of the Moorish design; Bab ed-Debbagh gate opens up onto the tanners area, where workers have been following the same technique for thousands of years.
Majorelle Garden (Things to do Marrakech): As a former French colony, Morocco illustrates many facets of the culture and vision of its European occupiers. The French artist Jacques Majorelle designed the Majorelle Garden in the 1920s. It offers an oasis of lush green vegetation set against the backdrop of bright colors, including the famous “bleu Majorelle”, a deep bright blue. He laid out a large walled garden with local plants and trees, and he built bridges, ponds and small buildings from where to get different points of view on the fantastic colors.
Relaxing the Moroccan Way (Things to do Marrakech): Relax the Moroccan way in beautiful surroundings. Les Bains de Marrakech is a typical Moroccan spa, which offers you a wide range of treatments (hammam, traditional scrub, massages, facials, etc). Tourists-oriented in a good sense: couples can have hammam together in a private room. If you wish to enjoy Les Bains de Marrakech, reservation ahead of time – several days in advance – for any kind of treatment is mandatory. Take a taxi to go there. You will find the Bains de Marrakech in an area called the Kasbah (ask the taxi driver to leave you at “la porte de la Kasbah”. www.lesbainsdemarrakech.com
Things to do Marrakech: The stunning colors of the Majorelle Garden
Jemaa el Fna and the Souk (Things to do Marrakech): The bustling central square of Jemaa el Fna, where local people gather to listen to storytellers, watch performers and to buy fresh mint to make tea. The square leads in to Marrakech’s famous souks, whose meandering streets are lined with the vibrant colors of shoes, scarves, lanterns and rugs. Haggling to get the best price becomes an art form, the traders do not hassle you and the experience is a complete pleasure.
Things to do in Marrakech: la place des Ã©pices
Saadian Tombs (Things to do Marrakech): Situated in the Rue de la Kasba these lavish tombs date from the Almohad period (1145- 1248) and consist of two mausoleums set in a lush flower garden. The interiors are beautifully decorated with gold leaf clad cedar panels, ivory colored marble and stalactites, a fit last resting place for the young princes who lie here. The arches and amazingly intricate carvings make for a sumptuous setting for the huge dome in the central room. The second building is less extravagant and consists of a prayer hall, loggias and the burial chamber of the mother of Ahmed the Golden who died in 1591.
Cooking workshops at la Maison Arabe (Things to do Marrakech): The legendary restaurant La Maison Arabe offers cooking workshops designed for the amateur and professional alike. The workshops are conducted by a dada (traditional Moroccan cook) or a chef from their Moroccan restaurant. Small groups of maximum 8-10 participants work alongside a translator.
Oasiria Water Park (Things to do Marrakech): Oasiria is a beautiful water park in Marrakech. The gardens are stunning. It is clean and well maintained and has got activities for all ages. There are two restaurants, one serving great pizzas. You can rent sun beds and umbrellas and have them placed where you wish. It is open all year round. Prices vary by season and there is a shuttle bus that runs from town. Alternatives: La Plage Rouge, Le Park Marrakech, Beach Garden or L’Oliveraie de Marigha. However, Oasiria is the most enjoyable place for families with children or for people who like to enjoy a bit of privacy.
Palais el Badii (Things to do Marrakech): Built for Ahmed el- Mansour “the Golden” in the beginning of the 16th century, this once was a magnificently luxurious palace, complete with Italian marble, gold leaf walls and ceilings. Unfortunately, Moulay Ismail neatly swiped all the decor and materials to furnish his own Kasbah in the city of Meknes so all that remains of the Golden’s palace are the solid stone walls.
Things to do Marrakech: outside
DAY TRIPS: We know many good drivers that can be rented for a day trip. Currently, the daily rental price for a car with driver is 130€. The car can fit up to 7 persons. Please ask us for a quote. Booking our transfer from the airport is a good way to get to know the driver and the vehicle in case you plan such a trip and want it to be arranged by us.
Ourika Valley: There are few areas in Morocco so green and lush as the Ourika valley. A string of interesting villages run along the rapid flowing river Ourika, and, in summer, its cool fresh air offers a welcome respite from the searing heat of Marrakech.
The Ourika valley road winds through the Atlas Mountains, offering breathtaking views of the highest peak in Morocco, Mount Toubkal (4,165 meters, 13,665 feet) and eventually leads to the seven waterfalls of Setti Fatma, one of the Atlas Mountains’ most hidden treasures.
Oukaimeden: A 74km bus and taxi ride (about 1 hours travelling) from Marrakech is this winter ski resort in the Atlas Mountains. When the snowfall has been sufficient, a trip up the mountain to Jbel Oukaimeden can be made by chair lift. There are also lower slopes that are perfect for beginners. Apart from the skiing, there are elephant and sun wheel Bronze age rock engravings in the village. Further up the mountain there is a view site where stunning views of the mountain and Marrakech can be enjoyed.
Bioaromatic Gardens of Nectarome: In the foothills of the High Atlas, along the Ourika valley, lie Morocco’s first Aromatherapy gardens, where regional herbs and plants are used to produce exceptional aromatherapy products. The garden is a haven of perfumes and peace, where you can walk along pathways through aromatic and medicinal plants, roses, herbs and trees. You can purchase a wide range of natural beauty and health products including the unique Moroccan Argan oil, which is increasingly recognized for its exceptional skin treatment properties.
Essaouira: On this day excursion from Marrakech, explore the varied facets of Essaouira, one of the most beautiful and unspoilt towns in Morocco. A famous trading post 3000 years ago, its stunning beaches have made it the Mecca for surfing enthusiasts today. Essaouria has always been a cradle for artists of all genres and poets, scientists have artists flock to it for centuries. Its main square is worth a visit as this is where all the main cafes, restaurants and patisseries are clustered. The old harbor has fine examples of both Portuguese and Moroccan architecture, as does the 17th century Mosque and the local artists’ quarter.
Most large hotels in Marrakech have swimming pools that are open to the public. We recommend Dar Donab which is only a five minutes walk from Riad Naila. Another great option is the Oasiria Water Park. It is an excellent spot for spending a day of fun and relax with the kids and for enjoying together the wonderful views, the delicious food and the variety of attractions.
Riad Naila is also close to many of the best restaurants in Marrakech such as the Yacout and the Dar Moha. Restaurants in a walking distance not to be missed include:
- Dar Moha
- Café Arabe, 184 Rue Mouassine
- La Maison Arabe, 1 Derb Assehbe
- Dar Yacout, 79 sidi Ahmed Soussi
Children in Marrakech
Marrakech is probably the ideal location for families traveling with small children. The Jemaa el Fna square has so many things that they find interesting (and the best fresh squeezed orange juice in the country!). Kids are always welcome in Morocco.
Some suggestions about what to do with kids:
Oasiria Water Park is an excellent spot for spending a day of fun and relax with the kids and for enjoying together the wonderful views, the delicious food and the variety of attractions.
Menara gardens: The Menara Gardens are undoubtedly a perfect place you can visit with children. More than a hundred hectares of olive groves, with a huge basin and a spectacular view of the Koutoubia and the snowcapped Atlas Mountains offer a fresh and ample ambience where the kids can play and walk around.
Majorelle Garden: The garden is small but very beautiful. There are leaflets for kids to fill out as they go round. These are in French but may soon be available in English as well.
A Caléche ride: You can get horse drawn carriages from almost anywhere in the city and always at the Jemaa El Fna square. The usual rate is 80 dirhams an hour but you really have to barter hard to get a price anywhere near this!
Ourika Valley: As you go out along the Ourika Valley beyond Tnine Ourika you can stop at any of the little tagine places and let the kids mess around on the rocks near the river. Besides all these opportunities of sharing your holidays in the city with the kids, you can also escape to the sea. Essaouira is less than 125 miles (180 km) from Marrakech and offers lots of beaches where you can swim, as well as a beautiful and quiet medina and wonderful monuments and views.