Experience Marrakesh- the Guide to the City of Colours & Smells

Experience Marrakesh- the Guide to the City of Colours & Smells

Founded almost a thousand years ago, Marrakesh is one of the great cities of the Maghreb. It has a reputation for overwhelming visitors with its buzzy atmosphere and overload of sensations. The city has been changing and improving over the past years and receives an increasing amount of tourists every year. Its central location with contrasting landscapes of the snowy mount picks of Atlas Mountains to sand dunes of Sahara Desert, make it an ideal and exotic getaway- just 3 hours flight from most European cities. This Marrakesh Guide will help you get the most out of it with ease and peace of mind.

The great city of Marrakesh

Most visitors worry about the chaotic rhythm of the city and its habitants. At first sight, it might seems like landing in a very hot bee hive, with overwhelming smells and sounds. But just after a few hours, when you get used to local ways, you start appreciating the beauty, contrasts and kindness coming form each corner. This is probably the most vivid, colourful and extraordinary city one can visit. This guide of Marrakesh will take you to the most worthy places to visit.

Big part of Marrakesh’s beauty also lies outside of its gates. On a day trip you can hike in the Atlas Mountains or visit the UNESCO site heritage Ait Ben Haddou. Famous movies were shot there, like “Gladiator” or “Game of Thrones”. Spending a night in a luxurious camp on rocky Agafay Desert is a fantastic experience. As well as visiting the “wind city” Essaouira.

Read : Best Day trips from Marrakesh if you’d like to know more about what to do outside of the Medina’s door.

Top places to see in Marrakesh

1. Bahia Palace

The palace is a masterpiece of Moroccan architecture. The Grand Vizier Ba Ahmed ben Moussa commissioned and constructed it at the end of the 19th century. The building intended to be the most impressive palace of all times- hence “bahia” means “the beautiful”. 

It’s spread on eight hectares and composed of 150 rooms. Those lead to various patios and gardens and a harem for Abu Bou Ahmed’s four wives and 24 concubines.

TIP : Go early to avoid the crowds. Look up at the celling and doorways while visiting the palace. The hand paintings and crafts are simply breathtaking. 

Opening times & Entrance fee

Daily: 9.00- 17.00
70 DH

2. El Badi Palace

Palais el-Badi was built at the end of the 16th century by the sultan Ahmed al-Mansour to commemorate the victory of the Battle of the Three Kings against the Portuguese.

It is said that “The Incomparable” was a palace with over 300 rooms decorated in gold, turquoise and crystal. Unfortunately the palace’s gold age is long gone. It is undergoing reconstruction trying to restore whats possible, but currently it is mostly- still impressive- ruins. Therefore we have to trust the enormous size of the patio and historians to get an idea of its past glory.

TIP : Don’t forget to climb the stair to have one of the best views of Marrakesh.

Opening times & Entrance fee

Daily: 9.00- 17.00
The entrance fee is 70 DH.

3. Jardin Majorelle and YSL Museum

The Majorelle Garden was designed in 1924 by Jacques Majorelle- French landscape painter that had settled in Marrakesh in 1919. The vibrant colours, the fountains and exotic plants come together to make it one of the most charming and relaxing parks in the city. Your steps will guide you through one’s of Marrakesh most scenic place.

In the 1980’ the property was purchased and restored by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. 

There is a newly opened Yves Saint Laurent museum located closeby of the Majorelle Gardens. It is a must spot for those passionate about fashion. Its 4000m² building hosts a permanent exhibition space designed by Christophe Martin and devoted to the work of Yves Saint Laurent. There is also a hall for temporary exhibitions, a research library with over 5,000 volumes, a 140-seat auditorium, bookshop and a terrace café.

TIP : Go at the opening time as the queue for tickets can be 2-3 hours long in the late morning, afternoon times.

Opening times & Entrance fee

October 1 – April 30: 8 am – 5:30 pm
May 1 – September 30 : 8 am – 6 pm
The month of Ramadan: 9 am – 5 pm

70 DH for the gardens and 30 for the Islamic Art Museum.

4. The Secret Gardens

The most beautiful hidden gem of Marrakesh. The origins of the complex date back to the Saadian Dynasty, more than four hundred years ago and was rebuilt in the mid-19th century at the order of an influential leader of the Atlas Mountains. Le Jardin Secret combines the great tradition of Arab-Andalusian and Moroccan palaces. Its gardens and buildings are outstanding examples of Islamic art and architecture.

Opening times & Entrance fee

February, March and October & during Ramadan
9.30 am – 6.30 pm

April to September
9.30 am – 7.30 pm

November to January
9.30 am – 6.00 pm

Entrance fee is 50 DH

5. Jemaa el-Fnaa

The Jemaa el-Fnaa is Marrakesh’s main square and the most important part of the medina- the old city. Here, locals and tourists gather during both day and night to have something to eat, shop and sink in the unique atmosphere of this chaotic city. 

TIP : Have a meal at one of the restaurants with a terrace facing the square and look down at the madness, siping a mint tea.

It’s worth to come to the square both during the day and at night to witness the transformation from dusk to dawn as morning stalls disappear to give room to food stands. If you dare having your dinner there, the food is really good and very cheap. 

By the way we made another guide for you on all the best restaurants & accommodations of Marrakesh!

6. The Souk

Marrakesh’s souks are a labyrinth of narrow alleyways and streets packed with market stalls. Here the locals do their shopping and merchants try to entice tourists with their offers and discounts. The souks begin on the northern part of Jemaa el-Fnaa and spreads through numerous passageways and streets. Clothes, fabrics, food, spices, pottery, jewellery and many other traditional Moroccan products are constantly being sold. Getting lost in those alleyways is one of the “must do” attractions of Marrakesh. Do not worry- in the end, all the streets lead back to the main square

TIP : Do not forget to bargain. At first the sellers will give you price even 3-4 times higher than expected. Being polite, propose your price, then you will hear the counter offer, to which you respond with yet another one and so on, until you reach a mutually acceptable deal.

It is known that the vendors at the souks are very pushy and sometimes harsh. Showing any signs of interest in their products will trigger an automatic reaction, they will bombard you with offers and invitations to purchase the article. If you are not interested, simply reply “No, thank you”, or “Non, merci”. They might try to scream as you walk away trying to change your mind, but if you keep polite, they’ll switch fast to the next target. 

Do not worry about walking around the souk. It is safe and even if seems mad at points and locals get too pushy, a smile and simple rejection will make them understand that you are not interested in purchasing.

We realised that being kind, smiling and respectful will take you a long way in Marrakesh, even if your answer will always be “no”. 

Read : Marrakesh Étiquette – All the DO’s and DON’Ts.

7. The Koutoubia Mosque 

Commissioned by Abd-al-Mu’min, the construction of the Koutoubia began in 1141 and presently is Marrakesh’s most important mosque. It’s one of the largest places of worship for followers of Islam when it was completed in 1158.

Non-Muslims may not enter the Koutoubia Mosque nor any other mosques in Marrakesh. Visitors can only admire from the outside this 69 m high tower (highest of Marrakesh) and its temple. 

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