After our guides to perfect days in Cassablanca and Fez in Morocco it’s time for our guide to one of the most popular cities in Morocco… Marrakech! As you might know, Nick and I went on an eight-day G Adventures Trip, that departed Casablanca and ended in Marrakech and we spend a total of two days in the city.
Marrakech is the fourth city of Morocco and lies at the edge of the Atlas mountains. You can find a mix of Berber and Arabic culture here, as the city was an important trading post along the caravan routes in the Sahara, before the French put their colonial mark on the city.
I’m not going to lie, this city can be very overwhelming with the hundreds of small alleyways, market stalls, donkeys, people and motors that pass you everywhere, but after a while I’m sure you’ll start to appreciate it! Outside the walles of the Medina, you’ll find the Ville Nouvelle (New City), with clubs, hotels and apartment buildings, there really is so much to explore. I was so happy that we spend the first half of our day here with a guide from the G Adventures tours, so we felt a bit more relaxed navigating the city on our own later on.
From our time here, just two days, we picked out the best parts of our stay and combined them in this 24 hour guide, so even if you have a short amount of time, you can make the most of it on your next visit to this incredible city in Morocco. Enjoy!!
What we'll cover in this article
- ONE DAY IN MARRAKECH ITINERARY
- How to Spend Your Morning in Marrakech?
- How to Spend Your Afternoon in Marrakech?
- How to Spend Your Evening in Marrakech?
- Products from Amazon.com
- Products from Amazon.com
ONE DAY IN MARRAKECH ITINERARY
How to Spend Your Morning in Marrakech?
Visit Majorelle Gardens
There is a fairly good chance that you want to visit the Majorelle gardens in Marrakech, and if you’re planning to do so, we can HIGHLY recommend to do this first thing in the morning. Really, get there before the gates open, so you’re one of the first people in. We were there only half an hour after opening, and it was already super busy! Still worth it, but the sooner you can get in, the better.
If you’re not familiar with the Majorelle gardens, let me explain. Just inside of the old medina, but outside the souk area, you can find these famous gardens that have been the property of Yves Saint Laurent since the ’80s. The garden is a total peace haven (minus the selfie-taking tourists) and it has a massive collection of plants, cacti and even a museum of Islamic art.
We spend about 1-1,5 hours here and if you get a combination ticket, you can also visit the Yves Saint Laurent museum next door, which is exactly what we’re doing next.
Explore the Yves Saint Laurent Museum
After the gardens, Nick and I walked over to the Muséé Yves Saint Laurent, as the architect was of course very interested by this amazing brick building. And I must say that even though I’m not really interested in fashion, I also really enjoyed the museum itself!
There was a really nice exhibition with some of the best work of the fashion designer, showing all the outfits and telling the story of his life and death, which was really unexpected for me just how well it was done. I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside, but you just have to believe me :)
We did take some photos of the building itself, so sit back and enjoy Nick’s photography skills:
Have Light Brunch at Le Petit Chantier
After the garden and the museum, we headed over to grab a light brunch. Now, if you’re planning to do the Marrakech Food Tour that we recommend later today (and you really should, like.. really, really should!), then we can advice you to get your brunch/lunch early and as light as possible. You will thank us later!
On about 10-15 minutes walking from the museum, you can find the hip-looking Le Petit Chantier restaurant. It already looked nice from the outside, but when we understood how it ‘worked’, we loved it even more! Basically, it’s a Subway Sandwich-kind of deal, where you choose the element that you want in your dish… but then in the form of a healthy salad!
You get a piece of paper, choose your base (such as green salad or rice, etc.), then you choose either 6 or 9 ingredients (depending on how much you want to pay) and either 2 or 3 toppings + a sauce. They then mix it all together for you ET VOILA! You have a super healthy salad!!
They also do very nice smoothies, juices, mocktails and teas and coffee if you want. And oh yeah, they also do pasta, pancakes and a few meat and fish dishes (but they would be way too heavy if you’re doing the food tour).
You need a bit of French language skills reading the menu (or just ask the waiter, they speak English fine here!), but with everyone at our table we figured it all out pretty easily and were super happy we found this place!
In a Rush? Have a Quick Lunch with PitaPita
Looking to grab a real quick bite to eat? Then we have another suggestion for you! While we don’t normally enjoy nor encourage people to eat in a mall, there is one exception we love to make with the people of PitaPita in the Carre Eden Food Court in Marrakech.
This tiny stall is managed (at least when we were there) by a super friendly and enthusiastic guy, that appeared to be the owner of the shop since he also featured in the video playing behind him (check it out here). Oh my gosh you guys, he was clearly so proud of his shop, that I think the pita’s tasted 50% better just because of that.
But even without him serving the food, the food was very good here already! They use fresh ingredients you can choose to top your pita bread, quesadilla or nachos and they have good meal deals as well. Perfect if you’re looking for something filling and quickly.
How to Spend Your Afternoon in Marrakech?
See Saadien’s Tombs
As part of our G Adventures Trip, we got a guided tour of the incredible Saadien’s Tombs. These tombs date to time of the Saadian dynasty sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, which was between 1578 and 1603. But the most impressive thing about them is actually that they only got discovered by accident in 1917!
In the stunningly decorated mausoleum, which is composed of three rooms and a lovely garden, there are the interments of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty. The most beautiful room has to be the white one with the twelve columns. This room contains the grave of the grandson of the sultan. If you have the time, I can highly recommend paying the tombs a visit.
Walk through the Jewish Quarter
From the tombs, we walked to Bahia Palace through the old Jewish neighbourhood Mellah. I really liked the look and feel of this area, as it’s a lot less crowded than the main square that we’ll show you later and there are many small shops and so-called ‘herboristes’ (herb specialists) that make the area look so special.
Marvel at Bahia Palace
If you’re a fan of architecture, just like us, then Bahia Palace HAS to be on your to-visit list when you’re in Marrakech. This palace was built in the late 19th century and already during the planning stages, it was intended to be the greatest palace of its time. (‘Bahia’ means ‘brilliance’).
Built for personal use of the grand vizier of the sultan (and former slave), Si Moussa, the palace with its 150 rooms had enough room for him… and his harem. When Si Moussa passed away, his son Bou Ahmed lived here with his four wives and several concubines until his death in 1900. Over the years, he added lush gardens, a small riad surrounding private gardens and decorated each of the rooms in Moroccan style carved stucco and cedarwood.
While after Bou Ahmed’s death, Bahia Palace was ransacked and all valuables were removed, the building is still one of the best-preserved historical sites of the country. Alongside the palace, there is a 2-acre (8000 square meter) garden with rooms opening onto stunning courtyards, as you can see below. You can visit daily between 9 AM and 4 PM to see a portion of the palace.
Walk through the Souks in the Medina
After our visit to the tombs and the palace, we are being guided to the famous central square in Marrakech: Jemaa el-Fnaa. After some general pointers from our guide (don’t take photos of people unless you’re happy to pay them, don’t take photos with any animals unless you’re happy to pay them, watch out for pickpockets, watch out for traffic… and don’t forget to enjoy yourself, haha!), we’re left to our own devices, so with a group of people from our tour, we venture out into the souks.
The souks are just a maze of little alleyways all around the old Medina of the city and the shops are filled with anything from kitchenware, leather bags and ottomans, woven products, carpets, lamps, clothing and of course food and drinks. This isn’t just for the tourists (the ones facing the main square are though), but the further you get into the Medina, the more local shops you will find.
After a while I totally understood why so many people told me to bring an empty suitcase. I really wanted to buy everything, haha.
We already bought quite a few souvenirs in other places on our tour, such as Fez, but I must say that (probably because there is much more competition here), souvenirs in Marrakech were a lot cheaper. So if you’re travelling around and you’re ending in Marrakech, get all the items you can see below (and things like tagines and other cooking equipment) here!
In general, I found it perfectly fine and safe to walk through the souks and even take my camera out to take photos, but as everywhere, just be careful where you have your valuables at all time and keep your bag close to you. I’d also make sure to get out of the Medina when it starts getting dark, so you won’t get lost in the dark and might get into trouble. Most people were really super friendly and didn’t ‘harass’ you at all (I’d expected far worse after travelling in Asia a lot, but I found Morocco completely different, much more relaxed), so enjoy yourself, say hi to people, show respect and have a good time!!
Go on a Food Tour through the Medina
At the end of the day, you might get a bit hungry and while there are quite a few good restaurants around, you might find it hard to know where to go for dinner. Well… I have the perfect solution for you: Go on a guided Food Tour in the Medina!
My friend Amanda, from the travel blog ‘Maroc Mama‘, has been living in Marrakech for years with her Moroccan husband and kids and they run several tours that will show you the places they love to eat at themselves. You will get to experience all the great street food you see everywhere, but probably didn’t know if it was safe to eat or scared to ask for anything. You basically get the best of both worlds, plus in the tour we did, there are a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ stops that you wouldn’t normally get to see as a tourist.
This way, you eat lots of amazing food (trust me: LOTS – again, arrive VERY HUNGRY), get a personal guide to show you the way (no worries of getting lost) and you learn a lot about Moroccan food, culture and daily life!
The tour departs in front of the Post Office from the main square, and you’ll end when it’s dark at the main square again as well.
If you want to see the type of food you get on this tour and our personal experience, make sure to read our review here:
How to Spend Your Evening in Marrakech?
Hang Around at Jemaa el-Fna (or not)
After the Food Tour, you’re back at the main square of Marrakech, where all the market stalls have been packed away and made space for massive circles of people showing all kinds of shows including acrobats, storytellers, magicians, fire breathers and God (Allah) knows what else!
For us, it was a bit too much, so we jumped into a taxi back to the hotel, but if you’re up for it, why not enjoy the craziness of Marrakech a little longer?!
Staying Longer? Dinner Tip!
While after the Food Tour we did you REALLY don’t want to eat anything else in the foreseeable future, if you’re planning on staying longer in Marrakech than just the one day, here’s a good dinner tip for you: the restaurant of hotel Le Caspien, from acclaimed chef Jawad Kazouini.
We had our G Adventure’s farewell dinner with the group and the meals were wonderful here! While it was a bit noisy as the restaurant was super busy, so it wasn’t the best place to go with a group that just wants to talk to each other, if you’re with less people, I can highly recommend it!
I hope this article helped you deciding what to do in Marrakech! Here is more information to help you plan your trip:
Time Zone in Morocco? GMT +1
Currency in Morocco? Moroccan Dirham. Check the latest exchange rate here.
Electrical Plugs in Morocco? 220V, Type C and E. We recommend getting a universal travel adapter to never worry about having the right plug on your travels!
Languages Spoken in Morocco? Moroccan Arabic (Darija), Arabic & Berber + French. We had no trouble getting around with just English and our G Adventure guide helped us everywhere, as he was a local and spoke all the languages needed.
Best time to visit Morocco & Marrakech Travel? Spring (March-May) or Autumn (September-October). Summer can be nice on the coast, but will definitely be too warm more inland. Make sure to also take the date of Ramadan, the month of daytime fasting, in account when planning your trip!
Insurance for Morocco? Make sure to get travel insurance! We recommend checking out worldnomads.com
Which organised tours to do in Morocco? We highly recommend organised tours with G Adventures Tour!!
More Great Resources:
- Find the best flights to Marrakech
- Find the best hotels in Marrakech
- The most popular tours & activities around Marrakech
Hotels in Marrakech, Morocco:
Stay in a typical Arabic “riad”, with their gorgeous inner courtyards!
- Riad Anayela [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Celia [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Laila [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Palais Des Princesses [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Hotel & Spa Riad El Walaa [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Be Marrakech [see the best deals on booking.com]
Map of Marrakech Tourism Spots
I’ve added some additional restaurant tips on here as well for you!
Make sure to check out our other Morocco articles:
- One Week in Morocco with Gadventures
- One Day in Casablanca
- One Day in Fez
- Marrakech Food Tour Review
I hope you enjoyed all the suggestions for Marrakech Morocco things to do!
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Tours & Other Things to Do in Marrakech Morocco
There are many great tours and activities in Marrakech. Here are some great ones to get your started.
FOOD TOUR (WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS!)
- Marrakech Food Tours – marrakechfoodtours.com
- Marrakech Food Tours is owned and operated by a husband and wife team who have made it their mission to bring the real food of Marrakech to those visiting the red city. READ OUR REVIEW HERE!
- Discover Marrakech Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Enjoy a wonderful half day tour in the charming city of Marrakech to discover its main historical monuments. With your a local and professional guide, get a true taste of the rich culture in Marrakech and visit a local herbalist.
- Marrakech Monuments & Souks 3-Hour Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Discover the ornate palaces and monuments of Marrakech on a 3-hour sightseeing tour, and learn the history of Morocco’s “Red City.” Go to one of the largest mosques of the western Muslim world, visit traditional souks and more.
- Marrakech 3-Hour Walking Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Accompanied by a licensed guide, you’ll navigate Marrakech’s labyrinthine medina and its colorful souks. Explore the red city’s major historical sites and palaces and dive deep into the back streets to learn more about the local lifestyle.
- Marrakech Highlights and Hidden Gems Private Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Experience the hustle and bustle of the souks of Marrakech on a private tour of the city’s highlights and hidden gems. Admire stunning Moorish architecture and taste freshly-baked bread at a family-run bakery.
- Marrakech Private Souks Tour: Artisans & Their Crafts Click here for availability and current prices
- Explore Marrakech’s vibrant souks and uncover its hidden treasures, stunning colors and extraordinary handicrafts.
- Marrakech Shopping Tour: Secrets of the Medina Click here for availability and current prices
- Visit hidden stalls in the Marrakech medina with a local guide on a shopping adventure. Shop for souvenirs such as leather items, lamps, shoes, carpets, spices, and argan oil. Learn how to haggle like a real insider, and enjoy some exclusive discounts.
- Marrakech Half-Day Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Accompanied by a licensed guide, you’ll navigate Marrakech’s labyrinthine medina and its colorful souks, visiting sights such as the Menara Gardens, the Majorelle Gardens and the Koutoubia Minaret.
- Marrakech Historical Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Enjoy a historical exploration tour through Marrakech, visiting impressive sights such as the Bab Agnaou gate and Bahia Palace.
- Marrakech Tagine Cookery Class With a Local Click here for availability and current prices
- Learn to cook authentic Moroccan tagines in Marrakech. Shop for ingredients at a souk, learn about the uses of herbs and spices, and cook a typical Moroccan meal with an expert chef. Then, sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
- Moroccan Babouche Leather Workshop in the Medina Click here for availability and current prices
- Why you just buy it when you have the opportunity to make it? Spend 3.5 hours learning leatherwork in the medina from a traditional Moroccan craftsman. Enjoy tea and a local snack and make your own babouch slippers to take home.
- Marrakech: Private Half-Day Cooking Class Click here for availability and current prices
- Learn how to cook traditional dishes from Morocco and how to pair flavors at a half-day cooking class in Marrakech. Prepare authentic dishes to savor with a meal at the end of the class.
- Moroccan Cuisine: 3-Hour Open-Air Cooking Course Click here for availability and current prices
- Under the guidance of a head chef, prepare an exquisite 4-course meal in the open air using traditional recipes and small clay coal ovens. Learn about the culture and pleasures of the sweet and salty cuisine of Morocco: traditional slow food.
- Pottery Workshop Click here for availability and current prices
- Get messy and creative in a traditional pottery workshop in Marrakech!
CLOSE TO MARRAKECH:
- Marrakech: Half-Day Desert Quad & Dromedary Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Experience vast desert landscapes on this half-day dromedary and quad bike tour. First, discover authentic Morracan culture on a dromedary tour leading to a Berber village. Then, after a tea break, speed through the desert on your quad bike.
- Marrakech: 2-Hour Palm Groves Quad Biking Activity Click here for availability and current prices
- Enjoy a fun adventure by quad bike on the outskirts of Marrakech. This self-drive quad-biking excursion takes you into the Moroccan countryside with an expert guide, and reveals the beauty of the contrasting landscapes around the palm groves.
- Marrakech Rock Desert and Palm Grove Camel Ride with Tea Click here for availability and current prices
- Taste and discover how authentic Moroccan Mint tea is prepared and taste the famous local crepes. Explore the desert and Palm Grove of Marrakech from a camel’s back. Tour traditional villages and palm groves in the countryside.
Disclaimer: We were hosted on our tour through Morocco by G Adventures. The final night we arranged ourselves and for the food tour, we got 1 complimentary ticket from Food Tours Marrakech. All photos and opinions in this article are, as always, 100% our own. This post contains affiliate links.