Marrakech is a wonderfully exciting city with an interesting culture. As you step into this Medina you’ll be welcomed by noisy locals as they go about their daily life.
As with all cities the main focus is generally on shopping and sightseeing as opposed to a beach holiday, where you’ll spent the majority of your days topping up your tan.
So, what is there to do during holidays in Marrakech? Here are a few of our favourites to help you out.
Jemaa El Fnaa Square
It costs nothing to wander around this square. Located in the Medina quarter of Marrakech, surrounded by souks you can spend hours looking at the weird and wonderful things on sale here. And with street entertainers and snake charmers, the square is often described as a free open-air theatre. Tipping is expected but this is optional.
The entertainment ends around dusk, this is when the square changes and turns into a whole new experience as an enormous open-air food market fills the area. This is a truly magical setting with the sounds of musicians, storytellers and gasping as the acrobats somersault high into the sky.
Arsat Moulay Abdeslam Cyber Park
Situated close to the square, this is a beautiful place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the souks. Restructured by the French, this botanical garden opened in 2005 and has earned the name ‘Cyber Park’ from the range of internet kiosks scattered around it.
You are unable to enter this 12th century mosque if you are non-Muslim, but you can relax in the large plaza with gardens free of charge. This is the largest mosque in Marrakech and sits high above the city.
Most art galleries are free throughout the day unless there is a special event on.
Rahba Kedima Square
This square is great for people-watching as it’s quieter than the main square, but there is still plenty to see. You’ll also find that the locals spend the majority of their time here with shops and stalls on every corner, selling everything imaginable. Why not investigate a range of rare spices or try some traditional medicines?
Cooking Workshop At La Maison Arabe Hotel
Moroccan cuisine is delicious, so if you’re looking to impress your friends back home then why not book yourself on to a cooking course? They typically last half a day and attendees are shown how to prepare either an appetiser and a main dish or a main dish and a dessert. Plus, a dada, a Moroccan cook or a chef, will help you create each dish.
Located just outside of Marrakech and constructed in the late 16th century are the Saadian Tombs. Saadian Sultan Ahmed el-Mansour imported Italian marble and decorative plasterwork with gold to make the Chamber of the 12 Pillars an impressive mausoleum. They have been a major attraction for tourists on Marrakech holidays for many years now because of their beauty and the fact that a number of prominent people are buried in them.
Public bath houses similar to the ones you find in Turkey are also found in Morocco. They are used regularly by locals, particularly on a Friday as they can sometimes spend a full day just gossiping and putting the world to rights. You can choose to self bathe or you can try a relaxing argan oil massage. Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave you can always opt for a traditional gommage – a full body scrub which is by no means gentle. However, once the initial soreness disappears you are left with baby soft skin.
We would recommend paying for a guide, otherwise you may feel a bit underwhelmed here. This palace has been intricately decorated by an expert craftsman’s hands. It should take no more than an hour to look round this palace and its gardens, but a guide will make the visit much more interesting as they tell the story behind the palace walls.
Enjoy a sandwich and a coffee while someone decorates your hands or feet with henna. Yes,this may be one of the more unusual ways to spend your time in Marrakech but we’re sure you’ll enjoy it. Henna Café Marrakech is a registered cultural foundation in Morocco and 100% of the profits are used to fund free education and assistance to Moroccan people. This café welcomes foreign visitors who are willing to give up some of their time to teach languages or help with CV writing.
As you can see there are lots of things to do in Marrakech, and these are just a few!
Here are a few tips on how to make your trip more enjoyable
Most places you visit in Morocco, whether free or not, you’ll encounter Moroccan men who want to be your tour guide – usually young teenage boys who are unemployed. At first, they will offer friendship and tell you that they can take you to all the best places. While a lot of these guides can be useful, they are not free. They may claim to be but they will be paid commission, so a tip will be expected.
The best tip we can give you is, try not to look lost, as soon as they see this they will use this as their excuse to hook you in. If you do need help ask locals inside the shops or a policeman/woman. Remember you do not have to pay money for a service you didn’t ask for.
There is nothing more refreshing than a freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice from the stalls. However, you’ll often find that the Moroccans add about five heaped teaspoons of sugar as this is how they like to drink it. I would advise asking them to squeeze it in front of you. This way, you can add the sugar if you want it, otherwise you may end up with a very sweet drink.
If you’re in a restaurant don’t be fooled into thinking that the bread or drink they bring out is free or included in the price of the meal. Sometimes it is included, but if they do try to charge you extra, and it is not listed in the menu or you haven’t asked for it, do not pay for it. The police are aware of this and the restaurant will never try and complain about it, so do not pay it.
Be prepared to haggle as it is expected here. There are no price tags on the goods in the souks for a reason. If you want to buy something think about what you are willing to pay for it and then knock the price they offer down by at least half. If they don’t accept walk away, chances are they will eventually accept your offer as they won’t want to lose your custom. Although we mentioned earlier about the faux guides, there are also some official guides who you do have to pay for, but these are genuine with wealth of knowledge about the city. And more importantly, you won’t be scammed by them as they are well regulated by the police. They are worthwhile for visitors who want to learn about the city’s history.
If you have already booked to go to Marrakech, I hope this guide has been useful in planning your trip. Not booked yet but thinking about it for your next holiday? Then we hope that this guide has inspired you and you pay this amazing city a visit.