Marrakech is a vibrant city in the west of Morocco, teeming with sights, smells and sounds.
Here are my top 5 favourite things to do (for day trips outside the city, scroll down to the bottom of this page!);
Djeema el Fna
Bustling with activity at almost any time of day, Djeema el Fna is the hub of Marrakech. This huge market square is home to snake charmers, spice sellers, street food stalls and much more.
By day, come here to watch as the locals go about their daily routine; shopping for produce and transporting their goods. Then, by night, let the sizzling smells entice you in for a freshly cooked meal, surrounded by the distinctive melody of snake charmers.
Try a Tasty Tagine
A tagine is a popular type of food found in North West Africa, including Morocco. The name comes from the earthenware pot in which they’re typically cooked – cone shaped in order to retain moisture and reduce the need for large amounts of water.
A Moroccan tagine consists of meat and vegetables cooked slowly over charcoal. Additional ingredients include fruits, nuts, olives and various spices. Combine these altogether and you have a deliciously moist and flavoursome stew!
Tagines are a staple of the Moroccan diet; be sure to try one when you’re in Marrakech!
Views from Zeitoun Cafe
The top floor of Zeitoun Cafe has superb views over the famous market square of Djeema el Fna. Come here to escape the hustle of the streets below; chill over lunch, relax with a drink or go all out and enjoy a 3-course dinner.
Looking beyond Djeema el Fna, the unmistakable minaret of Koutoubia Mosque rises above the rooftops – this vista of market place plus minaret is the most iconic view of Marrakech!
One of the best times of day to soak up this view is around sunset; the market lights begin illuminating whilst the sun will be setting behind a silhouette of the Koutoubua Minaret – simply stunning stuff! Alternatively, during the day, you’ll be able to watch the activities of the market in greater detail and potentially see the peaks of the Atlas Mountains on the horizon.
One sure way to immerse yourself into Moroccan culture is to browse the traditional markets (called souks). Souks consist of a series of alleyways and small winding streets, often covered to protect against the harsh summer sun or occasional winter rain.
These covered marketplaces are usually divided up into categories. Different sections for clothing, jewellery, spices, footwear, etc., make it easy to find what you’re looking for (and also help with navigation!).
An essential part of the souk experience is to haggle for the price when making a purchase. Have a figure in mind beforehand, then do your best to negotiate down to that price. However, be aware that walking away halfway through a discussion can be considered disrespectful, so only enquire about the price if you’re serious about purchasing.
A note on safety: Souks aren’t particularly dangerous places but you must still adhere to the usual travellers safety tips – keep valuables out of sight, remain vigilant and avoid walking around alone after dark. Another thing to look (and listen) out for in the souks is hurtling motorbikes – there’s little room for manoeuvre in the narrow alleys so always check both ways at junctions or when stepping out of a shop.
This article by World Nomads is a useful checklist for avoiding the most common scams in Morocco.
Wear earphones without music!
Numerous sellers, vendors and shop owners will try to grab your attention whilst wandering around a souk. One way to combat this hassling is to wear earphones (although preferably without music on so you can still remain vigilant and also enjoy the sounds of the souk).
Oasiria Water Park
Open every year at the end of March (once the weather gets hot enough), this water park is the perfect place to cool off. The North African sun can get pretty strong – especially during the height of summer – so it’s nice to take a break from sweaty sightseeing and relax around a pool.
Attractions at Oasiria include lazy rivers, wave pools, a climbing wall and slides of varying speeds. There are also some gardens, restaurants and play areas for children. Entry prices as of the end of 2018 were 150 Dirham (£13/US$16) for adults, 100 Dirham (£8/US$10) for seniors or children between 0.8-1.5m in height, and free for children below 0.8m.
To find out more about the best Marrakech day trips (desert safaris and epic waterfalls), click here.
Or, to watch a short video I made about Morocco, click here to visit my YouTube channel.