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Marrakech is a popular long weekend destination for us Brits. Forget Paris, spending a weekend in Marrakech is what’s always a good idea. There’s an abundance of cheap flights and it only takes three hours of being at 35,000 ft to arrive somewhere that feels a million miles away from home and there are plenty of unique top things to do in Marrakech, Morocco!
I spent the entire duration of the transfer from the airport to our Riad in Marrakech with my eyes wide open. The things I love most about travelling; the numerous new sights, smells and sounds were all present on that short drive as we began to wound our way through the Medina in Marrakech.
If you’re looking for a weekend adventure not too far away from home then a visit to Marrakech could be the answer.
However, it also seems like EVERYONE and their Aunt is visiting this Moroccan city for the weekend nowadays. Therefore, trying to find something different to do, something your friends haven’t already done can be difficult.
The best moments of our weekend in Marrakech were the moments spent doing things no one else had told us to do when we wandered away from Marrakech guide books and advice: the things we just happened to stumble across.
So, whether you’re revisiting or are visiting Marrakech for the first time, skip the usual Marrakech itinerary and try these suggestions on what to do in Marrakech over a weekend.
Marrakech, or Marrakesh, is a former imperial city in western Morocco. It’s a major economic centre for the country and is home to mosques, palaces and gardens. The heart of the city is the densely packed and walled medina. This part of the city is the medieval city which dates back to the Berber Empire. It’s a maze of alleyways with market places (souks) selling textiles, pottery, lamps and jewellery.
Marrakech is full of different sights, tastes and smells and you’ll probably either love it or hate it!
Where is Marrakech?
If you’re wondering “where’s Marrakech?” then you’re not alone. Despite it’s popularity, many people don’t realise that it’s actually on the continent of Africa and is one of the larger cities in Morocco.
Morocco shares a border with Algeria to the east. The city of Marrakech is fairly centrally located within Morocco and is roughly 2.5 hours drive away from the coast.
How many days in Marrakech?
There are lots of places to see in Marrakech and the city is so crazy that you could easily spend a week or 5 days in Marrakech. However, for more a long weekend (4 days, 3 nights) is enough to get a taste for the city.
The ideas in this post are great if you’re wondering what to do in Marrakech in 3 days as that’s how long we spent there. However, you could easily cut out a few things like the day trip suggestion, hammam and cooking class if you just have 2 days in Marrakech.
When is the best time to visit Marrakech?
There’s never really a bad time to go but the best time to go to Marrakech tends to be in the Spring (March to May).
Marrakech in May and Marrakech in the fall (September-November) are perfect since it’s not too hot! It’s a pretty sweaty place in the summer months!
Is Marrakech safe?
In general, yes. Moroccans are well known for being hospitable and tolerant people. However, if you’re a solo female traveller in Morocco, especially if you’re blonde, you’re likely to receive more unwanted attention than if you’re travelling in a group or with men.
Even though I was travelling with my boyfriend there was a lot of catcalling and staring. It gets a bit tiresome as the trip goes on.
I’d advise wearing a maxi or midi dress with sleeves (or at least with the shoulders covered) or loose trousers and t-shirts. Try to avoid low necklines or anything too figure-hugging to avoid too much attention.
How to get to Marrakech
Getting to Marrakech is easy, reasonably cheap and quick. There are many flights leaving from the bigger UK airports every week.
Flights to Marrakech
Flights to Marrakech land at Marrakech airport (RAK). You can find return flights with RyanAir and British Airways for under £150 return.
Where to stay in Marrakech, Morocco
Looking for hotels in Marrakech, Morocco? I’ve whittled down some of the best places to stay in Marrakech for every budget.
The main thing to bear in mind is that the best area to stay in Marrakech depends on what you’re looking for during your trip. If you really want to be in the middle of it all, amongst the madness then a riad within the city walls may be right for you.
However, if you’re looking for somewhere more relaxing you may want to look at Marrakech hotels with pools which tend to be outside the medina as there’s more space there.
Marrakech where to stay guide on how to find the best Riad for you.
Where to eat in Marrakech
If you’re looking for a Marrakech Moroccan restaurant then look no further! Here are a few of the most popular restaurants in Marrakech.
- La Jardin
- Café Clock
- Dar Moha
- Le Tobsil
- Dar Yacout
Best things to buy in Marrakech
Marrakech is one of the best places to pick up some home furnishings! There are plenty of places to visit in the Medina where you can get awesome light fittings, rugs and ceramics. These gifts are some of the best of Marrakech and a great way to remember your trip. If you’re in the market for some new things to buy take a look at the following:
- Leather poufs
- Cushion covers
- Argan oil
- Tea sets
Best tours in Marrakech, Morocco
A small group tour can be a great way to experience a new city the way the locals do. Take a look at these Marrakech tours to see a new side to this crazy place.
- Open air Moroccan cookery class
- 3 hour night time tour of Marrakech
- Atlas Mountain Day trip
- Full day tour with lunch
Ideas for unique things to do in Marrakech, Morocco
A map of different things to do in Marrakech
If you’re heading to Marrakech here is where to find the ideas for fun things to do in Morocco (and specifically places to visit in Marrakech!). These Marrakech attractions are a must see. Save these Marrakech top attractions to your phone and find these Marrakech highlights easily as you wander around. The suggestions below make for a great Marrakech 3 day itinerary.
Steer clear of Marrakech hotels and stay in a luxurious & authentic Riad
When I began searching for somewhere to stay in Marrakech I knew instantly that I wanted to stay in a Riad. Why stay in a hotel that could be anywhere when I could be amongst the madness, the action, the craziness?
Riads, the equivalent of a boutique hotel, are beautifully decorated and furnished. They’re usually found in amongst the maze of streets in Marrakech’s Medina (the old city). I’d highly recommend getting a transfer from the airport to the Riad so you don’t have to rely on your own navigation skills. GPS doesn’t work that well in the Marrakech Medina market and you’ll be approached by many entrepreneurial Moroccans offering to show you the way for a hefty sum. Most Riads offer transfers and it’ll make that welcome to the city so much nicer!
I can see the pull of staying in a more westernised, luxurious looking hotel in the “new city”, I really can, but you only get amazing looking Riads like Riad Star and Alwachma in Marrakech. Hotels with pools and cocktail bars can be found anywhere.
There’s also no need to be worried about your slumber being disrupted by the noise of the Medina. Sure, the Medina is loud but the Riads seems to have some magical ability to cancel all the noise out. In fact, they’re almost eerily quiet!
Still need convincing? Riads tend to come with amazing rooftops for the best views of Marrakech sites! So, if you are after some sunbathing while in Marrakech you need only head to the rooftop of your Riad.
Explore the ruins of the Badi Palace
Explore some more Moroccan architecture when you discover the ruins of the Badi Palace. This palace used to be owned by Saadian King Ahmad al-Mansur in the 16th Century and was looted by his successor before being left to the ruins you see today.
Noted as one of the best things to do in Marrakech this ruin has walls dotted with massive stork nests (a holy animal in Marrakech) and a sunken down orange grove plus a few reflection pools.
For the best views at one of the best Marrakech points of interest, you’ll want to head upstairs.
Sip on sugary mint tea
You can’t come to Morocco and NOT have mint tea. It’s pretty much impossible. Whether your first sip is at your hotel or riad or in the Marrakech city centre, you’re sure to enjoy this sweet drink. You can order them pretty much everywhere and each one will taste slightly different!
If you’re after a Marrakech day trip then head out to the Ouzoud Falls. These waterfalls in Morocco are about a 2.5-hour drive away from the city and are home to some monkeys too. It’s a great place to escape the noise of the city.
Enjoy a Hammam experience
Having a Hammam in Marrakech is a real experience. These public bathhouses are a great way to experience the local culture and relax at the same time. There are high-end hammams or more authentic scrub downs (just be prepared they’re reportedly not the most relaxing…).
The whole experience involves stripping down, taking a sudsy bath, sitting in a sauna, exfoliating and getting a massage. You’ll feel like a new person if you visit a hammam in Marrakech!
Explore the crazy Jemaa el-Fna day & night
Jemaa el-Fna is the main square in Marrakech. You can visit it during the day but it’s at night that it comes alive at one of the top Marrakech sights. It’s without a doubt one of the best things to do in Marrakech at night. If you were wondering where to go in Marrakech then check this place out even if you’ve been during the day.
It’s an eye-opening place with so much going on wherever you look and you hear some amusing things from the stall owners trying to entice you to come and eat with them. See what I mean in this ‘things I heard at Jemaa el-Fna market’ post.
Wander Ben Yousseff Madrasa
This is one of the top Marrakech activities. Ben Yousseff Madrasa used to be an Islamic college in Marrakech for around 900 students and now it’s a Morocco must see. That’s mostly because of the beautiful tiles you’ll find as you wander around and the 14th-Century architecture.
Stay clear of Jardin Majorelle. Wander down Rue Bab El Arhdar
We did visit Jardin Majorelle, favoured by late fashionista Yves Saint Laurent. However, I wasn’t much impressed. We both preferred the prettier, calmer, less touristy and cheaper garden towards the south of the city. Jardin Majorelle was nice but I thought it would be so much better. The mass of tourists there day in and day out makes it less attractive. The 70 dirham entry fee even more so. It’s one of the top things to see in Marrakech when you Google “What to see in Marrakech?” and many would say it’s a Marrakech must-see, but I have an alternative suggestion.
If I’m honest a visit to Jardin Majorelle felt like a bit of a rip-off. Instead, I’d highly recommend taking a walk along Rue Bab El Arhdar which runs adjacent to one of the Palaces. This garden area is much quieter and it’s free. Plus you’ll get to feel quietly smug about having discovered something secret. Our evening walk around the gardens was one of our favourites.
Swap a sunset drink at La Mamounia for one at Nomad
When looking at things to do in Marrakech, La Mamounia will crop up time and time again. La Mamounia is a five-star palatial hotel just within the Medina walls. It’s known for opulence with Winston Churchill being a fan in his time.
Sure, La Mamounia is pretty, but if you want to feel a bit more in the middle of the action you should visit Nomad.
The souks are almost impossible to navigate but every now and again they open up slightly into squares. In these squares, you’ll find sellers selling their wares whether that’s cumin, live tortoises, lamps or leather goods.
The rooftop at Nomad looks over onto one such square and is both close enough, yet far enough away, to the action for a relaxing sunset cocktail. Yes, an alcoholic cocktail at that. This is unusual as many places in the Medina aren’t licensed to sell alcohol! That alone makes this an addition for your what to visit in Marrakech list!
The brainchild of well-known eatery Le Jardin, Kamal Laftimi, is behind Nomad. Nomad is a Brazil meets Morocco oasis courtyard Marrakech restaurant with stunning views of the Katouia mosque. Rumour has it the food here is pretty special too, but make sure you book as it can get pretty busy!
See the Koutoubia Mosque
The Koutoubia Mosque is one of the top Morocco attractions and one of the most famous icons in Marrakech. At 77 metres high you can see it from all over the city. Non-muslims are not allowed to enter the mosque as this Marrakech mosque is still an active place of worship. However, you can grab a moment of calm by enjoying the exterior of this impressive building that deserves to be in the top 10 in Marrakech.
Escape the souks and head to the Kasbah
As much fun as exploring the souks medina in Marrakech can be, sometimes it gets tiring. Things to do in the Medina include; getting lost, haggling or having people constantly try and take you somewhere you don’t want to go.
If you want a break from it all then head south and visit the Kasbah (if you happened to go to Warwick or Coventry uni, or live there, don’t worry it’s nothing like the nightclub!).
This Marrakech market is a much less busy version of the souks and I think it’s one of the best places to visit in Marrakech. You’ll feel safer from runaway motorbikes and will find the initial price given to you by the seller that little bit less than in the souks!
One of our favourite shops on the whole trip was an apothecary type store and I honestly think these stores are the best places to do in Marrakech.
We were treated to a guided tour of all the spices and treatments. We learnt about how a good sniff of nigella seeds can cure all ailments; including blocked noses and headaches, and walked away with some pretty looking (and smelling) tea and a freebie – Berber lipstick made from poppies and pomegranate.
Learning about how the herbs and spice in the shop are used was fascinating and even better that it didn’t come across as a hard sales pitch!
Don’t just eat tagine, learn how to cook it!
I love eating new food when travelling. But I love trying new recipes and finding out where food comes from even more.
There are loads of unusual Marrakech tours to try but this cookery class was the one that caught my interest! We started by visiting the markets with our Marrakech travel guide to grab our ingredients before heading back to the chefs Riad and learning how to cook it!
Whilst spending your weekend in Marrakech it almost goes without saying that you have to try a tagline; it’s a must do in Marrakech. The vegetable ones were actually my favourite! Why not take it one step further and learn how to cook it yourself? Your new skills will rival some of the best restaurants in Marrakech and you can recreate holiday memories at home.
If you’ve been to Marrakech I’d love to know what alternative things to do you’d recommend doing!
Want more Morocco travel ideas?
Looking for other ideas on what to do in Morocco or what to see in Morocco? Check out these posts on my trip to the Hollywood of Morocco and a trip to the desert!