Marrakesh is a city that sums up all of Morocco’s exotic North African charm. The city’s name provided the root for the name of the country itself, spelling out this town’s importance through the ages. Within the hustle of the medina, you’ll find the city’s main points of interest in a dizzying meld of ancient and new. Just soaking up the atmosphere here tops the things to do list, with snake charmers and smooth shop touts both competing for your attention amid a noisy, colorful bustle that encapsulates Morocco’s vibrant soul.
For shoppers, this city is famous as a frenzied hub for bargain hunting. For history-loving tourists, the many museums and monuments are some of the country’s sightseeing must-dos. And for those who just want to dive into local culture, the medina offers Moroccan life in all its hectic glory.
Marrakesh is also the gateway to Morocco’s High Atlas region, where you can relish the scenic mountain beauty after your Marrakesh metropolis adventures. For ideas on the best places to visit, see our list of the top attractions in Marrakesh.
For many visitors, Marrakesh's labyrinthine medina (old city) district is the town's star attraction. The narrow alleyways are a kaleidoscope of colors, scents, and sounds and are bound to be the sightseeing highlight of your trip.
As well as simply wandering (and getting lost) amid the bustling maze, there are myriad shopping opportunities, where you can put your haggling hat on and barter to your heart's content. Shoppers shouldn't miss the Babouche (shoe) Souk, Chouari (carpenter's) Souk, El-Attarine (perfume and spice) Souk, and the Cherratine (leather) Souk.
Just west of the main souk area, at the end of Rue Bab Debbagh, you'll find Marrakesh's tanneries, where animal skins are still dyed the old-fashioned way
The Koutoubia Mosque is Marrakesh's most famous landmark with its striking, 70-meter-tall minaret visible for miles in every direction. Local Marrakesh legend tells that when first built, the muezzin (man who calls the faithful to pray) for this mosque had to be blind, as the minaret was so tall, it overlooked the ruler's harem. The mosque was built in 1162 and is one of the great achievements of Almohad architecture. Non-Muslims are not allowed into the mosque itself
Built in 1565 by the Saadians, the Medersa (madrassa - Islamic school of learning) of Ben Youssef is the largest theological college in Morocco. The warrens of rooms (with student cells that once were home to 900 pupils) are clustered around small internal courtyards in typical Islamic architecture style, but the main internal courtyard is the real highlight here. The fine zellige tiling, stalactite ceilings, cedar-wood detailing, and Kufic inscriptions used as decoration across the courtyard's interior make this medersa one of Morocco's most beautiful buildings and a star medina attraction
This magnificent peacock of a palace was built in the late 19th century as the residence of the Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed, who served Sultan Moulay al-Hassan I. The interior decoration is a dazzling display of zellige tiles, painted ceilings, and ornate wrought-iron features showcasing the opulent lives of those high up in the sultan's favor at that time. The massive marble grand courtyard and opulent salons of the haram area are the two main attractions, while the lush internal courtyard of the grand riad, with its banana-leaf plants and citrus trees, is a tranquil respite from the city.
About 57 kilometers south of Marrakesh, this national park is the country's most popular. This is mostly due to it being home to Morocco's (and North Africa's) highest mountain, Djebel Toubkal, as well as a number of fantastic walking opportunities that range from multi-day trekking adventures to afternoon hikes.
If you don't fancy bagging Toubkal's 4,167-meter peak, you can opt for the lovely, scenic village-to-village Aremd circuit, which has all the sumptuous views without the sweaty effort required for mountain climbing. The time to come is summer, when all the trails are open; even during spring, snow can mean walking activities are curtailed