Things to do in Marrakech

Planning a trip to Marrakech? From the hustle and bustle of the city's Souks to the tranquil Majorelle Gardens, don't miss out on our top 5 places to visit.
Marrakech’s central square more than lives up to its reputation as a place where anything can happen. The Jemaa El-Fna is filled with street theatre: henna tattoo artists, fortune tellers and snake charmers all vie for the attention of passers-by. It’s best to visit after the sun goes down when the square comes alive with the sounds of story-tellers and musicians and the smells of local delicacies rising from the food stalls. The full chaos of the square can be appreciated from one of the surrounding rooftop terrace cafes, which offer views of both the square below and the surrounding Atlas Mountains.
Morocco’s traditional crafts are in rich supply in the city’s souks, where haggling is an essential part of any transaction. Smaller alleys and squares run off the main souks and here you can find areas devoted to small crafts where you can watch craftsmen and women at work. The stalls open early in the morning and it’s advisable to go early if you want to evade the crowds. Getting lost in the maze of streets is all part of the experience, although local guides can be hired if you’re looking for a more organised tour.
The Saadian Tombs lay buried for centuries until their rediscovery in 1917 and subsequent restoration. Lavishly decorated in marble, gold and colourful tiles, Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour ed-Dahbi’s tomb is a testament to his wealth and power. Sultan Moulay Ismail sealed the tombs as a way to keep his predecessors out of sight and mind. There remains only one entrance to the tombs, accessible through a passage in the Kasbah Mosque. In spite of their concealed entrance, the Saadian Tombs are a popular tourist attraction - go first thing in the morning to avoid the queues.
The stone archways, painted ceilings and ornate patterned tiles of the Bahia Palace make it an outstanding example of 19th century Moroccan architecture. The palace has over 150 rooms in total, some of which are still used by the royal family and their staff. As such, only a portion of the palace’s rooms are open to the public, although it’s still worth taking an hour or two to explore these, the gardens and the courtyards. Open every day to visitors, entry is only 10 dirhams (around 70 British pence!).
The picturesque gardens of Marrakech provide a welcome respite from the city’s crowds. French painter Jacques Majorelle spent over forty years cultivating the now public gardens at his Marrakech home. Covering nearly two and a half acres, the gardens house an impressive collection of exotic plants and cacti which surround Majorelle’s bright blue villa-studio, now a museum and gallery.

Dating back to the 12th century, the Menara Gardens are also well-worth a visit if you’re in search of some tranquillity. A picturesque lake fills the centre of the garden, reflecting the royal pavilion that sits on its edge. On clear days, the view is completed by the snow-capped Atlas mountains in the distance.