Overwhelming in every sense of the word, Marrakesh is a city of sensory indulgence. The city’s sights, sounds, and smells are alluring — vibrant music, amazing food, and that saturated ochre skyline. You could explore this African travel hub in just a few days, but with so much to taste, see, and, uh, buy, we can’t promise you won’t want to come back for more.
Not sure where to start? We’ve put together the ultimate quick-hit list of everything you must do on a visit to this bucket-list-worthy destination. Watch the video, then peruse our travel guide so that you can bookmark the very best restaurants and sites for your trip. And, hey, write us a postcard, would ya?
Sites & Activities
The heart, lungs, and liver of Morocco, Jemaa el Fnaa Square is at the center of it all. Here you can find snake charmers, horse-and-buggy rides, and a rooftop bar to post up for sunset. By day, drink fresh-squeezed orange juice from one of the many vendors and by night watch some of the most entrancing live music you ever did see.
If you’re walking near the main square, or anywhere in Marrakesh, really, you can’t miss the Koutoubia Mosque, or the booksellers mosque built in the 12th century. Although tourists can’t go inside, it’s worth standing out front and admiring the mosque’s epic history.
The. Best. Bazaar. Ever. Like, ever. You can get lost in this seemingly endless maze of lamps and shoes and ceramics and rugs. And, TBH, we encourage you to. Load up on all of it and don’t look back. Just make sure to bring your bargaining brain with you as the seller’s starting prices are typically inflated.
If you’re in the market for rugs (or even if you’re not), you’ll appreciate this immaculate and well-stocked shop at the start of Souk City. After offering you a green tea, the owner will gladly unroll any number of runners and rugs from his immense collection of new and vintage wares. The reason we suggest this specific stand is because they’ll ship your rugs directly to your door for a reasonable price (so you don’t have to worry about carrying them on the plane).
Ourika Valley is just a short drive outside the main city walls of Marrakesh and is reachable by private car or guided day tour. There you’ll find beautiful views of the Moroccan landscape, many independent gem and rug sellers, and dozens of riverside mom-and-pop restaurants with chairs that sit right in the water.
Yves Saint Laurent had a longstanding love affair with Marrakesh and, in 1980 purchased Jardin Majorelle. The bright blue walls provide Instagram-worthy moments, while the acres of surrounding garden give a welcome respite from the heat of the city.
After dining in Marrakech, you’re inevitably going to want to buy a tagine. A more practical approach would be to book a Moroccan cooking lesson at La Maison Arabe, where you’ll pick up all the delicious tricks of the trade.
This is not for the faint of heart. We repeat, not for the faint of heart. It’s here in the bowels of the leather industry (in some cases, literally) that visitors can see how Moroccan leather products are made.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Spoiler alert: Heaven is a place on earth, and it exists at La Mamounia, a palatial hotel in the center of Marrakesh with an expansive pool, luxurious accommodations, and several restaurants worth trying even if you’re not staying there. It was the favorite among royalty and Winston Churchill back in the day, and still frequented by socialites and editors.
A three-tiered gourmet restaurant with one of the best lamb burgers in town, this hip spot is not to be missed. Just make sure to get there in time to watch the sunset. Don’t forget to hit up the attached gift shop for some high-end Moroccan product to bring home with you.
Each floor of Le Salama’s welcoming restaurant offers a new mood: cozy, rustic, and serene. One of the best lamb tagine we’ve ever had (we’ll stop saying it as soon as it’s not true), this place off the main square is not to be missed.
A decadent frond-laden entryway leads to a lush basement filled with mirrored walls in this indulgent restaurant. Go for the on-fire cocktails and food, stay for the super fun lounge singer.
After roaming the disorienting maze of Marrakesh’s winding streets, pause for a break on the roof of the hotel-adjacent Bazaar Cafe to sip rosé before buying one of the homemade ceramics in the lobby.
Epicurien nightclub is what we’d call “bougie,” but it’s also worth checking out. With fresh flowers all over and live music till way late at night, you won’t regret swinging by and swinging those hips while you’re at it.
A riad-shaped restaurant with a rooftop, Cafe Clock is about as local as they come. It’s got graffiti by local artists and a new event every night. Make sure you’re there on Wednesdays for storytelling or Saturdays for the all-female Moroccan folk band.