Steeped in atmosphere, mystery and charm, the historic city of Marrakesh offers plenty of delights for travellers passing through its dusty streets – from the bustling chaos of the Medina, to the breath-taking Atlas Mountains that overlook the city from the desert plains outside it.
Read on to discover some of the most inspiring things to enjoy – from stunning sights and delicious eateries, the some of the most relaxing and restorative places to check out during your visit.
The old Medina of Marrakech was, and continues to be, right at the heart of cultural life in the city. The Koutoubiya Mosque stands as the centrepiece, with its ornate minaret towering over the marketplace. Explore the historic architecture, including palaces, tombs and beautiful gardens, then soak up the magical atmosphere of the Medina by night, as storytellers, musicians, artists and street vendors all vie for your attention.
Want to head a bit further afield? The Ksar of Ait Benhaddou is an absolute must-see. A short drive out from Marrakesh, this features a traditional Kasbah, combining an intricate array of homes and courtyards into a complex multi-layered construction. It’s no surprise that this heritage site has been featured in Hollywood epics countless times – the striking construction is truly cinematic, and well worth exploring.
When it comes to delicious food, you are truly spoilt in Marrakesh – with countless traditional restaurants and cafés available for anything from a light snack to a delicious Moroccan meal. If you’re in the Medina and in need of respite from its chaotic energy, head to the Café des Epices – located next to the spice market. Try their delicately spiced coffee – a local speciality that will leave your usual caffeine fix in the shade. And if you can, head up the winding staircase for a coveted spot on the rooftop – where you can admire the beautiful sight of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in the distance, as well as the spread of the markets below.
For an indulgent dining experience, La Mamounia cannot be beaten. Regarded by many visitors as one of the finest restaurants in the city, it combines contemporary elegance with a tradition and charm – relax in the beautifully decorated dining rooms, or head out to the terrace, where you can catch stunning views overlooking the city. The glamour of the surroundings are complemented by delicious cuisine – ranging from traditional tagines and cous-cous dishes, to Fresh and Italian fare.
The energetic and bustling atmosphere of Marrakesh can certainly be a little overwhelming at times, but if you find yourself in need of some rest and recuperation, relief is close at hand. Marrakesh has a wonderful array of relaxing spas and retreats, nestled in amongst converted riads or traditional guest houses, and even hidden amongst the winding streets of the Medina.
For absolute pleasure, head to La Mamounia once again. Though it is located just outside of the Medina, once you step through its verdant pathways, you are transported to a calm and relaxing space. Submit to the skilful hands of their in-house masseuses, who utilise the latest Japanese beauty products from Shiseido to sooth your body and your mind.
Of course, hammams and spa houses are a strong part of Moroccan culture, and traditional versions can be easily found. The most indulgent of these is at the Ksar Char Bagh – one of the most widely renowned hotels in the city, and home to an enchanting spa. With fragrant fruit trees lining the pathway, gentle candle light and traditional Arabic music providing the backdrop, you can be certain you are in for something very special. Here, you’ll experience deep, full body scrubs and scented oil massages that revive and restore your innate sense of wellbeing.
For more ideas and to plan your visit try one of these Marrakesh Travel Guides before you go.