Photograph by Jean-Pierre Lescourret, Lonley Planet Images/Getty Images

 

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Shoppers walk by spices at a market in Marrakesh.

Photograph by Jean-Pierre Lescourret, Lonley Planet Images/Getty Images

 

Discover the Best of Marrakech

Ten must-do picks for Marrakech.

Wildlife

For a more ethical camel ride visit an Agafay Desert camp where the owners aren't after mass tourism and take better care of their animals. There are no rolling sand dunes to be found but against the backdrop of the High Atlas Mountains and stone desert landscape you may not miss them. Other animals you might encounter include mules, sheep and goats.

National Park

Outside Marrakech, Toubkal National Park is home to the largest mountain in North Africa as well as seven other mountain peaks. In the winter expect weather that changes rapidly and drops below freezing with heavy snow fall. During this time, you can downhill ski at Oukaimden. While in summer enjoy a short walk along the trails dotted with waterfalls, or hire a guide for a few days to summit Mt. Toubkal at 4,167 meters. Animals like squirrels, macaques, gazelles, and wild boar may be encountered so be on the lookout.

UNESCO Site

The entire medina of Marrakech is a UNESCO site, boasting several architectural and artistic features such as the Bahia Palace, Kotoubia Mosque and Saadian Tombs. While the medina played an important historical role in medieval urban development, today it exists as an example of traditional Moroccan lifestyle. Visitors to Marrakech can experience life much in the same way it would have been centuries ago by just walking the streets and alleys.

Cultural Experience

Night time in Jemma el Fna is one of the most iconic experiences anyone can have in Marrakech. The square was once the central trading hub of caravans crossing the Sahara desert. Visitors today will experience musicians, nightly food stalls, snake charmers and of course shopping. Hate crowds? Head to one of the rooftop cafes before sunset to see the sun go down but also witness the bustle below without being in the middle.

Off the Beaten Path

Instead of battling the crowds at the infamous Majorelle Jardin head out of town to the Anima Gardens where local flora and fauna are mixed with modern sculpture art and a fraction of the people to contend with. Each of the sculptures is thoughtfully woven into the natural landscape and an onsite café provides refreshments when it's time to take a break.

Most Iconic Experience

Visit a hammam. The traditional Moroccan bathhouse is a must-have experience. Using a soap made of ground olive pits, a mitt to exfoliate and copious amounts of warm water you'll be scrubbed top to bottom. Whether you're after a luxury spa experience or would rather head to the neighborhood version there's hammams everywhere. This truly is a part of Moroccan culture that hasn't disappeared in centuries.

Historic Site

With the Ben Youssef Medrassa (one of Marrakech's most historical sites) under renovations until 2020, pay a visit to Dar el Bacha, once home to the sultan of Marrakech Thami el Glaoui, and today a museum with rotating exhibits featuring topics such as the coexistence of faiths in the Mediterranean region. Or head out of town to the Tin Mal mosque near the village of Ourigane. This mosque from the 12th century is where the Almohad dynasty began their conquest of Marrakech. It then became the spiritual and artistic center of the new capital.

Neighborhood to Explore

Gueliz isn't a new neighborhood; it was once the French area of the city. Today it's full of boutiques, restaurants and galleries. While you are likely to find the same shops as you would in any large city (think H&M or Starbucks) there are also plenty of smaller stores featuring upscale products that you won't find in the souks. If art and shopping are your forte then you can easily spend the day browsing with breaks to enjoy modern Moroccan or international fare.

People-Watching Spot

There is no shortage of cafes in Marrakech and this is prime people-watching real estate. To get a mix of locals and visitors try one of the street side cafes in Jemma el Fna square where Marrakech comes to life every night. You might think there's a special celebration happening but it's just a normal night in Marrakech.

Jewish History

Recently renovated, the Mellah area of Marrakech was once the Jewish quarter. Visit the mellah spice market if you want to bring home spices. You can also visit the Lazama Synagogue to learn a little bit about Morocco's long Jewish history.