Marrakech is one of those cities you can get lost in – literally. It’s a maze of twisting alleys and crowded souks, and can be tough to navigate even after being there for a few days.
What I really liked about it though was how much it had to offer for tourists. Whether your idea of a good time is indulging in a relaxing spa experience, or getting lost in the ruins of an ancient palace, Marrakech has something for you.
In this post, I’ll go through 6 of my favorite, and most unique things to do in Marrakech. Keep reading till the end and you’ll find a bonus list of things I didn’t do, but recommend checking out, and a couple of things I did do, but don’t recommend.
Let me know what interests you the most in the comments below!
1. Appreciate the Saadian Tombs and Moulay El Yazid Mosque
The Saadian Tombs are a collection of intricately-decorated tombstones in a small mausoleum. It sounds like an eerie place, but it was turned out to be a really nice surprise during our time in Marrakech. Compared to the busy medina outside of its walls, the Saadian Tombs were a peaceful escape.
Spend half-an-hour or so here, and then admire the Moulay El Yazid Mosque outside. While you can’t go in unless you’re Muslim, there are a lot of great cafes outside the mosque where you can sit and admire it.
Hours (Saadian Tombs): 9 am – 4:45 pm
Price (Saadian Tombs): 10 dh
2. Discover Ben Yousseff Madrasa
Ben Yousseff Madrasa was once an Islamic college in Marrakech which housed about 900 students. Today, it’s open for viewing by the public and is one of the most sought after photo ops in Marrakech. The old college is known for its well-preserved, 14th-century architecture, and colorful tiles.
Unfortunately for Yuting and I, Ben Yousseff Madrasa was completely closed down when we visited. It was undergoing major construction and the workers weren’t allowing anyone to go inside.
Hours: 9 am – 7 pm (6 pm in the Winter)
Price: 20 dh
3. Get lost in the ruins of the Badi Palace
If you’re short on time and can’t decide whether you should visit the Bahia Palace, or the Badi Palace, go for Badi. It’s more of an actual ruin to explore, and had a few, sweet surprises up its sleeve.
For one, the walls of this ruin are dotted with giant stork nests. Storks in Marrakech are considered to be holy animals – something easy to believe after spending time observing them. Unlike smaller bird nests, stork nests are made with thick branches, and look strong enough to support a small human (wasn’t able to test this unfortunately)…
In the center of Badi Palace, is a sunken down orange grove and a few, small reflection pools. For the best view, go left after you pass through the first archway after the entrance, and head up the flight of stairs. You’ll be able to see the entire midsection of the palace, as well as catch a glance of the busy streets outside of the walls.
Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
Price: 10 dh
4. Binge on fresh juice in Jemaa el-Fna
Jemaa el-Fna is the main square in Marrakech. If you’re staying anywhere near here during your stay, you’ll likely cross through this square multiple times a day.
For some that’s a good thing – others, not so much. Jemaa el-Fna can be chaotic and a little bit disturbing at times. Moroccan men have monkeys on chains, boys fight for money and there are so many people you feel inclined to constantly clutch your belongings tightly.
That being said, don’t be scared off by Jemaa el-Fna. It’s an eye-opening place that will awaken your senses. One of my favorite things about the square was the orange juice stalls. For only a few dirhams, you can buy a fresh glass of orange juice. It was so yummy Yuting and I bought multiple glasses some days.
The one thing to watch out for though, is stand owners not giving you back the correct amount of change. We ran into this scam a lot in Jemaa el-Fna, and had to be careful to check our change after every purchase.
TIP: If you don’t want to get scammed and just want to drink fresh juice in a relaxing setting, head to a cafe. The price will be a little more expensive, but the juice is still delicious and you’ll get better service. Also, make sure to try different flavors of fruit juice and smoothies! Besides orange juice, I really liked avocado smoothies, pomegranate juice, and banana smoothies.
Price: 4-20 dh
5. Learn about Moroccan architecture at the Bahia Palace
Compared to the Badi Palace, Bahia is a lot less of a ‘ruin,’ and more of an empty, architectural masterpiece. As you walk through the different rooms and courtyards, you’ll notice all the detailing and tiles are well preserved. This is because although the palace is empty of furniture and residents, it is still fairly new as far as palaces go.
Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th-century for the personal use of the Grand Vizier of the Sultan. In the early 1900’s, the palace was ransacked and eventually deserted. Today, a portion of the rooms are open to the public, as well as a few courtyards.
Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
Price: 10 dh
6. Try a camel burger at Cafe Clock
Whenever I visit a new country, I try to be pretty open about the different foods and flavors. While it was never a particular goal of mine to eat camel, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try something so unique.
Cafe Clock, the home of the camel burger, has two locations: one in Fes, and one in Marrakech (the one we went to). The Marrakech location is a bit of a walk from Jemaa el-Fna, but not too far from the Badi Palace. During our stay, we went to the Badi Palace in the morning, and then met a couple of friends at Cafe Clock for lunch.
Taste wise, the burgers were delicious. The meat was fresh and moist, and served with homemade Taza ketchup on a fluffy bun. My only complaint with the whole experience was the price. Cafe Clock is beautiful and serves delicious food, but charges prices more equivalent to those in the United States.
A camel burger with fries was 95 dh. Compared to the cost of the rest of the meals we ate in Morocco, that was outrageous. However, even as a budget backpacker myself, sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little bit more money for a new experience.
Hours: 9 am – 10 pm
Price: 95 dh
THINGS I DIDN’T GET TO, BUT RECOMMEND DOING:
Ouzoud Falls – This was going to be our last stop of the trip, but we ended up not making it in time. If you’re waterfall-obsessed like myself though, or need a break from Marrakech, Ouzoud Falls would make for a good day-trip. It’s about a 2 hr drive from Marrakech, and is home to a few groups of small monkeys (if the waterfall wasn’t motivation enough).
Hammam experience – A hammam is the ultimate way to relax in Marrakech. Like the Turkish bath experience, a hammam involves stripping down, taking a sudsy bath, sitting in a sauna, exfoliating and getting a massage. It can be a long ordeal, but will leave you feeling like a new person.
THINGS I DID DO, BUT DON’T RECOMMEND:
Marrakech Museum – We decided to stop in here after discovering Ben Yousseff Madrasa was closed, and weren’t too impressed. It cost 50 dh per person instead of the usual 10 dh, and didn’t have much to offer besides a few small rooms and exhibits.