TOP THINGS TO DO IN MARRAKECH
(PLUS ITS TOP HOTELS)
Take a look at our insider guide to the top things to do in Marrakech and explore this enchanting city with ease. Marrakech holidays are (without doubt) a feast for the senses, with spice-filled souks, buzzing squares and melodious calls to prayer filling the colourful resort with a unique richness. Whether it’s the historic walled medina or the contemporary ville nouvelle (new town) you're most interested in, you're in for a superb city break.
When to go
Marrakech is offers a much needed dose of vitamin C almost year round. Spring and autumn are gorgeous times the city. July and August can be very hot in the city. For top winter sun getaways, check out the destinations that made it into the winter sun hotspot list 2017.
DJEMAA EL-FNA SQUARE
The ideal place to start a trip to Marrakech is at the famous Djemaa el-Fna Square. At the heart of the old city, this huge space is the epicentre of life. It is starkly different by day when acrobats, belly dancers and snake charmers entertain visitors, as it is by night when the square brims with food stalls. There is plenty to see, and even participate in, and the street theatre is amazingly entertaining.
Next to the square is the Koutoubia Mosque, one of Marrakech’s most iconic landmarks. Non-Muslims are not allowed inside, but it is worth admiring the façade with intricate designs. You can see the mosque from all over the city, thanks to the local rule that forbids any other building in the medina to be higher than a palm tree.
On the other side of the Djemaa el-Fna are the vibrant souks, an excellent place to get wonderfully lost in Marrakech. Perhaps the best-known place for shopping, the souks offer a labyrinth of covered alleys lined with stalls selling jewellery, spices, fabrics and souvenirs. The endless number of things to buy is enough to tire even the hardiest of shoppers!
HISTORIC PALACES AND TOMBS
Among the most awe-inspiring attractions in Marrakech are the two historic palaces. The El Badi Palace is mostly a grand shell where a former royal residence once stood, while the Bahia Palace is opulent and ornate, with architecture and design strikingly similar to Spain’s Alhambra. Close to the souks is the Medersa Ben Youssef, a historic Islamic school with beautiful architecture. Not far away are the Saadian Tombs, stunning tiled graves in a burial ground from the 16th century.
Marrakesh is full of delightful hammams, which many tourists mistake for luxurious bath-houses. Be prepared for quite the opposite in the traditional hammams such as Hammam el-Bacha; expect to be bossed about whilst having your skin scrubbed back to its new-born condition – a truly rejuvenating feeling. However, there are modern hammams that offer a more relaxing and spa-like experience.
BEST HOTELS IN MARRAKECH
The allure of Marrakech never ceases to attract visitors, but before booking your break in this intoxicating city, note that Marrakech is split into old and new towns. If you’re looking for a modern accommodation, you’ll need to stick to the contemporary part, or book one of the resorts outside the city centre. However, if you want a more authentic experience, the medina is full of welcoming riads (traditional Moroccan houses converted into hotels). Among the best places to stay in Marrakech, we have picked out these fantastic five.
PULLMAN MARRAKECH PALMERAIE RESORT AND SPA HOTEL
Want to stay within easy distance of the main attractions, while being far enough away from the hustle and bustle? Book your holiday at the 5-star Pullman Marrakech Palmeraie Resort and Spa Hotel. Everything here is immaculate, from the pool and gardens (including a pond that you can canoe on!) to the restaurants and bars. The resort facilities can keep you occupied for days on end, including a Kids Village for the youngsters and tennis courts, golf courses and a spa.
ANGSANA RIAD COLLECTION
If you’re after a hotel that exudes authenticity, opt for the award-winning Angsana Riad Collection in the old town. With 5-star qualities, this charming riad collection offers a choice of beautifully decorated rooms and suites. You’ll be within walking distance of the Djemma el-Fna Square, so if you fancy dining away from the riad, this is the place to wander down to.
KASBAH AGAFAY HOTEL & SPA
Just outside the city centre, this converted 18th century mud fortress makes the extra distance worth taking. What Kasbah Agafay Hotel & Spa lacks in old town atmosphere, it makes up for in luxury and tranquillity. While the bustling medina is a taxi ride away, the surroundings of the hotel are calm and serene. Stay in one of the beautiful canopied suites that gives you the charm of staying in an opulent Bedouin tent.
LAS PALMERAS HOTEL
The traditional Moroccan-style Las Palmeras Hotel on the edge of the old town is ideally positioned for exploring the medina, while being far enough away to still enjoy some peace. A short taxi ride takes you to the Djemma el-Fna Square, where you can watch a snake charmer or stop for a lamb tagine at one of the local eateries. Else, relax in the hotel’s pretty courtyard, admiring the view of the Atlas Mountains. The impressive pool is a plus too, and the Golf Royal course is next door.
Riad Barroko knows how to make you soak in the essence of the city. As soon as you walk into the main hall, you’re transported into a luxurious mecca that echoes the charm and ethnicity of Marrakech. It boasts a beautiful outdoor pool and patio, terraces with views of the mountains and the oldest mosque in the city, the Koutoubia Mosque, and an authentic restaurant to sample Moroccan gastronomic delights.