10 things to do in Marrakesh

13 December, 2023|Destinations|
10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


Dr Charlotte Russell, Clinical Psychologist & Founder

Known as the ‘red city’ Marrakesh is one of Morocco’s four imperial cities, along with Fez, Rabat and Meknes. It is a bustling city with a large Medina, or Old Town, with narrow streets and busy souks. It is warm most of the year, with a light jacket required in the winter months. Marrakesh is perfect if:

  • You want to experience a city full of life and energy (it’s not for the feint hearted!)
  • You are a foodie!
  • You are open to different cultures and customs
  • You speak a little French or Arabic (or are willing to learn a few words)

1. Haggle in the souks

It’s hard to describe just how expansive the souks of Marrakesh are. You can buy almost anything, from baskets to teapots, leather goods, scarfs, herbs, beauty products, homeware items and clothes. Whilst the souks can be a bit of a tourist trap these days, it is fun to look around and to imagine all the trade that has happened here over hundreds of years. It is well known that you should never pay the full price quoted at a souk, and the shopkeepers seem to enjoy bartering for most items. The exceptions are items with a fixed price listed for example food or herbs which are sold by weight.

If you are not sure what to buy check out this great post about the 20 Best Souvenirs from Morocco You’ll Love

10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


2. Visit le jardín secret

The secret garden of Marrakesh is a beautiful courtyard area enclosed by a riad, that was restored in 2016. Prior to this the area had been in complete disrepair. The project, led by a group of entrepreneurs included the full restoration of the gardens and surrounding buildings. The two areas are sectioned into a traditional Moroccan garden and a tropical garden containing unusual plants from around the world. There are two cafes which provide tranquil areas for a cold drink or a local mint tea. This was my favourite sight in Marrakesh and exceeded my expectations; a must see if you enjoy plants, gardens and peaceful settings.

10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


3. Visit the palaces 

The Bahia Palace is one of Marrakesh’s most visited sights and for good reason. This 19th century building is beautiful and has a lot of history to explore. There is not much written information available so it is best to book a guided tour if you want to learn about the history. Be aware that the palace gets very busy so try to visit earlier in the day if you can.

El Badi Palace is much older, and was built in the 16th century. It is certainty not as picturesque and well kept as the Bahia palace, but has more written information to read and is much bigger and quieter. They are both worth visiting but I’d say that overall I enjoyed the Badi palace more due to being able to explore a bit more independently, and because it was not so busy.

10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


4. Take a food tour 

I would highly recommend this food tour which starts at Jamaa El-Fnaa, (the main square) at sunset and lasts for around 3 hours. There are many stops for delicious food so make sure to skip lunch. As well as tasting delicious food your guide will give you some interesting insights about Moroccan culture and customs. Our guide Mo was very friendly and did a great job of making everyone on the tour feel included, so it was a nice experience all round.

5. Dinner at Pepe Nero

This beautiful restaurant has two rooms that are equally stunning; one with a small pool and another centred around an Andalusian fountain. The delicious Italian food, wine and service here were all top notch. Prices were a little higher than average for Marrakesh, and similar to eating out in the UK. The experience was well worth it though especially if you want a romantic evening or have something to celebrate.

10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


6. Visit the female artisan co-operative 

Located in the souks the co-operative includes several shops, a few workshops and a café. The shopkeepers in the souks are predominantly men and so it was nice to support female artisans by purchasing their products, which were just as affordable.

10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


7. Coffee at Bacha Coffee 

Located in the Dar El Bacha museum Bacha Coffee is the height of luxury and silver service. With jazz playing in the background and waiters with fez hats on, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to 1920’s opulence, but without the price tag.

It is an unusual set up being located within the museum so you can either pay for a museum tour or there is a 10 dirham charge to go straight to the coffee shop. Expect there to be a wait for a table as it does get very busy; the café will provide you with a buzzer and you can wait in the beautiful courtyard outside.

As well as delicious coffee, there is a range of very tasty brunch and lunch options, and of course cakes. Seriously I would visit everyday if I could!

10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


8. Eat dinner and listen to live jazz at Le Bistro Árabe 

There is so much to love about Le Bistro Árabe. Firstly the beautiful setting, with tables arranged around a small pool in a traditional riad style. Secondly, the live jazz music which starts at 8pm every night. Thirdly the food which was of a very high standard; we chose four sharing plates which were all delicious and substantial. The cherry on the top is that the head chef here is a woman named Myriam Ettahri, which was nice to see in Marrakesh.

Again prices are on the higher end for Marrakesh, but similar to eating out in a nice restaurant in the UK. A good range of wines are served here.

10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


9. Have lunch at Mandala society 

Yes I realise my guide contains a lot of eating recommendations but the food in Marrakesh was just so good! If you are not going to eat here you could just go for a drink on the rooftop bar, with great views over Marrakesh and some chilled out music playing.

If you do want to eat, Mandala society serves a range of vegetarian and pescetarian food. They also serve great coffee, so there is something for everyone.

10. Have a massage at your riad 

I’d highly recommend staying at a riad in the Medina when you visit Marrakesh. The city can feel overwhelming at times, and so it is nice to have somewhere tranquil to retreat to. Check out this helpful guide from a fellow blogger about The best affordable riads in Marrakesh

I stayed at Riad L’oiseau Du Paradis,which was truly gorgeous. We booked a relaxing massage at the riad and the downtime was very welcome after a couple of days walking around and sightseeing. Many riads will offer spa services but you will need to book in advance. I took this option rather than to book a traditional hammam after some tips from other travellers.

Last but not least:

If you’re feeling hedonistic – try the Moroccan pastries; they are delicious, especially with a mint tea.

If you want a sense of accomplishment – navigate your way back to your riad after exploring the souks. There was nothing like getting back to the tranquillity after a long day in the bustling city!

Reasons to be optimistic – The Moroccan people were incredibly friendly and welcoming, and for the most part this felt genuine. Of course there were tourist traps as in any city but the good certainly outweighed the bad experiences for us.

10 things to do in Marrakesh The Travel Psychologist


Please note that our destination guides contain personal recommendations and not professional advice. 

If you like experiencing new cultures, check out my previous article What is curiosity and why is it important?