Things to do in Marrakech: Shop at Souks & Eat Moroccan Food

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Featured photo-Marrakech sunset

Looking for things to do in Marrakech during a trip to Morocco? With colorful souks (marketplaces) in the Medina and upscale restaurants and department stores in Gueliz, Marrakech invites travelers to explore a little of the old and a little of the new. Discover 10 things to love about Marrakech, which might include snake charmers in Djemaa el-Fna square or a relaxing soak and massage in a local hammam.

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Djemaa el Fna Square

1. Get a henna tattoo & stuff yourself with Moroccan food at DJEMAA EL FNA SQUARE

The Medina, or old city, is where many travelers flock upon arrival to Marrakech. During the day, tourists can find snake charmers, local entertainment, henna tattoo artists and tons of local shopping in Djemaa el Fna Square. At night, however, the ancient streets are transformed into a vibrant entertainment district, complete with loud music, local dancers and traditional storytellers. Nighttime is also when the best food comes out! Try lamb dishes and couscous with a glass of freshly-squeezed fruit juice while taking in a motley scene that you’ll soon discover happens every night in Marrakech!

Tourist tip: haggling with shopkeepers is expected in Marrakech (and throughout all of Morocco). Compare prices from several vendors before making a purchase, and when you find the best deal – ask for an even cheaper price!

Check In to Riad Dar Saba, Step Out to Djemaa el Fna Square

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Riad Dar Saba

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Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Bab Debbagh-Marrakech tanneries tour

2. Prepare for an unforgettable tour – and smell – at BAB DEBBAGH & MARRAKECH TANNERIES

One of the most popular, and free, things to do in Marrakech is to take a tour of a local tannery. The most popular is Bab Debbagh, but other leather shops in the Quartier Des Tanneurs offer free tours as well. While carrying a sprig of mint leaves can help alleviate the pungent smells that coincide with a tour, travelers should beware of guides who offer mint leaves with the promise of a free tour. These tour guides often do provide excellent tours of the facilities, but they also expect payment in return. At Bab Debbagh and shops in the Quartier Des Tanneurs, tourists can watch the entire leather preparation process for free and later purchase an array of leather goods, including bags, accessories and clothing.

The Quartier Des Tanneurs and Bab Debbagh are located in the eastern suburbs of Marrakech.

Check In to Las Palmeras Guest House, Step Out to Quartier Des Tanneurs

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Las Palmeras Guest House

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Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Ben Youssef Madrasa-The Son of Joseph School

3. Tour an ancient Islamic college at BEN YOUSSEF MADRASA (THE SON OF JOSEPH SCHOOL)

One of the most stunning pieces of architecture in Marrakech, Ben Youssef Madrasa has stood in the heart of the city since the 14th century. Explore more than 100 rooms that once served as student chambers in this former Islamic college. Visitors also can photograph elaborately-decorated prayer halls and a courtyard where thousands of students once roamed.

Tourist tip: Ben Youssef Madrasa is closed for renovation until 2020. Check the official website for the reopening date.

Check In to Riad Zolah Hotel, Step Out to Ben Youssef Madrasa

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Riad Zolah Hotel

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Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Museum de Marrakech

4. Explore a historic palace turned girls’ home at MUSEUM DE MARRAKECH

Travelers who love a mix of architecture and history can’t miss a visit to Museum de Marrakech. Set in Mnebhi Palace, past home to Morocco’s former minister of defense, the museum features a collection of Moroccan art and Fez ceramics as well as stunning aesthetics woven into every feature, from door panels and tile work to stained-glass windows. Tour the elaborate courtyard, the palace kitchen and the royal hammam for a taste of 19th-century luxury and then learn how the site was turned into a girls’ home in 1965.

  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily
  • Fee: 30 MAD

Check In to Riad Sidi Ayoub, Step Out to Museum de Marrakech

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Riad Sidi Ayoub

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Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Koutoubia Mosque

5. Photograph the towering KOUTOUBIA MOSQUE

While non-Muslims are not allowed inside Koutoubia Mosque, taking a photo of the historic landmark is one of the most popular things to do in Marrakech. The towering structure is said to be as important to Marrakech as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Viewing Koutoubia Mosque lit up at night is the ideal time to see the local icon, but daytime photos are just as inspiring. Admire ornamental archways that have been preserved in their 12th-century style, and enjoy enchanting calls to prayer that stream five times each day from the top of the minaret (beacon).

Tourist tip: Koutoubia Mosque is conveniently located between the areas of the Medina and Gueliz, Marrakech’s elite, modern shopping district.

Check In to Riad Altair, Step Out to Koutoubia Mosque

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Riad Altair

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Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-the souks of Marrakech-shopping

6. Go shopping for local spices & souvenirs at SOUK MARKET & SOUK SEMMARINE

Souk Market and Souk Semmarine, better known as “the souks” of Marrakech, consist of dozens of shops lining maze-like alleyways. Visitors can find native handcrafts, spices and perfumes, clothing and accessories, as well as the ambience of true Morocco! Bargaining is fair game at the souks, and shopkeepers expect lots of haggling. Shop around for better bargains before committing to a first price quote, and bring cash, as souk merchants deal in dirhams only. The souks are located just north of Djemaa el-Fna Square.

Check In to Hotel Islane, Step Out to the souks of Marrakech

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Hotel Islane

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Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-hammam

7. Take a dip & enjoy a massage at one of the many HAMMAMS in Marrakech

No trip to Morocco would be complete without paying a visit to a local hammam. These popular bathhouses feature hot baths and sauna, and many establishments throw in massage packages for added incentive. Most hammams are public, and bathing in the nude is commonplace, but women can wear bikini bottoms in some. Visitors should ask about dress codes before entering, and it’s a good idea to pack your own towel.

4 top-rated hammams in Marrakech

  • Les Bains de Marrakech Morocco, 2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Offers private hammams for couples.
  • Hammam Dar el-Bacha, 20 Rue Lalla Fatima Zahra. Men can visit from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; hours for women are 1 to 9 p.m. Great for a local experience.
  • Oriental Spa – bab doukkala, Rue Bab Doukkala (southeast corner Bab Doukkala Mosque). Features special hours and options for women but also welcomes men at different times. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Baan Thai Institute Marrakech, Résidence Les Jasmins Apt N° 13 4ème étage Angle Av. Mohamed v et Rue Oum Errabia, Guéliz. Pair a Moroccan hammam with a Thai massage. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Check In to Imperial Holiday Hotel, Step Out to Gueliz

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Imperial Holiday Hotel

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Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-riad

8. Sleep like a Moroccan by booking a room at an enchanting RIAD

With rooms that face inward to a shared courtyard, riads are popular hotel accommodations in Marrakech. Not only do they provide a quiet and safe place to relax when guests aren’t sightseeing, but they also offer a cultural experience travelers can only find in Morocco. Riads in Marrakech all feature different themes and décor, but guests can count on an array of colors, plenty of traditional flair and a lovely choice of modern amenities.

Check In to a riad in Marrakech

Hotel & Ryad Art Place Marrakech

Riad Dar El Souk

Riad Lila

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Saadien’s Tombs

9. Explore a newly-discovered mausoleum for royalty at SAADIEN’S TOMBS

Maybe a grave site doesn’t sound like one of the best things to do in Marrakech, but touring Saadien’s Tombs is a must-do in Morocco. The tombs were only discovered in the early 19th century, but the contents of the sacred grounds date back to 16th century. Inside Saadien’s Tombs lies the son of the former sultan, along with about 60 members of the Saadi Dynasty. The mausoleum was discovered by an aerial photographer in 1917, but until then, the structure, comprised of Italian Carrara marble and finely-detailed cedar wood, remained untouched for centuries.

Tourist tip: Saadien’s Tombs are located on the outskirts of the city, between El Badii Palace and Cimetiere Imam Souhaili, two more places to see in Marrakech. Visitors to the area also enjoy a stroll through Agdal Gardens (Jardins de l’Agdal), snapping photographs at Menara Gardens and taking a break in the air conditioning of Menara Mall. The Casino de Marrakech and Grand Casino La Mamounia also are in the area.

Check In to Dar Crystal, Step Out to Saadien’s Tombs

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Dar Crystal

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Snail soup



10. Discover the best MOROCCAN CUISINE for breakfast, dinner & lunch

Moroccan cuisine is on every corner in Marrakech, and many foodies often travel to Morocco just to get their grub on. And why shouldn’t they??? Morocco has built its reputation by putting a local spin on favorites like couscous and tagine, but don’t stop at the most well-known dishes. Marrakech also is famous for snail, ocean-caught fish, lamb stews and pigeon pie! Try a local restaurant near your riad or head to Djemaa el-Fna Square after dark to sample the most popular Moroccan cuisine in Marrakech.





Must-try Moroccan dishes in Marrakech

  • B’ssara: simple broad bean soup (breakfast).
  • Snail soup: easily found in Djemaa el Fna Square and rumored to have restorative and digestive benefits.
  • Tagine: a traditional clay pot used to cook everything from beef and lamb to vegetarian dishes.
  • Chermoula: a green sauce made with blended herbs (usually coriander, parsley and mint leaves), cumin and lemon and served as a condiment for fish and other entrees.
  • Harira: a traditional soup made with lamb, tomato and lentils. This soup is served after sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.
  • Couscous: much like rice, this staple made from crushed durum wheat semolina is served alongside traditional stews and meats. Moroccan couscous often contains raisins or is served with a bowl of buttermilk.
  • Zaalouk: a smoked eggplant (aubergine) side dish often served with crusty bread for dipping.
  • B’stilla: a flaky pie crust loaded with pigeon meat and flavored with almonds, eggs and saffron.

Check In to Mogador Palace Agdal & Spa, Step Out to Djemaa el-Fna Square

Things to do in Marrakech-Morocco-Mogador Palace Agdal & Spa

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