A Solo Traveller’s Guide to Marrakech

Wander through the meandering alleyways of the Medina on a solo trip to Marrakech
Wander through the meandering alleyways of the Medina on a solo trip to Marrakech | © Rowan Romeyn / Alamy Stock Photo
Jo Fernandez

Prepare to be bewitched – there’s nothing quite like the blend of curious chaos and cultural diversity that epitomises Marrakech, and with riads and tours aplenty it’s perfectly set up for an unforgettable solo trip.

You’ll never forget your first time in this ancient city on the edge of the Sahara, fringed by the snow-tipped Atlas Mountains. Explore the centuries-old plaster-pink ramparts of the Medina, haggle for a bargain in the souks, take in the drama of Djemaa El Fna square while quietly sipping a cup of sugary mint tea – whatever you do, Marrakech is a book of magic any solo traveller won’t want to put down. In this guide, we give you the lowdown on what to do, where to stay and what to eat on a solo trip to Marrakech.

Shop ‘til you drop in the souks of Marrakech

What’s the vibe?

Marrakech charms you in the way an eccentric aunt can be your favourite, with so much personality packed into a city whose soundtrack is the call to prayer ringing out from stork-topped minarets. Explore noisy souks lined with North African spices and handmade leather babouches, and admire exquisite examples of Islamic architecture. Stay as long as you can in the Djemaa El Fna, a central square alive with a giddying mix of musicians, snake charmers and spiced street food you’ll keep coming back for.

Djemaa El Fna square is home to a busy market and plenty of street food stalls

Where to stay in Marrakech as a solo traveller

1. Riad Le J

Riad

A tall cactus, potted trees, seating and a brown carpet in the stylish reception area at Riad Le J
Courtesy of Riad Le J / Expedia

Tucked away behind the Mouassine Mosque in the beating heart of the Medina – just five minutes’ walk from the Djemaa El Fna – this restored riad is run by designer-minded owners who are only too happy to guide you around the area. Cosy rooms feature restored carved ceilings you can admire from comfortable beds, with furnishings and paint in pretty shades of pink and green. Get to know your fellow guests by the courtyard fountain or over house-party style communal meals infused with spices, lentils, meat and fish.

2. La Mamounia

Spa Hotel, Hotel

Seating around a tiled fountain with ornate lamps in the Moorish-style lobby area at La Mamounia
Courtesy of La Mamounia / Expedia

Spoil yourself in this regal homage to Moorish opulence circled by acres of historic gardens atmospherically lit by lanterns each night. The location in the Hivernage neighbourhood means easy access to the Medina and the 12th-century Koutoubia minaret. Hot towels, dates and almond milk greet you before relaxation in rooms dressed in intricate tiling, lattice-wood screens and rich art deco shades. Mingle at the buffet breakfast served poolside, shaded by towering palm trees.

3. 2Ciels Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa

Spa Hotel

Blue-and-white striped sun loungers and umbrellas at the outoodr pool at 2Ciels Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa
Courtesy of 2Ciels Luxury Boutique Hotel and Spa / Expedia

A blissful mix of Moroccan artistry and the art deco touch Marrakech is known for define this contemporary hotel, which overlooks palm-tree-lined El Harti Park in the fashionable Gueliz district. Monochrome tiles and potted plants frame turquoise pools you can cool off in after a day of getting to know the Red City. Unwind after a reviving hammam as you sip fresh mint tea or sample tapas in the rooftop bar with your eye on those soaring Atlas Mountains.

You’ll spend a night at 2Ciels Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa as part of Culture Trip’s exclusive six-day Moroccan trip.

Eat and drink in Marrakech

4. Oban

Restaurant, Moroccan

Wine bottles all around the walls at Oban restaurant, with a glass floor covering showing more bottles below
Courtesy of Riad Noir d'Ivoire / Expedia

Within the sandstone walls of Riad Noir d’Ivoire, a lavish boutique hotel in the Medina, Oban’s modern-Moroccan menus will woo you with seasonal ingredients elevating dishes such as monkfish tagine or seafood pastilla. You can pair your meal with any one of the 3,000 bottles in the open-design wine cellar. Soft lighting creates an intimate space you’ll feel happy to dine in, alone or with a crowd.

5. Hotel Restaurant Café de France

Hotel Restaurant, Moroccan

A horse-drawn carriage with a driver outside of the peach-coloured Hotel Restaurant Cafe de France at Djemaa El Fna
© Peter Forsberg/People / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the oldest and most famous cafes in Marrakech earns its bragging rights for the Djemaa El Fna location and rooftop terraces in view of the mountains. Locals mingle with tourists here for cups of mint tea on a street-side terrace. It’s also a local landmark for tour groups to meet before heading off on a cultural discovery.

6. Kabana

Restaurant, Moroccan

Dreamy sunset cocktails and Mediterranean-inspired fusion created by an Ibizan chef keep travellers coming back to this design-forward spot – part cool lounge, part tropical-themed rooftop terrace in the heart of the Medina. If you’re here alone, it’s unlikely things will stay that way for long – what with the sumptuous sushi and cocktails such as Lavender Fizz.

What to do in Marrakech as a solo traveller

Hike the Atlas Mountains, stopping off at an ancient Berber village

Trade bustling souks and alleyways for soaring mountains and tiny villages on a day trip out of Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains. Led by a guide, you’ll discover the Berber community, explore ancient settlements, savour a slow-cooked tagine and – depending on what tour you choose – stay the night in a hilltop kasbah with panoramic dancing views of the rugged landscape.

A trip to the Atlas Mountains with an overnight stay in a local community is just one of many authentic activities you’ll experience on Culture Trip’s six-day Moroccan adventure, led by our Local Insider.

Get out of the city and explore the magnificent Atlas Mountains

Soak up the natural beauty of Jardin Majorelle

A visit to this enchanting urban idyll should be near the top of the to-do list on any solo trip to Marrakech. Created in the 1920s by French painter Jacques Majorelle – before fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge took over – the garden is filled with cooling marble pools and lily-pad-topped ponds, creating a serene spot to reflect or relax in the shade of a banana tree.

Jardin Majorelle is a must on any trip to Marrakech

Haggle for spices and slippers in the Medina

Only those who’ve lived here all their lives can navigate this crowded, cobblestoned network of alleyways, home to donkeys, leather shops and stalls piled high with fragrant spices. That’s where our small-group tour comes in handy – helping you haggle for handicrafts, traditional leathers and henna tattoos, with stacks of insider knowledge.

Haggle for authentic souvenirs when you visit the Medina

Stay safe, stay happy

Marrakech is generally a safe and friendly place to visit, whether you’re travelling solo or not. However, as with any city of this size, you should take care to avoid isolated areas when exploring alone – such as the mountains outside of the city or along the Medina’s quiet streets and alleyways at night. This is where an insider-led trip can provide that extra comfort blanket to allow you to explore at night, unperturbed.

It’s easy to get lost in the winding alleyways of the Medina, so it’s best to avoid them at night

Getting around Marrakech as a solo traveller

Near constant crowds and a web of narrow interlaced streets and squares make central Marrakech very much a place for getting around on foot. The benefit is that you can stop to marvel at an intricately carved doorway here or haggle over a woven rug there. Some streets are so narrow that bikes, scooters and the odd donkey cart struggle to pass.

Outside the Medina however, you can hop into a “petit taxi” and usually agree on a price with the driver before you set off. Then there’s the horse-drawn carriage ride, ultimately the most sedate way to see the sights from Djemaa El Fna or the Koutoubia Mosque.

Sit back and relax on a horse-drawn carriage ride from Djemaa El Fna square

Want to experience Marrakech with other culturally curious travellers? Share your travel experience by joining Culture Trip’s six-day Moroccan adventure to discover the whirlwind of sights, sounds and smells that make Marrakech so unique.

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