Many people associate the thousand-year-old city of Marrakech with labyrinthine alleyways and snake charmers, which is quite right – but it is equal parts ancient and modern. There are many hip, as well as historic, things to discover in ‘the Red City’ for a truly authentic experience. Think drinking spice-infused cocktails at an underground bar, tucking into slow-cooked lamb and watching artisans at work. Culture Trip curates 18 things to add to your Marrakech itinerary.
Want to explore Marrakech? Dine at a rooftop restaurant high above the city’s buzzing medina before being guided through its winding streets on Culture Trip’s six-day group adventure.
This 19th-century palace, set across two acres in the middle of the Medina, is one of the best-preserved historical sites in Marrakech. It was built by Grand Vizier Si Musa in the 1860s and later expanded by his son, Si Ba Ahmed, for his four wives and 24 concubines. It comprises 150 rooms with Andalusian and Moorish influences and intricate marquetry – but the pièce de résistance is the Court of Honour, with a 1,500sqm floor made of Italian marble.
Cocktail lover? Head down to the experimental Baromètre – Marrakech’s top nightspot, bar and restaurant. Along with a menu of classic drinks, this underground bar brings in a bit of the Medina with local spice-infused spirits. Try the Marrakech Market, which blends whisky with cinnamon, orange and saffron.
Morocco is known for its mint tea – and Cafe de France brews a mean pot. Enjoy this sweet drink (or something stronger on the menu) from the cafe’s terrace, which overlooks the bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa market in the Medina quarter. Here, you can expect to watch a roster of local street performers.
Head to the Bab Debbagh quarter, in the northern end of the Medina, to learn all about one of Marrakech’s oldest crafts. Leather tanning is a time-honoured practice and it’s fascinating watching artisans at work. Jump in a taxi to Place Moukef or Bab Debbagh to get there and visit first thing in the morning to see the tradesmen in action.
Take cues from Marrakech locals and head up to the mountains for respite. The (yellow) shared cabs, parked just down from Jemaa el-Fnaa, can whizz you up to the Atlas Mountains in an hour and a half. Trek up to Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, or walk around Berber villages.
For hundreds of years and several generations, the families of Mechoui Alley have woken up early in the morning, stuck a whole lamb on a stick and put it in a large underground oven to slowly roast for four-to-six hours. The result is a deliciously succulent and tender plate of meat that practically falls off the bone. Sprinkle on some cumin and salt for an extra layer of flavour.
There are few things as quintessentially Moroccan as a trip to the hammam – the Middle East’s answer to a thermal spa. Head on down to the largest public one, Hammam Dar el-Bacha, with your bathing essentials and enjoy being scrubbed across every inch of your body. Be sure to check the timings for men and women before you go.
Dar Si Said, otherwise known as the Museum of Moroccan Arts, is Marrakech’s oldest museum and it’s where you’ll learn about different Moroccan rug styles. Each region and city in Morocco has its own flair. You’ll see some magnificent examples of traditionally made rugs here, all while also learning about the weaving techniques it takes to create them.
Having visited the tanneries, you’ll no doubt feel inspired to leave with some leather goods. Head to Atika for some of the best handmade leather loafers in the city. And don’t be surprised if you leave with more than one pair – there are endless leather colourways, while the store stocks many suede styles too.
If you’re looking for English-language books to pass the time on your bus journey down south, then Marrakech isn’t much help as most bookshops only stock French novels. But fortunately the Cafe du Livre keeps a good selection of second-hand English books. It also has the only weekly pub quiz in town.
Sadie Whitelocks contributed additional reporting to this article.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.