Why Visiting Marrakech Should Be Added to Your Bucket List

Encounter the unique energy of this fortified city
Encounter the unique energy of this fortified city | Dimitris Papageorgiou / © Culture Trip
Sarah Williams

Nicknamed the Red City because of the high, reddish-brown walls that enclose the old medina, Marrakech is one of Morrocco’s most captivating destinations. Read on to be enchanted by this historic imperial city.

Want a more exclusive experience? Book Culture Trip’s six-day group adventure where you’ll visit a rooftop restaurant high above the city’s ancient medina before being led through its streets by our Local Insider.

Traditional accommodation

In addition to luxurious hotels and resorts, Marrakech has a wealth of traditional riads and dars for guests to stay in. Found in the historic medina, visitors can sleep in the same buildings that were home to many generations of Moroccans; most traditional accommodations have been converted from private homes.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

With a name that comes from the Arabic word for garden, the defining feature of a riad is an inner courtyard or garden. A fountain traditionally takes pride of place here, with rooms opening up to this inner area. Traditionally, riads had just one level, although now more properties have multiple, with upper rooms accessing terraces that look down over the communal area. Riads typically have few windows on the outer walls.

A traditional Moroccan home without the inner courtyard is called a dar. Dars can be as charming as riads, with bright light flooding in from above, offering a real sense of how Moroccan families traditionally live.

Soothing hammams

A hammam is a traditional Moroccan steam bath. It’s a place where locals go to bathe, socialise and cleanse. While there are many luxury hammams now open to the public, largely catering to tourists, it is still possible for visitors to experience an authentic public hammam in Marrakech. Do note that there are either separate areas or different opening hours for men and women.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

Visit Hammam Dar El Bacha, Kennaria Hammam, Hammam Essalama, Hammam Germai, or any of the neighbourhood hammams, to bathe as the locals do.

Delicious food

Marrakech has numerous restaurants and cafes where you can sit and enjoy a delicious taste of Morocco. In addition to well-known Moroccan dishes, such as tajine and couscous, look out for places that serve tanjia: a Marrakshi specialty that takes its name from the earthen pot it is cooked in.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

Wander through the medina and you’ll come across an array of street food. The French influence is easy to see in the abundant bakeries and, if you want something a little more familiar, filled baguettes and pizzas are widely available, as are cheap and cheerful eating options.

Interesting medina

The medina is at the heart of old Marrakech. The high, sandy-coloured walls protected inhabitants from invasions in times gone by. Pass through one of the towering gates and you’ll find yourself in mayhem – people, bicycles, scooters, cars, donkeys, carts, and street stalls all compete for space. Narrow alleyways lead to even smaller ones, with ornate doors and interesting knockers, tradesmen get on with their daily tasks in open-fronted workshops, and children play in the streets. The medina is the place to go if you want to fully immerse yourself in local Marrakech life.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

Bustling souks

The souks of Marrakech are famous around the world, attracting visitors who are keen to practice their haggling skills, pick up some bargains and browse the many colorful delights. Large tubs of aromatic spices, vibrant glass lamps, tall shisha pipes, leather balgha (traditional slipper-like shoes) and wooden musical instruments sit alongside djellabas (long, traditional garments), kaftans, sewing supplies, stuffed camels, silver bangles, cooking equipment, rugs and an assortment of housing supplies, handicrafts and souvenirs.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

Lively main square

Djemaa el-Fna is a major highlight for those seeking entertainment. During the daytime, women offer henna tattoos, men demonstrate snake charming and an array of stalls sell an even larger assortment of goods. In need of some refreshment? Try the freshly squeezed orange juice. As night falls, the square becomes even livelier, with musicians, magicians, traditional-outfit wearers, dancers and storytellers adding to the carnival-like ambience.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

Historic sites

As a former capital city, Marrakech isn’t short of impressive historic sites. The magnificent Saadian Tombs showcase artistic and architectural details from times gone by, while the El Badi Palace stands in a forlorn yet evocative state of ruin. Peek inside the Ben Youssef Madrassa for some religious history, admire the soaring minaret of Koutoubia Mosque and be dazzled by the details inside Bahia Palace.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

Eye-catching art

Marrakech has plenty of street art to stumble upon, with detailed graffiti contrasting the sleekness of commissioned pieces. A large painting of a Berber man on a wall opposite the train station is well worth a visit.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

The city is also home to several great art museums and galleries, such as the Museum of Moroccan Arts in Dar Si Said, Maison de la Photographie, Dar Bellarj, and Voice Gallery.

Artistic details can be found almost everywhere in Marrakech, from the colourful tiling on the riad walls, to the artful presentation of food and attractive Islamic-calligraphy pendants that hang from the rear-view mirrors in most vehicles.

Peaceful gardens

If the hustle and bustle of Marrakech becomes too much, several peaceful parks and gardens offer the perfect respite. Stroll through the olive trees in the Menara Gardens and peer into the waters of the large reflecting pool, see a lush assortment of plants and flowers from around the world at the acclaimed Jardin Majorelle, and watch the fountains as you connect to the free wifi in Cyber Park. The Unesco-listed Agdal Gardens have a royal heritage and make up one of the oldest parks in Marrakech. The gardens are, however, only open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /

Sufi shrines

Marrakech has seven shrines in honour of prominent religious men from the Sufi branch of Islam. Followers of Sufism from around the world visit these large shrines to pray and seek blessings. Scattered around the city, the shrines are not accessible to non-Muslim visitors. There are seven large stone towers just outside the medina walls, close to the Bab Doukkala Gate and central bus station, which represent the seven Sufi tombs.

Dimitris Papageorgiou /
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


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.