The Insider Guide
Separated from the vast Sahara by the Atlas Mountains, Morocco's fourth-largest city conjures images of vibrant souks and lavish riads, the air heavy with saffron, cinnamon and the call of the muezzin. Find your bearings by getting the city's must-sees under your belt, then go deeper with the help of our insider guides.
The Main Attractions
Feel the full force of Marrakech in all its colourful, chaotic glory by starting in the medina, the Unesco-listed old fortified quarter of the city. It's best to ditch your map and get pleasantly lost in the maze of cobbled lanes, perusing the lively bazaars with their vivid textiles and spices piled high. At its heart, you'll find Djemaa El Fna, the citadel's central square, which teems with life at all hours – often including snake charmers and folk dancers. When you've had your fill of the noise and bustle, head for the Koutoubia Mosque, beside Parc Lalla Hasna in the medina's southwest; the city's oldest mosque, easy to spot with its towering red-stone minaret and gilded spire. Follow the outer edge of the medina round to the east, and you'll soon reach the ruins of El Badi Palace, a large complex modelled on the Alhambra's Court of the Lions and, soon after, the Bahia Palace, once home to the Grand Vizier of Marrakech and his enormous entourage. Then stroll into the medina's northwest to visit the magnificently tranquil Le Jardin Secret, once one of the area's largest riads, lovingly restored in 2017 and now open to the public. From here it's an easy half-hour walk along Rue el Gza to Musée Yves Saint Laurent, an homage to the French designer who spent much of the 1970s in Marrakech, and Jardin Majorelle, the botanical garden and dazzling blue-hued villa created by French artist Jacques Majorelle and architect Paul Sinoir in the 1920s and 30s. And to finish, how about a 16th-century royal necropolis? The Saadian Tombs were built for the Saadian sultans and their families, thought lost until they were rediscovered by the French in 1917. The mausoleum is a model of ornate design, with columns of carrara marble, elaborate tilework and sweeping calligraphic inscriptions – a fittingly exquisite end to your time in this elegant, expressive city.