There is so much to see and do in Marrakech – the whole city is like a sensory overload! My trip was organised by luxury travel company, Original Travel who not only book all hotels and flights but create a bespoke itinerary with a focus on local experiences. Our itinerary included a drive through the Atlas Mountains and a detailed tour of the medina in Marrakech with a local guide both of which enhanced our overall experience and inspired this post on top ten things to do in Marrakech.
1. Stay in a Riad
You’ve probably heard the term ‘Riad’ but what does it actually mean? Well the definition is ‘a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.’ Many of the riads in Morocco were once stately homes for wealthy citizens that have been restored into luxury hotels. Though we visited some of the larger more palatial hotels, these were beautiful and opulent but the riads have a more personal, authentic feeling.
I highly recommend Villa des Orangers where we stayed. A Relais & Châteaux property, the food and service was excellent and our room was huge yet inviting with real Morrocan details. With a reputation as one of the finest riads in Marrakech, you really can’t go wrong here.
2. Visit the Souqs
A labyrinthine Aladdin’s cave of treasures… you can’t visit Marrakech without paying a visit to the famous souks. We were glad to have a guide organised by Original Travel lead us through through this maze whilst we spotted beautiful plates, lanterns, rugs and spices.
3. Check out Djemaa-el Fna
Djemaa-el Fna is the main square in Marrackech and an UNESCO world heritage site.
During the day you can see some market stalls and some entertainment but by night is when the place truly comes alive with story tellers, acrobats, snake charmers and witch doctors filling the air with magic! The best place to witness this is up in terraces of one of the nearby hotels.
4. Gaze at the Koutoubia Mosque
The Koutoubia Mosque looms tall above the city, with the law stating that no other building can be taller. It is the largest mosque in the city and at 900 years old, it’s beautifully well preserved. Non-Muslims are not permitted access inside but we took a good wakl around to admire the minaret and the majestic walls.
5. Eat a Moroccan Feast
Moroccan food is a rather unique combination of Andalusian Spain, Arabian and French cuisine. There’s really nothing quite like it – and I think when people think of Morocco, they automatically think of the food. Flat bread, tagine, cous cous and delicious mixed salads come to mind, a hearty blend of spice and sweet and savoury flavours. There’s no better place to try a true Moroccan feast than La Grande Table Marocaine at the Royal Mansour hotel. Known as the best restaurant in Morocco and overseen by multi-Michelin starred chef Yannick Alléno.
Mr S and I went for the tasting menu which followed the traditional structure of Moroccan meals but with a gourmet twist. An array of salads followed by tagine, meat and fish dishes and dessert.
7. Cookery Class
One thing I really wished we’d had time to do was a proper Moroccan cookery course, sadly we were only in Morroco a short time. However, Original Travel recommend the classes at the La Maison Arabe Hotel, should I return to Marrakech.
8. The Saadian Tombs
Not far from the main square are the Saadian Tombs, the final remains of the Saadian dynasty who ruled between 1524 to 1659. In the early 18th century, Sultan Moulay Ismail decided to destroy any traces of the dynasty but feared destroying the burial ground would be committing sacrilege.
Visitors can see a beautiful network of ornate chambers that have been well-preserved. Don’t forget to look up as the ceiling is the most beautiful part.
9. Take a Trip to The Atlas Mountains
Our Moroccan journey began with a stay in the Atlas Mountains but as the drive is 45 mins to a hour from Marrakech, Original Travel can easily organise a day trip. The mountains are a break from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and they can organise an experience at traditional Berber villages or private guided trekking experiences.
I’d also recommend lunch, or even a stay at Richard Branson’s beautiful property Kasbah Tamadot whilst in the Atlas Mountains.
10. Musse de Marrakech
The Museum is itself a restored 19th century palace and though crowded, it’s well worth a visit to see the classic Andalusian architecture, fountains and beautiful traditional design.
Visitors can also view antique furniture, ceramics, textiles and jewellery from Berber, Moroccan Jewish and Islamic cultures.
Have you been to Marrakech? What would you recommend seeing?
Original Travel (020 3582 4990/www.originaltravel.co.uk) offers a five-day trip to Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, staying at Kasbah Tamadot and Villa des Orangers, from £3,250 per person. Price includes a private expert-led walking tour in Marrakech, all accommodation, flights and private transfers.
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I visited Marrakech as part of a press trip in collaboration with Original Travel.