A holiday to Marrakech is like no other — it’s easy to either love or hate. I personally absolutely loved my Marrakech holidays. The pink city’s beautiful and historic architecture, the friendly and funny yet sometimes challenging locals (especially the youths, who are keen to lead you on and make you believe you’ve lost your ways), and the exotic sensory overload make it an unforgettable holiday that’s just a stones’ throw away from Europe, with many direct flights to Morocco lasting less than four hours from many European capitals. It’s also one of the most affordable holiday destinations from Europe, making it perfect for those who want to experience something exotic but don’t have much money or time to spend on holiday getaways.
The airport in Marrakech is just 7km from the city center so you can be sure that your holiday will begin as soon as you land! The city center is easy to walk around, and you can find everything you need here including amazing riads, atmospheric restaurants, and souvenir shops of all sorts. The Jemaa el-Fnaa square located in the old town is a once must-see I suppose — it’s home to snake charmers, storytellers, and other street performers as well as an array of food. But it is slightly overwhelming and tourist-trappy and full of weird stuff I can’t unsee, like monkeys on leashes, so I would recommend checking it probably just the one time and then moving on to better and more exciting things! Below is a recap of my holiday to Marrakech highlights.
Your Ultimate Holiday to Marrakech Guide
Airport in Marrakech
Flights to Marrakech arrive at the very modern Menara airport. To get into the old town, you can take a petit taxi (about €12) or arrange a riad shuttle ahead of time. The latter will charge between €15-20 for up to four people depending on your bargaining skills but they are usually more comfortable and less hectic than taking taxis in Marrakech itself.
If possible, I would try to avoid traveling during Marrakech’s peak holiday season – namely the month of August when it’s incredibly hot and crowded. I visited in November and it was cool and not-to-busy.
Holiday to Marrakech: what to do
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Medina and Souk
Getting lost in the Medina is the highlight of any trip to Marrakech. The maze-like streets are filled with handicrafts, spices, and tagines pottery that you can buy to take home. If attempting this on your own isn’t for you, why not consider taking a guided tour? The city can be overwhelming for first-time travelers, with salesmen trying to lure you into their shops and teenage boys ready to make you believe you are heading the wrong direction only to charge you a fee to steer you further into the wrong direction — or to their uncle’s carpet store. I personally enjoyed the challenge of finding my own ways and making my own discoveries, and enjoyed a bit of bargaining!
Marrakech Palaces and Sights
Aside from wandering the tiny pink streets of the Medina in search of the perfect carpet to bring home or of some spices, there are amazing palaces and gardens to visit in the city, all within walking distance. The Koutoubia Mosque is one of the most famous landmarks in Marrakech, and it’s right next to the Medina. The Majorelle Garden is a short walk from here as well. Le Jardin Secret, located directly into the Medina is a surprising oasis of lush greenery that I loved wandering through.
The Palais Bahia was built in 1859 and is one of the most stunning palaces in Marrakech. The Saadian Tombs are a must-see when visiting Marrakech, and they’re also close to the Medina. If you have time, wander further out of the city to visit Menara Gardens and the Agdal Gardens.
El Badi Palace is also worth a visit. It was built in the 16th century and is now inhabited by colonies of storks. Grab some free oranges right from the trees while you’re there 😉
Ben Youssef Madrasa, which was sadly closed when I visited is also a sight not to miss, even if just passing through the outside as I did — it is simply stunning.
Staying at a Riad
One highlight of staying in Marrakech is to stay at one of the wonderful riads. Riads are traditional Moroccan houses that have been turned into hotels, and they usually have a courtyard in the middle. I stayed at Riad Kheirredine and it was absolutely beautiful. If you’re looking for something luxurious, there are some really amazing riads out there, but there are also some great budget options too.
When it comes to food, there are endless options in Marrakech. Be sure to try a tagine, some couscous, and of course, some sweet Moroccan mint tea. And don’t forget to indulge in some sweet treats – I recommend getting some cooking from street vendors. Marrakech caters well to vegans and vegetarians, but it’s not the most exciting culinary experience.
Visiting a Hammam in Marrakech
No visit to Marrakech would be complete without visiting a hammam! A hammam is like a traditional Moroccan bathhouse, and it’s a super relaxing experience. While you are there, you can get your body scrubbed with black soap and relax with a massage, which will cost you so much less than any place in Europe.
If you want to visit a hammam, I’d recommend the Click Spa Marrakech. It’s not as luxurious as some of the other hammams in Marrakech, but it’s really great value for money and the staff is so friendly. For more wellness in Morocco recommendations, check out my Morocco yoga retreat guide!
Marrakech Desert Tour
After a few days exploring Marrakech, why not take a desert tour? The Sahara Desert is just a few hours away, and there are plenty of tour operators who can take you there.
We took a 3 day / 2-night desert jeep tour with Sahara Footprints (self paid) and it was great. On the first day, we drove through the Atlas Mountain, with a stopover in Ouarzazate, and spent our first night in the small dunes of Erg Lihoudi.
On the second day, we continued through the desert and made it to the large dunes of Erg Chegaga, where we tried sandboarding and took a walk with a camel. The tour operator was really understanding of me being a vegan and let us walk next to the camels instead of riding them which was amazing although somehow weird to them (they thought the reason not to want to ride the camel was that I was scared, but anyway).
On our last day, we drove back to Marrakech and stopped at a carpet co-op before returning the car. What I liked most about our specific tour was that you have lots of free time in between each activity so there is no rush or stress.
All in all my Marrakech holidays were the trip of a lifetime! I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to get out of their bubble and experience a new culture to the fullest. And if you are vegan or vegetarian, this will be absolutely no problem at all.
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I hope this blog post was helpful! Please let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you’d like me to write about!