There's no shortage of top ten lists when it comes to things to do and see in Marrakech. And while the more iconic sights will inevitably be on your list, there are a few lesser known experiences that you won't want to miss. Here is our list of ten things to do in the beautiful Red City:
1. Skip the hotel & stay in a riad
If you want to stay in the heart of the medina, your best bet (and your best experience) will be staying in a riad - a traditional Moroccan house that offers beautiful interior courtyards and sunbathing terraces. While these homes might not offer the full list of amenities that you'll find at a hotel, their hospitality and charm is unparalleled. Want to see what it's like inside a riad? Check out the photo diary here.
2. Enjoy the freshest (& cheapest) orange juice
Local treats can't be missed - and in Marrakech that is the fresh squeezed orange juice you can find for 40 cents anywhere in the Jemaa el-Fnaa. Whether you stay by the stall to enjoy your juice or take it to go as you wander the city, it's a refreshing treat that you have to try at least once! And don't worry about catching a stomach bug - the juice is entirely fresh squeezed (and they don't add ice cubes or unfiltered water).
3. Explore the Souks
One of the liveliest (and most chaotic) parts of the medina is the Souks. Filled with every kind of merchant you can imagine - from dried fruits and spices to leather goods and metal decor - you'll enjoy seeing all the things that line the alleyways of this area. It can be a bit overwhelming so try and go when it's less crowded and don't forget to bargain for a good price!
4. Wander the streets & admire the architecture
While not technically an attraction, the beautiful architecture you'll see around the medina is a sight in and of itself. Just walking down seemingly normal streets you'll inevitably see breathtaking details. Look out for the horseshoe arches, zellij tiling, stucco plaster and carved woodwork that adorn the doorways, walls and ceilings of local buildings.
5. Escape the noise at the Jardin Majorelle
Once you've wandered around enough, you may find yourself in need of a break away from the hustle and bustle. Wander out past the old city walls over to the Jardin Majorelle for the perfect getaway. Here you can relax in the shade of this bench lined park while you admire the striking cobalt blue form which the garden takes its name.
6. Indulge in a Hammam
A Hammam is a cleansing steam room, similar to a Turkish bath - but in a hotel spa a ritual Hammam experience has some added luxuries. Varying in length, a full ritual includes a steam, followed by a water cleaning, before you're covered with mud and clay. The mud and clay is then washed off and replaced with a black soaking soap. Another wash then prepares you for a full body exfoliation (which can be a little rough but leaves you're skin smooth and fresh!). You finish off with a cold shower or bath, and then relax and rehydrate in a darkened room.
7. Wander the Bahia Palace
Tucked away on the corner of a busy intersection, the palace offers a beautiful oasis behind its walls. Here you find perfect examples of Moroccan craftsmanship in every room and courtyard.
8. Enjoy dinner with a view above Jemaa el-Fnaa
Eating from a terrace or rooftop overlooking the Jemaa el-Fnaa at sunset is one dining experience that you won't want to miss while you're in the medina. Cafe de France is probably the most popular choice - its third level rooftop patio is small but offers one of the clearest views of the square. From here you'll be able to watch the night market come to life as locals pour in to eat and be entertained by street performers and snake charmers.
9. Drop by the Maison de la Photographie
Speaking of great views, the rooftop of the Maison de la Photographie offers sweeping views of the city. On a clear day you can see the snowcapped Atlas Mountains. The home is almost a must-see for photography enthusiasts, with its display of decade-old, original photographs taken by various local and international photographers.
10. Visit the Ben Youssef Madrasa
If there is one place you go during all your time in Marrakech, this should be it! Hands down one of the most spectacular buildings in the medina, the Ben Youssef Madrasa is the epitome of beautiful Moroccan architecture. An entry fee of 10 Dh (about US$1) gives you access to the entire medersa - including the main courtyard, where you'll see beautiful carved stucco and intricate tiling work, the prayer hall, and the student cells on the upper level. The place is big but gets crowded during peak hours. Your best bet is to go early in the morning, during lunch when all the tour groups are eating, or in the early evening before sunset! See more of the Ben Youssef Madrasa up close here.