Holidays to Marrakech put you among grand palaces and lively souks, with a backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.

Also known as the Red City, Marrakech is one of Morocco's real gems and has been attracting travellers for centuries, with its sensory overload of sights, sounds and scents. It’s earned the title of Africa’s first Capital of Culture, too, so you can expect some of the best food, fashion and design in this part of the world. Follow the maze-like streets past hidden riads with beautifully tiled courtyards, and you’ll eventually find yourself at the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square – where everything happens.

And the best part? You can be there in less than four hours’ travel time from the UK.

Why pick Marrakech

Souks for shops

Get your first taste of Marrakech at Jemaa el-Fnaa, the beating heart of the city. Don't be shy – unleash your inner haggler and score some one-of-a-kind souvenirs and local crafts here. Its lively streets, dynamic performers, fresh food and colourful market stalls sum up what this place is all about.

Souk Semmarine is the place to start – it’s the glue that sticks theentire local shopping network together. From here, stalls lead off to all the other souks, like Rahba Kedima for spices and souk Haddadine, the blacksmiths’ alley.

Outside the walls of the medina, you’ll find Guéliz, the ‘new town’. This trendy district of Marrakech is where European and Moroccan chain stores mingle with charming French boutiques, tucked away in the side streets. It’s a shopper’s paradise where you can bag a bargain or splurge on that one perfect designer piece.

Moorish masterpieces

Koutoubia Mosque dominates the city's skyline and is a true masterpiece of Moorish architecture. A visit is like stepping into a time machine and immersing yourself in Marrakech's vibrant religious history. Charge your phone ready for some seriously Insta-worthy snaps.

Medersa Ben Youssef is another one of the city’s most important monuments. The 14th-century religious school reopened after a five-year renovation to show off the extraordinary skill that went into its original build.

There’s also Ell Badi Palace, which is now a site of epic ruins. It was once the palace of Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour and features gardens of orange trees with panoramic views out over the medina.

Tranquil gardens

Step back in time and explore Bahia Palace, AKA ‘beautiful palace’ – and it really is. The décor is stunning with an impressive complex of ornate rooms, lush courtyards and trademark tilework. There are also beautiful gardens with more intricate mosaics to explore.

If you’re looking to escape the buzz of the city, Jardin Majorelle is a calm oasis worth visiting. It’s the work of French painter, Jacques Majorelle, and pure Instagram gold. Every corner is bursting with exotic plants and tropical flowers to accessorise the iconic cobalt blue villa.

The Hammam experience

A Hammam is a public bathhouse and Moroccan institution. They’re in every neighbourhood and in a lot of hotels, so you’ve got to squeeze in a visit. You can go for a classic gommage or ‘scrub’, or they also offer masques and massages, too.

The non-touristy pick

Instead of sipping on Morocco’s famous fresh mint tea, visit a Moroccan vineyard to taste the country’s surprising range of red wine. As Morocco is a Muslim country, the majority of Moroccans don’t drink, and that’s reflected in the limited availability of alcohol outside of hotels and certain restaurants. But because of its Phoenician and Roman history, winemaking was revived under French rule here in the early 1900s. Keep your eye out for varieties made from the Carignan grape, like Azayi.

Our pick

Take it from someone that's been there – here’s a top tip from our team:

“We did a fun cookery course where you go to the market and get your ingredients, then get to cook and eat it all at the host’s house.”Andy Stern

We found one just like it! Learn all the secrets of tagine making and market haggling at this Traditional Tagine Cookery Class.

Day trips from Marrakech

The Atlas Mountains

Take a guided tour to witness incredible landscapes, traditional Berber villages, and cascading waterfalls. Whether you're a pro hiker, a casual trekker, or just love soaking in the scenery, Atlas has got the goods.

Essaouira

Marrakech is a city break really, so to see the sea, head to Essaouira. It’s just under three hours away by taxi or you can hire a car and take yourself there for some road trip vibes. It’s known as the ‘Windy City of Africa’, so it’s perfect for windsurfers between April and November, but it’s also a hot surf spot. Essaouira also means ‘Little Picture’ in Arabic, and its Old Medina is just that – it’s also UNESCO listed. Walk the walls and make sure you get your fix of fresh fish at one of the seafood restaurants while you’re by the water.

If you're itinerary's a little longer and you want to see more while you're there, check out our top 5 day trips from Marrakech to plan your break.

Picks that don’t cost a penny

Storytelling is an old tradition in Marrakech, and you can still hear old tales being told at The World Storytelling Café. It’s a cute vegan restaurant near Medersa Ben Youssef, where sessions are organised by members of the Marrakech International Storytelling Festival. You can pop in for a listen over a selection of their tasty small plates.

Getting around

The best way to explore this city properly is by walking. Some of the historic centre’s streets are so small and narrow, only motorbikes and bicycles can get through. So, on foot is usually the best way.

Taxis

Taxis are your trusty way to explore Marrakech – just remember to haggle and lock in your fare before hopping in to dodge any surprises later.

Petit taxis are for smaller journeys to places like the new town and other neighbourhoods. Or, if you’re looking to travel a fair distance, grand taxis are your go-to for longer journeys, with set routes that are perfect for delving into the city's outskirts.

Bus

For a budget-friendly option, hopping on a local bus is a great way to do things the local way. These comfy rides will whisk you away to all corners of Marrakech, so you can keep that piggy bank happy. It’s probably best to get advice from the staff at your hotel or accommodation on the best routes to try, as timetables can be a bit unreliable.

Car hire

Car hire is the best option for ultimate freedom in these parts. You can hit the road at your own pace and uncover hidden gems off the beaten path.

Top tip – always have some small bills handy and agree on fares upfront. When in doubt, don't shy away from seeking guidance from the friendly locals but remember that it’s usual for them to ask for a tip in return.

At a Glance

  • Watch the magic unfold in Jemaa el-Fnaa
  • Race your way through the desert on a 4x4
  • Haggle for souvenirs at the souks

TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN MARRAKECH

BEACHES

SHOPPING

NIGHTLIFE

FOOD & DRINK