Travel Guide to Marrakech

Best things to do and see in Marrakech

Marrakech: Why go

Founded nearly a thousand years ago, Marrakech is Morocco's most vibrant and exotic city, with rose-coloured buildings, a wealth of monuments and labyrinthine souks set against the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. A shopaholic could spend a lifetime here, browsing the stalls of homeware, fabrics, spices, wooden crafts, lanterns and other trinkets.

The walled medina is a maze of unsigned pink alleys, and getting lost is part of the experience. The main hub, and the point where most alleys emerge, is the huge square of Djemaa el Fna (also spelled Jma el Fnaa and other variations), where open-air BBQ stalls, nut and date vendors, orange juicers, snake charmers, story tellers and assorted touts mix with a melee of bemused tourists. But there's plenty more: opulent palaces, royal tombs and - in the new town of Gueliz - colourful gardens including the popular Majorelle of Yves Saint Laurent fame. Further afield are the dense palm groves of the Palmeraie, dotted with upscale resorts and the occasional golf course - an alternative place to base yourself if you want a bit more breathing space and don't mind taking taxis in.

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Our top tips

Eat

Best eats (and drinks) Marrakech Medina

Choosing where to eat in Marrakech is a daunting task: doormen usher you into their restaurants, street vendors tempt you with their spicy delicacies, and mopeds nearly knock you off your feet as you browse.

So profit from our hard-won research and see all our favourite spots for lunch or dinner in the medina - including this affordable rooftop café pictured (Atay), the best Moroccan cuisine in the city (La Table de la Kasbah), and the most popular bar (Barometre).

See

A breath of fresh air Le Jardin Majorelle

Take a stroll in one of the many exotic gardens on the outskirts of Marrakech - a great way to destress after the hassle of the medina and the best place during the heat of the early afternoon. Le Jardin Majorelle (in the Ville Nouvelle off Avenue Yacoub Al Mansour) has a startling cobalt blue villa surrounded by banana trees, giant bamboo and cool cacti. Originally planned in the 1920s by French artist Jacques Majorelle, it was then owned by Yves Saint Laurent.

Shop

Shopping the souks Marrakech Medina

A shopaholic could spend a lifetime in the covered markets of the medina, browsing the packed stalls and haggling hard (it's expected). Leather goods, carpets, brass lamps, candlesticks, wooden tables, chairs, games, painted pottery, jewellery, baboush slippers, bedspreads, mirrors, fire-bellows, spices, olives, dates and prunes are some of the things you might find yourself buying. If you're flying in and out of here, schedule your shopping for the end of the trip. And to avoid getting lost or hassled by "faux" guides, consider engaging an official guide through your hotel.

Do

A spot of golf Marrakech Palmeraie

There are several 18-hole (or longer) courses, all designed by big names, within 5 miles of the city. Sprawling over 120 hectares and featuring 11 lakes, the 27-hole golf course of PalmGolf Marrakesh Palmeraie is our top pick. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones, and now hosts various professional tournaments. It's the nearest to the city and only a couple of strokes away from Jnane Tamsna and Ksar Char Bagh.