One of the four most important imperial cities in Morocco and often considered the most breathtaking of all, Marrakech is an explosion of colors, flavors, and experiences. This is most people's introduction to the country, and it's a task the city takes in its bustling stride. The city's UNESCO-listed Medina, its oldest quarter, still acts as the city's main trading hub more than one thousand years after it was first founded. It is a head-spinning maze specifically designed to ensure invaders get hopelessly lost. Today, getting lost in Marrakech's Medina rates as the city's single most unmissable experience for visitors.
Here are a few more unique Marrakech experiences you shouldn't miss:
Visit Djeema El Fna at sunset
Marrakech's main square, Djeema El Fna, is a thriving hub of activity at any time of day, but after sunset, it transforms into an insane spectacle you absolutely must witness. Musicians, snake charmers, and an ocean of people descend upon the market's evening food stalls to socialize and feast. We recommend you follow suit. Be warned – this is Moroccan crazy at its best!
Explore every corner of the Medina
Getting lost in the Medina is fun, but, what is really fascinating, is realizing that there are 'suburbs' within it, too, each one distinctive and enticing in its own right. Marrakech has been created and shaped by an exotic blend of Arab and Berber cultures over a millennium, and the Medina is the best place to experience this intoxicating blend of ancient history. The souks are (roughly) divided by their trade, like jewelry, shoes, spices, and wool dying.
Be overawed by the Ali Ben Youssef Madrasa
One of the largest Islamic schools ever built in Northern Africa, the Ali Ben Youssef Madrasa is an architectural splendor with few rivals in the continent. This place is not only magnificent but, given almost all the mosques in Morocco are closed to non-Muslims, it also offers a unique glimpse of the spectacular architecture for which the local culture is renowned. The stunningly ornate mosaic walls, buildings, and courtyards will leave you flabbergasted.
Enjoy a traditional mint tea ceremony
Unlike any kind of mint tea you've ever tried, Moroccan mint tea is – like everything else in the country – a super intense gastronomic experience. Immensely strong and sweet, the country's drink of choice is an acquired taste, one that is quite impossible to avoid. The tea itself is served everywhere and will likely be offered to you every day of your hotel stay. Yet the traditional ceremony, a laboriously fancy half-hour affair, is truly beautiful to witness. Catch one, if you can,
Gawk at the flamboyant architecture of Bahia Palace
Considered the most exuberantly decorated palace in all of Morocco, the lavish Bahia Palace was originally built in the mid-1800s and expanded for the next 100 years. It showcases decadent highlights of both Andalusian and Moorish architecture, combined with an indecent amount of priceless Italian marble. Only a handful of the 150-odd rooms are open for viewing, but that matters little. The courtyards are the real show-stoppers here.
Indulge in a heavenly soak and scrub in a (semi) authentic hammam
A visit to a traditional hammam is right up there with the top 'must do' in Marrakech. Super-duper traditional bathing houses, however, are basic and can be difficult to navigate if you don't speak French or Arabic. Hammam Mouassine, however, is a wonderful hybrid mecca – it is housed in a traditional bathing house dating back 500 years, yet employs an English-speaking host and is beautifully tourist friendly. Not so much that it feels like a 5* spa but enough to make your first Moroccan hammam experience incredibly enjoyable.
Have you visited Marrakech and fallen in love with the place, as we did? Let us know in the comments if you discovered a hidden gem we should know about!