The best things to do in Marrakech Morocco for budget travelers.
Very few travelers visit Morocco without stopping in Marrakech.
Although it’s not the capital (Rabat is), it’s the most popular city for tourists to visit.
Marrakech lies in the center of the country, so it’s a great place to base yourself for outward tours to the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains, and coastal towns like Essaouira, Agadir, and Taghazout.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it; Marrakech can be hectic.
It’s loud, dirty, and sometimes smelly. The locals are always yelling at you to buy their things. Walking through the city is never easy due to the crazy traffic (of people, cars, and motorbikes).
But this is all part of the experience, and you just have to embrace the chaos.
Though some areas of the city scream “tourist trap”, you can still find some of the core aspects of Moroccan culture here.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the best things to do in Marrakech. Some reveal the authentic Moroccan lifestyle and some celebrate the popular tourist attractions.
The 13 Best Things To Do In Marrakech Morocco
Most things to do in Marrakech are within walking distance of the city center. But for day trips and extra hot days in the summer months, local taxis and minivans are abundant.
We spent about 3 weeks in this city, living, and volunteering in a hostel. We stayed with locals who showed us their culture, and we took lots of day trips outside the city in our free time.
From exploring the bustling Medina, to learning about the city’s history in museums, to admiring the Moroccan architecture, here are the best things to do in Marrakech.
1. Buy fresh produce in a street market
You won’t find many big grocery stores in Morocco, as most locals buy their food at the street markets.
Whether it’s a truck bed piled high with melons and plums, a blanket on the ground covered in potatoes and zucchinis, or an actual shop with overflowing boxes of colorful fruits and veggies, there is no shortage of fresh produce in Marrakech.
Locals usually give you a basket to fill yourself, which they weigh and price accordingly.
This makes shopping easier if you don’t speak French or Arabic, and the prices are usually so cheap as well.
You can also buy eggs, seafood, grains, bread, and spices in the street as well.
Be sure to try the peaches, nectarines, oranges, and figs, as they are exceptionally sweet here in Morocco.
Also try the strange-looking cactus fruit, which is green and prickly on the outside but tasted like a watermelon made love to a passionfruit on the inside.
My favorite street market in Marrakech is on the street called Derb Demnat, right behind Saadien’s Tombs.
It’s a bit more chilled out here than other, more central areas of the city.
2. Visit Saadien’s Tombs
One of the best things to do in Marrakech is visit the tombs of the Saadien Dynasty, which ruled Morocco during the “Golden Age” of the 16th and 17th centuries.
The family tombs are preserved in a way that reflects their wealth and power.
The halls of Saadien’s Tombs are masterpieces of Moroccan architecture, with high domed ceilings, regal pillars, and intricate carvings.
Even the ceilings and floors are adorned with tiled artwork and beautiful designs. Beautifully landscaped gardens also surround the tombs.
- Address: Rue de La Kasbah, Marrakech Morocco
- Hours: 9 am to 5 pm
- Cost: 70 Dirhams
3. Sip mint tea
As the staple beverage of Morocco, mint tea is consumed at all hours of the day, either at home or in cafes and restaurants.
If you don’t want sugar, let the waiter know beforehand. Otherwise, they might shove 5 sugar cubes into your silver teapot.
But this tea is simply a handful of fresh mint leaves steeped in boiling water, and it’s delicious.
Indulging in plenty of fresh delicious mint tea is one of the best things to do in Marrakech Morocco!
4. Educate yourself in a natural medicine shop
You’ll definitely see lots of natural medicine shops in Marrakech. They often have baskets of fragrant herbs, colorful spices, wellness teas, and other unknown objects piled out front.
When we finally entered one and asked about the weird stuff on display, we were amazed by how interesting all the natural products are.
Common finds in a medicine shop include sandalwood for incense, argan oil for cosmetic and culinary uses, and black nigella seeds which can be sniffed for asthma and sinus relief.
Some of the stranger things I was introduced to include slimy olive soap that looks like brown goo but actually cleans your hands really well, and crystalized mint flakes that you can sprinkle in tea to help clear the sinuses.
Just one tiny flake of that mint and I had to close my eyes to drink the tea because the mint fumes were so strong.
5. Eat olives as often as possible
Morocco is home to the most delicious olives I’ve ever tasted.
You’ll find them thrown into salads, tagines, and couscous dishes, or scattered on top of pizzas and omelettes.
Eat them at every opportunity, as you won’t find olives this flavorful anywhere else.
You can buy them at street markets in Marrakech for super cheap, only a couple Dirhams for a scoop.
There are lots of different flavors and sizes and colors, so try them all! Stop by a traditional spice souk as well to buy cheap spices and ingredients for cooking.
6. Stroll through Jardin Majorelle
Jardin Majorelle is one of the top Marrakech attractions.
Designed by French artist, Jacques Majorelle, in 1923, the garden has tall bamboo framing the walkway and lush plants, botanical gardens, and cacti scattered around.
It is also home to a vibrant blue villa, designed by French architect, Paul Sinoir.
Jardin Majorelle is a beautiful spot, and it would be a tranquil oasis without the crowds.
I didn’t realize how Instagram-famous this garden was until I witnessed about twenty different tourists posing for photos in the span of five minutes.
I recommend visiting early in the morning to beat the crowds. But at any time of day, the Moroccan architecture and vibrant blue buildings are cool to look at.
- Address: Rue Yves St Laurent, Marrakech Morocco
- Hours: 8 am to 6:30 pm
- Cost: 70 Dirhams
7. Shop in the Medina
Marrakech has the second oldest Medina in Morocco (Fes has the oldest).
Visit this historic area of the city and get lost wandering through the narrow alleyways.
You will definitely get lost. Just enjoy the sensory roller coaster while walking through the maze and you’ll eventually wander out by accident.
The Marrakech Medina is full of food stalls, Moroccan arts, and more. It’s also a great place to buy souvenirs, including rugs, traditional clothing, ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and other handicrafts.
When you ask shop owners the price, assume you’re being told the tourist price, and try to bargain for a bit cheaper.
Just be respectful when haggling and shop owners will almost always lower the price.
Also, consider booking a guided Medina tour if you want a local to show you around!
8. Drink fresh juice in the street
You can’t walk two blocks in Marrakech without seeing a local selling fresh orange juice from a stand in the street.
Sipping on a cold orange juice is one of the best things to do in Marrakech, especially on a hot day of sightseeing. A glass usually costs 5-10 Dirhams.
I’ve also found ginger juice for 5 Dirhams, which is zingy and cleansing, and refreshing.
Just beware of the juice stands in the main square with fruits piled up so high that you can’t see them making the juice. Sometimes they dilute it with sugary bottled juice.
9. Visit a rooftop cafe
The phrase “panoramic view” or “rooftop terrace” is common to see plastered onto the front of a cafe or restaurant, especially near the Jemaa El Fnaa square.
These places tend to be quite touristy, but it’s nice to just order a mint tea or a coffee and enjoy the view.
I recommend visiting rooftop bars in the early morning or evening when the heat has subsided a bit.
But sunset can be a very busy time near the square so you may need to wait for a table.
No matter what time you visit, this is one of the most popular things to do when you visit Marrakech.
10. Feast for super cheap in a restaurant
Many restaurants in Marrakech charge tourist prices, meaning around 40-60 Dirhams or more for one meal.
This is still pretty cheap compared to other countries. But if you look hard enough you can get massive meals for much cheaper.
Look for the cafes that aren’t very flashy, are far from the main square, and have lots of locals drinking tea or coffee in the front.
We visited a cafe for breakfast and paid 39 Dirhams (almost $4 USD) for a massive breakfast including coffee, 2 omelettes, bread, Moroccan salad (chopped tomatoes, onions, olives, and seasonings), and a huge crepe with chocolate.
I wish I could remember the name, but there are plenty of local cafes with similar prices.
There is also a little pizza shop across from the Bubble Cafe (again I can’t remember the name) which sells a delicious margarita pizza for 10 Dirhams.
These hidden gems are super affordable and sell some of the best food in Marrakech.
11. Brave the madness of Jemaa El Fnaa Square
The central square of Jemaa El Fnaa is one of the top Marrakech attractions, but it’s quite intense. (Also can be spelled Djemaa El Fna)
Street performers, snake charmers, and henna painters fill the grounds of Jemaa El Fnaa, begging for tourists to toss them money.
The crowds here are ideal for pickpocketing, so come with few belongings and watch them carefully.
You’ll also see lots of men carrying poor little monkeys on chains, usually wearing a silly outfit for tourists to take photos with.
I didn’t really like the commercialism, animal abuse, and tourist traps that lurk in the main square.
But it was interesting to see this famous spot in Marrakech and wonder why so many tourists fall for the facade of true culture.
12. Book a Sahara Desert Tour
One of the best things to do in Marrakech Morocco is visit the Sahara Desert.
This mysterious and stunning spot on our planet is very accessible from Marrakech. So if you have 3 days to spare you should definitely book a tour to the Sahara Desert.
Drive through the Atlas Mountains on the way, enjoy camel rides, admire the rippling golden dunes, and camp under the stars.
Visiting the Sahara Desert is a must-have experience to have in Morocco. Most tours also pass by the ancient city of Ait Benhaddou, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
13. Take A Day Trip
There are plenty of wonderful day trips you can do to escape the craziness of Marrakech.
My favorite day trips from Marrakech are:
Essaouira: This gorgeous, relaxing beach town is the perfect easy day trip from Marrakech. Read my full travel guide here.
Atlas Mountains: This stunning area is a must-visit in Morocco. I would recommend visiting the Atlas Mountains for 2 days, but it is possible to do it as a day trip. Read my full travel guide here.
Ouzoud Waterfalls: Most day tours cost around 200-250 Dirhams (20-25 USD). They include round-trip minivan transfers to the falls.
There is no direct public transport to Ouzoud Waterfalls, so a tour is the easiest option for a day trip.
The journey is about 3 hours each way, and you get a few hours to swim and enjoy the magnificent waterfalls.
Other Things To Do In Marrakech – Tourist Attractions:
Here are other popular Marrakech activities that I’ve been recommended but didn’t do myself:
Marrakech Museum of Photography
To escape the blazing sun, or the inclement weather, venture inside the Marrakech Museum of Photography to see Moroccan culture captured in photographs. The entry fee is 40 Dirhams, open from 9:30am – 7pm.
El Badi Palace
An old royal palace of the Saadien Dynasty, this is a great stop for people who love history and the cool ruins it leaves behind. The entry fee is 70 Dirhams, open from 9am until 5pm.
Ben Youssef Madrasa School
The Ben Youssef Islamic school is supposedly full of gorgeous Moroccan architecture. It was closed for renovations when I visited Marrackech, but it may be reopened now (here is a 2022 updated article)
Bahia Palace is a gorgeous 19th Century palace in the city center. It is a popular stop while visiting Marrakech. The entry fee is 10 Dirhams and it’s open from 9 am until 4:45 pm.
Stay in a Traditional Riad
A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house, usually including a nice terrace, lush gardens, courtyards, and a pool.
They are supposed to be very beautifully designed and offer a classic Moroccan breakfast, but even the cheapest Riads are a bit out of our budget.
If you are willing to splurge a bit on nice accommodation, a traditional Riad can be incredible.
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So those are the 13 best things to do in Marrakech Morocco! I hope this article was helpful!
Morocco is a stunning country in North Africa, and visiting Marrakech will give you an insight into the local culture, tasty Moroccan cuisine, and Moroccan arts.
From seeing iconic sights like Bahia Palace and Jardin de Majorelle, to a day trip visiting traditional Berber villages in the mountains or in the desert, the bustling city of Marrakech is unforgettable.
Before traveling to Marrakech Morocco…
- Visit iVisa.com to check visa requirements.
- Consider getting travel insurance. I recommend Squaremouth Insurance for the best, affordable travel insurance plans.
- Check Hostelworld for the best cheap accommodation all over Morocco!
For inspiration on where to go after Marrakech, check out my other Morocco articles:
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