Marrakech Holidays

An enchanting desert city

One of Morocco’s most bewitching and best-known cities, Marrakech city breaks promise a dazzling mixture of culture, exploration and adventure. Once a palm-fringed oasis near the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, the site was originally frequented by ancient Berber farmers. But its position on trading routes across North Africa saw it explode with political and economic power while remaining a major Muslim citadel.

A French colony for decades in the early 1900s, Marrakech today is a cultural melting pot, fusing the mystique of the past with a modern, creative swagger. City breaks to Marrakech have much to offer, whether you’re up for bargaining in the labyrinthine souks, relaxing with a traditional hammam spa treatment, taking a Jeep into the mountains or heading to a cool music festival. And you’re sure to appreciate the city’s architecture, which gives a real sense of its history and culture.

Known as the Red City, thanks to its many ruddy sandstone buildings, Marrakech is a roll-call of wonderful buildings, grand arches and bright ‘zellige’ tiles. So whether you’re admiring the minaret of the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque as the call to prayer echoes through the air, swooning over the lush Menara Gardens, applauding the street performers, salivating over the food stalls of bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa ⁠or wandering round Bahia Palace, this is a city with treasures at every turn.

All resorts in Marrakech

Three tips for a top trip

Try two wheels
Local tour companies offer trips around the city and beyond on both bikes and motorcycles. Whichever takes your fancy, it’s a speedy and authentic way to see Marrakech.
Pop to a riad
Traditionally, riads are family-run hotels, but some boutique versions charge five-star rates. Grab a drink at the bar for a rush of exclusivity without the price tag.
Find a local guide
The twists and turns of the Medina or the prettiest routes between sights can take time to master – so let a reputable guide fast-track you to Marrakech insider status.

Best attractions to see in Marrakech

Jardin Majorelle

This exquisite garden, arranged around an extremely photogenic indigo Art Deco house, is a great spot to pause for a peaceful moment in the shade.

The Bahia Palace

This 19th-century palace offers some of the finest Moroccan architecture and design. Beautiful mosaic tiles, fountains and archways make it well worth a visit.

Yves Saint Laurent’s art

French culture is an integral part of Marrakech’s history, and this museum – dedicated to the work of fashion designer and sometime resident YSL – captures this modish relationship.

Your Marrakech questions, answered

In bars, restaurants and hotels it’s absolutely fine to drink alcohol, but in public it is strictly forbidden. Marrakech is a pretty relaxed place, but it’s important to respect local customs.

You’ll principally find North African dishes – tagines, kebabs, chermoula and some awesome street food – but its French influence also turns up on the menus of many chic restaurants and cafés.

Spring and autumn are said to be the best months to visit Marrakech if you want weather that isn’t too hot or too cold. They’ll also be the busiest months. Tourists who go in the height of summer can escape the heat of the city by heading out to the Atlas Mountains. In the winter, the days will be pleasantly warm and the nights can be spent packed into cosy teahouses. Marrakech is a busy city at the best of times, so going out of season is actually a very good idea.

Moroccan Dirhams, which are only available within the country – ATMs often offer the best exchange rates. Make sure you change your cash back before you leave.

Marrakech is perfect for anyone looking to shop till they drop, but it’s also packed with unique museums and galleries. Although there’s a lot of hustle and bustle, you can always retreat to the silence of a hammam spa. The city is also a good base for visiting the Atlas Mountains and having fun in a four-wheel-drive or seeing the sunset from the back of a camel. Holidays to Marrakech can easily become all about shopping, but there’s so much more to this city.

Jemma el-Fnaa is a fascinating place for kids to visit, with its snake charmers, monkeys and traditional dancers. A caleche tour – horse and cart – is good if you don’t want to do too much walking. And there are always tearooms tucked away in the riads if the noise and bustle are too much. Less than an hour by car from Marrakech, you’ll find a zip-line adventure park at Terres d’Amanar. This resort also has a pool with a view of the mountains. While Marrakech might not be an obvious choice for families, it’s a great chance to introduce children to a different culture.

Most people spend a few days in Marrakech, and it’s perfect for a weekend away. Three or four days is enough time to see all the main sites. A full week would mean you could see everything in the city and spend some time taking trips to the Atlas Mountains.

The hotels and tourist areas do offer clubs and bars – and there are some fantastic rooftop terraces to check out – but the old city is quite different. There’s no alcohol allowed, though that doesn’t stop the party from turning up. Jemma el-Fnaa, the huge central square, is overflowing with entertainers and musicians. The traditional teahouses are a great glimpse into Moroccan life.

Morocco is a Muslim country and respecting the local culture is important. It just makes for a nicer trip and not constantly being harassed. Women can wear what they want in hotels and bars dedicated to tourists, but they should try and cover up everywhere else. While it isn’t illegal for women to wear shorts, you’ll attract a lot of unwanted attention if you do. Skirts that go below the knee and long-sleeved tops rather than strappy t-shirts are ideal. Men are fine in shorts and shirts.