What To Do In Marrakesh: The 21 Best (Unique) Things You Can’t Miss!

Looking for what to do in Marrakesh (and outside of it in the rest of Morocco)? We’re sharing our 21 favorites and they don’t include all the regular touristy lists (you can find that elsewhere, we don’t like to reinvent any wheelsπŸ˜‰).

I’d been to Morocco before (including the quiet “Blue City” of Chefchaouen in the north)…

…and I knew I wanted to take my daughters there, but to the south!

The perfect opportunity came while we were living in the Canary Islands, just 60 miles off the coast of Africa (and Morocco).

I’d been watching the cheap-o flights from our little Canarian airport into the different spots in Morocco…

…and when the flights into Marrakesh popped up around $30 (USD) each, I told Matt and we pounced on it!

YES! I was finally taking my children to experience Morocco!

Like many places in Africa or the Middle East, Morocca feels like “another world” from our home country, and I love finding places that are so different to what we’re used to.

As much as I enjoy a mix of being away from my home country and feeling comfortable in another country as well, I still enjoy being in countries where

  • I don’t understand the language other than the basic phrases
  • I’m curious about all the cultural differences and customs around me
  • Everything looks and feels and smells different.

Talk about being AWAKE!πŸ₯°πŸ’ƒπŸ˜„

This is the interior courtyard of our riad while we were living in Marrakesh. Our bedroom is upstairs through those doors, but I digress…tour later.

The internet is full of lists of museums and palaces you can go to (and you certainly can spend your days going through all those, if that’s your jam)…

…but our favorite things in Morocco are a bit more chill, with more fresh aiand fewer hours standing in lines, soaking up the atmosphere and stopping to take it in for long internal memories…

…and our trips like these also involve tasting a LOT of good local food! πŸ˜‹πŸ’ƒ

So if that sounds more like your style too, you’ll love this list (and save it for your own free travel planning when you go to Morocco)!

what to do in morocco

#21: Fuel Up with Incredible Moroccan Breakfasts!

From the dark, rich coffee to the Moroccan-style yogurt and the fresh squeezed orange juice (you know I’m a sucker for the fresh OJ), breakfast in Morocco was one of our family’s favorite parts of the day!

In addition to our regular morning eggs, one of my daughters always had an eye out for the chocolate croissants (you know, all that French influence in Morocco dies hard) and honeys.

I was partial to the Moroccan breads and pancake-crepe concoctions with big slabs of butter or the soft cheese. That plus coffee (after eating fried eggs) is the perfect combo for me.

Add olives, tomatoes and other fresh fruit and you’ll be eating like kings in preparation for your days!

what to do in MOROCCO

#20: Learn the most important phrases (and in Berber)!

My kids know I have this rule:

“When you go into another country, we learn phrases in their language.”

(Even if it’s a difficult language, “Thank you” is number one, then the ones like “Hello” “Please” “Goodbye” etc. To me, it’s a sign of respect as we are visiting. As many phrases and words as possible! Duolingo is a great free app both my daughters and I have enjoyed learning from! I’ve plugged them before because of how successful our Portuguese turned out.)

Taste testing (then buying) nutty Moroccan sweet bars off one of the smiliest street vendors we met.

So, I’m not an expert on the huge mix of peoples there are in Morocco, but I have read a bit about the different Berber languages (like Tamazight and Tashelhit) because they fascinate me…

…and let me tell you, there are a LOT of different people groups in Morocco. To assume everyone speaks Arabic would be a mistake, because the Berber population is large! Maybe it’s just us, but I feel like each time I’ve been in Morocco I’ve interacted with more Berber individuals than others…

Wherever you’re going and whatever you’ll be doing, either practice your phrases ahead of time OR ask the people when you get there! So many different pronunciations…and I’ve never run into anyone who was upset I had to ask them to repeat it…they seemed more surprised that we were SO interested in speaking their language properly!

So I encourage you to try as well! It’s so rewarding!

what to do in MOROCCO WITH KIDS

#19: Take in the stunning architecture!

So yes, while I’m a Language Nerd, I’m also a Design Nerd and I looooove seeing not only the different designs and architecture in these places, but learning about how on earth they created such intricate designs so many centuries ago!

From a design standpoint and a builder-craftsman standpoint, Matt and I are both in awe of things like this!

PS: If you can bring your kids and expose them to things like this while they’re young, DO IT!

These experiences will get soaked up and become part of them!

Even if you’re a parent who (understandably) can’t make it to Morocco on a $35 plane trip this week, YouTube is your next easy, free way to still give them a glimpse of these “other worlds,” talk about it, ask what they think, etc!

(Why everyone is so interested in life on Mars is beyond me… Why focus on Mars when we already have Morocco & Madagascar? πŸ˜‚ That’s probably too long for a t-shirt, so…now accepting applications for punchy 1-liner t-shirt writers for Jess.)

what to do in MARRAKESH

#18: Walk through all the different souks! (Not just one!)

If you hear people say they went into “a souk,” you’ve gotta ask them, “Which one?”

Because there isn’t just one souk…there is one with leather goods, one with metalworking goods, one full of home decor that I am so, so tempted to hit up when we set up our next house one day…(Matt gave me approval because of how inexpensive they were, and you can’t beat handmade!)…

When you’re traveling light, as we always are, we don’t “shop” a lot…

…but whether you love to haggle or just browse, you cannot miss exploring the different souks and shops!

(TIP: Absolutely, absolutely haggle. It’s not offensive to them as long as you are respectful and play by the rules; they expect you to haggle. Never, ever accept the first price they name. Make them name the price first. Eventually you can probably get it for half their first request, on average…you can shop around or take a local friend to make sure you understand the “real” street price you should expect.)

My sweet daughter found one shop full of the most unique musical instruments, begging to go inside, and the man was just so gracious and not pushy (I had some bad experiences in northern Morocco so Marrakesh shop owners were lovely by comparison) and we had such a good time checking out instruments we’d never seen (or heard of) before…

…so of course, when you’re having such a great time, no one (ahem, mama) took any pictures of the girls trying out the instruments but it was still one of our most memorable experiences!

what to do in MOROCCO

#17: Get out of the city!

As fun as the city can be, my heart longs for the quiet and beauty of fresh, simple, unadorned nature. I booked us a guide for the Atlas mountains (southeast of the city), where I’d never been before and really wanted to explore.

Speaking of nature, you haven’t really traveled until you’ve used one of these. (Italy has them too…always a fun surprise and educational experience!πŸ˜†)

what to do in MOROCCO

#16: Trek in the Atlas Mountains!

I found a local guide who lived in a small village up in the Atlas Mountains. He suggested hiring a mule for the kids (he knew a guy who owned one, that’s the mule owner walking by it below)…

…and I’m sure glad he suggested it!

While our daughters walked much more than we expected (our guide was incredibly wonderful, talkative, and had snowball fights with them), the mule was not only a fantastic help when they got tired, but it was a neat experience.

(Plus the very sweet mule owner didn’t speak English so we got to practice our Tamazight pronunciation–I knew I wasn’t saying it well if he didn’t respond.)

At one point we even stopped at our guide’s family home for tea and nuts…what a treat!

what to do in morocco

#15: Eat a traditional Moroccan lunch!

We only ate Moroccan food while we were in Morocco, and you should too! It’s fresh and flavorful, while it may look simple on the outside, and you can’t get it more authentic than when you’re there!

what to do in MARRAKESH

#14: Drink real Berber tea (poured by the man)!

Twice we experienced our guide serving us tea, which is traditionally done by the man. He holds it up SUPER high in the air to pour into each person’s glass! (I was impressed.)

what to do in MOROCCO

#13: Get ideas for your house!

If you’re into design, or even just home design, you can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere!

Even if a room doesn’t tick all your boxes, I’m a big believer that you can glean ideas from any space in any culture you spend time in.

Everyone always has a reason they do what they do–and I like to know about it and consider how it’s an improvement on the other ways! πŸ€—

So remember, traveling isn’t about getting away from home, necessarily. You can still be thinking about home while you’re away, gleaning everywhere you go…

…so that you can make home even better when you return. (One of the reasons I love to travel.)

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#12: Drink the fresh pomegranate juice!

Vendors everywhere in Marrakesh have stands set up not just to sell you juice, but to sell you

fresh juice squeezed before your very eyes!

And while I’ve mentioned orange juice before, the pomegranate juice is what I have my eyes on when I’m in Morocco!

It’s not too sweet (which I love), it’s natural and un-tampered with (in comparison to anything you might buy in a store), and there aren’t too many places in the world you can get fresh-squeeze pomegranate juice from these gems! πŸ˜‹

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#11: Sample the street foods!

Speaking of food on the streets, eat it! (No, not literally.)

By comparison with the “safer” tourist restaurants, this food is authentic and super cheap!

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#10: Ben Youssef

If you must do one of the museums/palaces/buildings in Marrakesh, I highly recommend that Ben Youssef be your #1 stop. The rest can come after that.

If you have the time or are more into checking off museums and palaces, you can also go to

  1. Badi Palace (interesting but not a must-do)
  2. Bahia Palace (it was fine but not top of my list)
  3. Koutoubia (mosque pictured below)
  4. Jardin Majorelle (interesting but not as great as everything else we listed here)

It might also depend on how much you’ve traveled before, how much Moroccan/Moorish/southern Spain architecture and places of interest you’ve seen before…

…so if you’ve traveled far and wide, by the time you get to Marrakesh you may just want to do your research, look at pictures of the places, pick your top 1-3…

…but don’t try to “do” it all if you only have a short amount of time because 1) you should be out eating the Moroccan food and soaking up the streets and 2) it starts to look the same (as many museums can after awhile, let’s be honestπŸ₯±).

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#9: Stop & listen to the calls to prayer!

If you’re staying in the middle of a city or larger town, chances are you’ll have a number of mosques around you so it can get quite loud! But still…it’s one of those experience you just can’t quite get anywhere else for your ears.

I have several videos I took just recording the sound of the calls to prayer we could hear from our riad (house).

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#8: Get bread from an original Moroccan bakery!

Step off the crowded streets in Marrakesh to an old bakery, where the bread (which we’d have at breakfast every morning) was fresh-baked down low…

…I had to really crouch down to get a pic of the bread back there!

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#7: Live in a riad!

I had a lot of “Number Ones” for this trip with my kids, and one was my insistence that we live in a riad this time.

A riad is a house built around a central courtyard, and we had a small one with three bedrooms, two bathrooms (I know, lap of luxury!), and a kitchen!

This is why we get a good laugh when random strangers on social media say we don’t know what it’s like to live with a small kitchen. πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

Plus the courtyard of course (which we used mostly for breakfasts or snacks if we were home and not eating out in the streets…which sounds funny but by this point I think you know what I mean)…

…but I’ll take you to the roof next, which is another key element you can’t miss out on!

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#6: Enjoy your breakfast (or happy hour) on your roof!

Especially on swelteringly hot Moroccan days, if you want some outdoors time you’d better get up early!

Hence, enjoying the morning light on your roof while you sip your coffee or have breakfast.

Matt and I were partial to a nice happy hour at sunset up here while we all read as a family and relaxed after busy days out in the city.

PS: If you’re wondering why that cover is there on the bottom left side, that’s the cover for our courtyard! It keeps the birds out of your house! I know…Moroccan riad problems…

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#5: Eat a good tagine!

Almost everywhere you go in Morocco, a tagine is on the menu. Creamy and flavorful, you have to try it at least once (really, I don’t see how anyone couldn’t like them…they’re pretty easy to like).

The tagine pots are conical (and you can buy one in the souks if you fancy it) and work kinda like Dutch ovens (encouraging steam circulation with very little water!).

Even while we were traveling in nearby Madeira earlier in the year, we noticed restaurants offering tagines to all the Europeans.

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#4: Go spice shopping!

Yes, speaking of conical shapes, those are spices!

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#3: Enjoy all the tile!

Yep, the tile is going to make it to my #3.

(Actually, it’s difficult to pick these top ones…I mean, the riad and Atlas mountains were pretty high for me, as is all the food and drinks and rooftops and…how can I pick?!?)

But really, if you enjoy tilework, you will enjoy Morocco. They know how to do it. I won’t even put in all the pictures…just go and enjoy.

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#2: Get a local to take you on a food tour!

When else will you get taken to “the best restaurant in Marrakesh” that literally has no sign on it?

Only when a local shows you, leads you through, speaks with the chef, and takes care of everything for you. (100% must-experience!)

I decided last-minute to find a Marrakesh-born-and-bred foodie to take us on a tour of her favorite and recommended food spots around the city, and we ended with snails!

(The above menu shows you a list of all the spices he uses…this is a guy with a stand out cooking in the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa, a large open square full of vendors and “snake-charmers,” which is actually quite sad.)

On the bright side, we were so proud of our girls trying snails! Who knew? (And seconds?!?)

There’s some sheep’s head, ox tail, and bean dishes down in here…and of course the bread and hot tea!

Q: What was our favorite family food discovered on the food tour?

a) Moroccan-spiced snails.

b) Moroccan sheep’s head.

c) Hand-shaken yogurt.

d) Moroccan ox tail.

WHAT TO DO IN MARRAKESH

#1: Meander the streets!

If we could choose just 1 activity to recommend to you in Marrakesh (or many Moroccan towns and cities), it would be to simply meander the streets!

The cities will be larger and you can get more “lost” in them (stay safe and follow your gut).

The towns will be smaller and the chances of you getting lost are much smaller to nil. 😊

In both, you’ll come across new foods, new views, new smells…soak it up! You can’t get the true Moroccan experience anywhere else in the world!

Especially if you’re living in a riad off the beaten path, you’ll get to know your “neighborhood” and maybe even start encountering the same neighbor kids every day like we did, out playing with balls because apparently their Moroccan Mama didn’t allow it inside either! πŸ˜„

If you meander at night, stay safe! This is a necessity when you live in a riad and have to get off the main streets to get home.

BONUS TIP: Get a window seat when you fly in (or out)!

Seeing Morocco from the air (as we flew back home to the Canary Islands) is extra fun if you’re flying during the day! This is why we love window seats, man!😍

Next…

PS: You can see all our travels on our Adventure page…or all our home projects HERE!

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