Menara Gardens & Koutoubia Minaret
Marrakech is best known for its labyrinth of markets, but there’s SO much more to do here than shop! When exploring Marrakech this summer, my first stop was the Menara Gardens. There’s a big (artificial) lake, a pavilion, and some small gardens to stroll through. If you go in the warmer months, I’d recommend visiting in the morning before it gets too hot. There isn’t a lot of shade here! Next, I wandered the paths around the city’s iconic Koutoubia Minaret. Muslim visitors can also go inside the historic mosque – with appropriate clothing, of course! Fun fact: Sevilla’s famous minaret “La Giralda” in Spain was designed by the same architect who built the Koutoubia Minaret!
Exploring Marrakech: Bahia Palace
My favorite place in Marrakech is the Bahia Palace, just a short walk through the souk from the Koutoubia. The palace displays an exquisite array of Moroccan architecture and tile work, and it’s the perfect destination for history geeks and Instagram photographers!
Intricate tile mosaics, plasterwork, woodcarvings and more can all be found in plenty at the Bahia Palace! But do be warned that it can get crowded, especially in the afternoons during peak tourist season.
Majorelle Garden & Yves Saint Laurent Museum
This phenomenal garden and mansion was designed by painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and perfected by its last owner, Yves St. Laurent. The house has since been converted into a museum to honor this legend of the fashion industry. Additional tickets are required to enter the museum, but buying tickets for both allows you to enter the grounds via a shorter line. The queue can be quite long, so plan your trip accordingly and aim to enter at opening or near closing time.
The surrounding garden is an oasis of color, with bright flowers and lush tropical foliage against a backdrop of stunning cobalt walls. The garden also contains an impressive collection of cacti, palms and other plants collected from far flung destinations.
Exploring Marrakech: Shopping
The afternoon is a great time to explore the labyrinth of souks around the main square. Woven awnings cover most of the streets, keeping the market stalls shady and cool. The markets of Marrakech offer just about anything your heart could desire, from leather bags and poufs to intricately woven carpets and hand-painted ceramics. Check back soon for a blog post dedicated entirely to shopping in Morocco! It will include tips for haggling, the ideal prices to pay for most common purchases, and the best city to buy each type of souvenir!
Evening is the best time to visit Marrakech’s iconic main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, packed with tourists and locals alike. Witness the mesmerizing musicians, dancers and story-tellers, sample everything from fresh-squeezed juice to boiled snails at the innumerable food stalls, and pick up a few more souvenirs from street vendors! If you have a bigger budget, dine at Argana and enjoy panoramic views of the square (restaurant pictured below). Alternatively, you can get cheap but delicious ice cream to go from the same eatery. I ate at Argana back in 2009 but went for the ice cream this time – either way you can’t go wrong!
Want to know more about my travels in Morocco? Check out my posts on other popular cities, including Chefchouen, Tangier, Rabat, Fez and Moulay Idriss. Or click here to see all my posts about this incredible country!