Marrakech – city info

Marrakech, known as the 'Red City', is the exotic imperial city of the south. It is the fourth largest city in Morocco, and lies near the foothills of the snow capped Atlas Mountains.

The city is divided into three distinct parts: the Medina , historical city surrounded by walls; the European modern district called Guéliz or Ville Nouvelle; and the new residential area known as Hivernage .

The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character. In contrast, Guéliz, plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores. Hivernage is a leafy residential area just outside the west wall of the medina with trendy cafes and restaurants, upmarket apartments and hotels.

Djemaa-el-Fna square is the vibrant heart of the old city. The square bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers, and musicians. In the evening the square transforms into a huge open-air restaurant with smoke rising from the many food stalls.

You'll no doubt spend most of your time exploring the old city area. Your senses will be reeling in the narrow streets of this medieval medina. Fully loaded donkeys walk back and forth through the narrow streets, which smell of herbs, leather and meat stalls. You will be overwhelmed by the exuberant mix of colorful carpets, fruits, herbs and dyed skeins of wool. In courtyards the tanners are busy working. Small gateways provide an entrance to the beautifully constructed and decorated sultan's tombs, old palaces and Koranic schools.

Things to see & do in Marrakech

Horse Carriage You can hire these to take you around town. They will cost around 400Dh per carriage, and can take up to five people. 

Koutoubia Mosque : the famous landmark of Marrakech, visible from all over Marrakech. Completed in the 12th C, it is the oldest of the three great Almohad towers –

Djemaa el Fna : the famous square that is the vibrant heart of the old medina. The activities on the square are continually changing – you'll see snake charmers, musicians, acrobats and storytellers. In the evening open food stalls are set up with delicious kebabs, salads, soups and, for the more adventurous, roasted sheep heads and snails.

The souqs : or markets of Marrakech, sprawling out north of the square. Alleyways lead you into the different quarters occupied by the many artisans and craftspeople. You can buy just about anything from spices to shoes, jalabahs to tea pots, leather goods to metal work, and much more.

South of Djemaa el Fna - in the Mellah (or Jewish quarter) & Kasbah :

Historical sites entrance fees from 10 – 50Dh per person

Bahia Palace – in the Mellah district. Built in the 19th C has beautiful examples of traditional craftsmanship (can be closed when the King is in town).

El Badi Palace – in the Mellah district. 16 th C Saadian palace, reputed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Now a ruin after Moulay Ismail stripped his treasures to use in building his new capital in Meknes in the 17th C. It is now home to great flocks of storks who preside over the palace in their giant nests.

Dar si Said Museum – in the Mellah district. Impressive Museum of Moroccan arts in a smaller version of the Bahia Palace style building.

Maison Tiskiwin – in the Mellah district. Good collection of Moroccan art and artifacts, housed in a Spanish-Moroccan style town house dating from early 1900's. Collection of a Dutch anthropologist Bert Flint.

Saadian tombs – in the Kasbah district. Dating from the 16 th C, these tombs were sealed by Moulay Ismail in the 17 th C and survived his ruinous rampage across the country. They lay forgotten until 1917 when they were discovered during a French aerial survey.

North of Djemaa el Fna - in the Medina/ souks area :

Ben Youssef Medresa   – built in the 14th C by the Merenids, it was the student quarters for the neighboring mosque. Beautiful architecture.

Marrakech Museum   - not far from the Ben Youssef Medresa, housed in the old Dar Mnebbi a restored 19 th C palace; displays include illuminated koranic manuscripts, textiles and temporary exhibits such as photography or special art exhibitions, both modern and traditional.

Almoravid Koubba – Dating from the 11 th C it is the only remaining example of Almoravid architecture in Marrakech. The dome belonged to an Almoravid Mosque that is now long gone. This section was once used for ablutions before prayer.

Tanneries – located near to Bab Debbagh gives you an insight into the traditional methods of leather tanning in Morocco. You’ll probably find someone around here that will want to ‘guide’ you to be able to see inside a tanner y – you will be expected to give a donation for this.

In the Ville Nouvelle & Hivernage

Majorelle Gardens (30Dh entry) – provides an excellent respite from the hustle and bustle of the city streets. A small, well planned botanical garden created in the 1920’s by the artist Jacques Majorelle, now owned by the estate of Yves St Laurent.  Famous for cactus collection and beautiful blue buildings. Inside there is a small museum of Islamic Art worth visiting

Menara Gardens – an old olive grove with central man-made water cistern. Open sunrise to sunset. Olive groves free, pavilion.

Restaurants & Cafes

(These are just a few suggestions, but there are plenty of other choices. These recommendations are given in good faith, but things can change that we don’t know about.)

MEDINA - Around the Square:

Foodstalls:  the BEST introduction to Marrakech!!  In the evening Djemaa el Fna comes alive with food sellers. Very cheap and a large variety. Simply pick a stall and pick your ingredients. Grills, fish, salad, harira (soup), snails and sweets. Recommended stalls: bit of everything no. 55, soup no 5, fish no 14.

Chez Chegrouni : on the east side of the square. Maybe the best cheap restaurant in the square. Their vegetarian couscous is supposedly the only true vegetarian couscous in town. Prices go up if you sit on the terrace. Often packed.

Restaurant Al Hambra - on the square, opposite Café France. Pizza, salads, pasta.

Cafe with view :  ‘Cafe Glacier’, on the square next to Hotel CTM.  They have a terrace right on the corner above the square - you have to buy a drink to be able to go out there - walk up the stairs inside the cafe and the guys are waiting at the entrance to the terrace to take your order.  Fantastic place to sit and watch the activities of the square at any time of day but particularly for sunset and then later at night when the square is really buzzing!

Le Marrakchi – Moroccan, licensed, candlelight, views over the square. Best to book ahead. in north-east corner of the square (near Café de France). 52 Rue des Banques. Tel: 0524 443377.

Other parts of the medina & souks:

La Terrasse des Epices – same owners as the café of same name. Located in the heart of the souks, set on a roof terrace above the bustling shopping streets, with views over the roof tops and across to the Atlas Mtns. Moroccan influenced menu with European touches. Grills and brochettes, salads and desserts. At last check was no alcohol licence, but things can change. Open lunch and dinner. 15, souk Cherifia. Sidi Abdelaziz. Tel: 0524 375904.

Earth Café Marrakech – true vegetarian and vegan restaurant. Organic produce from their own farm. Small but delicious menu including fresh juices. Reasonably priced. Open 7 days 11am-late. Not far from Djemaa el Fna.  N°2 Derb Zawak, Rue Riad Zitoun Kedim, Medina, Marrakech. Tel: 0661 289402.

Kosybar – in the Mellah, located in the corner of Place des Ferblantiers, near to the entrance of Badi Palace. International menu, with a bit of asian-moroccan fusion, alcohol. Nice setting, especially on the roof terrace. Trendy place to be!  Tel: 0524 380324 / 0524 386503.

Le Tanjia – Moroccan menus or a la carte of similar or slightly higher price than its sister restaurant Le Marrakchi. Belly dancing and musical entertainment. Licensed. Located near to entrance to Badi Palace and on the road that goes around to the Bahia Palace. 14 Derb J'did, near Place Des Ferblantiers in Mellah. Tel: 0524 383836.

Palais Gharnata – grand restaurant built in a traditional palace-style building dating from 16th century. Serving traditional Moroccan feasts of several courses. Entertainment throughout the night – belly dancers, musicians, etc. Alcohol available. Open for dinner. 5-6 Derb el Arsa, Riad Zitoun Jdid, Medina, Marrakech (near to Dar Si Said Museum). Tel: 024 389615 / 024 389510.

Dar Yacout, - The best known and most lavishly decorated riad restaurant set deep in the Medina. The vast multi-course set menu unites top quality Moroccan cuisine with traditional musical entertainment. (Bring your appetite!) 79 Rue Sidi Ahmed Soussi, Tel: 0524 382929

Le Tobsil - Romantic, intimate, and richly decorated, the restaurant is considered one of Marrakech's finest. Set menu around 600dh p/p. 22 Derb Moulay Abdallah ben Hezzaien, Ksour-R’mila (not far from Bab Laksour), tel: 0524 444052.

Dar Marjana - Aperitifs by the fountain in the tiled courtyard. Dinner is served in the salon upstairs. Long established with good reputation. Closed Tuesdays. 15 Derb Sidi Ali Tair, tel: 0524 445773)

Dar Moha - serves inventive Moroccan food in a lovely riad setting around a pool. Open lunch and Dinner. Closed Mondays. 81 Rue Dar El Bacha, tel 0524 386400.

Hidden Tea Havens:

Dar Cherifa - serves mint tea in a beautifully-restored old townhouse. Is also a gallery, so can find some lovely exhibitions of artists if all kinds. Derb Chorfa Lakbir, Mouassine, tel: 0524 426463.

Café Bougainvillea – In the medina, near the Mouassine Mosque. Enter the souqs around the left of Café Argana, follow the alleys in heading towards the mosque. It’s at the end of the street. Salads, burgers, quiche, panini, Moroccan choices. Nice lunch stop or just for a refresher soft drink or tea.

Café des Epices – in the middle of the souqs, on the spice square. Tel: 0524 391770. Snacks and good Moroccan tea or coffee.


Restaurant Al Fassia – Excellent restaurant and an institution in Marrakech. Moroccan food, lamb a speciality, alcohol. Need to book as can be busy. Boulevard Mohammed Zerktouni, Gueliz (ville nouvelle) tel: 0524 434060.

Café du Livre, small charming café in a second-hand book shop with a great selection of English and French books, guidebooks and leaflets. Good light meals from breakfast to supper. It also offers wi-fi facilities. Situated close to Ave Mohamed V at 44 rue Tarik ben Ziad, you have to go through an archway on the left, behind the old Guéliz market Tel: 0524 432149

Le Bagatelle - an old fashioned brasserie style restaurant serving French food in a very pretty garden setting. 101 Rue de Yougoslavie (near to cinema Palace) in Guéliz Tel: 0524 43 02 74

Kechmara - a modern café (with beautiful terrace) serving excellent salads and good French food. Excellent if you are on a shopping trip and quite good fun to sit in the window and watch the world go by. 3 Rue de la Libertie, Gueliz Tel: 0524 42 25 32

Grand Café de la Poste - this Parisien-style brasserie, offers chic and good French food, in an ideal location for a shopping trip or to meet friends for a casual lunch, dinner or drinks. Has wi-fi facilities and a great atmosphere. Located opposite the main post office on Ave Mohamed V, Tel: 0524 433038.

Palais Jad Mahal - is a fun place for a good meal. The décor is extravagant and the entertainment is a delight (starts around 10pm). Also has a lounge and club. Rue Fontaine de la Mamounia, Bab Jdid, Hivernage tel: 0524 43 69 84.

Le Comptoir – the first lounge-restaurant in Marrakech, where the belly dancers put on a show to remember and the food it pretty good too. But expect to pay a hefty bill at the end of the night.. Avenue Echouhada, Hivernage Tel: 0524 43 77 02.

La Table du Marché - serves a simple, but extremely good, range of quality dishes, whether you fancy a light lunch or a three course dinner. Even the outdoor restaurant area is air conditioned with jets of cool mist. located outside the Hivernage Hotel and Spa, outside Bab Jdid (the gate near Hotel La Mamounia). Tel: 0524 424100.


Kosybar –( see Restaurants ) located in the corner of Place des Ferblantiers, near to the entrance of Badi Palace.

Hotel Jardins de la Koutoubia - 26 Rue de la Koutoubia, just off the square, has the requisite pianist who gamely plays requests, and provides the perfect place to sip cocktails by the pool.

African Chic - 6 rue Oum Errabia Guéliz, behind Hotel Marrakech, an Afro-Brazilian-Moroccan bar/restaurant. Live music with latin beats. Plenty of trendy locals showing off their salsa skills. Happy hour from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Le Comptoir - (see Restaurants ) on Avenue Echouada, Hivernage, doubles as a cocktail bar and gourmet restaurant.