Marrakech Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Marrakech

Also known as "The Red City", Marrakech is an out-of-the-ordinary getaway which combines the old historic atmosphere of Medina with a lively modern tourist sights of Gueliz. Take this orientation walk and discover the most popular attractions Marrakech has to offer, as listed below.
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Marrakech Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Marrakech Introduction Walk
Guide Location: Morocco » Marrakech (See other walking tours in Marrakech)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: ann
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Jemaa el-Fnaa
  • Marrakech Souks
  • Ben Youssef Madrasa
  • Musée de Marrakech
  • Rahba Kedima Square
  • Musée Tiskiwin
  • Musée Dar Si Saïd (National Museum of Weaving and Carpets)
  • Bahia Palace
  • El Badi Palace
  • Saadian Tombs
  • Mansouria Mosque
  • Bab Agnaou
  • Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret
Jemaa el-Fnaa

1) Jemaa el-Fnaa (must see)

Jemaa el-Fnaa is the busiest and most visited of the squares in the Medina quarter of Marrakech and you will love it at any time of the day or night.

The square has been the central marketplace, commercial area and meeting place since the founding of the city in 1072. When the Almoravides dynasty was overthrown by the Almohades in 1147, a lot of the city and its buildings were destroyed, but the marketplace was quickly restored.

Along one side of the square are the famous souks, on the other sides are hotels, gardens and terrace cafés. There is always a great ambiance here and lots of people and noise.

During the day you can buy fresh orange juice or water from sellers dressed in traditional costume and bearing authentic leather water-skins and brass cups. There is a lot to see, with Barbary Macaques who perform tricks or sit on your shoulder while you have your photo taken. There are amazing snake charmers and acrobats.

In the early evening, the juice sellers move on and their place is taken by bands playing all sorts of music to which young Chleuh boys dance to amuse the public. Storytellers settle down to regale locals with their tales (sadly not in English), magicians practice their art and medicine men sell plant remedies.

At night, the music steps up a beat while food stalls are installed and the square becomes a huge open-air restaurant. The stalls are numbered, so once you have found the one for you, don’t forget to jot down its number for when you return to this lively square.

Why You Should Visit:
Totally in line with expectations. Ever since the trade routes, this square has been the meeting point and it still bursts with energy and trade vibes. Noisy and exotic.

There are many food stalls with traditional food, although these have much higher risks of illness than restaurant food. Select a busy restaurant with locals in it (best and authentic food) and enjoy.
The other option is to eat at one of the several rooftop restaurants surrounding the square. Great view of the action but less confronting, though slightly more expensive.
Beware of pushy salespeople, "free offers", people with animals (e.g. monkeys, snakes), pickpockets, motorbikes, bicycles and carts.
If you visit at night, don't shop – it's too busy to do much. Just walk and enjoy the atmosphere. During the day (ideally morning when it is cool) is the best time to shop & bargain (bargain hard!).
Consider hiring a guide. Expect to pay $40 for 3-4 hours (agree on this when hiring) as the Jemaa is massive and it is very easy to get lost. Make sure you tell the guide what you want to see.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-1am
Marrakech Souks

2) Marrakech Souks (must see)

No visit to Morocco would be complete without spending hours the Marrakech Souks, of which the best are to be found alongside Jemaa el-Fnaa.

These souks are set up in narrow winding streets with stalls and galleries and where haggling is the name of the game, because nothing is priced and when you ask, you’ll be given a much higher price at the outset. Don’t worry about offending the trader, he expects you to barter and would be disappointed if you didn’t.

You’ll find everything in these souks and the only problem is to decide what you can carry home as a souvenir. There are toy camels by the score, made of suede with leather bridles; you will see traditional costumes, bolts of material beyond counting and leather goods from belts and handbags to shoes and boots.

There are ornately carved wooden boxes, jewelry, rugs and carpets. You will find traditional music instruments, and if you aren’t a good player, you can buy CD’s instead. In some of the galleries, you can watch ironsmiths and tanners at work.

When you get thirsty you will, of course, find stalls selling fresh orange juice or some of the best mint tea you will find in the city. The best part of these souks is the spice stands, where you will find every kind of exotic spice sold in jute bags to keep it fresh.

Why You Should Visit:
Loads of quality goods that you can get for practically nothing (if you can barter!) and if you like to be in the crowds and feel the vibes, just an amazing place to be.

As there are about 11,000 shops to roam through, it is recommended to hire a guide who will tell you the places to buy whatever you want and will get the best price for you.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8am-10pm; Sun: 9am-10pm
Ben Youssef Madrasa

3) Ben Youssef Madrasa (must see)

Editor's note: The building is currently being refurbished and will probably reopen to the public in 2019/2020 (no date has been announced yet); however, the museum attached to the Madrasa is open.

You will find the Ali ben Youssef Madrasa in the medina district of Marrakech and you shouldn’t miss a trip to visit this important building. Madrasa means “centre of learning” and can be ascribed to a school, a college or a university – in this case the building served as an Islamic college where students came to learn and study the Koran.

The Ali ben Youssef Madrasa was named after the Almoravid Sultan who reigned between 1106 and 1142. It was founded in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 16th century during the Saadian Dynasty. The college closed in 1960; it was restored and opened as a historical site in 1982.

One of the biggest theological colleges in North Africa, it housed up to 900 students in very cramped conditions, as there were only 130 tiny bedrooms. In these basic “cells” there was little room to lay a sleeping mat and use an area for studying and for cooking – so take plenty of photos to show your kids the next time they moan about not having enough space!

The large central courtyard is beautifully decorated in carved cedar and marble with lovely stuccowork. The tiles are laid out in geometrical patterns and bear inscriptions – mostly phrases from the Koran – as, of course, no human or animal representations are allowed. There is a big pool that served for ablutions before entering the prayer room that backs onto the courtyard.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Musée de Marrakech

4) Musée de Marrakech (must see)

The Marrakech Museum is housed in the 19th century Dar Menebhi Palace which was restored in 1997 by the Omar Benjelloun Foundation. It is one of the best examples of Spanish/Arab architecture and made up of rooms around a central courtyard with three fountains, seating areas and detailed tile work.

This courtyard, which is now the atrium of the museum was once open to the sky but now has been covered with glass and textiles to create the impression of being inside a tent. The centerpiece of the atrium is undoubtedly the magnificent chandelier made of metal shards, each one delicately decorated with inscriptions and geometric symbols.

The side rooms around the courtyard have lovely painted wooden ceilings and they house the exhibits, featuring historical books and manuscripts, clothes, coins, carpets and pottery from Arab, Berber and Jewish civilizations. You will see several jewel-encrusted daggers and swords and many beautifully decorated examples of the Koran.

The museum also holds temporary exhibitions on modern Moroccan art, but sadly, the explanations of each item, along with those in the permanent exhibition are all in Arabic/French.

There is a café that serves mint tea, very strong black coffee and small snacks. Artwork and souvenirs are on sale in the museum shop.

Why You Should Visit:
As long as you don't go inside expecting a historical museum experience, you will enjoy a stop here.
It's a beautiful building and a very good place to check the modern art of Marrakech.
The interior courtyard is stunning with beautiful tiled floors, elegant arches and wonderful decoration.
Another attraction is the huge wooden chandelier that looks like a UFO (and actually, it does).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6:30pm
Rahba Kedima Square

5) Rahba Kedima Square (must see)

If you want to get the feeling of stepping back in time to early Marrakech, you don’t have to look further than the Rahba Kedima.

This is one of the best market squares in the Medina district of the city. It is really more of a triangle than a square and is more exciting and friendly than the souks.

The sellers set up their wares on the ground or on trestle tables and they are always happy to haggle. They all seem less harried and happier than the sellers in the over-crowded souks and you are certain to find a great bargain here.

You will find traditional hand-woven baskets, raffia bags and a superb array of brightly colored woolly hats. Some of the stands offer a mind-boggling range of goods: dried scorpions, leeches for medicinal purposes, snails (whose slime, you will be assured, does wonders against wrinkles) and other strange and sometimes rather repulsive objects used for witchcraft and black magic.

The square is lined with rug shops and spice shops selling all kinds of exotic herbs and spices. Some shops sell animals – chameleons and other lizards and tortoises. Don’t forget that it is illegal to take these animals home with you, due to quarantine laws, so don’t get carried away and tempted by the low prices.

When you have finished your shopping, do go and have a coffee or a mint tea in the famous Café des Epices, which also sells sandwiches and snacks.

Why You Should Visit:
Like any bazaar, this market square has quite an impact and will keep you spellbound.
It's very easy to lose yourself in the array of Moroccan articles, spices and smells.
More sophisticated and stylish than other, busier spots.

The owners here are a bit more aggressive than in the souks – some will try to chase you down to buy stuff.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-6pm
Musée Tiskiwin

6) Musée Tiskiwin (must see)

Marrakech has some excellent museums and one of the best is Musée Tiskiwin which stands on Rue de la Bahia. There is only a small sign indicating the entrance, so keep an eye out for it, as it would be a shame to miss this fascinating collection.

The house is a very beautiful example of Spanish/Moroccan architecture, built in the late 19th century. Dutch anthropologist and art historian Bert-Flint began his superb collection in 1946 and the museum opened its doors in 1996.

You will find the finest examples of Moroccan arts, carpets, musical instruments, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, basketwork, textiles and furniture not only from the area but also from villages and settlements along the legendary “gold road”. There are rooms dedicated to art from Mali and Mauritania.

Mr. Flint wasn’t just happy spreading out his collection and sticking a name and date on it. Being an anthropologist and a historian, he has studied not only the details but the ethnology of each piece. When you arrive at the museum, you will be given a very good booklet that will clearly guide you through the origin and the history of every item, which makes the visit all the more interesting.

Why You Should Visit:
Eclectic and eccentric – it would never win any museum design award but very interesting content.
The setting is small and intimate and doesn't seem to attract large tour groups.
There is a lovely courtyard that you find as you finish viewing the collection.

Make sure you pick up one of the photo-copied guides at reception as these help explain what you are looking at.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-12:30pm & 2:30-6:00pm
Musée Dar Si Saïd (National Museum of Weaving and Carpets)

7) Musée Dar Si Saïd (National Museum of Weaving and Carpets) (must see)

A calm and interesting place to spend a few hours is at the Museum of Moroccan Art (Dar Si Saïd), one of Marrakech’s most beautiful houses.

Dar means house, and this one was built for Si Saïd ibn Moussa, the Minister of War, whose brother was the Vizier Bou Ahmed. More than a simple townhouse, this magnificent building was put up in the mid 19th century and surrounds a superb courtyard full of flowers and cypress trees with a gazebo and a fountain.

The exhibition rooms around the courtyard have carved doors, extraordinary stuccowork and mosaics. You can visit the domed reception room and the harem quarters.

The prize of the collection is a 10th-century Spanish marble basin, brought to the city by the Sultan Ali ben Youssef in 1120. He put it in the mosque, even though it has eagle and griffons carved on it and Islamic law states that no decorations should represent living creatures. The basin was removed to the Ben Youssef Madrasa during the Saadian Dynasty and was donated to the museum when the college was restored.

Why You Should Visit:
This palace was always worth visiting for its wonderful interior, which has thankfully now been renovated.
The main public areas are now filled with antique carpets showcasing the different styles found across Morocco.
If you have no previous knowledge of Moroccan carpets, this wonderful exhibition will give you some valuable insight into the remarkable variety of styles & colors available here.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm; closed on Tuesdays
Bahia Palace

8) Bahia Palace (must see)

The Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th century, intended to be the greatest palace of its time. The name means "brilliance". As in other buildings of the period in other countries, it was intended to capture the essence of the Islamic and Moroccan style. There is a 2-acre (8,000 m²) garden with rooms opening onto courtyards.

Set up at the end of the 19th century by Si Moussa, grand vizier of the sultan, for his personal use, this palace would bear the name of one of his wives. Here, the harem, which includes a vast court decorated with a central basin and surrounded by rooms intended for the concubines. As the black slave Abu Ahmed rose to power and wealth towards the end of the 19th century, he had the Bahia palace built by bringing in craftsmen from Fez.

Why You Should Visit:
The rooms are beautiful and it's amazing to see how the King & Queen and his consorts lived in this quaint palace.
The Islamic Art is breathtaking and just wonderful to look at.
The main courtyard is simple but when the sun is out, looks beautiful.

It is a good idea to go with a local private tour guide who will fill you in on the details of the palace's history and will make sure you don't get lost!
The area accessible to visitors isn't huge, so you can walk around in about 30mins if you are limited on time, although it's nice to spend a little longer taking it all in.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-4:30pm
El Badi Palace

9) El Badi Palace (must see)

All that remains of the once proud El Badi Palace are the extensive ruins and when you visit it and walk among the remains, spare a thought for the ghosts of past splendors.

Fresh from his victory over the Portuguese in the Battle of the Three Kings in 1572, the Sultan Ahmed el-Massour of the Saadian Dynasty, ordered the palace to be built in celebration. He wanted it to be the most important building in Marrakech and named it “Incomparable”, but sadly he died before its completion in 1603.

Today it is hard to imagine just how magnificent this palace was with its 360 rooms around the interior courtyard that measured 135 meters by 110 meters and was full of fountains and an enormous pond.

Most of it was paid for by the punishing reparation debt imposed on Portugal after the battle; the mosaics came from Italy, exchanged against sugar in lieu of money and the gold fittings came from the gold mines in Sudan. There was an underground prison for those who fell from the sultan’s favor.

In 1683, after the Saadian Dynasty fell to the Alaouites, the new Sultan Moulay Ismail removed anything that had any value from the palace to decorate his new palace in another town and El Badi slowly fell into ruins.

Extensive restoration work has allowed for the rebuilding of one of the pavilions where you can see a Minbar from the Koutoubia Mosque; further ongoing work has seen the restoration of the pools and some of the walls, where now only storks live.

Why You Should Visit:
Huge and beautiful palace to wander around with lots to see including a network of underground tunnels and a well-preserved minbar.

The internal staircase on the northeast side takes you up to a rooftop where you can view the Palace from up high and gaze across the rooftops of Marrakech. Storks can also be viewed.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Saadian Tombs

10) Saadian Tombs (must see)

If you want to understand the incredible beauty of ancient Marrakech, you should visit the Saadian Tombs in the medina district.

The Saadian Dynasty ruled in Morocco from 1554 until 1659 and almost nothing remains intact from their reign, except the tombs which were commissioned by Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur in 1554 for himself and his family.

When the dynasty fell to the Alaouite Dynasty, the new Sultan Moulay Ismail wanted everything built by the Saadians destroyed but drew the line at touching the tombs. Instead, he had them partially sealed off, although important people were buried there until as late as 1792.

The tombs remained hidden until 1917 when they were discovered and restored by the Beaux Arts Service. The entrance is guarded by Daturas and Cypresses and in the surrounding gardens are the graves of soldiers and imperial household staff.

The mausoleum is made up of three beautiful rooms, each with domed ceilings, stalactites made of plaster and intricately carved marble pillars. 60 members of the Saadian family are entombed in the Hall of the Twelve Columns – which sounds, and looks, like something out of Lord of The Rings! The walls are covered in mosaics forming geometrical patterns, the high roof is domed and the pillars are of grey marble.

Because they were sealed and protected from external conditions the tombs were remarkably well preserved and the Beaux Arts have done a wonderful restoration job and those who rest here, rest in peace.

Why You Should Visit:
The stunning architecture of where the tombs are held will keep you in awe of the great design works back in those days.

When exiting, go and have a drink at the terrace of the Kasbah Café and overlook the square where the men will enter the mosk.
Also, on the corner is an argan cooperation with some of the best organic argan oil in Marrakesh. Buy some amlou there and you'll never eat Nutella again!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-4pm
Mansouria Mosque

11) Mansouria Mosque

Mansouria Mosque was built by Yakub al-Mansur, the Victorious. It is also known as the Kasbah Mosque and is located in the vicinity of Bab Agnaou. Mansouria Mosque is one of the city's most popular mosques. There is no access for non-Muslims, but you can admire the impressive architecture from the outside.
Bab Agnaou

12) Bab Agnaou

There are 20 gates in the Marrakech ramparts, the most elaborate of which is the magnificent Bab Agnaou.

This Bab served as the entrance of the palace in the medina and appears to have been more of a decoration than a defense. It was built in the 12th century on the order of the Almohad sultan Yacoub el-Mansour.

It takes its blue/ochre color from the Gueliz sandstone of which it is built. It is made up of four semi-circular carved arcs one over the other, with a frieze along the top inscribed with verses from the Koran in Koufic lettering. The decorations feature geometric floral patterns.

Two broken areas at each end of the top of the gate suggest that two slender towers once stood, which might account for its name – Agnaou in ancient Berber means “ram without corns”.

The palace was the northern part of the Kasbah and housed the royal family. The rest of the Kasbah was inhabited by the military and the administrative staff. The gate was renovated and reduced in size during the 16th century.

The gate today is the most famous and the most photographed of the gates in the ramparts, and like them it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret

13) Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret (must see)

The Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret isn’t open to non-Muslims, but there is nothing to stop you from taking photos and admiring this magnificent building, especially at night when it is dramatically lit-up.

When the Almoravides founded the city in the 11th century, they built a mosque, smaller than the present one, but when they were defeated by the Almohades in 1147, the new rulers considered the mosque “unclean” and had it pulled down.

They then built their own “pure” mosque, but due to a planning error, the qiblah wall, which is supposed to be set perpendicular to a line leading to the Mecca, was badly orientated and the Mihrab was off course. Instead of simply adjusting their praying position to be facing the Mecca, the Almohades built a second, larger building alongside and the other eventually fell into ruins.

The Minaret is the oldest of the surviving Almohades towers; it is 13 meters wide and 69 meters high, with six rooms set one on top of the other. Each level is reached by ramps around the rooms.

On the minaret’s roof you will see four golden globes: according to legend, at first there were only three globes, but the wife of a Sultan broke her fast before sunset during the Ramadan and had to give up her jewels as penitence. These were melted down and became the 4th globe. The present globes are made of copper.

Why You Should Visit:
You can't miss one of Morocco's biggest mosques!

The building should be viewed both day and night as it takes on different personalities dependant on the time of day.
Make sure that you walk around the entire mosque, as there are picturesque views all around it.
Probably wiser to avoid Friday until after 3pm-ish as there are special prayers on Friday.
Don't miss the gardens behind – perfect place for a good glass of mint tea and to watch the world go by.

Walking Tours in Marrakech, Morocco

Create Your Own Walk in Marrakech

Create Your Own Walk in Marrakech

Creating your own self-guided walk in Marrakech is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Unusual Marrakech

Unusual Marrakech

Most of the tour guides would introduce you to the most popular attractions, taking you on a tour to the imposing palaces, important religious sites, museums and, of course, some shopping places. However if you are looking forward to seeing a more uncommon Marrakech, this tour is just the thing you are looking for. Take this tour and discover the local traditions of a unique and unusual Marrakech.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Moroccan Architecture Tour in Marrakech

Moroccan Architecture Tour in Marrakech

No tall skyscrapers, no sophisticated giant malls, no nothing to remind of the Western architecture. This tour is all about genuine Moroccan style. Featuring the most prominent architectural sights, this tour takes you to places that will amaze you with their mystic atmosphere, traditional motifs, and majestic structures. Every single building here has its own legend. So find time to discover the...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.3 Km or 3.9 Miles
North Medina Walking Tour in Marrakech

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Religious Walking Tour in Marrakech

Religious Walking Tour in Marrakech

Morocco's official religion is Islam. Therefore the most numerous religious structures in Marrakech are the mosques. This tour will introduce you to the most famous of them, as well as to some historic cemeteries, koubbas, and mausoleums. Prepare yourself to learn about the history of Islam and enjoy the architecture of Marrakech's religious attractions by taking the tour below.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Shopping Adventure in Marrakech

Shopping Adventure in Marrakech

Probably no shopping in your life will compare to this extraordinary experience: vivid, bright, juicy colors of carpets, clothes and shoes; enchanting smells of local perfumes and spices; crafts, handmade jewelry, pottery; and of course, the long shopping mazes and souks. All this is included in the tour below, so don't hesitate! This tour belongs on your "must do" list!

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles
Marrakech's Palaces Tour

Marrakech's Palaces Tour

A nice activity while in Marrakech is visiting the few palaces this city possesses. Some of them, refurbished and restored, successfully function today as museums. Others, on the other hand, are slowly turning into ruins, but still have a long story to tell and spectacular architecture to amaze with. Take the Marrakech's Palaces Tour and enjoy the mystic atmosphere of these grandiose...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.2 Km or 3.9 Miles