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Northern Africa’s culture and countries are genuinely fascinating. A mixture of Arabic and European styles that kind of reminds me of Istanbul. But, if you only had one chance to discover its essence, then you need to zoom in on Morocco, all the way to the city of Marrakesh. 

Beyond the gates of the former imperial city lies the world of the Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains with its world of adventures. Inside the gates of the red city, a world of great architecture, colors, scents, and spices that transcend you straight into the most Arabic atmosphere.

What is it that makes the Red City so special? Is it the experience of shopping in the traditional souks, the street’s lively festival, the incredibly luxurious palaces, and green oases, or perhaps the royal feeling you get when staying at a riad hotel? Most likely, it is all of the above and more.

So let’s begin our discovery journey into the 20 unmissable attractions in Marrakesh + 5 magical riads!

But first things, first! The experience of staying in a riad is something to add to the bucket list. A riad is a traditional mansion centered around a courtyard. Some of them have been splendidly restored and transformed into petite boutique hotels, where traditional architecture meets luxurious amenities!

Riad Jardin Secret

Photo: @Carrie Salter – on Framey App

The traditional riad is not about size. It only has about 8-9 apartments or rooms but each one has a tale of its own, a personality. Stepping into ‘Riad Jardin Secret’ you’ll embrace the authentic way of Marrakesh which means that you won’t rely on television or AC to make for a great stay here, but on discovering and embracing the mysteries of the city. 

Riad Yasmine

Photo: @Sverrir Arnar – on Framey App

It takes just 8 rooms to create this little paradise of a boutique hotel. But a lot of attention to the luxurious details that make your stay here just wow! Riad Yasmine is perfectly located in the heart of Medina of Marrakesh but feels more like an oasis from the outside hustle. And let’s not forget the exquisite pool and the rooftop terrace that offers some of the best views of the city’s skyline, all the way to the Atlas mountains.

Riad BE Marrakech

Photo: @Callia Mexi – on Framey App

Marrakesh is all about colorful scenery. But the experience and treatment you get at Riad BE Marrakesh are all about you! It is splendidly authentic and yet somehow a bit up to date with the pool, the spa, the yoga studio, and the rooftop. But most of all is just a be-present-in-moment type of safe haven, where you can just relax, unwind and experience the fascinating world of the city. 

Riad Jaaneman

Photo: @Bella – on Framey App

For sure the charm of the Marrakesh Medina lies in the vibrant life of the city and the souks, but sometimes you just need to run away from it all and retreat to recharge. And this type of sophisticated yet traditional and dreamy retreat is exactly what you will enjoy when booking a stay at the Riad Jaaneman. Let good taste, grace and simplicity overpower your senses, and enjoy your stay in this state!

Riad Shiraz

Photo: @Bella – on Framey App

The last riad on our magical list is Riad Shiraz. The coquette 4 bedroom accommodation is a little hidden gem. You get to enjoy such light and open spaces with a luxurious mosaic pool, the rooftop, and the hammam. This little Riad is private and stylish with a touch of lux. It has all that is required to make your stay in Marrakesh a full-on experience of both the lively city life and the private downtime!

Now that you’ve experienced the life behind the curtains in your little hideaway riads, let’s roam the street of Marrakesh and the unforgettable attractions that will enchant and mesmerize you!

1. Jemaa el-Fnaa

Photo: @Zakariae Daoui – on Framey App

And if you only had one place to start feeling the Moroccan soul of Marrakesh, this place, the Jemaa el-Fnaa Square is the place to start your journey!

Located in the medina quarter of the city, which means the old walled part of the city, this Unesco Heritage site is the very symbol of the rich cultural heritage, an actual show with musical performances, storytellers, potion sellers, and even snake charmers! And if you want to experience this to the fullest, you need to go to Jemaa el-Fnaa at night. Trust me it will be worth it!

2. Mellah

The maze alleys of the Jewish quarter outside of the center of Marrakesh have a story or two to tell. This part of the city is first and foremost a continuous tradition since the 16th Century, a place where spice markets, jewelry, and local traditional shops. The truth is it might not look like it but this used to be one of the largest Jewish communities until the 20th Century and it is an off-the-grid part of the city traditions that you get the chance to witness. 

3. Rahba Kedima Square

Rather more of a triangle than a square, Rhaba Kedima Square, is the lively bazaar you can head to the Medina district. Be ready to be swept off your feet by the traditional vendors tempting you with colorful rugs, baskets, exotic scents, and spices. And how about you take a look at all the witchy ingredients like the leeches and snails? Might not be your cup of tea but sure is interesting and mind-boggling.

4. Gueliz District

If you are into discovering contrasts, here is one for you: Gueliz District.

Unlike the other districts of Marrakesh we’ve wandered through so far, the Gueliz District offers a break from the medina and a much more modern approach to the city. Wide boulevards with trendy bars, gourmet restaurants, fashion stores, art galleries, and luscious green spaces paint an entirely different picture of the city.

5. Medina of Marrakesh

Photo: @Eugen Militaru – on Framey App

Hundreds of years are walled between the red medieval walls. Mazelike narrow streets and Arabian tale-like traditional markets called souks, make this Unesco Heritage site, Medina of Marrakesh likely to be everything you imagine it to be and much more. Granting you access into the red world of the medina, impressive gates lead to the historical landmarks of Marrakesh, like the Koutoubia Mosque or the Saadian Tombs. But what really makes the Medina of Marrakesh special and worthy of its World importance is the continuous fuss and the exotic scents of the souks, the magical feeling of stepping back in time. 

6. Museum of Marrakech

The Andalusian-styled Dar Menebhi Palace houses today the Museum of Marrakesh.

And although the weapons, pottery, and other traditional Morrocan objects collection are spectacular and some things you should definitely take the time to admire, the building and the courtyard of this magnificent palace will for sure be one of the highlights of your visit. 

And if you got a taste of what the city is made of, Framey has an entire collection dedicated to special places to check: Cool spots in Marrakesh

7. Jardin Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle or the Majorelle Garden is simply one of the most beautiful gardens in Marrakesh. Nowadays, owned by Ives Saint Laurent, the exquisite park, that also houses the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakesh, is a true green oasis with lush vegetation and fountains, vibrant colors, and just one of the best places to relax and find peace in the city. 

This feeling is especially treasured during the hot summer Moroccan days. But this is not the only parc for you to escape to. Framey’s collection: Exploring the little oasis of Marrakesh, gives you plenty of great choices.

8. El Badi Palace

Photo: @Nathalie Roch – on Framey App

If historic sites and ruins are something you like to admire you should definitely not skip a visit to El Badi Palace. The ruins of the spectacular Palace leave room for the imagination. But, as far as history goes, please just make an effort and just imagine how spectacular this 300-room palace used to look in its glory day all gold and turquoise decorated!

9. Maison de la Photographie

A much more singular focused museum, sort of speaking, Maison de la Photographie is something you can enjoy on your trip to the Medina, right next to the Museum of Marrakesh. It is a more recently opened museum, since 2009, and it feels much like a little art gallery that tells the story of Morrocan people and places in a very personal and touching way, through pictures. 

10. Dar si Said Museum

Another majestic almost magical Palace, the Dar si Said houses the oldest museum in Marrakesh, also known as the Morrocan Art Museum. Like most of the palaces in the city, this one was once a private residence. Priceless collections of art, furniture, antiques, and arms live in this most luxurious place. You have your day cut out for you!

11. Ben Youssef Madrasa

Photo: @Polina Burashnikova – on Framey App

If this is your first time in an Islamic country, chances are that you need to look up what madrasa means, which is an Islamic religious-specialized school. And one of the most prestigious and the largest Islamic college is Morroco is located here in Marrakesh, the Ben Youssef Madrasa. 

Besides speaking a peek and admiring how a room looks at a madrasa, don’t forget to check the beautiful interior patio You will not be disappointed. 

12. Saadian Tombs

Photo: @Monica St. – on Framey App

One of the most historically significant places you can visit in Marrakesh is the Saadian Tombs. The royal necropolis is the resting place for royals and royal-family members of the Saadi dynasty. The two magnificent mausoleums are beautifully decorated with mosaics and Carrara marble making this a very peaceful and recharging visit when off tourist season. 

13. Cyber Parc Arsat Moulay Abdeslam

Lush is the first word that comes to mind when looking at the palaces and gardens in Marrakesh. And Cyber Parc Arsat Moulay Abdeslam is following the pattern. And if you love your tranquility this is definitely the place to get into. 

Wanna know an interesting fact about this parc? Imagine that this beautifully ornated botanical garden was a marriage gift the sultan offered to his son Prince Moulay Abdeslam.

14. The Orientalist Museum

One of the most recently opened art museums in Marrakesh, The Orientalist Museum just opened its doors widely in  2018. And it makes sense that it is still a beautiful work in progress. The museum is set in a restored Saadian riad and promises to be a trip into the art and the way the westerners saw Morrocco during their travels or when they stayed here. And most of the time not truly reflecting the Eastern African reality. 

15. Tanneries

Fan of not of the genuine leather, this is one very specific tradition in Marrakesh. Just to Imagine how important the leather industry was, know that even the name of the country comes from the French word “maroquinerie.” To this day, and despite the smells surrounding it, traditional artisans work different types of leather in their tanneries and it is at least a sight for those curious about how it is done.

16. Menara Gardens and Pavilion

Beyond the city, walls lie probably the most famous park in Marrakesh, Menara Gardens, and its Pavilion. You might recognize them as they are the postcard image of the city, with the silhouette of the famous Koutoubia Mosque in the background. Or perhaps you recognize the wide alleys that lead to the basin and the pavilion standing there. Regardless of which one you prefer, this is also one of those 20 unmissable attractions in Marrakesh.

17. The Koutoubia Mosque

Photo: @Nathalie Roch – on Framey App

It’s quite the easiest thing spotting the Koutoubia Mosque! The highest building in Marrakesh, the most intriguing minaret, and the red stone that is so present here, all make this sight unmistakable. It is truly one of the most important mosques in Morroco, but please keep in mind that no non-muslim are allowed to enter any mosque. But, nothing is stopping you from admiring it from afar as it is truly stunning!

18. Theatre Royal

The Royal Theatre is one of the most impressive buildings you will see in Marrakesh. The red nuances and Arabic design are mixed with more modern influences making this attraction iconic and a landmark in the city’s cultural life. Opera, ballet, and musical performances all feel at home in this impressive venue. If you might consider buying a ticket and enjoying a show, just know that most of them are either in Franch or Arabin. But, to be fair, it doesn’t really matter as a good performance speaks directly to the heart.

19. Bab Agnaou

Out of the 19 gates of Marrakesh, Bab Agnaou is considered the most unique one and one of the most impressively decorated, as it acts as the main entrance into the old city, the royal entrance. You would not guess it the gate was initially built with blue-grey stone but of course, over time the desert sands got it as reddish as the ramparts surrounding it. 

20. Parc Lalla Hasna

The center of Marrakesh has some of the most beautiful oases, parks, and fountains. Take Parc Lalla Hasna for example. With the desert brushing against the ancient gates you surprisingly uncover some of the most luxurious and manicured green oases, and fountains with the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque in the background! Speaking of background the world in Parc Lalla Hasna seems from another world, coming from the medina. The silence here contrasts the crowded chaos you’ve dealt with while the magic lies not in scents but in impressive green views and tranquility. The only thing breaking the silence is the call to prayer, spoken in exotic Arabic.

I hope you enjoyed your stay and the 20 Unmissable attractions in Marrakesh + 5 magical riads as much as I did. There is something magical about this place that just makes you want to come back and discover more!

And you could just take this as a sign to download your Framey App (available on Google Play and App Store) for other inspirational destinations from all over the world: from Paris to Venice and all the way to hidden treasures of the Greek Islands