Experiences in and around Marrakech include:
* full-day tour with a guide: we employ excellent, English-speaking guides who will take you to the main historic monuments such as the superbly restored Ben Youssef Medersa, the Marrakech Museum, the main square Djemaa el Fna, and the surrounding souks. You can also include some of the lesser known museum such as Tiskiwin for African art, Museum of Culinary Arts, Heritage Museum, Photographic Museum and many others. There are almost 20 museums in Marrakech, not counting the art museums: ask us for our list so you can choose which you’d like to see. If you’re interested in Moroccan Jewish heritage, don’t miss a visit to the Mellah, El Azama synagogue and the Jewish cemetery.
* cooking classes: there are various options, such as at Cafe Clock and La Maison Arabe, and we’re happy to say that Faim d’Epices is back – a cooking class focusing on spices set on a farm just outside the city – ask us for details. Tip: have a good breakfast, because the cooking takes all morning and you won’t be tasting the fruits of your efforts until about 2pm.
* Food tours
Make the most of eating your way around Djemaa el Fna: Want to experience eating dinner on the square but don’t know where to start? Here is the perfect introduction. We have private or 6-person tours with a local official guide for a three-hour, tailor-made food and cultural experience. Sample local specialities with the locals and gain confidence in knowing what to order: perhaps a succulent, slow-cooked tanjia or a bowl of harira soup with sweet chebakya, freshly grilled fish or snails in broth. Once you’ve eaten, soak up the night-time ambiance in the famous square with its musicians, Gnaoua dancers, male bellydancers, boxers and comedians. There’s no shopping involved on this tour.
We also have foodie tours in the High Atlas Mountains.
food stalls at Djemaa el Fna – where to start? (photo: Mandy Sinclair)
* Action and adrenalin-packed adventures
- River-rafting and kayaking in the High Atlas Mountains just outside Marrakech: from a half-day trip on the Ourika River to a three-day adventure on the Ahansel River, experiencing the magnificent scenery and Berber hospitality.
- Vintage motorbike and sidecar trips: staying within Marrakech around the medina and Ville Nouvelle, as well as further afield into the High Atlas or to Agafay stony desert. A guide drives the bike while one person rides pillion and the other in the side car.
- Mountain biking: bikes of all types are available (including for children): gravel, mountain, road and e-bikes. Cycling trips range from a day excursion to multi-day trips with support vehicles and overnight stays, and cover all abilities from beginners to experts.
- Cycling: urban cycling is popular in Marrakech and there are several places to hire bikes to ride on your own or in a group with a guide.
- Yoga: yoga studios accept walk-ins for classes and one offers a wonderful well-being day with a yoga class, vegan lunch and massage.
- the palmeraies (palm groves) offer another view of the red city. Away from the hustle of the souk, they offer a peaceful retreat and an opportunity to see a more rural way of living. There are some splendid places to stay, visit on a day pass or art museums to visit.
- Head up to the Toubkal region – Morocco’s highest mountain and- the second highest in Africa. There’s trekking around the Berber village of Imlil for a few hours, or more strenous hiking for a few days. You can even summit Mt Toubkal if you’re fit enough. This region sees fewer tourists than Ourika and yet is still only an hour or so from Marrakech. Choose a day to visit when there’s a souk in a small Berber village such as Tuesdays in Tahnaout. People from all over the region come for the weekly souk or market to buy and sell their wares – it’s an experience seeing local Berber life. Top off your visit enjoying lunch with a view at National Geographic award-winning hotel Kasbah du Toubkal, or Sir Richard Branson’s place, Kasbah Tamadot.
- A longer day in the car, but worth it is Aït Benhaddou, the best preserved, fortified pisé village in Morocco, with a kasbah and ksar to explore. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been used as a backdrop in many movies, such as Gladiator, The Mummy and Lawrence of Arabia as well as being a location for Game of Thrones. It’s a full day-trip from Marrakech, or you can stay overnight in a wonderful kasbah-style hotel. Climb into the High Atlas as far as the Tizi n’Tichka pass and then head east to the Ounila Valley and Telouet. In this region, you’ll see many of the dilapidated old kasbahs that Jacques Majorelle loved to paint. Continue on this road as far as Ait Benhaddou, and return on the main road to Tizi n’Tichka. There are also excellent places to stay if you’d like to make this a longer trip.
- Agafay Desert: if you don’t have time to go all the way to the Sahara, get a taste of the desert at Agafay, less than an hour from Marrakech. Here the stony desert is surrounded by the High Atlas mountains and offers almost all the activities you’d find in the dunes: you can ride a camel, trek into the mountains, and visit local villages. You can even stay overnight in luxurious tents. Note that quad-biking is very popular here, but we don’t recommend it as it is very destructive of the local environment.
- how about seeing all of the above from the basket of a hot-air balloon? Magical tours over mountains and palmgroves await during the spring and summer months.
- Essaouira: head for the coast for a blast of sea air, a fish lunch on the harbour and a browse through the art galleries and interesting shops of the small medina. The beach is made for football and windsurfing. It’s here on the ramparts that Orson Welles shot Othello in 1952, and 60 years later in 2012 the medina was transformed into Astapor in Game of Thrones. Just 2 1/2 hours’ drive from Marrakech, it’s a great break away from the city.
* Stargazing for amateurs and professionals at SaharaSky, 25km south of Zagora in the Sahara, near the Algerian border. This exceptional facility is one-of-a-kind in Morocco, allowing access to the dark sky, far from light pollution. You can even see southern hemisphere constellations invisible elsewhere in Europe and north Africa. There’s a comfortable kasbah-style hotel for overnight stays.