Let yourself be guided by your desires and vary the pleasures… Marrakesh offers a wide choice of activities, including relaxation! Active people are able to play golf or go for a walk in the surroundings, in the desert or the mountains. History enthusiasts can visit the many monuments of the city, art aficionados can visit the galleries and museums, and why not do a bit of all that at the same time?
Museums and galleries
Marrakesh has always attracted artists, both professionals and amateurs. It was not uncommon at the time to meet Churchill, his easel under his arm, in the gardens of the Mamounia that he was particularly fond of; later, Yves Saint Laurent would come to create his iconic outfits, now exhibited in the eponymous museum;
In Marrakesh you can travel in the past and live in the present, between museums and contemporary art galleries.
Among the museums, at least ten are worth a visit:
- The Dar El Bacha Museum, in the heart of the medina;
- The Farid Belkahia museum named after one of post-colonial Morocco’s most distinguished modern artists;
- The Museum of Contemporary African Art Al Maaden, dedicated to African art;
- The Macma, (Museum of Art and Culture of Marrakesh) created on the initiative of a gallery owner and collector, Nabil El Mallouki;
- The AMAN Museum for the Water Civilization in Morocco
- The Maison de la photographie in Marrakesh, inviting its visitors to get to know Morocco better through an impressive collection of found photographs dating from 1879 to 1960;
- The museum of Marrakesh, sheltered by a palace of the end of the 19th century;
- The Berber Museum of the Majorelle Foundation;
- The Yves Saint Laurent Museum which houses a temporary exhibition room, a research library and a 140-seat auditorium;
- The Dar Si Saïd museum which exhibits sets of woodwork, jewelry, pottery and ceramics, weapons, carpets and weavings from the region.
For those who appreciate contemporary art, paintings, sculptures and other compositions, Marrakesh is “the place to be.”
Here is a list of the most impressive galleries :
The Matisse Art Gallery which exhibits Moroccan painters such as Farid Belkahia, Noureddine Chater, Hassan El Glaoui, as well as foreign painters. The gallery has helped reveal many Moroccan talents.
The BCK Art Gallery is there to make you discover confirmed and emerging Moroccan artists as well as international painters.
The Comptoir des Mines Gallery housed in a 1935 art deco building.
The major painter Farid Belkahia museum
MACAAL museum for African art
The Museum of photography invites you to discover Marrakesh
Mohammed VI museum for water civilisation AMAN
Indulging in shopping in Marrakesh could take up a fair share of your stay, as there are so many different products to buy and so many different places to shop. First comes the medina, a temple of local craftsmanship where buying is as much a matter of walking and browsing as it is of negotiating prices. Around the Jemaâ El Fna square, you can discover the hundreds of stalls selling local and foreign handicrafts. Take the time to enter the shop, accept the shopkeeper’s glass of tea and having a pleasant conversation. You will almost surely get out of this experience with a great item in your bag. This experience however authentic it may be, is not the only type of shopping the city has to offer. Marrakesh has other treasures. You absolutely need to visit the district of Sidi Ghanem, the hot spot of concept stores and other showrooms, dedicated to both traditional “revamped” items and industrial furniture and decorative items. Sidi Ghanem is where artisanal genius meets the creativity of young Moroccan and foreign artists. If you prefer, you can also find regular, European-style stores around the neighborhood of Gueliz, both inside the mall on Mohammed V Avenue and in the shops in the adjacent streets.
Ideas for walks and excursions
The best way to discover a city is still to walk its streets and avenues, even if you get lost and have to ask for directions, just take a taxi or even a caleche. For visitors in a hurry, horse-drawn carriages or double-decker buses allow you to discover the districts of Marrakesh and its periphery, the palm grove for instance, in half a day.
For those who have more time to spare, visiting some of the historical monuments is essential. The city’s gardens provide a fantastic place for walks, especially in the springtime, for instance the Jardin Majorelle and the Secret Garden.
The city’s gardens provide a fantastic place for walks, especially in the springtime, for instance the Jardin Majorelle and the Secret Garden.
The surroundings of the city also offer a wide range of opportunities for Authentic excursions in the great outdoors.
The Agafay Desert is located not too far from the city, featuring vast expanses of rocky landscape as far as the eye can see.
The mountains too, the foothills of the Ourika Valley, so beautiful in spring when the hills run off the water from the melting snows of the Atlas. A little higher up, the summits of the Atlas surrounding the Oukaïmeden, where mountain lakes and waterfalls meet.
If you have a little more time, say two days, then head towards the Atlantic and spend the day in Essaouira or why not head towards the south-east and push on to Ouarzazate or Zagora, at the gates of the desert. Formerly called Mogador in the time of the Portuguese presence, is an ancient stronghold protected by ramparts, the Skala de la Kasbah. Today it is a very touristy port city, known and appreciated by golfers, surfers and music lovers. Essaouira is indeed home to two renowned festivals, the Printemps musical des Alizés and the Gnaoua and World Music Festival. On the road to Ouarzazate you will discover the kasbahs that line the mountain road leading to the Tizi n’Tichka pass (2,660 m) including the famous Aït-ben-Haddou kasbah listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List; in Ouarzazate you can visit the film studios that have hosted some of the world’s greatest directors and actors. Once in Zagora, you are at the gates of the desert; a sign says “Tombouctou, 52 days by camel.”
Playing Golf in Marrakesh
In just 10 years, Marrakesh has become an African golf capital, rivaling with southern European destinations such as Spain and Portugal. Decades have passed since the opening of the Royal Golf Club of Marrakesh in 1927. Built by Pacha El Glaoui, this natural golf course, laid out in the middle of an orange grove, remains one of the most beautiful courses in Morocco. Its fairway has been graced by the presence of many celebrities and great players from all over the world. Today, players have the choice between more than ten golf courses within 50 km of Marrakesh, not to mention the two courses in Essaouira, including magnificent links designed by renowned architect Gary Player.