Medina of Marrakesh#1 in Best Things To Do in Marrakech
- 5.0Food Scene
The heart of Marrakech lies in its historic city center – a UNESCO World Heritage site. For centuries, the medina acted as a political and economic hub whose influence radiated throughout the Middle East. Royals resided here, international trade took place here and cultures developed here. As you stroll through this 11th-century labyrinth of alleyways, you'll see that Marrakech's history remains intact.
Past visitors said that the medina is a must-see, especially at night. Most of its popular food and merchandise stalls are situated in Jemaa El Fna, but for a less crowded atmosphere, explore the streets outside the medina's main square. It's easy to lose your bearings here, so some former travelers also suggest visiting with a guide. Companies that offer guided walks around the medina include Marrakech Guided Tours and Marrakech Tour Guide – both recommended by recent travelers.
The Medina of Marrakech is free to visit 24 hours a day, but additional fees apply for items purchased on-site and guide services. Attractions found within the city center include the Bahia Palace and Koutoubia Mosque. Be mindful of your belongings while in the area, since pickpockets frequently target unsuspecting tourists (especially in Jemaa El Fna). Also, consider using ALSA's History Tour Tourist Bus or one of the company's numerous traditional routes to get to farther locales in the medina, such as the Museum of Photography and the Medersa Ben Youssef. To find out more about this lively area, check out the UNESCO World Heritage Centre's Medina of Marrakech page.
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#2 Jemaa El Fna
It's hard to miss Jemaa El Fna. Sitting at the center of the medina, this open-air square stands as the city's main gathering spot. By day, Jemaa El Fna hosts dozens of entertainers, from snake charmers to fortune tellers to herbalists. By night, the area fills with the aromas of piping hot couscous, grilled meats and simmering vegetables from the food stalls. From the square, narrow alleyways lead intrepid shoppers through a maze of souks (markets), composed of spice vendors and carpet sellers who will stop at nothing to get you to buy something. Here's a tip: Never settle for the original price. Half the fun of shopping around Jemaa El Fna is practicing your bargaining skills. Most hawkers will negotiate with you, but walk away if you encounter a stubborn seller.
Recent visitors praised Jemaa El Fna's bustling marketplace but suggested visiting at night when there's more to see. Several also stressed the importance of saying "no" when you do not want an item or service and suggested keeping a close eye on your belongings since pickpockets are regularly spotted here.
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