Trawling the humming streets of Marrakesh in the afternoon sun will wear out even the most enthusiastic of explorers. When the sales pitches and the crowds get to be too much, it’s a lifesaver to know that tranquillity and cooler temperatures can be found in one of the many garden spaces only a walk or taxi ride away from the walled medina.
Here are the best parks and green spaces in Marrakesh.
Escape the chaos of Djemaa El Fna in the Koutoubia Gardens
The Koutoubia Gardens sit adjacent to the Koutoubia Mosque, and it's by far the easiest space to escape the chaos of North Africa’s most iconic square, Djemaa El Fna. A little peace and quiet lies only a short walk across the road from the main entrance along the square's western side.
Thankfully, there isn’t much going on in Koutoubia Gardens besides visitors strolling its shaded pathways and admiring the ornamented mosque through the rose bushes and orange trees. The Koutoubia Gardens are an ideal spot to collect your thoughts before you begin trying to navigate your way back to your riad.
Hide away in Le Jardin Secret
Tucked away in the heart of the medina, Le Jardin Secret is a paradise of peace hidden in a riad of Arab-Andalusian architecture. Designer Tom Stuart-Smith and the team behind this privately owned palatial garden seem to have achieved the impossible by creating two separate botanical spaces from scratch amid the gritty sprawl of urban Marrakesh.
The Exotic Garden section is home to plants from all over the world, and the impressive Islamic Garden area recreates heaven as described in the Quran. A spring feeds water to the greenery, as well as the hammam and kitchens, and parts of the khettara, the original irrigation system under the medina, are still visible.
Marvel at the colors in popular Jardin Majorelle
Jardin Majorelle is easily the most famous garden in Marrakesh, and the striking contrast between the bold blues and stark yellows of the Moorish-influenced riad amid the pastel tones of the flora never fail to inspire. The beautiful 12-acre botanical garden contains exotic plants, serene streams with floating lilies and lotus flowers, a large cactus collection and a museum of Amazigh culture. Visit first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon to really enjoy its quiet setting.
Step back in time in the Agdal Garden
Built in the 12th century by the founder of the Almohad caliphate, the Agdal Garden was once the most important garden in Marrakesh. It is now protected by Unesco, alongside the entire medina. The garden encompasses a huge expanse along the southern edges of the walled medina, and orange, date, lemon, fig, walnut and pomegranate trees flourish among the groves, offering a surprisingly peaceful and agricultural side of Marrakesh to discover.
Find some serenity by the water at Menara Gardens
West of Marrakesh at the gates to the High Atlas Mountains, the Menara Gardens were also established by the Almohads. Like Agdal, the Menara Gardens have a large basin that was used to irrigate the surrounding groves and orchards using a sophisticated network of aqueducts.
Networks of underground channels bring water from the towering mountains in the distance to the vast water basins, which then feed the surrounding groves and orchards all year. Visit on a clear, calm day for a postcard-perfect image of the green-tiled pavilion shimmering in the reflection of the vast pool of water while the imposing High Atlas stand tall in the background.
Take a day trip to Anima Garden in the High Atlas foothills
Nestled in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains within the spectacular Ourika Valley, Anima Garden is an easy way to spend an afternoon away from the Marrakesh medina and discover more of Morocco while not venturing too far from your accommodation.
Multimedia artist André Heller designed this space, and the garden has pavilions and shady pathways with wildflowers, cacti, water features, palm trees and tall grass. Imaginative sculptures of magical characters are hidden among the pathways and flower beds.
Anima Garden is easy to get to from Marrakesh: a free shuttle service runs from just behind Koutoubia Gardens, or renting a car for an afternoon will let you venture even further. The Ourika Valley offers stunning scenic drives and is famed for its saffron, while the village of Setti Fatma and its seven waterfalls are also within easy reach. If you’re not ready to head back into the medina in Marrakesh just yet, get some more fresh mountain air and unwind with a saffron tea beside the Ourika River.
Relax on a bench by a water fountain at Cyber Park
Stop and smell the roses at Cyber Park, a 20-acre royal garden dating from the 18th century. If you’re not ready to completely disconnect, the park has free wi-fi at various outdoor hotspots, hence the name. There are benches where you can relax next to gurgling water fountains. At the southern entrance, there's a small museum about the history of telecommunications in Morocco, run by Maroc Telecom.
Cycle through the well-heeled Palmeraie
Wrapped up in the legends of Marrakesh's beginnings, the Palmeraie, a sweep of palm-studded greenery, is now the haunt of hotels and chi-chi holiday homes where celebrities take time out from the limelight. There's not much to see along the roads between these large gated properties, so to get a sense of the pockets of wilderness that still exist, book a trip through the palms by quad bike, bicycle or on horseback.