When medina exploration is done Marrakesh offers everything from mountain-biking day trips into the Atlas to steaming yourself to perfection in a hammam. Cooking classes are particularly popular and allow you a small window on Marrakshi culture. If you want to hit the outdoors, plenty of places run half-day quad bike tours around the palmeraie.
Guided tours of the medina will help you cover specific landmarks in an hour or two. Just don’t expect sweet souq deals: guides get commissions on whatever you buy. Hotels, riads and travel agencies can arrange guides, or you can book official guides directly via the tourist office for Dh250/400 for a half/full day.
Tours outside of Marrakesh
Many travel agencies have offices in Guéliz and arrange multi-city, mountain and desert tours. For a good, safe time for all, request licensed, insured guides and specify English-speaking guides as needed.
Ourika Valley Day Trips
Every travel agency in town touts day trips to the Ourika Valley. Be aware that although the trip does offer a quick taste of the Moroccan countryside, it isn't for everyone. Expect a long drive, few actual stops and crowds at Setti Fatma. The typical trip stops first at a lookout (with an optional, very quick camel ride), a shopping stop at an argan oil workshop, and then onwards to Setti Fatma for what is usually a very crowded hike up to the cascades (with local guides pulling less-able hikers up the rocks), and then lunch.
Many riads in the medina organise cooking sessions with their chef. The Amal Center also offers highly recommended cooking courses.
Cafe Clock is a one-stop shop for a fascinating range of courses from oud lessons to calligraphy to language classes.
A private hammam might sound decadent, but it’s one of the best deals in Marrakesh. Like everything, you need to choose your venue carefully – some hammams are so over-subscribed they can feel anything but relaxed.
For an authentic Moroccan spa experience, head to your local neighbourhood hammam. Entry costs about Dh10 with optional massage Dh50 to Dh100. All public hammams are single sex (or have separate hours for women and men). It's best to ask for public hammam recommendations from locals as a few don't accept non-Muslims.
BYO hammam kit: towel, flip-flops, plastic mat and a change of underwear (you’ll be expected to wear yours). You can also bring your own black soap and hammam mitt (buy them from the many stalls around town).
Rub-a-dub-dub. Marrakesh is the perfect place to tick off the hammam experience, whether you want to scrub away the alley dust in a public hammam or reward yourself with a treat at a private spa-style hammam. Whichever you choose, expect a vigorous gommage (a scrub-down by an attendant) that leaves you rejuvenated – and with half your epidermis flaked away.
Public baths were first introduced to Morocco and the rest of North Africa by the Romans. After Islam gained a foothold across the region, the baths were adapted to fit in with Islamic ablution rituals – foregoing the communal Roman bathing pool to use running water to wash under instead.
Navigating The Hammam
Hammams are made up of three interconnected areas: the caldarium (hot room), the tepidarium (warm room) and the frigidarium (cool room).
You sweat the dirt out and gommage (scrub) in the steamy hot room, sluice yourself down with buckets of water in the warm room, and relax afterwards in the cool room.
If you’re up for local interaction and a bit of an adventure, the public hammam is the way to go. You’ll need a hammam kit of towel, flip-flops and a plastic mat (to sit on), as well as a spare pair of underwear and your shampoo and soap.
In public hammams no one bathes entirely nude. Both men and women keep their underpants on. In some female hammams knickers and bra are the norm, while in others only knickers are usually worn. However, it's always perfectly acceptable to wear something on top. Wearing your swimsuit is also fine.
Some public hammams are unmarked and others simply have a picture of a man or woman stencilled on the wall outside. Ask a local for hammam recommendations. At all hammams sexes are segregated and there's usually separate bathing times for men and women.
Public Hammam Know-How
There are three stages to a typical hammam – wash, scrub and massage. You’ll be given a bucket and scoop which you fill with water from the communal bucket. Then you find a space on the floor (this is where your plastic mat comes in handy) and sluice yourself down. Now it’s time for a scrub. If you’re in do-it-yourself mode, you’ll have brought along an el kis (coarse glove), or you can pay a hammam attendant for a vigorous gommage and a perfunctory, short massage.
Marrakesh’s private hammams are more like spas, with the most luxurious of them offering a range of add-on beauty treatments. You don’t need to bring anything along; it’s all provided, usually including a nifty pair of paper knickers to wear. It's also perfectly acceptable to wear your own swimsuit.
Private Hammam Know-How
A hammam attendant will guide you through the process; washing, scrubbing and massaging you so you don't need to do anything.
These hammams are segregated by sex but usually provide private sessions for couples who want to hammam together.
Sidebar: Marrakesh Public Hammams
- Hammam Mouassine
- Hammam Bab Doukkala
- Hammam Dar El Bacha
Need To Know
- Public hammams are usually open for women during the day and men during the evening, though there are some exceptions to the rule.
- It's best to book ahead for private hammams.
- Many private hammams offer package deals for couples.
An Afternoon Pool-side
Beldi Country Club Heavenly spot to unwind with oodles of extra family-friendly activities on offer.
Riad Bledna Transfers are included so this is excellent value.
Casa Taos BBQ lunch and pool access Dh350 per person; book the day before.
Ferme Berbère Excellent-value family pool and lunch package deals.
Jnane Tamsna Lunch and pool access Dh400 per person.