Marrakesh is a magical place that should be on your Africa travel bucket list. Read here my Marrakesh itinerary, including maps, top things to do, shopping and so much more…
Where is Marrakesh?
Marrakesh is located in Morocco, in the north of Africa. The country falls within the same time zone as Belgium, which makes it comfortable to travel there.
Why should you go?
Marrakesh is a charming city and its warm-hearted inhabitants will make you feel at home right away. Although you will initially be overwhelmed by all the stimuli you will encounter, it is the perfect city to combine a cultural trip with some adventure and relaxation time.
Best time to visit Marrakesh
The best time of year to visit Marrakesh is anytime between the months October and May. During summer months the temperatures can rise up to 45°C and public life nearly stops as of the early afternoon because of these temperatures.
When booking your trip, also take the Ramadan into account, which is the annual religious fasting month for Muslims. During this period the opening hours of shops, restaurants and nearly all places of interest can be very limited. We visited the city at the end of November and enjoyed a pleasant 25°C during the day. Our evenings were cooler with temperatures of around 10°C.
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How to get there?
From Zaventem, Brussels, there are multiple airline companies that offer direct flights to Marrakesh. You will be appr. 3.5 hours on the way. Look at Skyscanner for the most ideal flights. The airport of Marrakech is 7 kilometers from the city. Book a taxi through your hotel in advance to pick you up and expect to pay around 150 Dihram. If you do not do this, prepare to use your best negotiating skills for getting a fair price for your transportation to the city.
How long should you go?
If you do not only want to explore the city but also want to enjoy the weather and have some me-time in a hamman, just like we did, 4 days and 3 nights are not excessive.
Where to stay?
You have not been to Marrakesh if you didn’t stay in a typical Moroccan riad. We stayed in Riad Villa Amira & Spa and were very pleased with the accomodation. The riad lies just outside the city center, so you avoid the crowds and city noise. It also has a spa where you can be pampered with a body scrub and massage.
Good to know
In Marrakesh, establishments that serve alcohol are limited. You do however have several bars and restaurants that offer liquor but expect to enjoy your cocktails in bars shielded from the public areas or even behind closed doors where almost no one sees you.
Often people wonder if Marrakesh is a safe destination. We never felt unsafe but maybe the context turned a bit uncomfortable at times. This was mostly because you are approached and clung by merchants everywhere. It is a buzzling city with many impulses. Use common sense, keep your valuables close to you and do not respond to unsolicited advice from residents or get too distracted.
Obviously, this is not only true for Marrakesh but for every city that you visit.
To prepare you as well as possible for this exotic, chaotic city, I wrote a blog with all sorts of tips. You can find them here.
Day 1: Medina North
Explore the souks in the old Medina. Discover the many roof terraces with nice restaurants. Keep in mind that life here starts rather late, around appr. 10am, and most stores stay open until 8 pm. All your senses will work overtime in the Medina. Set your mind to being approached all the time and scooters passing you in the narrow allies all the time. The variety of scents will make you hungry one time and turn your stomach just around the corner. Adapt your pace to the flow of the crowd, put your worries aside and enjoy this charming chaos. The charm more or less disappears when the sun sets and the music mutes rapidly. Religious prayers, through several low male voices, take over the noise of the souks.
- Place Djemaa El Fna: This central square has been the meeting place between East and West for over a thousand of years. You will find countless stalls with fresh food and drinks. Enjoy one of the delicious freshly squeezed fruit juices! Many women will approach you for temporary Henna tattoos and many merchants will try to convince you to buy their goods or take pictures with one of their animals. Please do not support these malpractices and do not take a picture with one of the chained monkeys or snake charmers. These animals are reportedly drugged and abused and we can’t condone nor support these practices! You will not want to spend too much time on this square, but it is an experience on itself. Bear in mind that taking pictures is not allowed without paying so if you want a free shot, just keep walking very slowly while taking the perfect picture!
- Place Rahba Kedima: historically, slaves used to be traded on this square and nowadays it has been transformed into a lively place where you can buy wicker handbags and hats, delicious herbs and beautiful decorative pillows.
- Maison De La Photographie
- Medersa Ben Youssef: this Koran school is an Eastern architectural beauty. During our visit it was unfortunately closed for renovations.
- Le Jardin Secret
Food & drinks:
- Le Jardin: the name says it all, a beautiful garden where you can drink or eat something in peace and quiet. Be sure to try a fresh fruit juice and enjoy the whistling birds around you.
- For a romantic sunset go to Shtatto, On the way to the rooftop terrace you stumble upon all sorts of trendy designer shops.
- In the trendy Nomad restaurant you can taste the contemporary Morro cuisine. Making a reservation is a must.
- Monriad is not only a cozy riad but also perfect to enjoy a nice lunch or romantic dinner.
In the many souks in the medina you can go shopping. Almost everything is made the artisanal way.
- Be sure to visit the woodworkers in Rue Derb Dabachi.
- Norya Ayron, ethically responsible and Moroccan produced goods.
- Souk des Teinturiers: here you will see men dyeing wool in different alleys, allowing them to dry above their heads.
Day 2: Medina South
This neighborhood is a lot quieter than Medina North and offers a more cultural historical experience. Make sure to visit the palaces and gardens and discover the Jewish quarter of Mella.
Paleis El Bahia: with its 160 rooms, it is one of the largest palaces to discover in the region. If the Moroccan King is in the country he is still staying in this palace. You know the King is present if you find this place closed for visitors.
Place des Ferblantiers: a lovely square to hang out. Artisanal craftsmen hammer constantly on their handmade lamps and you will spot many storks along the way.
Saudi tombs, the sultan Ahmed El Mansour is buried here. The graves were discovered by accident in 1917 and are beautifully restored.
Stroll through the Jewish quarter of Mella, where you will find many spice stalls. The pointed heaps of herbs are true works of art.
The staff and slaves of the sultan used to live in the district of Kasbah and they had their own city gate with direct access to the royal palace.
Bab Agnaou: this city gate is one of the oldest gates in the kilometer-long city walls surrounding old Marrakech.
La Mamounia: this must visit beautiful world-famous hotel is a mix of Moroccan architecture and Art Deco. Have a drink on the terrace overlooking the beautiful garden, which is frequently used as a setting in movies. By the way, you can get alcohol here put expect to pay for the setting as well.
Food & drinks:
Café de France: drink a typical Moroccan mint tea on the top floor. If you don’t like sweat beverages make sure to ask the waiter to limit. Enjoy a beautiful view over the buzzling Jemmaa El Fnaa square.
Un Déjouner à Marrakech for lunch. As many others, they also have a pleasant rooftop terrace.
Backchich Café: a Senegalese Moroccan restaurant.
Le Tanjia: it’s all in the name. This restaurant specializes in the regional dish Tanjia, which is a stew of meat and herbs.
Kosybar: a trendy place where the chef prepares a mix of international dishes for you.
Kif Kif café for a coffee or tea.
In Rue Riad Zitoun you will find several nice little shops. Definitely stop at Les Plaisirs Nature for splendid beauty products.
Day 3: The new town.
Discover the neighborhoods of Guéliz and Hivernage. You will immediately notice the clear spatial layout and the wide streets, full of offices and restaurants. Discover the botanical garden and if you have any energy left discover the vibrant nightlife of Marrakech which is centralized in this area.
- Le Jardin Majorelle: the famous botanical garden was laid out in 1924 by the French artist Jaques Majorelle. The blue villa Saf Saf, bought by couturier Yves Saint Laurent, immediately attracts the eye. After the death of Yves Saint Laurent, a memorial has been placed in the back of the garden.
- Museum MACMA: Musée d’Art and the Culture de Marrakech.
- Théâtre Royal: one of the most important and iconic places for cultural life in Marrakech.
- The Museum Yves Saint Laurent: a homage to Yves Saint Laurent, who was inspired by Marrakech for his collections, and used to live and work in the city. Buy a combi ticket if you plan to visit both the museum and Le Jardin Majorelle as this will be slightly cheaper than separate tickets.
- Place du 16 Novembre: a modern square with beautiful fountains.
Food & drinks:
- Katsura: Had enough of the Moroccan cuisine? Enjoy some delicious fresh sushi and Thai wok dishes. They also deliver to your hotel in case you want to stay in…
- Grand Café De La Poste
- 68 Bar à Vin: a nice place that serves a good glass of wine or a nice Gin Tonic, well hidden behind a black cloth.
- Mamma Mia: a wonderful Italian restaurant.
- Kaowa Snack & Juice Bar for a fresh smoothie or healthy lunch.
Avenue Mohammed V is an important shopping street, but I recommend to take one of the many side streets for a true shopping experience. Make sure to take a look at 33 Rue Majorelle and find a variety of the most colorful accessories from notebooks to even stuffed animals. For lamps you have to go to the world-famous shop Yahya Création. Imagine yourself in Ibiza at KIS Boutique.
The Atlas Mountains are only a 1-hour drive away from the city. Explore one of the beautiful hikes or spend an unforgettable night in the mountains.
Take a quad ride in la Palmeraie which is just outside the city. There are hundreds of palm trees here and as of June up until the October harvest you can also see the beautiful orange date bunches hanging around. Dates are one of the most important food sources in Marrakech and taste deliciously!
You have not really been to Marrakesh if you have not been pampered in a hamman. We had a wonderful spa in our hotel where I enjoyed a body scrum and massage. But you can also make an appointment in, for example, Les Bains de Marrakech Maroc or in Heritage Spa.
Enjoy a wonderful Moroccan evening at Dar Soukkar or Le Comptoir where you will be accompanied by belly dancers and firebreathers during your dinner.
Belgian citizens don’t need a visum, for a maximum stay of 90 days. Your passport needs to be valid for the period of the intended stay.
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