Destinations | Africa

3 days in Marrakech Itinerary and travel guide

12 Oct 2021 | Africa, Destinations, Morocco

Marrakech is a charming city, and its warm-hearted inhabitants will make you feel at home right away. Although you might initially feel overwhelmed by all the stimuli you encounter, it’s the perfect city to combine a cultural trip with some adventure and relaxation time. There’s a lot to experience – so I’ve put together the perfect 3 days in Marrakech itinerary and guide to give you some direction during your stay.

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3 days in Marrakech Itinerary & Travel Guide: Planning your trip

Before we get into the sightseeing tips, let’s look into the logistics of Marrakech. 

Where is Marrakech located? 

Marrakech is located in Morocco, in the north of Africa. The country actually falls within the same timezone as Belgium and many other European countries, so it’s super comfortable to travel there.

How do you get to Marrakech?

Marrakech is well connected via their international airport – Marrakesh Menara Airport. You can also connect to Marrakech by road from Fes (has an airport), or the capital city of Rabat. 

We traveled from Zaventem in Brussels to Marrakech. There are multiple airline companies that offer direct flights here. It takes approximately 3.5 hours to get there – you can check Skyscanner for the best flights. 

Belgian citizens don’t need a visa, for a maximum stay of 90 days. Your passport needs to be valid for the period of the intended stay.

Marrakech airport is located 7 kilometers from the city center. You can book a taxi through your hotel in advance to pick you up – it will cost around 150 Dirham. You can also book it online via Get Your Guide and have taxi confirmation emailed to you. Click here to book your airport to hotel transfer

If you don’t do this, be prepared to use your best-negotiating skills to get a fair price for your transportation into the city. 

When is the best time to visit Marrakech?

The best time of year to stay in Marrakech is anytime between October and May. During the summer months temperatures can rise up to 45° degrees C, and public life grinds to a halt in the early afternoon because of the heat.

When booking your trip, take the month of Ramadan into account. This is the annual religious fasting month for Muslims and the dates differ each year, so check prior to booking your trip. 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° degrees C during the day. Our evenings were cooler, with temperatures of around 10° degrees C.

How long should you plan to stay in Marrakech?

If you want to explore the city and also have some me-time in a Hamman or relaxing in the sunshine (just like we did!), then 4 days and 3 nights is ample time to explore Marrakech.

Where to stay in Marrakech? The best place!

You have not been to Marrakech if you didn’t stay in a typical Moroccan riad. A riad is a traditional Moroccan accommodation where you will find a nice garden or courtyard. Trust me, you will love it! They are pretty and so relaxing as some also have a pool onsite. 

We stayed in Riad Villa Amira & Spa and were very pleased with the accommodation. 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.

A popular luxury hotel is Four Seasons Resort Marrakech. 

Now, let’s get down to business – here is the ultimate Marrakech 3 day itinerary

Day 1 of 3 day Marrakech Itinerary: Explore Medina North 

To kickstart your stay in Marrakech, discover one of the famous landmarks in Africa – the mystical souks in the old Medina with many roof terraces with gorgeous restaurants. 

Keep in mind that life here starts rather late (around 10 am), and most stores stay open until 8 pm. 

Medina of Marrakesh is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Morocco. 

Your senses will work overtime in Medina, so be mentally prepared – you’ll be approached all the time and scooters will whizz by you in the narrow alleys constantly. The vast variety of scents will make you ravenous one second 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: 

Start at the central square – Place Djemaa El Fna – which has been the meeting place between the East and West for over a thousand years. You will find countless stalls with fresh food and drinks. Enjoy one of the delicious freshly squeezed fruit juices!

A quick warning though: during your stay in Marrakech, many women will approach you for temporary Henna tattoos and 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 don’t take a picture with one of the chained monkeys or snake charmers. These animals are reportedly drugged and abused – we can’t condone nor support these practices!

You won’t want to spend too much time on this square, but it’s an experience in itself. Bear in mind that taking pictures of what’s happening isn’t allowed without paying – so if you want a free shot, just keep walking very slowly while taking the perfect picture!

3 days in Marrakech Itinerary

Ben Youssef Madrasa: 

A madrasa is an educational institution, and at one point the Ben Youssef Madrasa was the largest Islamic college in Morocco. This Islamic school is an architectural beauty.

During our visit, it was unfortunately closed for renovations. We hope to visit it on our next trip to Morocco!

 

Place Rahba Kedima: 

Historically slaves used to be traded on this square, but nowadays it has been transformed into a lively place where you can buy wicker handbags and hats, delicious herbs, and beautiful decorative pillows.

Le Jardin Secret and Maison De La Photographie are also both worth a visit during your stay in Marrakech!

 

Marrakech Museum:   

Once you’ve successfully navigated the marketeers in Place Djemaa El Fna, it’s time to learn more about this fascinating city. The Marrakech Museum is the perfect place for this. It contains traditional mosaics of Islamic patterns and designs, stone carvings and wood. 

 

Places to eat in and around Medina north

  • Pay a visit to Le Jardin. The name says it all – a beautiful garden where you can drink and eat in tranquil 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’ll stumble upon all sorts of chic designer shops.
  • Taste the contemporary Morro cuisine in the trendy Nomad restaurant. Making a reservation here is a must.
  • Monriad is not only a cozy riad but also the perfect location to enjoy a beautiful lunch or romantic dinner.

 

What to buy in Medina North? 

You can spend some time shopping in the many souks in the medina. Almost everything is made the artisanal way, and you can find some incredible handmade treasures.

Be sure to visit the woodworkers and admire their craft in Rue Derb Dabachi.

Pop by Norya Ayron for ethically responsible Moroccan-produced goods.

During your stay in Marrakech, visit Souk des Teinturiers – you can watch men dyeing wool in different alleys, allowing them to dry above their heads.

3 days in Marrakech Itinerary

Day 2 of Marrakech 3 day itinerary: Visit Medina South

The next part of our Marrakech itinerary takes us to Medina South. This neighborhood is a lot quieter than Medina North, and offers a more cultural and historical experience. 

Make sure to visit the beautiful palaces and gardens, and discover the Jewish quarter of Mellah.

Palais El Bahia or Bahia Palace 

With its 160 rooms, it’s one of the largest palaces to discover in the region. When the Moroccan King is in the country, he still stays in this palace. If the palace is closed to visitors, you know the King is present. 

And when that’s the case you can still explore the building from outside, and snap a photo!

El Badi Palace

About 5 minute drive away from Medina south is El Badi Palace. This palatial complex was once very luxurious and was later abandoned after the Sultan’s death. Although the palace is in ruins now and is stripped of all its grandeur it is still an attraction worthy of a visit for its work of architecture, and size alone. 

Badi’ Palace translates to ‘incomparable palace’. 

Place des Ferblantiers

This is a lovely square to hang out. Artisanal craftsmen hammer constantly on their handmade lamps, and you will spot many storks along the way. 

 

Saadian Tombs

The sultan Ahmed El Mansour is buried here. The graves were discovered by accident in 1917, and are now beautifully restored. 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.

Koutoubia Mosque

Located in the southwestern part of Medina, this 12th-century mosque is the largest in the city. Its minaret is the highest at 70 m and is easily recognizable as you wander in this part of the medina. 

 

Mellah: 

Marrakech has a very rich Jewish history and tradition. The Mellah used to be home for many Jewish families in Marrakech. Today, only a few remain. It’s a great experience to walk around the Jewish quarter of Mellah and learn more about this significant part of Moroccan history.

Stroll among the many spice stalls through the Jewish quarter of Mellah. The pointed heaps of herbs are true works of art.

Bab Agnaou

This city gate is one of the oldest gates in the kilometer-long city walls surrounding the old Marrakech.

 

La Mamounia

This beautiful world-famous hotel is a mix of Moroccan architecture and Art Deco – and it’s a must-visit during your stay in Marrakech. Have a drink on the terrace overlooking the beautiful garden (which is frequently used as a movie location). 

You can get alcohol here – but expect to pay the price for the gorgeous setting.

 

Where to eat in Medina south?

  • Drink a typical Moroccan mint tea on the top floor of Café de France. If you’re not a fan of sweet beverages, make sure to ask the waiter to limit the sugar. You can enjoy a beautiful view over the bustling Djemaa El-Fna Square from here.
  • Head to Un Déjouner à Marrakech for lunch. As with many others, they also have a pleasant rooftop terrace.
  • Visit Backchich Café for Senegalese Moroccan food.
  • Head to Le Tanjia. It’s all in the name. This restaurant specializes in the regional dish tanjia, which is a delicious stew of meat and herbs.
  • Kosybar is a super trendy place, where the chef prepares a mix of international dishes for you.
  • Swing by Kif Kif café whenever you’re thirsty for a coffee or tea.

 

What to buy in Medina south?

Here are some of the places to shop in Medina south,

  • In Rue Riad Zitoun you’ll find several lovely little shops. 
  • Definitely stop at Les Plaisirs Nature for splendid beauty products.

If you prefer you can set aside time for an evening food tour with a guide. You can check it out here.

Day 3 of 3 days in Marrakech Itinerary: Explore the New Town 

During your stay in Marrakech, discover the neighborhoods of Guéliz and Hivernage. You’ll immediately notice the clear spatial layout and wider streets, full of offices and restaurants. 

Explore the botanical garden – and if you have any energy left, discover the vibrant nightlife of Marrakech here.

 

Le Jardin Majorelle

This famous botanical garden was laid out in 1924 by the French artist Jacques Majorelle. The blue villa Saf Saf, bought by couturier Yves Saint Laurent, immediately attracts the eye among the gorgeous green foliage. 

After the death of Yves Saint Laurent, a memorial has been placed in the back of the garden and is now open to the public.

Museum MACMA

This museum is a must-see for any fans of modern and contemporary art. In the same building as the Museum, you’ll find a permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. There are workshops for visitors to learn about Moroccan crafts and creating mosaics from recycled materials.

Definitely visit the Musée d’Art and the Culture de Marrakech during your stay in Marrakech.

 

Théâtre Royal:

One of the most important and iconic places for cultural life in Marrakech. This theater offers a wide range of cultural activities, from live performances to exhibitions.

 

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 purchasing separate tickets.

Saint Laurent Museum exhibition space covers two floors, and exhibits change on a regular basis, so you’ll have plenty of new things to see when you come back for your second visit.

The Majorelle botanical garden offers an oasis of calm in Marrakech.

 

Place du 16 Novembre:

A modern square with beautiful fountains.

Hivernage

Evening entertainment in Marrakech can be found in Hivernage.  The wide streets offer a lot of possibilities for bars and restaurants. You’ll always find it easy to get home, as the taxi drivers gather here too.

Located nearby are the Royal Theatre, the Menara Gardens, and El-Harti Park with fountains and a rose garden.

 

What to eat and drink in New Town? 

  • Had enough of the Moroccan cuisine? Enjoy some delicious fresh sushi and Thai wok dishes at Katsura. They also deliver to your hotel in case you want to stay in…
  • For a luxuriously grand experience, head to Grand Café De La Poste.
  • 68 Bar à Vin is a lovely place that serves a good glass of wine or a nice gin and tonic, well hidden behind a black cloth.
  • Fancy something different? Mamma Mia is a wonderful Italian restaurant.
  • Head to Kaowa Snack & Juice Bar for a fresh smoothie or healthy lunch.

 

What to buy and shop in New Town?

Avenue Mohammed V is an important shopping street – but I recommend wandering down one of the many side streets for a true shopping experience. 

Make sure to take a look at 33 Rue Majorelle and browse a variety of the most colorful accessories, from notebooks to stuffed animals. 

For lamps, you simply have to visit the world-famous shop Yahya Création. Imagine yourself in Ibiza at KIS Boutique.

More Marrakech 3 day itinerary ideas

 

You can easily swap some of the activities listed above to any of these day trips, or laid back time!

 

Hammam

You haven’t really experienced Marrakech properly if you haven’t been pampered in a Hamman. Hammam means bath. 

Although this tradition can be traced back to the Turkish bathing, of cleansing and removing impurities from the body, the people of Morocco also follow a similar pattern of cleansing. 

In Morocco, you will be taken into a steam room for cleaning, followed by bathing, scrubbing and spa (in some cases).   

We had a wonderful spa in our hotel where I enjoyed a body scrub and massage. 

If you haven’t got a hotel spa, you can make an appointment elsewhere – for example Les Bains de Marrakech Maroc, Royal Mansour or Heritage Spa.

Hammam typically lasts 45 minutes and costs about 220 to 450 dirhams (£18 to £36). It is slightly expensive in luxurious hotels, and you can add a spa treatment to it, for extra. 

 

Atlas Mountains on a day trip

The breathtaking Atlas Mountains are only a 1-hour drive away from the city. Here you can explore one of the beautiful hikes or spend an unforgettable night in the mountains.

If you are looking for a guided hike, here is a full-day tour with a local guide (including a round trip).

A hot air balloon ride over the Atlas Mountains is a romantic way to spend your itinerary in Marrakech. Consider booking this experience here.

 

Marrakech La Palmeraie

Take a quad ride in la Palmeraie, which is just outside the city. There are hundreds of palm trees here, and from June until the October harvest, you can see the beautiful orange date bunches hanging around. Feel free to take a look at this tour here.

Dates are one of the most important food sources in Marrakech, and taste delicious!

 

Dining and entertainment

Enjoy a wonderful Moroccan evening at Dar Soukkar or Le Comptoir, where you’ll be entertained by belly dancers and fire breathers during your dinner.

 

After 3 days in Marrakech

Many travelers to Morocco opt for a desert safari after exploring cities like Marrakech and Fes. From Marrakech, you can enjoy a 3-day desert camp along with a camel ride to Merzouga. Take a look at this 3-day desert tour here.

Marrakech Travel Tips 

Here are tips to keep in mind when planning your trip to Marrakech or Morocco in general. 

 

Get out there

The first thing you should do when visiting Marrakech is explore it. Walk around town, take pictures, buy souvenirs from locals- anything that sounds fun will be good for you! 

It’s also important to hire a guide who can tell you about different landmarks and things that are worth seeing from a historical perspective, as well as if you are going hiking to the Atlas Mountains. 

 

Weather in Marrakech

The weather in Marrakech can be hot year-round, so dress accordingly in light clothes and plenty of sunscreens. 

Pack lightly and wear layers so you can adapt to the weather as you go. The temperature often fluctuates drastically from one day to the next, and even within a single day. You might also want to invest in a scarf or shawl that doubles as a blanket or towel if your hotel doesn’t have those amenities readily available.

Be respectful of people’s culture by covering up when visiting mosques or religious sites – this includes both women and men! In general, be mindful of what culturally appropriate clothing looks like at all times- no matter how hot it is outside. 

You’ll also want to take advantage of the gorgeous hammams while you are there – these are public baths where locals go for everything from relaxation, socializing, or even work meetings. 

 

Safety in Marrakech

People often wonder if Marrakech is a safe destination. We never felt unsafe, but maybe the context turned a bit uncomfortable at times. This is mostly because it’s such a buzzing city, so you’re approached and clung to by merchants everywhere. 

Use common sense, keep your valuables close to you and do not respond to unsolicited advice from residents or get too distracted.

Obviously, this isn’t just true for Marrakech, but for every city that you visit. To prepare you as well as possible for this exotic chaotic city, I put together some really useful top tips. You can find them here.

 

Be aware of scams

When exploring the city streets or shopping areas, stay alert so you don’t get scammed. Try to book tours online from sites like Get Your Guide or from your hotel. Exercise caution when walking or traveling at night. 

 

Travel Insurance 

As always with travel, ensuring your trip is essential. Do get medical, and trip cancellations added to your insurance policy. 

 

Alcohol and Marrakech

In Marrakech, establishments that serve alcohol can be very limited. There are several bars and restaurants that do 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. 

 

Favorite things to eat in Marrakech

Lamb tagine or beef tajine (both delicious!), couscous (perfect for lunch), harira soup (to help beat the heat!)  

Marrakech is one of the most popular destinations for vacationers in Morocco. Known as the “Red City” because of its red walls and buildings, Marrakech is a beautiful place to visit.  I hope this post has inspired you to start planning for your trip to this majestic city in Africa!

Do you have any further questions about this article? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

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