Marrakech it is not a city that can leave you indifferent, there are those who love it (and I am among them) and those who, while recognizing a certain beauty, cannot appreciate all the energy that it releases from all pores, and it is almost annoyed.
In fact, to fully experience Marrakech you have to let yourself be carried away by the crowd (and not only in a metaphorical sense), get lost in the maze of the dusty alleys of the medina, browse beyond the gates, and face the merchants by negotiating to the death. Never think you can dominate and handle it with a map or navigator! In Marrakech you always get lost, but that's the beauty of it.
Whether you go on a tour of Morocco (in this regard, read my article Return to Morocco), whether you go for 2 days or a weekend, there are places that you absolutely cannot miss when visiting the city and that alone are worth a trip to Morocco. In two days you can see all the most important monuments without running too much, but if you have more time you will not be bored: Marrakech is full of hidden places and there are different experiences and different trips that you can take to fall in love with it even more.
It is a city that can satisfy everyone's needs, from those looking for the authentic and true Maghreb experience, to those looking for relaxation, good food and exotic settings for a thousand and one nights.
Personally (if you hadn't understood) I love this city (I've been there at least 3 times in the last few years), I love its smells (first of all the scent of orange blossom that pervades the whole city), its colors, its roofs, its sunsets, but above all the warmth and the smile of its people.
Health Insurance is required
In Morocco our health coverage is not valid. My advice is to always take out medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip (country, duration, etc.) and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online (!!!).
When to go to Marrakech
I have been there in the summer, in the winter and in the spring. In the summer it is very hot (more than 40 degrees), in winter and in spring the temperature is perfect during the day (20 degrees or more even in December), but in the evening there is a decent temperature range and the temperature can drop even 10-15 °. The important thing is to have a jacket to cover yourself.
How much is spent
Morocco is still cheap enough for us. To sleep in a riad in the medina you can spend less than 30 euros per day. Even for food you can spend less than 10 euros and you will eat well. Obviously if you go to the most elegant restaurants (and especially if you drink wine) you will spend around 30-35 euros, but it will be worth it. The entrances to the monuments / museums is 1/2 euro (except for the Jardin Majorelle which cost 10).
Where to sleep in Marrakech
- Riad du Bonheur is a small riad not far from the Ben Yussef Medersa; it only has 4 rooms, but it is very nice and convenient for visiting Marrakech. The staff is really nice and helpful
- Riad Dar Andamaure: a small riad (4 rooms) with spa and indoor swimming pool very close to the square and managed by a very nice French couple. It has a very nice equipped terrace where a very abundant breakfast is served (not in winter) and where you can stop and sunbathe during the day.
How to visit Marrakech and surroundings
The itinerary you find in this article can be done independently, with the awareness (and certainty) that you will get lost several times inside the Medina. It is impossible to find your way through the alleys, but with a little spirit of adventure you can still find your way. If you do not want to be with the map (or rather the mobile phone with Google Maps, which takes badly among other things) in your hands and you want to "be without worries" you can book through this site several tours, both inside the Medina and around Marrakech (in Essaouira or in the desert for example). It is a super reliable site!
What to see in Marrakech: 2 days itinerary
Start your city tour from piazza Jamaa el-Fna. Declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Jamaa el-Fna is the symbol of Marrakech, its great stage. Populated from dawn to late at night, it offers a real open-air show. Here you will find food stalls, snake charmers, monkey trainers, street performers, potion sellers and thousands of Moroccans and tourists who flock there at all hours of the day and night. It is the beating heart of Marrakech and is the obligatory place from which to begin the exploration of the city and the souq.
One side of the square is dotted with shops and merchandise that extend through all the neighborhoods north of the square in a maze of covered alleys that form the "souq", or the market. The souq causes the most experienced of travelers to lose their bearings. It is a journey through stalls of clothes, lamps, ceramics, spices, olives, bags, and souvenirs of all kinds. All the alleys will seem the same until you arrive in some open space or small square. To help you with your orientation you will find signs here and there that indicate the most important monuments and the traders themselves (but don't be duped by the kids ready to accompany you in exchange for money!). The main souq of Marrakech is the one that starts north of the square, but there are several smaller and sectoral ones (for example the spice souq or that of the tanners) scattered inside the medina.
Medersa by Ali ben Youssef
Continuing north you will have no difficulty in reaching one of the most important monuments of the city. Founded in 1300, the medersa Ben Youssef it was the largest and most important Koranic school in all of North Africa. Its richly decorated courtyard in the Arab-Andalusian style is a real marvel. Stucco lace, Carrara marble, mosaics and arches make it the most beautiful building in Marrakech. It housed over 900 students and it is possible to visit the cramped dormitory cells.
House of Photography
Not far from the medersa, do not miss this little gem. Two art collectors renovated this white riad inside the medina and gave the city a beautiful collection of period photographs that portray Morocco from the late 800s onwards. Beautiful photos of Jamaa el-Fna in the early 900s, looking at them you will realize that not much has changed since then! On the top floor of the riad you can refresh yourself with a mint tea on the flowery terrace: a gem.
Pranzo alla Terrace of Spices
This restaurant has one of the largest and most airy terraces in the city. If you don't like the sun you can take shelter with straw hats or in the covered alcoves. Contemporary Moroccan cuisine with superb views of the snow-capped Atlas.
Coffee at Bacha Coffee House
Il Bacha Coffee House it is a beautiful colonial style bar which is located inside the museum Dar El Bacha. Here you can taste almost 200 coffee blends from all over the world. .
Spend the afternoon visiting these famous gardens designed by the painter (botanist) Jacques Majorelle in the 20s and subsequently purchased by Yves Saint Laurent. The gardens are located outside the medina, in the Ville Nouvelle; the road to reach them on foot is not particularly beautiful, but it will allow you to see a glimpse of modern Marrakech. Upon entering the garden you will be overwhelmed by a triumph of cacti, palm trees and other plants from all over the world. The space is really well cared for and the green of the plants is beautifully contrasted by the acid yellow and Klein blue of the vases and of the villa. Inside the latter there is a small museum of Berber art that I recommend you see (to be paid separately); there are fabrics, clothes and above all Berber jewels that are really beautiful and well set up.
Yves Saint Laurent Museum
Inaugurated at the end of 2017, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum it is located very close to the Jardin Majorelle in a sand-colored cubist building. Inside you will find shoes, hats, jewels, trapeze dresses, lamé coats, taffeta capes with embroidered bougainvillea and other haute couture garments designed and packaged by the great French designer, but also an auditorium and a library.
Aperitif with a view at the Gran Balcon du Cafè Glacier
The terrace of this bar on the corner of the square is the best place to see the swarming of people who flock to Jamaa el-Fna at sunset. There is the compulsory drink (unfortunately they do not sell alcohol .. alas), but the view is worth the coke or sprite that you will be forced to buy.
Cena a Le Jardin
Once you have found the entrance to this restaurant (not very easy to find) you will find yourself in a beautiful secret garden, with tables hidden among the plants. The cuisine is classic Moroccan with some dishes revisited in a fusion key (above all I recommend the soups, harira and bessara). You eat well and you can dine with wine. It also has a nice terrace used for lunch.
Always starting from Jamaa el-Fna, this time head south. The first stop will be the Bahia Palace, a palace that the grand vizier of the Alawite sultans had built for his favorite, the Bahia ("the beautiful"). A huge building (just think that "only" part of the 8 hectares of land and 150 rooms of the building are open to the public!), Consisting of a succession of patios shaded by trees of fragrant orange trees, richly decorated rooms and fountains of marble and mosaics. It is besieged by tourists, but luckily there is room for everyone.
El Badi Palace
Not far from the Bahia palace, enter what it probably was one of the richest buildings in the city. Unfortunately it was looted to its foundations and now only the suggestive ruins of its garden and its ramparts remain in memory of its glorious past. Although there is not much to see, it remains one of my favorite places in Marrakech. It is huge, quiet and very relaxing.
Tombs of the Saadis
Following the outline of the walls surrounding the El Badi Palace you will reach the El Mansour Mosque (which, like all mosques in Marrakech, can only be visited by Muslims alas). Immediately behind the mosque, however, you will notice a small passage from which you enter the tombs where the Saadite sultan Ahmed el-Mansour rests and his family. His tomb is of rare beauty, a room with 12 columns covered in gold and decorated with Carrara marble. The other family members rest on the ground in the garden and in small nearby mausoleums.
Lunch on the rooftop of the Kasbah Cafè
As you may have guessed, Marrakech is the home of the terraces. Any self-respecting restaurant or bar must have one with a view. The Kasbah Cafe is no exception. From this restaurant which is located exactly in front of the Saadite Tombs, in addition to eating good Moroccan cuisine, you will have a beautiful view of the Mosque and the stork nests that are located around the square.
Return to the Jamaa el-Fna square and visit (only from the outside) another symbol of Marrakech, the koutoubia. His minaret more than 70 meters high (and visible from almost every part of the city) was built in the XNUMXth century by Sultan Yacoub el-Mansour. From here the voice of the muezzin often and willingly echoes (which you will hear even in the middle of the night, so if you are a light sleeper .. bring earplugs!).
Aperitif at the Hotel La Mamounia
Walk along Avenue Bab (which starts behind the koutubia gardens) to the monumental entrance to themost famous and most luxurious hotel in Marrakech. It has hosted all the heads of state (Churchill was one of the most frequent visitors) and has a beautiful garden with a swimming pool that can also be used by outsiders (buying a Day Pass for 1500 dirhams). If you don't want to use the Spa, I suggest you stop for a drink in one of the bars inside or on the terrace overlooking the garden. The prices are high (7 euros for a coffee and 20 for a cocktail), but you will breathe an air of the past in a fantastic setting. Remember that after 17:00 pm they will not let you in with sneakers or flip-flops.
dinner at the Nomad
Probably my favorite restaurant in Marrakech. Its multi-level terrace is truly beautiful. A magical place for both an aperitif with a view and for dinner. The cuisine is creative Moroccan and you will find the wine. Keep a space for the delicious sweet with dates and saffron! Reservation highly recommended.
Where to eat in Marrakech
All the most beautiful terraces of the medina for lunch, aperitif or dinner
- Terrace of Spices
- Le Jardin (terrace open for lunch only)
- Kasbah Cafe
- A Dejeneur in Marrakesh
- Arabic coffee
- La Famille: vegetarian restaurant / bistro in a beautiful garden not far from the Bahia Palace. Open for lunch and breakfast.
- Le Foundouk: luxury restaurant near the Maison del la Photographie in an XNUMXth century riad. The room with an immense chandelier is very beautiful. It also has a terrace for after dinner drinking.
- Hotel La Mamounia: to drink a coffee or an aperitif in one of the different bars of this historic hotel.
- Le Kilim: brand new restaurant of the same property as Le Jardin and Nomad, very trendy and nice.