Welcome to the city of magic…and great photo ops!
If you’re looking for a long weekend away but are after somewhere a little different this time, then spending 3 days in Marrakech is THE one. It’s close enough to be a long weekend destination, cheap enough that you can head there without having to break the bank, and so culturally different to your average trip to Costa del Sol that you can feel like you’re worlds away from home.
Myself and a few friends recently spent 3 days in Marrakech in search of sun, souks and mint tea – we got lost in the medina, got caught in a severe rainstorm and almost fell off the tallest camels in the world, but most importantly we spent our weekend on an epic journey to a tonne of pretty / instagrammable hotspots. 🙂 (Don’t lie, we all do it…)
This 3 day itinerary will get you to the most popular spots, to the tastiest restaurants with the best views and to the perfect places to get those insta snaps.
3 DAYS IN MARRAKECH
- Walk through the medina
Assuming you are staying in a riad then you will already be in the medina (the old part of Marrakech). On your 1st of your 3 days in Marrakech, spend an hour or two walking around the souks and spice markets – if you download CityMapper (basically an offline google maps – seriously recommend for any travels) you will be able to track where you’re walking and head in the direction of Jemaa el-Fnaa.
FYI we stayed at Riad Star – perfect location right in the middle of the medina next to Ben Youssef Madrasa. Think small boutique hotel, beautiful rooms and stunning rooftop with views of the city <3 Really reasonable price too. (Top riad recommendation is below in Day 2…)
- Check out Jemaa el-Fnaa
The square is so busy and is full of people, vendors, henna artists, tuk tuks, juice carts (the list goes on…). Try and avoid the monkeys and snake charmers for obvious reasons! They are exploited for tourism – the monkeys have chains around their necks and are treated badly – the snakes have most likely had their fangs pulled out / have been drugged so they don’t attack anyone. 🙁
- Have lunch at Le Grand Balcon Cafe Glacier
Jemaa el-Fnaa is a great place to people watch and Le Grand Balcon Cafe Glacier has great views of the square. Other restaurants have better food but people head here solely for the view… Also consider heading to one of these restaurants with a tripod in the evening to capture the romantic square in softer light.
- Take a tuk tuk to La Mamouina Hotel
While you’re at the square, you’re close to the gorgeous (and v insta-worthy) La Mamounia Hotel. A taxi takes 5 minutes, which is easily worth it for the beautiful marble pillars, super stunning indoor pool and yummy cocktails. Mention that you work for a travel agency and you would like to look around, and they should let you enter. 🙂 The taxi should cost approximately 60 DHS.
- Wander around Bahia Palace
Bahia Palace is only a 15 minute walk from La Mamounia, or if you skip La Mamounia it’s only a 10 minute walk from from Jemaa el-Fnaa. Lots of marble, pretty doorways, tiled walls, mosaics. Entry is 10 DHS. I enjoyed Bahia Palace but there were lots of people around, so if you’re tight for time during your 3 days in Marrakech then this is probably one you could think about skipping.
- Have dinner at Le Jardin
Le Jardin is a hidden oasis right in the centre of the medina serving Moroccan food – it’s a romantic, candlelit courtyard and has a great Moroccan atmosphere. When we were there, there was a man playing atmospheric Senegalese music on the Kora <3 Moroccan bliss.
(p.s the pics on trip advisor don’t do it justice…)
- Ben Youssef Madrasa
Head to Ben Youssef Madrasa early doors – if you can, go at around 8am to avoid the throng of tourists that arrive later on. It costs 20 dir to enter. Just round the corner is the Museum of Photography so if you’re planning on checking it out now is the time.
- Taxi to Jardin Majorelle
Jump in a taxi and head to Jardin Majorelle in New Marrakech. There was a huuuuge queue when we got there that took about 45 mins to get through so again, I would recommend getting here early to avoid the crowds. If you can’t, make sure you take water cos you queue in the sun. It costs 70 DHS to enter.
You don’t need to pay a guide to take you around the tanneries, and try to avoid falling for the tannery scam (they will try to tell you ‘the road is closed’ and then lead you to the tanneries before demanding money). If you have time during your 3 days in Marrakech, enter the medina in the north easterly side and you will come across them – the smell is v interesting (as a vegetarian I almost puked) but it’s kinda worth seeing.
- Le Riad Yasmine – the Instagrammer’s dream
Riad Yasmine is 100% the most instagrammable riad in Marrakesh. If you can’t get availability to stay then just pop over for a mint tea (use the same travel agent line if you need). Make sure to head up to the roof top for breathtaking views of the city and a cool birds eye view of the pool – also the first floor landing gives good angles for photos of the pool.
- Get Henna at the Henna Cafe
The Henna Café is a ten min walk from Le Riad Yasmine – rather than get henna in Jemaa el-Fna save it for here. They have a modest rooftop café where you can buy drinks and food whilst waiting for your henna to dry, and all proceeds go back to the local schools. If you’re really organised, they also runs classes like yoga etc. The henna costs between 100-400 DHS depending on your design and the amount of body parts you want involved.
- Head to Koutoubia Mosque for sunset
Koutoubia Mosque was probably the highlight of our trip – get there about 40 mins before the sun goes down to get the beautiful colours in the sky behind the mosque. The square is packed at this time so keep your friends close and your possessions closer…
- Have dinner at Cafe Kif Kif
Cafe Kif Kif is a fairly new restaurant with incred views of Koutoubia Mosque – it’s just over the road. Try and get there soon after sunset as there are only a handful of tables on the rooftop. Yummy tagine and the best vegetarian pastilla I had in Marrakech.
If you’re the kind of person to get up reasonably early and spend a whole day outside, then you won’t actually need 3 days in Marrakech – we found 2 full days was more than enough. If this is you, take a day trip to Essaouira on your 3rd day.
Essaouira is a fishing port town and is much more relaxed than Marrakech. The drive is around 2.5 hours each way and can be done easily and cheaply on a private basis. We booked this through Riad Star who used the company Timetours and was booked through HipMarrakech.com – we paid 400 DHS per person (there were three of us) for a private air-conditioned minibus with an English speaking guide. Our guide was Hicham – he was actually the guy who transferred us from the airport to our riad on Day 1 and we liked him so much we requested him for our day trip. 🙂
Today, make sure you…
- Spot the goats up the trees on the drive
- Check out the millions of seagulls and sea food vendors at the old fishing port
- Wander around the whitewashed buildings and old fortress
- Wander through the side streets and look at all the craft shops and beautiful old doorways
- Eat lunch in a rooftop restaurant in the centre
- Go for a camel ride on the beach (or you can kite surf, quad bike or horse ride)
- Head to Ocean Vagabond surf lodge for a drink / ice cream before you head home
And when you head back to the city…
- Have dinner at Nomad in Marrakech
This was one of the coolest restaurants we went to so make sure it’s on your list and you definitely head here during your 3 days in Marrakech – if you want a rooftop table then I would drop them a line / call to reserve a table as it’s really popular.
Other day trips you could do: TripAdvisor/MarrakechDayTrips
If you have longer than 3 days in Marrakech you could consider a trip to the desert. You would need at least two extra nights to make it worth it as the drive is quite long, but if you have the time then I would definitely recommend. Check out desert trip inspiration here.
If you’re still reading this I imagine you are planning a trip / heading there soon, so let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. I would love to see your insta snaps from the city, so tag me in your pics on instagram (@thewanderlustbug.) 🙂
Have fun! x