Marrakech is a culture lover’s dream. Dusty winding streets, beautiful mosaics, ornate mosques; it’s a place to engage all of your senses. Exotic colours, smells and sounds greet you everywhere you turn. In recent years the French influences seem even more amplified, yet somehow Marrakech still retains its ancient charm while simultaneously embracing the culture of its European neighbours.
My recent trip to Marrakech was the second time I visited this beautiful city, but this time it was just a short stay. 3-5 days is a good amount of time to see the most important things, so I thought I’d list some of the great places to visit if you’re also short on time:
If you do just one thing when you visit Marrakech, make sure you visit its world famous souks. More than just a market, the souks house the heart and soul of the city. There’s so much to say about the souks that I wrote a separate blog post on it, click here: Surviving the souks of Marrakech
Jemaa al fna square
By day, it’s just an open space with a handful of snake charmers, but as the evening draws closer it starts to come alive. Storytellers, musicians and entertainers fill the square and the locals come out to chat and soak up the atmosphere. As in any big square (anywhere in the world), stay safe and use your common sense, but don’t let that stop you from having fun.
Stay in a riad
I’d definitely recommend staying in a riad over a normal hotel while you’re in Marrakech. They are smaller than a standard hotel, with a more boutique like feel and stunning architecture. We stayed in Riad Dar Alfarah which was a peaceful oasis in the middle of the hustle of the medina (the old city). The rooms are positioned around a central courtyard with a pool, where you have your breakfast and can relax during the day. There’s also a lovely roof terrace where we did some yoga in the mornings, or you can rest on the sun loungers and catch some rays.
Even if you don’t stay in a riad, I’d suggest finding one to have lunch or dinner in.
A beautiful garden that was made in the 1920s by French painter Jacques Majorelle, it’s one of the most visited sites in the city. Yves Saint Laurent and his partner took over the garden in the 80s after Majorelle’s death, and restored it to its current glory.
If I like the food, then normally I like the place! And the food in Marrakech is pretty amazing:
You could be forgiven for thinking you were in Spain! Once you leave the walls of the medina and enter the new city, you see a completely different Marrakech, and one that has a very European feel (complete with Zara and H&M).
Rest and relaxation
Morocco is famous for its spas, so if you have a few hours to spare take some time out to recharge (and maybe get a hammam or massage – I need to do this next time). Hannah and I visited the Four Seasons for the afternoon and it was just what we needed after the intensity of the medina.
If you’re only in Marrakech for a short time it’s unlikely you’ll have lots of time (and energy) for nightlife. But this trip I visited Le Comptoir Darna again after loving it on my first visit. Delicious food in a beautiful setting, with a live show featuring belly dancers and musicians. And if you want to stay out after dinner you can head upstairs to the bar for cocktails and some more live music.
As well as all of these things, the best thing to do in a place like Marrakech is to have a wander, get a little lost and see where your heart takes you…