The perfect 4 day itinerary for your first trip to Marrakesh, Morocco.
Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco, is home to over 900,000 people and is now inexpensively connected with many European cities. The city itself is actually quite small, meaning most of the highlights can be enjoyed on foot in a long weekend. We visited Marrakesh in September and the weather was perfect. I was hot enough to enjoy the rooftop pool, but not too hot to hinder our exploring. It takes a little while to adjust to the sounds, traffic and smells of the city, but once you get used to it, it is impossible not to fall in love.
One of the highlights of the trip to Marrakech was our accommodation. We stayed at the Hotel & Ryad Art Place which I cannot fault in any way at all. The location is perfect, right on the edge of Jemaa El-Fna square but once inside the big golden doors the whole place is silent. The staff are very friendly, the rooms were gorgeous and there was a tasty breakfast included every morning – making it the perfect base for your 4 days in Marrakesh.
Day 1: Koutoubia Mosque & Jemaa El-Fna & Medina
Although non-Muslims are not permitted to go inside Koutoubia Mosque, it is well worth a trip to take a look at the magnificent building. Koutoubia Mosque is the biggest mosque in Marrakesh and stands proudly amongst the skyline. Waking early and heading to Koutoubia Mosque before the city comes to life is ideal, giving you time to admire without the crowds. Otherwise, visit at sunset, when the square will be packed but seeing the mosque set against the beautiful sunset colours is not to be missed.
To get a real feel for Marrakesh on your first day, spend an hour or two wandering around the Medina. I was nervous to explore the souks, filled with horror stories of pickpockets and enforced sales. But it was nothing like that. The atmosphere is busy and intense (especially if you visit late afternoon/evening) and prepare yourself for some haggling if you’re wanting to make a purchase. You could always book a local guide to show you the ropes if you’re feeling nervous.
There is no denying that the Jemaa El-Fna is filled with tourist traps. Snake charmers, henna ladies and dancing monkeys to name a few. It may be the case that you are paying higher prices for lower quality food, but there is no denying that dinner on the second floor, overlooking the square at sunset is a wonderful thing to do in Marrakesh, and the perfect way to spend the first night of your trip.
Day 2: Ouzoud Falls
I think it’s really important to get out of the city during your time in Marrakesh. This 4 day itinerary for Marrakesh allows enough time to tear yourself away from the city for a day and enjoy a snapshot of what the country has to offer. The Ouzoud falls are a long way out of the city (around a 3 hour drive each way) which is a very long time to spend in a car in one day. However, this drive gifts you with views of the mountains which are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You can read all about my full review of Ouzoud falls here.
Day 3: Jardin de Majorelle & Riad Rooftop
Jardin de Majorelle was created in 1923 by Jacques Majorelle, and was expanded and developed over the next 40 years. After the death of Jacques Majorelle the gardens fell into disrepair. However, in the 1980’s Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé purchased the gardens and restored them. The Jardin de Majorelle is an iconic spot in Marrakesh and a ‘must do’ on most itineraries for Marrakesh. However, it is far from the Jemaa El-Fna square and so I would recommend taking a taxi for your visit. It is important to arrive here as early as you can; we arrived around 11.30am and had to queue for over an hour to gain entry. The attraction costs 70MAD per person, and had the crowds been a little smaller would have been a beautiful place to wander around. We did enjoy our visit, but the huge crowds made it difficult to get the most out of our experience.
After a few hours wandering around the Jardin de Majorelle, it’s time to make the most of your Riad. We stayed in the Hotel & Ryad Art Place which has a beautiful rooftop which even boasts a perfect rooftop pool. After a sweaty day in the morrocan heat, this is just the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Day 4: Bahai Palace
No 4 day itinerary for Marrakesh would be complete without a trip to the Bahia Palace. The Bahia Palace was one of my favourite attractions in Marrakesh – although very busy, the palace is plenty big enough to allow everyone to enjoy the many rooms, spaces and gardens without it feeling crowded. Lots of mosaics, pretty doorways and photo spots. There isn’t a massive amount of information around so it may be worth booking a guided tour to learn more about the history of Bahai palace. In the afternoon you could visit the Musée de Marrakech or take another wander around the souks in the medina, getting some bargains in on your final day.
Where to eat in Marrakesh
Whilst many tourists rush for the very well known eateries such as Cafe Nomad when visiting Marrakesh, we decided to opt for smaller, more affordable places. We ate at Cafe Babouche multiple times and the food and service was great. Cafe Babouche is just outside the main square, meaning you don’t have to venture too far away but you can escape the hustle and bustle. Free olives were provided on arrival as well as complimentary mint tea before leaving. The chicken tagine was very tasty and moderately priced. We also really enjoyed La cantine des gazelles. Often you have to wait a while for a table but its well worth it, great food at affordable prices. I had eggplant lasagne here which was beautiful, and the portions are very generous! We also stumbled upon the corner cafe which was also great, offering a wide range of veggie and vegan options; with a more varied menu than many of the other places we tried.
We didn’t drink alcohol whilst in Marrakesh. It isn’t widely sold in many restaurants and wasn’t permitted in our riad. If you do want a drink there were a few select bars/restaurants that sold beer and wine, as well as a couple of supermarkets. Be sure to check with you riad before bringing any alcohol inside, as many do not permit alcohol on the premises.
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