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Things to do in Marrakech: a 4 days itinerary through the highlights of Marrakech and around with tips for choosing your accommodation.
A trip to Marrakech is probably the most complete journey that you can take in Morocco.
Morocco is such a diverse country that sometimes people who decide to travel there can’t choose what area to visit.
The ideal thing would be going to Morocco more than once and spending enough time in each area of the country you are visiting. But if this is the first time you are going to Morocco, Marrakech is for sure a great choice because this city gives you the whole idea of the territory and culture of the country.
First of all because Marrakech is one of the imperial cities of Morocco together with Fes, Meknes and Rabat. You can see here the luxurious buildings that the series of kings who have ruled Morocco have left behind.
Second of all because in Marrakech there is one of the largest medinas (the old part of the city enclosed by fortified walls) of the country. Watching the crowd of locals, vendors and tourists around the busy tiny streets of the medina is one of the most traditional things to do in Morocco.
Finally Marrakech is in a very strategic location. From Marrakech you can take amazing trips to the Sahara desert. Or get to the little fishing villages along the Atlantic Ocean coast. Marrakech is also by the High Atlas mountains where you can take beautiful hiking trips.
So basically when you take a trip to Marrakech you can see the different faces of the territory of Morocco and get to know the Moroccan culture.
For me Marrakech was my second trip to Morocco. My friend Cinzia and I decided to spend 4 days in this fabulous city exploring the medina and the new city and hiking to Ouzoud waterfall.
So let’s find out together the things to do in Marrakech and around in 4 days.
THINGS TO DO IN MARRAKECH AND AROUND: A 4 DAYS ITINERARY.
DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN MARRAKECH.
Even if your flight to Marrakech is quite short the first day in Marrakech will be basically all about your arrival.
That’s because most international flights land in Marrakech late in the afternoon. And also because the Airport of Marrakech-Menara is probably the busiest airport in the world.
It took us more than 2 hours to go through immigration. The line was just crazy!
And don’t even think that once you are done with immigration it’s all over. There is also a huge line to scan your luggage at the security check at the exit.
Well getting to Marrakech is quite long and tiring so don’t plan much for your first day in Marrakech. We arrived just in time for a great dinner at Dar Marjana Restaurant.
DINNER AT DAR MARJANA RESTAURANT.
Dar Marjana Restaurant has a very nice and fancy atmosphere for a candlelight dinner.
And this is just what you need after the long adventure at the airport!
During your dinner you can also watch traditional dance and listen to local music.
Besides, dinner is amazing! If you read other posts of mine about Morocco you have probably realized that I am totally crazy for Moroccan cuisine.
We ordered the usual vegetable couscous, my beloved kefta meatballs in tomato sauce with egg and spices, and the traditional chicken tajine with olives and lemons.
DAY 2. THINGS TO DO IN THE MEDINA OF MARRAKECH AND JARDIN MAJORELLE.
And when we wake up in Marrakech we are finally ready to explore the city.
We head straight to the medina that includes the highlights among the things to do in Marrakech.
THINGS TO DO IN THE MEDINA OF MARRAKECH.
Exploring the medina of Marrakech is for sure one of the most traditional things to do in Marrakech. The medina of Marrakech has been UNESCO world heritage site since 1985.
Medinas of Morocco are the true spirit of this country and what makes it unique.
The medina of Marrakech is one of the largest ones in the country. Its pink fortified walls are the reasons why the city is also called the “pink city“.
Besides visiting the main tourist attractions of the medina, it’s also worth it just to wander around the maze of streets and watch the local habits.
The heart of the medina is the local markets where you can buy amazing local products.
We bought a lot of stuff, including perfumes, soaps, potpurri, argan oil, hammam black soap, eucalyptus crystals, wicker tajines and spices.
We walk around the medina a little bit longer and we head to one of the highlights of Marrakech: the Saadian Tombs.
THE SAADIAN TOMBS.
The Saadian Tombs belong to those sites in Marrakech where you can see the grandness of the heritage left by the kings who ruled Morocco.
Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour ed-Dahbi built the Chamber of the Twelve Columns as a mausoleum for him and his family.
The sultan imported Carrara marble from Italy for the construction of his stunning mausoleum.
He also dedicated a mausoleum to the princes in the Chamber of the Three Niches and the tombs in the garden to servants, soldiers and kings wives.
The burial complex contains also a mausoleum for al-Mansour’s mother.
Al-Mansour died in 1603 and a few decades later Sultan Moulay Ismail built some high walls to hide the burial place in order to eliminate the traces of his Saadian predecessors.
The tombs were finally discovered in 1917 thanks to some aerial photographs and restored then by Beaux-arts service of Morocco.
Jemaa el-Fna, that we renamed Jmlfnnnna to mark our struggle to say it properly, is probably the symbol of Marrakech and Morocco in general.
The minaret of Kutubiyya Mosque that we see in the distance inspired the construction of the Giralda in Sevilla and the Hassan Tower in Rabat.
Every time we think of this place we can’t stop laughing and words cannot describe what happens here.
During the day there are different stalls and in the evening the big square gets more and more crowded.
At dinner time there are stalls for street food and the place gets full of smells and sounds.
Unesco declared Jemaa el-Fna a “Masterpiece of World Heritage”.
Let’s say that the traditional thing of Jemaa el-Fna is the crowd that gathers in small groups and watches someone performing in the middle. The shows are endless. From improvised musicians to snake charmers, contortionists and comedians telling jokes. Or at least this is what we thought that was happening because people would laugh at the end of a tale we couldn’t understand!
If you are a tourist and attend these shows they expect you pay something so keep your distance if you don’t want to.
But watch out for the cobras!
LUNCH AT LE NOMAD RESTAURANT.
Inside the medina there is Le Nomad, a cute restaurant with several floors and a nice terrace.
They serve traditional Moroccan dishes and Western food as well.
It’s usually full so I suggest you book a table especially if you want to eat on the terrace.
After lunch we leave the medina and head to “Ville Nouvelle“, the new city.
An amazing thing to do in the new city of Marrakech is a visit to the beautiful Jardin Majorelle.
Jardin Majorelle is probably the favorite place of Instagrammers for their #wanderlust #nofilter (yes sure) and #follow4follow.
The colors of this garden are amazing! Especially the electric blue villa and the bright yellow flower pots that make the perfect setting for the #models of Instagram.
Here you can have fun looking at the strangest poses that tourists strike for their photos. And when it’s finally your turn you can enjoy taking some beautiful pictures too.
Jardin Majorelle is a wonderful botanic garden with plants from all over the world.
The painter Jacques Majorelle created the garden and the blue Majorelle to paint its villa.
When the painter died the garden was abandoned until Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé finally discovered it and restored the house and the garden.
After Yves Saint Laurent’s death his ashes were scattered in the garden and today there is a memorial in his memory.
In the garden there is also the Love Gallery that shows posters made by the fashion designer dedicated to the word “LOVE”.
We leave now Jardin Majorelle and come back to the medina to enjoy some mint tea on the terrace of Café des Épices.
MINT TEA AT CAFÉ DES ÉPICES.
Café des Épices is one of our favorite cafes in Marrakech.
It’s in the spice souk of the medina, a large area where they sell a little bit of everything.
The highlight of Café des Épice is the terrace that offers stunning views over the city of Marrakech and the beautiful High Atlas Mountains.
DINNER AT DAR CHERIFA RESTAURANT.
Dar Cherifa is a beautiful restaurant with fabulous Moroccan furniture.
Our dinner was absolutely delicious. (Find me a place in Morocco where food is not delicious). I totally loved their chicken skewers with orange, lemon and sesame sauce.
DAY 3. DAY TRIP TO OUZOUD WATERFALL.
On our third day in Marrakech we wake up early and get ready for an amazing day trip to Ouzoud Waterfall.
On our way we enjoy a wonderful view from the bus. The High Atlas Mountains scenery is fantastic.
Or rather… I enjoy a wonderful view!
After a couple of hours on the bus we finally arrive at Ouzoud and start hiking towards the waterfall.
During our hike we make a few stops to take pictures and enjoy the view.
Until we reach Oued el-Abid Canyon where the Oued Ouzoud river falls forming the waterfall.
From the river bank you can get on some cute boats to get close to the waterfall and reach the other side of the river.
And of course we took a photo by the waterfall!
Once we get to the other side and after some satisfying lunch on a panoramic terrace we get on top of the waterfall.
Close by we find a group of local Barbary apes that can’t wait to take some pictures with us and especially to scrounge some snacks!
We say bye to the funny monkeys and head back to Marrakech where we will have a well-deserved hammam!
After a tiring hiking day a traditional hammam is what you need!
Our package includes 30 minutes of relaxing massage, hammam and body scrub with the local black soap.
We didn’t know what to expect.
Up to the relaxing massage everything was fine.
But then the hammam. If you are expecting a relaxing candlelight bath with rose petals you might be a little traumatized.
In a traditional hammam you as the customer (or the victim) lay naked on a marble table while the therapists throw hot water at you and strongly scrub your body with the black soap.
Your first thought is “what is happening to me?”.
And if you spent your holiday at Marrakech drinking just bottled water and being very cautious with the hygiene in general you can just all forget about it. During the treatment you will probably drink a half liter of hammam water!
The second thought is indeed “help I’m drowning!”.
But then once you get over the initial trauma you will actually realize how good the hammam is.
You will leave that spa room as a new person, completely regenerated.
It goes without saying that that night we slept like a baby!
DAY 4. VISIT TO EL-BAHIA PALACE.
And sadly comes our last day in Marrakech.
We still have some time before our flight, so we spend the morning visiting El-Bahia Palace.
El-Bahia Palace is a wonderful complex of 8 hectares that includes 150 rooms full of decorations and several gardens and courtyards.
Grand vizier Si Mousse ordered the construction of the palace in 1860 as his residence. In the following years the palace was enlarged and got more and more decorations until it got very luxurious.
In 1911 the French got the palace and used it as the residence of generals and officers during the French protectorate era.
When you visit the palace you can see the luxurious apartments of the sultans, their wives and concubines, the stunning decorations of the walls and ceilings, and the beautiful gardens and courtyards.
After the interesting visit, we go to Le Jardin Restaurant where we have our last Moroccan meal before our departure.
LUNCH AT LE JARDIN RESTAURANT.
Le Jardin Restaurant is a place that I would recommend more for its magical vibe than for its menu.
The restaurant is a former riad and the tables are in a nice courtyard under banana trees and on different floors.
What makes this place unique are the turtles and the little birds that walk around the courtyard while people have their meal.
MINT TEA AT HENNA CAFÉ.
And of course we cannot say goodbye to Marrakech without having our last mint tea!
We choose Henna Café, a very peculiar place where, besides serving food and drinks, they also do henna tattoos.
The income of this cafe goes to the poorest people of Marrakech.
My friend Cinzia decides to get a nice henna tattoo on her hand.
And this is the amazing result:
Henna Café is the last stop of our holiday.
We go now to the airport way earlier than our flight, considering the long lines we had to do at our arrival.
WHERE TO STAY IN MARRAKECH.
I recommend you choose your accommodation not too far from the medina because you don’t want to walk on isolated streets on your way back to the hotel in the evening.
I wouldn’t recommend either a hotel right in the medina because it’s way too chaotic and you might have troubles to sleep at night.
Our riad is in a perfect location as it’s very close to one of the gates of the medina.
The name of the riad is Riad Villa Almeria Hotel & Spa.
Probably prices are a little higher compared to other hotels in Marrakech but its great location totally pays you back.
Rooms are elegant and spacious and maybe a little cold in winter. But I have noticed that this is a common thing of riads due to their traditional high ceilings.
The highlight of this riad is for sure the beautiful terrace that they use to serve breakfast.
You can request the transfer from and to the airport of Marrakech for about €15 one way.
The riad has also an excursion desk where you can book day trips around Marrakech, including 2 or 3 days trips to the Sahara desert.
We booked our hammam and our hike to Ouzoud waterfall with them. The day trip to the waterfall is obviously just one of the excursions that you can book. If you stay in Marrakech for more days you can choose many others.
Let’s find out which ones.
OTHER EXCURSIONS AND THINGS TO DO AROUND MARRAKECH.
You can book the following excursions at Riad Villa Almeria Hotel & Spa:
- 2 or 3 days trips to the Sahara Desert
- Ourika Valley
- Ouzoud Waterfall
- Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou
As you can see there are many things to do in Marrakech and around. We only had 4 days in this beautiful city so we had to choose the ones that appealed us more. But I hope that my itinerary gave you anyway an idea of the amazing things that you can do in Marrakech.
Morocco is a country that holds a special place in my heart and we have great memories of our wonderful trip to Marrakech.
So my friend Cinzia and I decided to go back to Morocco just a few months later. And this time discovering Tangier, Ceuta and the enchanted blue pearl of Chefchaouen.