Marrakesh is the perfect place to explore all our senses. It’s a city where you will have many experiences worth remembering, even if sometimes not for the best reasons. Marrakesh is divided in two: the “old” city, called Medina, situated inside the walls and where you can experience all the typical Moroccan bustle; and the “new” part of the city, where you will find many hotels, luxury restaurants, shops and clubs, frequently visited by celebrities.
I (Mariana) travelled to Marrakesh last year, in October. On this post, I bring you our itinerary with all the best spots and the experiences you can’t miss in the red city – the name given to Marrakesh because all the buildings are red.
Our trip lasted for five days but the first and last days were spent on the plane. Given that, I chose to not include these days on this itinerary.
Read also: Marrakesh – Tips to Have the Best Experience
3 days itinerary in Marrakesh
Since all the places we planned to visit on the first day were close to each other, we decided to make all the dislocations by foot. We started the day visiting the well-known souks. The souks are markets located in the “old” part of the city. There, you find streets with many options: bags, rugs, shoes, jewellery, natural perfumes, tea, souvenirs, … You will be amazed by the mix of colours, patterns, textures, smells and flavours. When we realized, the morning had passed and it was time for lunch.
Our afternoon started with a visit to the Palais El Badi. On our way to the palace, we explored the streets of Medina. Even though the Palais El Badi is in ruins, it’s still very impressive. It’s impossible to be indifferent to its huge terraces! There is the possibility to climb to the top of the tower, where we find an amazing view of the city. In one of the rooms of the palace, you can watch a short movie that tells its story and shows us how it used to be before its destruction.
Curiosity: this palace was built to celebrate the victory of the Moroccan against the Portuguese on the Alcácer Quibir battle.
After visiting the palace, we were back in the streets of Medina and ur destination was the Koutoubia Mosque. It is the central mosque of the city and it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens. As in most of the Marrakesch mosques, only Muslims can go inside. Consequently, the only thing to do it to visit the exterior of the mosque.
After visiting the Koutoubia Mosque, we went back to the riad. In the way to the riad, we stopped by the central square of the city – Jemma El Fna. During the day, this square is relatively calm and there is not much going on but, by night, it suffers a full transformation… Food banks, women reading the fate, men doing shows with monkeys and snakes, musical groups, improvised games, women doing tattoos, dance groups… On this square, everything turns into art and into something that can be sold. We stayed on Jemma El Fna living everything that was happening and, at the beginning of the night, we returned to the riad to have dinner and rest because there were still two days left to enjoy in this city.
The second day started with a bus trip to the Majorelle Gardens. There are several bus departing from the Jemma El Fna square to the gardens (L4, L11, L15) and the ticket price is around 2 euros for the trip.
When we arrived at the gardens, there were already some people waiting but we were still able to enter relatively quick. I recommend you to visit the gardens in the morning because, during the afternoon, the gardens have many visitors and it becomes harder and less pleasant to visit them. No one likes to visit a crowded place, right? The Majorelle Gardens are beautiful. The variety of species of plants is huge and the mix of colours is amazing. On the same place, you also find a shop, a cafe and the Berbere Museum where there are exposed pieces of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, as ethnographic pieces from the Berber people.
After this visit, we went back to the city and we didn’t resist to visit the souks again. We weren’t there for a long time because we wanted to rest for the amazing adventure that was coming – visiting the desert, camel ride and dinner with a Moroccan show.
I can’t say I visited the desert because, in fact, it wasn’t the desert with thin sand. It was an area far from the city with many plateaus, imitating the desert. Since our trip only lasted for three days, it is a good alternative because going to the desert implies more time.
For this experience, we bought an excursion at the riad. We arrived a little early at the combined place and the guide offered us a jeep ride in the “desert” and let me tell you, it was absolutely amazing! We were back at the place we were going to start the camel ride and, after a brief explanation, the camel ride started… At first, I was a bit scared and not very comfortable but, after a few moments riding the camel, I was already used to it and I loved this experience! This was, without any doubt, the best moment of my trip to Marrakech! The silence of the desert, mixed with the sunset, was just amazing! After the camel ride, we also had a typical dinner and a Moroccan dancing show.
After the show, we went back to the riad.
Palais de la Bahia was our choice to start the third day of our trip to Marrakesh. It is a building full of colourful tiles forming beautiful patterns. It still has many original walls and ground areas with the original tiles that delight everyone. Some areas of the palace are a bit destroyed but we can already see they’re doing some restoration works.
After our visit to the palace, we passed by the Fontaine Chrob (or Chouf) on the way to the Medersa Ben Youssef, a local school. We had lunch and, at the beginning of the afternoon, we visited a garden that is located in the centre of Medina – Le Jardin Secret. The name could not be more suited because this garden was built right in the centre of Medina and, if you pass by it, you can’t see it. After this visit, we visited the souks again to make some shopping.
Then, we went to Jemna El Fna square and we climbed to the Le Grand Balcon du Cafe Glacier to see the sunset. This cafe was completely full but people are always entering and leaving so it didn’t take so long to find a free table on the terrace. The view from this place is beautiful… The sunset between the Koutoubia Mosque tower and the gardens around it, the rustle of people preparing their banks, the number of things all happening at the same time… When the sun was down, we went back to the Jemna El Fna square to have dinner and experience everything for the last time. At the end of the night, we went back to the riad.
I returned home with a bag full of memories from a city defined by its singularity. The Moroccan people are “professional sellers”! I felt every smell, texture and colour. I felt a cultural difference, which revealed to be very positive. The Moroccan people show acceptance of someone who knows how to receive tourists despite all the differences.
Just a tip: don’t take photos of the Moroccan people, they really hate it!
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