The bustling Red City is a sensational blend of Arabic, Andalusian, Mediterranean, and Berber cultures. Situated at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh or Marrakech as the French spell it – is a quintessential cultural hub which boasts centuries old history. From its medina which is a UNESCO World Heritage site to colorful souks and grand palaces — a trip to Marrakech guarantees an exciting experience.
If you are thinking of planning a trip to Morocco, here’s how to spend 3 days in Marrakech.
3 Day in Marrakech: The Perfect Itinerary
Morocco’s ideal position in North Africa guarantees sunshine all year round, thus you can plan a weekend trip to Marrakech at any time of year — especially if you are traveling from Europe.
How to get to Marrakech?
In the past travel to Marrakech was more expensive, however over the past few years many of the budget airlines have added frequent and inexpensive flights to Marrakesh. We travelled to Marrakech on a direct Ryanair flight from Athens and my tickets cost me just a little over 100 EUR, round trip. The flight gets into Marrakech in the afternoon which leaves you the whole evening to enjoy the city.
3 Days in Marrakech itinerary: Day 1
You can get a taxi to your accommodation. We had ordered one from our riad. Alternatively you can pre-order your private transfer online.
Upon arrival at our beautiful riad in the heart of the medina which is Marrakech’s old city surrounded by 19-kilometers of pink walls, we checked into a traditional house with its own courtyard. Marrakech’s riads are colorful, atmospheric and a wonderful way to experience authentic Moroccan hospitality.
Our Riad La Rose Oriental was conveniently located and at a close walking distance to all the major attractions inside the Medina and to the College Mohamed 5 (Rue el Gza) which is a common pick-up point if you are planning on taking some tours.
Some tips on traveling around Marrakech
- Watch out for the motorcycles which keep on constantly zipping past you at the medina, and although they magically manage not to hit anyone, they are noisy and can be annoying. Just try to stay to the right side, walking in the middle of the pedestrian road is not really an option.
- The only way to get around Marrakech is to polish up your bargaining skills. Be prepared to bargain all the time and everywhere. When using taxis especially.
- People will want to sell you everything all the time, do you want to buy is the most common phrase you will hear. I ended up saying “maybe later thank you”. It kind of worked.
- Have some cash handy, don’t rely on credit cards alone.
- Dress a little more conservative, do consider covering your shoulders and knees. When I travel I tend to like to respect the local culture. It is the most sensible thing to do.
- If you decide to take any photos of the local artists, make sure you give them money first before taking a picture. Unfortunately I didn’t know that and almost got into trouble, luckily our guide informed me about this.
After briefly walking around the medina and admiring the maze like streets, yes it is quite easy to get lost as most of the streets look the same. Especially in the evening when all the stalls close, the medina becomes deserted.
Savor Traditional Moroccan cuisine
For our first evening in Marrakech, a fellow travel blogger Amanda Mouttaki recommended (actually Amanda runs food tours which you can check here, unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to join one, but this gives me a great reason to come back) that I try Ksar Es Saoussan (Rue des Ksour).
Located right in the heart of the Medina, this gorgeous restaurant is truly a treat for all the senses. Housed in a glorious Moroccan mansion we were seated at a table overlooking the courtyard.
You can choose between two menus — Dinner and the Gastronomic Dinner where you are presented with an impressive selection of small plates of traditional appetizers. For the main we were served with a delicious couscous and tagine. Together with a bottle of wine, dinner for two was around 70 EUR.
3 Days in Marrakech itinerary: Day 2
In the morning after our breakfast prepared by the lovely ladies of the riad we headed out for our city tour, to discover all the highlights of Marrakech.
We opted for the Marrakesh Monuments & Souks 3 Hour Tour. After we were picked up from a meeting point close to our accommodation we were driven around in a small minivan. Here’s what you are expected to see on this tour. You must also enjoy these Marrakesh tours.
The highrising minaret of the largest mosque in Marrakech is the crown jewel of the city and is located next to the famous place of Jemaa el-Fna. This spectacular tower rises 70 meters above medina and is considered to be a masterpiece of the Islamic architecture. The attention to detail depicted on the archways is simply stunning, a harmonious blend of flower motifs and inscriptions adorn this important Morrocan landmark. The view from the minaret is sensational, however only Muslims are allowed inside.
The grandest palace of Marrakech was built in the 19th century to be the most spectacular of its times, and it truly is. As the name implies, brilliance — the Bahia Palace was completed by Minister Ahmed bin Musa to commemorate his wife Bahia.
The palace was restored to its former glory in 2018, and out of its 150 rooms, only a small portion is open to the public. From stunning carved ceilings to the Italian Carrara marble floor — this palace is a remarkable masterpiece of Andalusian architecture.
This historic royal necropolis is the only trace of the Saadian dynasty, and although the graves were neglected for almost two centuries (they were uncovered by the French in 1917), they are a fine example of Islamic architecture.
The Saadian princes would spend equally on the funerary architecture as they would on other buildings. The tombs date back to the 16th and 18th century.
There are two mausoleums located in beautiful gardens. The central mausoleum is of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur who died in exile in the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakech and was temporarily buried here in 1351. His body was later moved to Marinid royal necropolis at Chellah.
Entrance ticket: 70 DH (less than 7 EUR)
Jemaa El Fna Square
This vibrant square is the heart and soul of Marrakech where snake charmers, fortune tellers and sellers entertain the guests. The bustling atmosphere prevails all day, but during the evening is when the market really comes to life.
Be extra careful with the snake charmers, and avoid having the snake being put around your neck. Also be extra careful of pickpockets and don’t wear anything of high value. Just keep your personal items close where you can see them, and you will be just fine. To enjoy a better view of this atmospheric marketplace, head to one of the rooftop cafes which surround the square.
Local Moroccan Restaurant Experience – the best lamb with the view of Jemaa El Fna Square
If you are feeling hungry I recommend going to Chez Lamine Hadj Mustapha which is tucked away just off the corner of the central marketplace. I found this place by accident, but you are in for an authentic Moroccan experience.
The restaurant spans across a few floors, it is extremely busy but if you wait for a little while you will get seated. We found a table on the outdoor terrace. The lamb is served on parchment paper and is absolutely delicious. You will pay around 7-10 Euro for your meal.
After our hearty traditional Moroccan lunch we wandered off into the maze-like streets of medina, admiring the colorful shops selling carpets, leather goods, lamps, spices and countless souvenirs. You really can spend hours traversing through the atmospheric sidestreets, soaking in the smells, aromas and the noises of this charming historic city.
Le Jardin Secret
Situated right in the heart of the medina this magnificent oasis once belonged to the Saadian Dynasty almost four hundred years ago.
The garden is surrounded by flowing springs. The water represents a surface in which a soul can contemplate its felections and enter its own purified world.
Such a magical place which showcases outstanding examples of Islamic art and architecture. Over the years Le Jardin Secret has been home to Morocco’s and Marakesh’s most important political figures.
Le Jardin Secret is open daily, last entrance is 30 minutes before closing.
February and October: 9.30 am – 6.30 pm.
March to September: 9.30 am – 7.30 pm.
November to January: 9.30 am – 6.00 pm.
Ticket price: 60 DH
Fantasia 1001 Nights – Dinner and Show
In the evening we had booked a dinner and show experience at the Chez Ali complex in the Palmerie. A wonderful way to experience the Moroccan culture, dancing, music and firework show accompanied by a 5-course meal in a caidal tent.
The meal was actually wonderful and the portions of couscous and tagine plentiful. The duration of this tour is approximately 4 hours and pick-up and drop off is included.
3 Days in Marrakech itinerary: Day 3
On our final day of the 3 days in Marrakech we decided to visit the renowned Jardin Majorelle and the Museum of Yves Saint Laurent. It was Sunday morning and the queue to get inside was quite long, we had to wait for almost an hour.
In 1923 Jacque Majorelle, a French orientalist painter and son of the famous Art Nouveau furniture designer, Louis Majorelle decided to live host two to three exhibitions per year and are dedicated to in Marrakech following an invitation to visit by the French resident-General, Marshal Lyautey. He then acquired this massive palm grove which today hosts this spectacular attraction in Marrakech.
In 1931 the spectacular Art Deco studio with Majorelle Blue walls was built by architect Paul Sinoir. The impressive building was surrounded by an expansive garden with exotic plants and rare species. After his death in 1962 the place was abandoned until later in 1980 Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurant bought this building and restored it to its former glory. Following the death of the famous French designer Yves Saint Laurant in 2008 a memorial was built in the garden.
Today this famous blue building houses the Berber Museum displaying a vast collection of over 600 objects which were sourced throughout Morocco, depicting the vibrant culture of the people of North Africa.
Museum opening hours: The Museum is open daily
1 October – 30 April 8 am- 5:30 pm
1 May – 30 September 8am-6pm
The month of Ramadan 9am-5pm
Combined ticket 180 DH (approximately 17 EUR)
Yves Saint Laurent Museum
The great French fashion designer was so inspired by Marrakesh that he decided to buy a house and would regularly visit this vibrant city. In his museum you can admire the collection of 50 pieces which were chosen to be displayed in this magnificent museum. Some of the garments have rarely been seen by the public. The Temporary Exhibitionsfashion, art, contemporary art and design, as well as anthropology or botany.
The building is located a few steps away from Jardin Majorelle where apart from the collections you can find a bookshop, research library and a cafe.
Open daily except Wednesdays from 10:00am -6pm.
Brunch at La Mamounia Hotel
An exclusive destination that traces back to the 18th century where its story begins with the King Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah and the customary of offering his sons, as a wedding gift, a house and a garden located outside of Kasbah. The one bearing the name of al-Mamoun was destined to become the famous and what is today known as the La Mamounia. The hotel had only 50 rooms until the end of the thirties and after a series of renovations reopened in 2009 housing 210 luxurious guestrooms to welcome its unique guests from the four corners of the globe (the hotel is going another renovation in 2020).
Winston Churchill was once quoted saying that “It is the most lovely spot in the world”. Over the years the reputation of Marrakesh and the La Mamounia has attracted the attention of both French and American filmmakers who found their inspiration on this corner of the globe.
La Mamounia is the symbol of traditional Moroccan hospitality, nestled in 17 acres of park. This exotic and legendary Moroccan palace has been redesigned by internationally renowned designer, Jacques Garcia, who combined true Moroccan style with modern Art deco. The hotel features four exquisite restaurants to please the palates of the most discerning guests (Italian, Moroccan, French and Mediterranean cuisines).
We had booked Sunday Brunch to celebrate my mum’s birthday. Brunch is served every Sunday at the Pavilion, overlooking the pool and gardens. The lavish buffet includes a generous selection of hot and cold dishes, plenty of seafood options like grilled lobster and oysters, delicious tagines and a colorful dessert buffet. Comparing the buffet to the Dubai brunches, — I can say that Dubai definitely has a grander choice. I cannot say that I was amazed with their level of service or hospitality, I expected much better given the hotel’s reputation. Nevertheless I cannot complain about the quality of food but having spent almost 300 Euro, I would definitely prefer a better treatment as I had specifically ordered a nice table for the occasion of my mum’s birthday (which was ignored). The price per person is 1,200 MAD (approximately 112 Euro) including a glass of champagne.
Visit a Moroccan Hammam
One of the most iconic experiences one can have in Marrakesh is visiting a local hammam where you can truly embrace the Moroccan culture. Using a mitt and plenty of soap and water, you will be exfoliated from top to bottom. There are more luxurious options and the more traditional ones, pretty much you can find a hammam on every corner. We decided to leave this experience for last as we had a very early morning flight to catch the next day.
We had booked ours online with a transfer, as I really couldn’t be bothered with dealing with the taxi drivers. It wasn’t the worst experience but not exactly the best either for the 45 Euros that we paid per person.
Whether you are visiting Marrakech on a short trip or part of a longer journey through Morocco, this fascinating city has a lot to offer and I hope that you will find my 3 day in Marrakech guide useful. Have you been to Marrakech? What did you like best?