There are few things more enticing than Marrakech. Discover a blend of Berber and Islamic cultures where the senses are in constant overdrive. Here’s how to get the most out of 3 days in Marrakech.

This Marrakech itinerary explores a different world. Arab and Berber cultures have fused over the centuries to create a historical legacy that bursts from packed laneways and energetic souks.

Life in Marrakech is lived on the street. Narrow alleyways are lined with endless rows of stallholders selling handmade lanterns, colourful embroidered fabric and tacky tourist souvenirs. Markets are stacked high with fruit and nuts. The scent of spices waft through the ancient medina. Secret laneways echo to the beating of leather, the forging of metal and the hum of dyers coercing tourists into their purchases.

Marrakech is the heartland of Moorish architecture. Designs that created the Giralda in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada began life here. Mosques, tombs and palaces boast the craftsmanship of intricate mosaic facades, stucco plasterwork and esquisite cedar ceilings. Even humble riads can be as mesmerising as grand buildings – offering a glimpse into local domestic life.

There are few more enticing ways to explore the world than spending 3 days in Marrakech.

So dive in with our Marrakech itinerary. With a day by day structure, tips on what to book in advance and where to stay, we’ll have you people watching over a mint tea in no time.

Please note / This post contains affiliate links which means if you buy something following a link on this page, we’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our blog. / Paul & Mark.
why go to marrakech

Getting lost in the souks and fondouks of the central medina

Exploring Moorish architecture in tombs, palaces and riads

Absorbing the sight, sounds and smells of local life

Getting scrubbed within an inch of your life in a hammam

People-watching from street side cafes with a mint tea

3-day marrakech itinerary overview

DAY 1 AM /  Exploring Koutobia Mosque, Saadian Tombs & the Mellah

DAY 1 PM / Being wowed by the beauty of Bahia Palace

DAY 2 AM / Meandering Ben Youssef Medersa & the central souks

DAY 2 PM / Getting energising in a hammam & Jemaa el-Fna

DAY 3 AM / Learning about Yves Saint Laurent & Jardin Majorelle

DAY 3 PM / Uncovering local life in the outer souks & flea market

DAY 1 AM / KOUTOBIA MOSQUE, SAADIAN TOMBS & THE MELLAH

Start your 3 days in Marrakech at the Koutoubia Mosque. This 12th-century mosque is not only the religious centre of the city. It’s graceful arches, crenellated walls and 70m high tower are a useful way to get your bearings.

Before going in, explore a slice of traditional Moroccan life in the square just behind Kasbah Mosque. While the centre of Marrakech may be touristy, this is a genuinely local market. Fruits are piled high on wooden carts, olives are precariously stacked in buckets, and lamb and chicken hang from hooks in shop windows.

Entering through a side door in the Kasbah Mosque, the Saadian tombs are the final resting place of Sultan Ahmed al Mansour, his family and coterie of advisors. The tombs are spread throughout an attractive flower-filled walled enclosure. The highlight is the Chamber of Three Niches. Here sultan and his closest family members lay in front of a magnificent mihrab (prayer niche). A beautiful decoration of intricate white plasterwork supported by sleek columns and a horseshoe arch adorn the stunning space.

Exiting, make your way past the stalls of silver and gold in the Grande Bijouterie and into the Mellah. In the 16th century, this city within a city was home to the Jewish population. Today it’s mostly Muslim and an intriguing place to explore. The labyrinth of tightly packed alleyways and local stalls retain the past. Lazama synagogue and Miãara Jewish cemetery are well worth a visit.


LUNCH / Just north of the Mellah, locate the bustling shopping street of Zitoun el Jdid. Head up to the terrace at Un déjeuner de Marrakech for a delicious lunch sitting high above the medina.


DAY 1 PM / BAHIA PALACE, QUIRKY MUSEUMS, & KOSYBAR

Begin the afternoon at the 19th century Bahia Palace. Built for the grand vizier (Sultan’s chief advisor) only a small section of its 8 hectares and 150 rooms are open. The petit riad has a lush courtyard surrounded by mosaic tile work and inlaid painted cedar ceilings. The grand riad courtyard is an expansive space of geometric blue, white and yellow tiles. Look inside the domestic life of the royal family in the 19th century through the stained-glass windows of the harem.

Next, head a few blocks north to either Dar Si Said or Maison Tiskiwin. Dar Si Said is a miniature Bahia Palace with a fraction of the visitors. Its magnificent pooled courtyards and tiled walls are home to the museum of Moroccan Arts.

Maison Tiskiwin, on the other hand, houses the collection of Bert Flint – an eclectic selection of memorabilia focused on the Saharan trade routes from Marrakech to Timbuktu.

In the late afternoon grab a tea and try some of the baklava as you explore the shops on Zitoun el Jdid. Then, head to Kozybar as the sun goes down. It’s one of the few places in the medina where you can order booze and there are few better ways to say goodbye to a great day. Order a cocktail and watch the storks nest on the decaying remnants of El Badi Palace.


DINNER / Have dinner at Snack Grand Atlas (Rue Ibnou Marine). Although it may look like any other touristy Moroccan restaurant, once you sit down a start experiencing the friendly service and high-quality food, you will realise it is a cut above.


DAY 2 AM / HOUSE OF PHOTOGRAPHY, BEN YOUSSEF MEDERSA, MUSEUMS & SOUKS

Start day 2 of your Marrakech itinerary at the House of Photography. This great little museum winds its way up the internal staircases of a small riad. It’s packed with hundreds of photographs of 19th and 20th century Marrakech life.

Just around the corner is Ben Youssef Medersa. This Koranic school is the most exquisitely decorated building in Marrakech. Walls are covered with majestic mosaic tiles, arches decorated with intricate stucco plaster and ceilings are inlaid with painted cedarwood. Visit both the central courtyard and the dormitory rooms where the students lived.

Sadly it is undergoing renovation at the moment but it’s due to reopen in 2020.

If it’s still closed, pop next door to Musée Marrakech. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge of traditional and contemporary art but the renovation of what was once a palace is remarkable. The central courtyard is a beguiling mixture of mosaic tiles and ornate fountains.


TEA / Take a morning break at Café des Épices. This little café is perfectly positioned on the edge of Rahba Kedima and there can be few finer people-watching places in the city. Try the mint tea and sit back and enjoy the comings and goings while giving your feet a rest.


Now spend a few hours exploring the central souks. Some are focused on selling their wares to tourists, while others are more local. Find colourful Moroccan carpets in La Criée Berbère or edgy jewellery in Souk des Bijoutiers. Who couldn’t resist the brightly decorated slippers in Souk des Babouche?

Others souks offer a glimpse of the traditional production processes of artisan goods. Watch craftsmen hammering out metal pots in the very atmospheric Souk Haddadine. Understand the ancient wool dying processes in Souk des Teinturiers. Listen to the rhythmic beating of leather in Souk Cherratine.

Undoubtedly, just strolling around the souks and taking in the thriving atmosphere is a highlight of this 3 days in Marrakech.


LUNCH / If you are feeling adventurous grab lunch at one of the excellent Ben Youssef food stalls. But, if you fancy an escape from the madness head to Nomad – an eclectic mix of European and Moroccan food served on a lovely terrace overlooking Kedima square.


DAY 2 PM / FOUNDOUKS, HAMMAM & JEMAA El-FNA

Recharged, spend a bit more time visiting the central souks and at least one fondouk. Fondouks are houses where the camel caravans from the Sahara would stop in the city. The ground floor were the stables and the upstairs rooms would be rented to the traders. Today they are mostly workshops but they maintain their traditional design. The best are on Rue Dar el-Bach.

Just south of Rue Dar el-Bach is The Secret Garden – an oasis of calm amongst the clamour of the medina. Sit on a bench, take a deep breath and let the relaxing scene of the attractively set gardens wash over you.

Having spent almost 2 days on your feet it’s time for a rest and a clean. And there’s no better way than to visit a Moroccan hammam. There’s a variety of different types, depending on the experience you want. For a local experience try Hammam Mouassine. This traditional hammam is still used by Moroccans today, but they do have an English speaking host. Don’t expect to come out relaxed – this is a very energetic scrub.

Alternatively, try a pampering experience at Hammam de la Rose, or go a step further and road test the sublime luxury of the gloriously decorated SPA at the Mamounia hotel.

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There is no better place to experience the hubbub of Marrakech than in the main square of Jemaa el-Fna. Head up to the Le Grand Balcon du Café Glace just before dusk. From here, you’ll be treated not only to the final rays of light illuminating the medina, but also the steadily building energy of the square.

The cafe itself is as bad as the name suggests. Entry is only possible with the purchase of a compulsory over-priced drink. However, it’s the best view of the square.

Once the sun is down, descend into the square and watch the story-tellers, snake-charmers and fruit sellers cajole you from all sides.


DINNER / Have dinner at one of the stalls; it really doesn’t matter which one, they all basically serve the same thing. But dining at Jemaa el-Fna is not about the food, you’re here for the sheer energy of eating in one of the most exciting venues in the world.


DAY 3 AM / YVES SAINT LAURENT & JARDIN MAJORELLE

On the final day of your 3 days in Marrakech, it’s time to leave the chaos of the medina behind with a visit to Yves Saint Laurent Museum in the new town. Originally designed by Jacques Majorelle, this fascinating villa was later bought by Yves Saint Laurent and gifted to the city. Today Jardin Majorelle’s intriguing architecture and sumptuously landscaped gardens are an excellent place to explore.

Next door, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum showcases the life and works of Marrakech’s favourite expat. Mannequins modelling his greatest creations and accessories with all types of jewels are magically lit in a moody dark room. Films of his life played next door in the auditorium. It’s a classy experience – even for fashion disasters such as ourselves.


LUNCH / If you start the morning at the museum then head to the garden, you should be just in time for lunch at Jardin Majorelle’s relaxing courtyard garden. For a museum restaurant, it’s actually pretty good.


DAY 3 PM / OUTER SOUKS, LOCAL LIFE & FLEA MARKET

To get a genuine understanding of Marrakech, it’s important to leave the tourist centres and explore local life in the outer neighbourhoods.

Start at the massive market at Souk el-Khemis. Selling sofas, TVs and mattresses it has everything you might want in life (and a few things you don’t). It’s a long way from the tourist-driven souks in the medina, but one of the few locations in Marrakech that feel like you’re experiencing the genuine article. Be respectful of the locals – who will be nowhere near as interested in you as those in the medina – and enjoy this slice of local life.

Next, head to the local flea-market which sells all sorts of personal items that might come in handy during the end of days. Here you can pick up a dusty old Nokia flip phone or a monocle that may or may not work.

For a taste of the more hassle-prone side of Marrakech, head to the Tanneries to experience a trade that still uses the unsafe practices (for the workers) from centuries ago.

Now, stroll around the wealthier community around Sidi Bel Abbes, before plunging back into the fascinating back streets of Derb Ennakhla and Rue Bab Doukkala. These two excellent neighbourhoods are a hubbub of local life which peaks in the late afternoon.

There is nowhere better to see it all happen than from upstairs at Le Souk des Épices Café (see location on our map below) where you can grab a tea and sample one of their excellent pastries.


DINNER / To finish your 3 days in Marrakech in style have dinner on the upstairs terrace at Le Fondouk. Stare up at the skies as the cool evening air descends and sample some of the best cooking in Morocco.


FINISH

After spending 3 days in Marrakech why not add a few more days in Morocco.

Essaouira is an easy 2-hour bus ride away and allows you to explore a more relaxed Moroccan town, refreshed by a solid Atlantic sea breeze. If you are looking for big landscapes head up to the Atlas Mountains. Imlil is the place for high-level trekking while Ouirgane is a better option for exploring local life and remote Berber villages.

Alternatively, hire a car and drive south over the mountain passes to the Road of 1,000 Kasbahs and the dramatic red rock canyons of Todra and Dades. A few hours further you will come to the towering dunes of the Sahara.

/ INFORMATION

A little pre-planning and research will help make your travels far more successful, it will also help you to understand what you are looking for in a destination. If you like our itinerary, here’s all the information you might need to plan your own trip.

WHERE TO STAY IN MARRAKECH

Staying in a riad (traditional Moroccan house) is a highlight of visiting Marrakech. Usually 2 or 3 stories high, these family-run enterprises often consist of a few rooms surrounding a central courtyard with a fountain. Many have been meticulously and beautifully renovated and offer not just a good place to sleep, but also a glimpse into Moroccan life.

Most of the sights, restaurants and bars on this 3 days in Marrakech itinerary are located centrally in the medina. So, with the amount of walking you’ll do in Marrakech it’s a good idea to stay as centrally as possible.

There’s no shortage of places to stay in Marrakech, but here are a few recommendations from us.

GOOD VALUE

RIAD TIZWA


Wedged between the central souks and Bab Doukkala, this excellent value riad could not be in a better position for exploring Marrakech. Tea and biscuits on arrival from welcoming hosts, traditionally decorated rooms and breakfast served on the roof terrace all add to the experience.

CHECK PRICES

PERFECT LOCATION

RIAD AL BUSHRA


This recently renovated riad is also in an excellent location, yet despite being only a couple of minutes from the centre, it’s tucked far enough away for a little peace and quiet. Gary and Steve offer a warm welcome, great breakfasts and plenty of useful tips about visiting the city.

CHECK PRICES

IDYLLIC HAVEN

DAR KANDI


Set around a tranquil leafy central courtyard, this upmarket riad (of only 6 rooms) is worth the cost. The courtyard and terrace are a great place to relax, and the pool is a great antidote to the Marrakech heat. Every room is elegantly designed with tasteful yet traditional furniture.

CHECK PRICES

GOOD VALUE

RIAD TIZWA


Wedged between the central souks and Bab Doukkala, this excellent value riad could not be in a better position for exploring Marrakech. Tea and biscuits on arrival from welcoming hosts, traditionally decorated rooms and breakfast served on the roof terrace all add to the experience.

CHECK PRICES

PERFECT LOCATION

RIAD AL BUSHRA


This recently renovated riad is also in an excellent location, yet despite being only a couple of minutes from the centre, it’s tucked far enough away for a little peace and quiet. Gary and Steve offer a warm welcome, great breakfasts and plenty of useful tips about visiting the city.

CHECK PRICES

IDYLLIC HAVEN

DAR KANDI


Set around a tranquil leafy central courtyard, this upmarket riad (of only 6 rooms) is worth the cost. The courtyard and terrace are a great place to relax, and the pool is a great antidote to the Marrakech heat. Every room is elegantly designed with tasteful yet traditional furniture.

CHECK PRICES

BOOK BEFORE YOU GO

Marrakech is a popular tourist destination however, queues for most of the tourist attractions are not particularly long.

The exception is the Jardin Majorelle with lines often snaking around the corner. To avoid the long wait, smugly stroll pass the people queuing at the gardens and buy tickets from the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. They sell a combined ticket without the queues.

With so few restaurants in the medina serving alcohol those that do can get booked up a few days in advance. If you have your heart set on somewhere in particular it’s a good idea to book online in advance. A couple of places you should have your heart set on are Nomad and Le Fondouk – both are excellent.

OUR RECOMMENDED TOURS

If you have a little extra time and want to add a day trip to your itinerary, here are some tours we recommend.

ATLAS MOUNTAINS

DAY TRIP TOUR

ESSAOUIRA

DAY TRIP TOUR

BERBER VILLAGES

3 VALLEYS TOUR

OUR RECOMMENDED TOURS

If you have a little extra time and want to add a day trip to your itinerary, here are some tours we recommend.

ATLAS MOUNTAINS

DAY TRIP TOUR

ESSAOUIRA

DAY TRIP TOUR

BERBER VILLAGES

3 VALLEYS TOUR

GETTING TO MARRAKECH

A wide range of international flights arrive at Marrakech Menara international airport. The airport is only a short and cheap taxi ride into town which most riads will happily organise for you in advance. Given that most riads can be difficult to find for first time visitors, this is a sensible use of $10 to $15.

As cars can’t get into the centre of the medina don’t be alarmed if you are dropped off a few hundred meters from your riad and handed off to a porter. He will put your bags in a trolley and show you the rest of the way.

Marrakech is connected to Casablanca and Rabat by train and there is an extensive coach network between all the major cities in the north.

GETTING AROUND MARRAKECH


The best way to get around Marrakech is to walk. Most of the sights are in the car-free central medina and every corner has a new surprise. But it is very easy to get lost. The lanes are tiny, many are unmarked and the labyrinth of streets can get very confusing.

Download our 3 days in Marrakech map which has all the attractions listed in this itinerary in the order we suggest you see them in. To save our map, click on the star to the right of the title – this will save the map to: YOUR PLACES -> MAPS in Google Maps.

MAPS.ME / While Google Maps is great for the exhaustive list of attractions in Marrakech, Maps.me has a more detailed plan of the medina. Download Marrakech in your maps.me app so you can refer to it off-line.

PIKALA BIKES

While walking is the best way to get around on days 1 and 2 of this Marrakech itinerary, day 3 explores a bit further afield. Depending on where you stay, it may be a 30-minute walk to the Jardin Majorelle and a lot more to explore the outer suburbs. So this could be a great day to explore Marrakech on a bike.

PIKALA BIKES / Pikala bikes is a foundation that supports local education to help combat Morocco’s excessively high youth unemployment. Tours can be arranged through them, or you can just hire a bike for a day. All details are on their website.

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH PUSHY LOCALS

Morocco is an interesting place. Outside the cities, we found the locals warm and welcoming. A fresh mint tea was never far away and – even in Ramadan – food would be offered freely with a friendly conversation and a helpful nugget of advice to get the most out of this fascinating country.

Unfortunately, the experience in Marrakech can be different. It is easy to get lost in the central medina’s labyrinth of alleyways and many locals will offer to help you, but most are not trying to help at all. Tourists are seen as an endless source of cash and they’ll go out of their way to try and extract some from you.

If you walk around the streets using maps trying to find your way, you’ll regularly be approached with “it’s not that way” or “it’s closed” – even though they have no idea where you want to go. They will then offer to guide you somewhere. If you accept their offer, whatever you pay them will not be enough. If you decline, they can get quite pushy.

We’re always keen to chat to locals and make friends in a new city, but the Marrakech medina is not the place to do it.

We recommend that you respond to all requests, saying ‘no thanks’ firmly but politely and walking on. If you can do so looking confident in where you’re going, even better. If you are really lost and need some help, ask other tourists or go into a store and ask someone behind a counter.

BEST TIME TO VISIT MARRAKECH

In summer, the temperature in the tightly packed-in medina can reach up to 40 degrees making exploring the streets hard work. In winter, it can drop to near freezing at night which makes it uncomfortable sitting on roof terraces or open courtyards for breakfast or dinner.

So, in our opinion, the best time to visit Marrakech is from March to May and late September to November. The weather is warm with daily highs averaging 23 to 30 degrees and it’s not too wet.

COSTS OF OUR 3-DAY MARAKESH ITINERARY

The total cost of our 3 days in Marrakech itinerary, for two people (excluding international flights), was Moroccan Dirham (MAD) 6,6200. With Nov 2019 exchange rates of MAD 12.50 to the British Pound; MAD 9.65  to the US dollar; and MAD 10.65 to the EUR this equates to :

US $685 / GBP £530 / EUR €620


4 nights’ accommodation – MAD 3,250

Food and booze for 2 people – MAD 2,250

Local Hammam experience for 2 – MAD 300

Entrance fees for 2 people – MAD 570

Taxi to and from the airport – MAD 250

US $685 / GBP £530 / EUR €620


4 nights’ accommodation – MAD 3,250

Food and booze for 2 people – MAD 2,250

Local Hammam experience for 2 – MAD 300

Entrance fees for 2 people – MAD 570

Taxi to and from the airport – MAD 250

CONSTRUCTING OUR 3 DAYS IN MARRAKECH ITINERARY

We recommend 3 days in Marrakech as the perfect amount of time. There are a number of truly world-class sights but the real joy comes from simply wandering around the souks and squares and grabbing a mint tea as you go.

The first day of this Marrakech itinerary focuses on the southern half of the medina and the second day on the central part. The route chosen passes all the best sights while trying to minimise walking distances. Day 3 visits the new town and the more local communities in the north-east of the medina.

The aim is that this Marrakech itinerary gives a great overview of the tourist highlights as well as genuine local experiences. We’ve also put it together to allow you to squeeze as much in as possible.

WHERE NEXT?

Firstly, if you like what we do, we’d love it if you could follow us on Instagram.

For even more scensory overload, our walking tour of the Fez Medina is a exotic stroll around a fascinating ancient centre.

We also recommend exploring some of the less known places in Morocco such as the Aït Bouguemez valley where we had a wonderful couple of days in a Berber community and the Ouirgane Valley where we did some great hiking. The very under-visited Valley of the Roses was also a highlight for us.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below – we will always reply. To stay up to date with our travels, follow us on social and signup to our NEWSLETTER.

Marrakech is another world with sensory overload down every tiny cobbled lane. Our 3-day Marrakech itinerary explores all that is best of a very different culture as well as providing tips on where to stay and how to get around. #visitMarrakech #visitmorocco

Marrakech is another world with sensory overload down every tiny cobbled lane. Our 3-day Marrakech itinerary explores all that is best of a very different culture as well as providing tips on where to stay and how to get around. #visitMarrakech #visitmorocco

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