Marrakech is one of the most alluring cities in Morocco. It is known as the Red City for its rosy-hued walls and buildings, which seem to glow at sunset, and is dramatically set against the Atlas Mountains. Only 3 and a half hours by plane from the UK, it feels like a completely different world, making it perfect for a city break. The souks are a whirl of noise and colour, and the main square, Jemaa-el-Fna is full of food stalls, while acrobats and fire-eaters entertain the crowds. You can escape the hubbub in the heavenly Majorelle Gardens, treat yourself to a massage in a hammam, or relax in a charming courtyard café. Get the best out of your city break with our unmissable local guide: 48 hours in Marrakech!
Day One: Morning
Plunge into the carpet and spice souks to get the full Marrakech experience, full of sounds, scents and bustle. Visit the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the largest madrasa (Islamic college) in all Morocco. It was built in the 16th century, and is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. You might also fancy popping into the amazing Maison de la Photographie, which has fabulous photo exhibits and an excellent rooftop restaurant.
Day One: Afternoon
Take a taxi to the Gueliz district, the modern part of the city, which was built by the French in the first years of the 20th century. The broad elegant boulevards are full of shops and cafés, and shaded with trees and bougainvillea. Don’t miss rue de la Liberté, where you’ll find lots of boutiques selling affordable high-quality leather goods and ceramics, and rue des Vieux Marrakchis, which has several excellent art galleries such as the David Bloch Gallery. Finish the day in style with drinks at the gorgeous Grand Café de la Poste, which has barely changed since it was established in the 1920s.
Day Two: Morning
Jump in a taxi and head to the Jardin Majorelle, delicious gardens full of lily ponds and shady trees that were laid out by the painter Jacques Majorelle. He painted the walls and plant pots in vivid colours, including the famous ‘Marjorelle Blue’. It later became Yves Sant Laurent’s studio, and now has a museum dedicated to the French designer. After exploring these blissful gardens, take a look at the shop which showcases art and crafts from local designers.
Day Two: Afternoon
Return to the medina, where you could book yourself in for a relaxing hammam session, complete with steam baths and a massage. There is a huge range of options, from the neighbourhood hammams, which are perhaps the most authentic Moroccan experience but don’t offer much in the way of privacy to the luxury hammams, which are more like spas. After emerging, sparkling clean and wonderfully relaxed, you could have a mint tea at one of the lovely courtyard cafés. In the evening, hit the amazing night food market on the spectacular main square, Jemaa el-Fna, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.