72 hours in and around Marrakech

Nature around Marrakesh  |  Photo by: Sophia van den Hoek

Roaming through the 1000 year old “Red City”, you’ll find amazing pure food, warm weather all year round and many places to purchase typical Moroccan goods.

Marrakech is a delightful destination to get away for a few days. Roaming through the 1000 year old “Red City”, you’ll find amazing food options, warm weather all year round and many places to purchase typical Moroccan items.

To experience the ambiance of the city, we believe the best place to start is in the center of Marrakech’ medina: Jemaa el Fna. This buzzling area will trigger your mind with all it’s colors and flavors. The square is an assemblage of aromas from all over the Middle East, a plethora of activity and loud conversations. You can feel the characteristic Moroccan dynamic which is hectic and simultaneously shines light on the beautiful cultural differences. 

Souks in Marrakesh  |  Photo by: Sophia van den Hoek

A good way to start is by getting a delicious snack from one of the market stands or go to one of the many rooftop bars surrounding the square. The view from the rooftop bars gives you a mind-boggling overview of all the vivid things that are happening below.

To get around you can walk, take a bike taxi or a regular cab. And don’t forget to haggle to make sure you will not get overcharged.

From the square it’s a short walk to the souks. Get lost in this labyrinth of little shops and get out with anything from home decoration and furniture to spices, slippers and harem pants. Don’t forget to haggle again!

After exploring the city medina, it’s refreshing to walk through one of the many city gardens. One of the most well-known is Jardin Majorelle. Created by Jacques Majorelle in 1922, this large and luxurious garden became his botanical laboratory. In 1980, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé purchased the garden to save it from destruction by hotel developers. And yes… if the world famous YSL was so intrigued by this place you know it is a must-see.

Next to the gardens, the palaces are not to be missed. Bahia Palace is a 19th century old Palace which is the ideal place to learn more about Moroccan architecture. Afterwards you can have dinner at the small square just outside the palace, where they sell typical Moroccan dishes. You should definitely try the typical Tajine dish that truly represents all the colorful flavors of the Maroccan culture.

Tajin pots  |  Photo by: Sophia van den Hoek

Where should you stay these three days? 

We loved staying in different riads, which are basically traditional Moroccan houses. There are so many choices but one of our favorites is Riad Berbere. With five bedrooms in total, the riad gives a warm welcome so that you feel right at home. Next to staying in the local atmosphere, Riad Berbere offers massages, manicures, pedicures, henna treatments and personal guidance about where to go and what to do during your stay. 

Another favorite is Riyad El Cadi, which is a former ambassador’s retreat that offers peace and seclusion around the corner from the populous Jemaa El-Fna. With gallery-sized guest rooms showcasing Middle Eastern artworks, it feels like you’re sleeping in a beautifully curated museum. 

Our third favorite is Riad Kniza, with lavishly restored suites in a historic medina mansion, owned by one of Marrakech’s most renowned antique dealers and therefore exhibiting exquisite Morrocan craftworks.

Riad Berbere  |  Photo by: Riad Berbere

Of course you should also enjoy the real Moroccan cuisine. Top of our list are these three:

Nomads: the medina’s busiest dining venue. We were impressed with the playful and stylish décor, this restaurant offers a Medi-Moroccan menu with a strong emphasis on fresh local produce and a wide variety for vegetarians, pescetarians and carnivores alike. Make a reservation beforehand and choose a spot on the rooftop with fantastic views of the Medina and Atlas mountain range. Our favorite dishes from the dishes we tried are the the cumin-slathered calamari from Agadir and the organic chicken marinated in sweet harissa.

The Pavilion at la Mamounia: if you want an impression of the Marrakchi glitterati, book the lunch buffet at La Mamounia’s poolside restaurant Pavilion. The well-to-do of the city sips on gris (Moroccan rosé), relaxes under white parasols and cavorts in the pool. The all-you-can-eat buffet includes a boundless feast of salads, tajines, sea food, roast meats, raw veg, dips, savoury and sweet pastries, ice cream, fruit and dessert. It’s basically a dream buffet. Dress smart casual, otherwise you may be refused at the entrance.

+61: the food at +61 reflects the vast cultural diversity of Australia, which fuses the flavours of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and South Asia. This small venue works closely with local bio-organic farmers. The ingredients are treated simply and gentle and we especially enjoyed the casual family style setting. They make everything themselves, from homemade bread to their homemade cheese, adopting traditional food preparation and techniques. Our favorite dish is no doubt the homemade ricotta with roasted red peppers.

To end the weekend get-away all relaxed, you have to go to a hammam. A typical Moroccan hammam consists of a bathhouse with multiple rooms for cleaning the body and soul according to traditional ritual. Le Bains de Marrakech, Hammam de La Rose and Hammam Mouassine are three of many good hammams all around the city. You’ll get out tranquil and refreshed, just how you want to end your 72-hour trip before you get on board again.

 

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