Intoxicating aromas. Treasure-laden souks. An electric atmosphere. With its heady hustle and bustle, Marrakech offers a sensory overload for the curious traveller. This dynamic former imperial city is home to eye-popping architecture and culture aplenty. If you’re planning a whistle-stop visit to Morocco, here are the best ways to spend 24 hours in Marrakech.
Start your day in the Red City at the mesmerising Bahia Palace. This 19th century wonder showcases Arabian architecture at its finest. Delicate tilework, intricately carved wooden doors, and elegant marble work all combine to create the most ornate riad. Afterwards, spend some time soaking up the buzzing energy of Jemaa el-Fna Square in the Old Quarter. Be dazzled by its palm readers and acrobats as the sound of snake-charmer flutes fills the air.
Winding north from Jemaa el-Fna Square up to Musée de Marrakech, the city’s many souks are brimming with delights to be discovered. From kaftans and jewellery to spices and lanterns, you’ll find handcrafted souvenirs galore. Polish up your haggling skills and grab yourself a bargain.
For a local lunch, feast on aromatic tagines, cous cous or a mixed grill from one of the many street food vendors at Jemaa el-Fna Square. Find a shady spot to perch away from the midday sun and tuck in.
No visit to Marrakech would be complete without an exploration of the paradisiacal Majorelle Gardens. Purchased and lovingly restored by the late fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent, the two-acre oasis blooms with botanicals. Meander through pathways flanked by coconut palms, cacti and lily ponds.
Marrakech’s former rulers spared no expense on their places of rest, and the awe-inspiring Saadian Tombs are beyond opulent. Built in the 17th century for the ruling Saadi family, the lavish mausoleums are beautifully crafted in imported Italian marble and gilded in pure gold. Fall in love with the gorgeous tilework, intricate cravings and honeycomb stucco.
Spend the rest of your afternoon getting lost around Marrakech’s labyrinthine alleyways, before taking in a bird’s-eye view of the Medina and Atlas Mountains from atop a rooftop terrace bar. Listen to the call to prayer as you sip fresh mint tea, or alternatively, retreat from the chaos and seek sanctuary in a secluded riad café.
Marrakech never really sleeps, and after dark the streets come alive with bustling night markets. The best way to explore them is by being chauffeur driven on two wheels (and four legs!), so take a horse and carriage ride to Jemaa el-Fna Square to drink in the exotic sights and sounds. Stalls are still open so take advantage and stock up on last minute gifts to take home. You can’t go wrong with super-comfy, authentic babouche slippers.
For dinner, seek out a traditional Moroccan restaurant, complete with live music and entertainment. You’ll find the best ones within the walled Medina, in the heart of the city. You’re spoilt for culinary choice with flavourful, no-frills North African fare, or refined takes on Berber cuisine at upscale eateries.
Want to visit the Red City? Fall under the spell of Marrakech with our unforgettable Best of Morocco trip.