Marrakesh is home to enough attractions and curiosities to keep people occupied for several days, but if you only have 24 hours, here is one way to fill your day:
Start your day with a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice while you watch the city begin its day. You can purchase a large glass for around 3 Dh in the Djemaa al-Fna. Next, get your bearings by sauntering over to the Koutoubia Mosque. This building has the tallest minaret in the city and is one of Marrakesh’s most iconic sites. While non-Muslims are not permitted entry to the mosque, everyone is welcome to roam around the gardens.
Take a spin through the souks in the heart of the medina and start shopping for souvenirs. Shopkeepers traditionally gave a discount to the first customer of the day, although usually it’s worth checking out a few stalls before you buy anything.
While it’s perfectly possible to spend the entire day wandering through the souk, make your way to the richly decorated Ben Youssef Medersa, a Quranic school founded in the 14th century. Next door, you’ll find the Museum of Marrakech, housed in a 19th-century palace. The museum boasts classical Andalusian architecture with intricate carvings and tiles, and fountains and mosaics in the central courtyard.
Time for lunch! You can pop in to a small hole-in-the-wall for brochettes—skewered meats served with warm bread—but if you’re in need of a little break, head up to one of the city´s famed roof terraces for a lunch with a view.
After lunch, head over to the Jardin Marjorelle, one of Marrakesh’s most popular attractions. Originally constructed by a French expat during the colonial era, the cobalt blue villa was bought and painstakingly restored by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. You can stroll among the plants, which include many different species of cacti, or you can visit the small Islamic art museum before ordering a mint tea and relaxing in the café.
Now it’s time to relax. Marrakesh is famous for its hammam, or bathhouses. They range from cheap and occasionally dingy places without indoor plumbing that cater to locals to spas fit for Moroccan royalty. You can order various treatments from body scrubs with black Beldi soap to mud masks and massages. If you aren’t comfortable with public nudity, some establishments offer private rooms.
After a thorough scrub down, it’s time for dinner. Budget-minded travelers can head back to the Djemaa el-Fna, where vendors set up rows of stalls that dish out hearty local specialties. Otherwise, dine among cosmopolitan locals in the Ville Nouvelle at Al Fassia, Grand Café de la Poste or, if you fancy a break from Moroccan food, at the ever-popular Italian restaurant Catanzaro.
If you’re turning in early, end your day with a horse-drawn carriage (calèche in French) ride around the city. Agree on a price and route beforehand. If your night is nowhere near over, you can start your tour of Marrakesh’s club scene at touristy but atmospheric Le Comptoire or the stylish rooftop SkyLounge. If you’re looking to dance until the wee hours of the night, check out Pachá Marrakech or Theatro.
Written by Silvia McCallister-Castillo.
Photo by marcp_dmoz.