48 hours in Marrakech
Marrakesh probably remains one of the most vibrant city in Africa and even Worldwide, a city where you can experience a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern conveniences. The Moroccan destination was named world's best by TripAdvisor and is the most important tourist hub in North Africa.
Here are some suggestions for a 48 hours successful trip to Marrakesh.
I recommend the cute and cozy Dar Justo:
Nestled in the ancient labyrinthine streets of Marrakech’s pulsating Medina and few minutes’ walk from Jemaa El Fna, it’s a very calm and well renovated 14ᵗʰ century traditional Moroccan Riad to stay away from the crowd and noise of Marrakesh.
Budget: 70 to 140 USD/night
Here are some of the restaurants I recommend. But there are plenty of choices in Marrakesh and new places every month.
Dar Yacout: While relatively expensive, it is one of the most high end Moroccan restaurants in town with a very lovely patio for a date or dinner with friends. The set includes famous Moroccan dishes such as Couscous, Mechoui and Pastilla as well as wine.
Budget: About 70 USD
Mechoui Alley: For a more “underground” and local experience you can also try the Tanjia (Marrakesh specialty) at the Mechoui Alley in Derb Semmarine. There are few restaurants that serve mouth watering roasted lamb (mechoui), Tanjia (Incredibly tender slowly cooked lamb stew) and roasted sheep head!
Budget: 5 to 8 USD
Chez Bejgueni: This very Marrakshi sandwich and “fast food” shop is specialized in serving grilled meat (Lamb and Beef mostly). It is very popular with locals and they are the best in what they do. You can see it from the crowd they have every evening while the few restaurants nearby that try to copy them are almost all empty.
Budget: 4 to 6 USD
Many Moroccans believe home’s cooking is the best. So if you have the chance to be invited by a family, don’t miss it, if this is for a wedding it is even better.
Below is one of my favorite dish, Roasted "Dalaa" (الضلعة المحمرة), which is a slow roasted moroccan lamb shoulder with Moroccan spices. The one you see below was made by my Dad during my last trip to Morocco.
There are plenty of restaurants that serve French food due to the French influence and Moroccan recent history, when France established a protectorate for more than 40 years.
If there is one restaurant I would recommend in Marrakesh, that serves actually more a kind of new concept French inspired food rather than real traditional French food, is the new “Le Petit Cornichon”. Their food, service, atmosphere and dining experience are simply excellent and above Marrakesh usual standards. One of the reason is their young and dedicated owner, Erwan Lance, who has an extensive experience in Michelin star restaurants and 5 star hotels from NYC to Dubai and of course Paris and their chef, Manaf El Bloul, who comes from the ultra-luxury hotel Royal Mansour.
Budget: 50 USD
Pre Dinner drink:
Enjoy a delicious mint tea in a very comfortable atmosphere at La Maison Arabe in the heart of the Medina in the afternoon after some shopping.
Budget: 2 to 3 USD
A pleasant place for drinks during sunsets is the Renaissance rooftop bar. You can enjoy the view from the heart of Gueliz the modern part of Marrakesh. It is usually calm and not crowded and perfect for a date.
Budget: 6 to 10 USD
You should not go to Marrakesh and miss a cocktail during the sunset at La Mamounia. (Unless you have a tight budget and you are not willing to enjoy the short life you were given). La Mamounia is more than a luxurious 5 stars hotel, it is an institution in the city and the whole country and was ranked the world’s best hotel in the UK travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller’s in 2015.
Best time to sip a cocktail is before sunset, so you can enjoy a walk in the garden as well as the view on the Atlas Mountains.
Budget: 20 to 30 USD
The Cocktail Tea O'Thym served in a traditional Moroccan Teapot at La Mamounia
After Dinner drink:
For an after dinner drink you can also go to Bo & Zin and meet the local upper class or the Baromètre if you like good cocktails (the Baromètre is just beside Le petit cornichon).
Budget: 8 to 20 USD and even higher depending on how crazy you want to go and your plans for the rest of the night.
Hammam: This is a genuine Moroccan experience, as important as hotsprings in Japan. It is a traditional bathing and cleansing ritual. I would recommend you to try the traditional and old style Hammams not the tourists or Hotels ones. You can ask any Marrakshi and he/she can help you locate one.
Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Jardin Majorelle: The Jardin Majorelle is the perfect place to escape to during the prime heat of the day, with a plethora of botanic wonders and beautiful colors to gawk at. It is located just few minutes ride from the gated walls of the old town. Best time is morning from 10AM to avoid the group of tourists.
Experience Sensory Overload at Jemma el-Fnaa: Known as the heart of the city it is a must when you are in Marrakesh, it becomes a large open air food court after the sunset and includes also henna painting, fortune telling, snake charming, transvestite dancing, and more. Don’t miss the snail’s soup if you are there by the evening.
Shopping in the Souk: For shopping of local souvenirs head to the souk district inside the medina quarter (few meters from Jemaa El Fna). The deeper you go the better, because you're buying from the makers, not the middle men. And of course never buy without negotiating the price.
General Tips: Taxis are very tricky with tourists in Marrakesh, locals usually never pay more than 20 to 30 Dirhams (3 USD) for petits taxis (small taxis) for a ride in the city.
In the Medina, vendors range from being polite to downright aggressive, so just be prepared for this before going into the square or walking through the souks.
Marrakesh being a very touristic city, scams happen, but don’t worry not bad ones. It is mostly about overpriced articles or services that you will be offered that can be avoided using basic common sense.
Marrakesh anyway remains a safe city compare to its big sister Casablanca, especially where tourists are.
Weather: Best time to visit Marrakesh is during the spring or autumn.
Visa Information: And of course, we are here to also talk about visas information. Morocco is quite a generous country in term of visa policy, main reason is because tourism is one of the most important industries in the country.
All EU countries, North American, most of Gulf and some Asian and African countries passport holders can visit Morocco without visa up to 90 days. (Singapore and Hong Kong for 30 days)
Chinese (PRC) passport holders can also travel to Morocco up to 90 days visa-free since few months. This decision comes after the 2016 visit of Moroccan King Mohamed 6 in China and the signature of a joint statement with Chinese President Xi Jinping on establishing a strategic partnership between the two countries, agreeing to strengthen tourism cooperation and simplify visa procedures.
For more specific visa information basis your passport, you can always visit our interactive map.
Hope this article is helpful for you to enjoy this incredible city and as usual you can comment to share your experiences in Marrakesh or ask questions if you are visiting there soon.