24 hours in Marrakech
There are few cities as colourful as Marrakech. With pulsating souks, mouth-watering cuisine and the majestic Atlas Mountains on its doorstep it’s a city bursting with adventure. Watch the desert come to life as the sun rises, get lost in the historic Medina and step inside the magic of the local Riads whilst you get to know this North African gem, all in a quite spectacular 24 hours.
An unforgettable experience awaits as you rise early to travel 40km outside Marrakech to the stunning Agafay Desert. Float through the tranquil sky in a hot air balloon watching the endless Haouz Plains stretch out below you as the sun rises over the snow-capped mountains and the desert glows in dazzling reds on your very own Morocco desert tour by air. Drift over Berber Villages, lush green palm trees and epic mountain peaks whilst you enjoy the exhilaration of feeling the breeze against your skin as you fly through the clouds. Indulge in a champagne breakfast up in the sky or enjoy your morning meal when you’re back at ground level. It’s an early start this morning, but this is high up in our top picks for what to do in Morocco, so you won’t want to miss it.
10.00am: Tour the Medina via vintage sidecar
After a morning in the sky it’s time to come back to earth and explore bustling Marrakech. With its entertaining storytellers and famous snake charmers the Medina of Marrakech is the historic heart of the city and a must see for anyone wanting to observe the country’s unique culture. Lose yourself in the labyrinth of souks, barter for colourful rugs and exotic tea sets and prepare to be intoxicated by the exotic aromas of street food on the stove. It’s easy to spend days wandering the many alleyways that make up the Medina, but for an utterly unique and personalised experience, follow in the footsteps of our Social Content Manager Mary who visited Marrakech last year, and travel via vintage sidecar with a private guide while the wind runs through your hair. Your inside guide will help create a bespoke route showing you the hidden gems of this mesmerising maze, the colourful (if pungent) tanneries, the local artisans souks and the slightly more sedate Kasbah area of the Medina that house the Royal Palace.
13.00pm: Walk around Jardin Majorelle
After lunch in the Medina at the popular restaurant Nomad, reconvene in your sidecar for an open-air ride to Jardin Majorelle to meander round the blossoming gardens, where you will quickly see why fashion king Yves Saint Laurent fell in love with the place. Threatened with development in 1980, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge bought and rejuvenated Jardin Majorelle, rescuing it from destruction. This vibrantly colourful yet delightfully peaceful garden took French Painter Jacques Majorelle 40 years to create and it was a labour of love, with 2 ½ acres of cacti, exotic fauna and colourful design decorating the garden and reflecting his personal aesthetic. So come, wander, relax and explore these beautiful grounds, the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city streets and one of the must do things in Marrakech. Make sure you don’t miss the Berber Museum housed in Majorelle’s former studio; it gives a fascinating insight into this unique culture and includes artefacts from YSL’s personal collection. Read our interview with Moroccan Berber, Abdellah, to give you a glimpse into Berber life.
16.00pm: Experience a traditional Hammam
We are a big fan of giving yourself a treat on holiday and after the very (ahem) strenuous day you’ve had you deserve one. So it’s time to open the door to one of Marrakech’s most luxurious hotels nestled in the heart of the Medina: Riad Fernatchi. With a glorious rooftop terrace that has picture perfect views over the city we suggest you grab a fresh mint tea and enjoy the view before taking part in a traditional Moroccan Hammam in the luxury spa. Local Hammams are a big part of Moroccan culture with locals spending hours a week cleansing in these huge steam rooms (similar to Turkish baths) whilst catching up on all the local gossip. At Riad Fernatchi you might not get the chat but this is an authentic local experience not to be missed, once you have been exfoliated, massaged and cleansed you will be glowing and ready to explore Marrakech after sundown…
19.00pm: Dinner at Dar Yacout
You’ve cleansed, explored and even ridden in a hot air balloon and now it is time to feast at one of the best restaurants in Marrakech. Hopefully you had a light lunch, because the generous portions at Dar Yacout won’t leave you hungry. When booking (yes this is essential), choose to dine inside beneath beautifully decorated lanterns in one of the private lounges or on the roof terrace underneath the stars with panoramic views of the Medina below. With an extensive range of local produce, traditional dishes and Moroccan wine waiting to be tasted, along with entertainment and live music often being played, this old riad is the ultimate romantic dinner spot, and still a secret to many. Continue to explore the city into the night with an array of vibrant bars down every street, or head back to your luxury hotel to unwind and get an undisturbed night sleep.
It’s been an action packed day and you’re probably in need of a good night’s sleep, lucky for you there is no shortage of boutique riads and luxury hotels in Marrakech. But we have chosen somewhere extra special for you to spend the night. Situated just outside the Medina walls and in the shadow of Koutoubia Mosque lies La Villa Des Orangers. As you enter through the beautifully carved door into the fragrant garden you’ll be drawn in by the Moroccan tiled courtyard and the sound of birds singing. Boasting 27 Moroccan-style rooms and suites, this boutique hotel features a plethora of exquisite architecture, elegant fabrics, private terraces, freestanding bathtubs and secluded pools. With an array of spa treatments and massage booths to choose from, and delicious gourmet cuisine on offer you’ll struggle to part with this enchanting oasis.
See what else you can see and do in this beautiful country, from trekking in the Atlas Mountains to getting the perfect Instagram in Chefchaouen, with our 10-minute guide to Morocco.
Can't wait to discover Marrakech?
Whether it’s floating over the Agafay Desert in a hot air balloon, driving through the Medina via sidecar or enjoying a traditional Hammam in one of our favourite hotels, our travel experts are on hand to plan your perfect Marrakech trip today.