Exploring Marrakech: Travel Days Needed

how many days to travel in marrakech

Marrakech is Morocco's fourth-largest city and one of its major tourist spots. The ideal amount of time to spend in Marrakech is three days, although some say two days is enough. This gives you enough time to explore the Medina and other attractions in the city centre, as well as visit the magnificent gardens around the city's periphery.

If you're short on time, one day in Marrakech will allow you to get a nice feel for the city. However, if you have more time, spending four to five days in Marrakech will allow you to spread out your sightseeing and spend longer at each attraction. With six or more days, you'll be able to explore Marrakech's centre and the surrounding region and get off the beaten path in the city.

Characteristics Values
Ideal number of days to spend in Marrakech 3 days
Minimum number of days recommended 2 days
Maximum number of days recommended 5 days
Number of days for a peaceful holiday 5-10 days
Number of days for hiking trips 10 days
Number of days for Sahara Desert trips 2 days

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Exploring the Medina and souks

The souks of Marrakech are the largest in Morocco and famous globally as some of the most exotic marketplaces in the world. The souks are the heart of the Marrakech medina and have been the centre for trade in the city for a thousand years. Today they’re as much a tourist attraction as anything but still have that exotic, chaotic feel.

The Marrakech souks are a navigational challenge. A labyrinth of narrow alleyways twist and turn their way north of the main square, the Djemma el-Fna. Most Marrakech guidebooks come with some sort of map, but it’s hard to find one with a small enough scale to show all the tiny alleyways which run through the souks. An electronic map is more useful as it shows where you are and which way you’re pointing.

The main artery of the souks is Souk Semmarine, a broad, covered alley that begins with pâtisserie and pottery, and moves into high-quality fabric and textiles shops. Traders here sell everything from kaftans to pashminas. There are also huge, expensive, tourist emporiums full of antiques, carpets and jewellery.

About halfway along, Souk Semmarine forks. On the right is Spice Square and on the left is Souk el Attarine, bright and gleaming with copper and brass lanterns, mirrors, candlesticks, silver teapots and lamps, as well as the spices and perfumes for which it is traditionally known.

Souk Nejjarine is a renowned woodworking market in the heart of the Medina of Marrakech. Souk is known for its sophisticated woodwork and beautiful crafts made by skilled artisans. Here you can find a variety of goods including fine wooden boxes, furniture, jewellery and traditional Moroccan musical instruments such as the oud and the darbuka.

Souk Smata is the shoe souk. Here you can browse numerous brightly coloured, sequined babouches (Moroccan slippers). Leading off Attarine is Souk el Kebir and Souk Cherratin, the preserve of leatherworkers and the place to go if you want to buy bags, belts, wallets and purses. To the left of Souk el Kebir are the kissarias, covered souks selling clothing and fabrics. There are some fantastic little shops here, too, offering chic lanterns, glassware, baskets and antiques. To the right of Kebir is the jewellery souk, Souk des Bijoutiers.

Nowhere is Morocco’s living craftsmanship better illuminated than in the working carpenters’ and blacksmiths’ souks – Souk Chouari and Souk Haddadine, at the northern edge of the souks.

These fragrant, noisy alleys are refreshingly unspoiled. To the southwest of this main cluster of streets is Souk Sebbaghine or Souk des Teinturiers – the dyers' souk, where rich iridescent skeins of wool and silk coloured with indigo, saffron, mint and poppy blaze against the sky. Music lovers should not miss exploring Souk Kimakhine, where traditional Moroccan and Gnaoua instruments are sold.

Tips for visiting the souks

  • Don’t ask the price of something unless you are willing to buy it, and be prepared to take your time.
  • The general rule of thumb is to offer half of the seller’s first price and go from there.
  • There is never a ‘correct price’ – if you want something and are satisfied with the price, then you've paid the right amount.
  • It's a good idea to wear sunglasses, give stallholders a firm but polite ‘no Merci’ and look like you know where you’re going.
  • If you stop at a stall it’ll be assumed that you want to buy something, so keep moving unless you’re seriously considering making a purchase.
  • If possible, it’s best to explore with someone else as two pairs of eyes are better than one, and solo travellers often get more persistent hassle from touts.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings. You’ll have people pushing past you and stallholders grabbing onto your arms, so leave any expensive jewellery back in your room, keep a tight hold of your camera and make sure you have a bag that fastens securely.
  • If you want to get an insider's view of the Marrakech souks, explore off the main paths and meet some of the craft-makers, then it’s a good idea to take a souk tour, especially if you’re short on time.

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Watching the sunset on a rooftop terrace

Choose a Rooftop Terrace

Marrakech has no shortage of rooftop terraces offering breathtaking sunset views. Here are some top picks:

  • Riad Konouz, Riad Villa el Arsa, and Riad Mathamriads (traditional residences converted into lodging) offer not only comfortable stays but also provide panoramic views of the city from their rooftops.
  • MAISON MK: Located in the heart of Medina, MAISON MK boasts a spacious, multi-level rooftop terrace with stylish dining tables and lounge sofas. It offers 360-degree panoramic views of the city, creating a perfect atmosphere for sunset watching.
  • DarDar Rooftop Bar & Restaurant: DarDar, nestled in the heart of Medina, offers a cosy and bohemian setting with a spacious rooftop that blends beautiful interior and outdoor seating. Enjoy panoramic views of the Koutoubia, Medina, and the Atlas Mountains while savouring their delicious food and drinks.
  • El Fenn: The spacious rooftop terrace at the boutique hotel El Fenn spans 1,300 square metres, providing guests with incredible close-up views of the iconic Koutoubia Mosque and the city's rooftops. It's an ideal spot to unwind and watch the sunset while enjoying their all-day menu and cocktails.
  • La Pergola: Perched atop the hotel Riad Monceau, La Pergola is a trendy rooftop jazz bar with a lush garden setting. It offers stunning views of the Koutoubia and the Medina, along with a menu featuring Moroccan wines, crafted cocktails, and bites.
  • Café des Épices: Located in the heart of Medina and Souks, Café des Épices has a charming rooftop terrace offering fantastic views of the square and the surrounding Medina. It's the perfect spot to relax and escape the bustling streets while enjoying their selection of fruit juices, non-alcoholic cocktails, sandwiches, and crepes.

Plan Your Timing

Sunset times vary throughout the year in Marrakech. In June 2024, for example, the sun sets around 8:34 pm. Plan to arrive at your chosen rooftop terrace before sunset to secure a good spot and fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Explore the Surroundings

Before settling in for sunset viewing, take a stroll through the souks of the Medina, including the famous Jemaa El-Fna square. Explore the vibrant marketplace, immerse yourself in the local culture, and indulge in the delicious food and drinks that Marrakech has to offer.

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Day trips to the Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains are a popular day trip from Marrakech, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience the beauty of Morocco's natural landscapes and rich culture. Here are some ideas for day trips to the Atlas Mountains:

  • Atlas Mountains Hot Air Balloon Ride: Enjoy bird's-eye views of the deserts and foothills of the Atlas Mountains on a sunrise hot air balloon ride. This trip includes a Berber breakfast and a memorable camel ride.
  • High Atlas Mountains and 5 Valleys Day Trip: Explore the majestic Atlas Mountains and visit traditional Berber villages, learning about their customs and culture. This trip includes lunch and hotel pickup and drop-off.
  • Atlas Mountains and Agafay Desert Day Trip: Discover the beauty of the Agafay Desert and the Atlas Mountains in a small group. This trip includes a traditional 3-course lunch at no extra cost.
  • Ourika Valley and Atlas Mountains Day Trip: Take a break from the city and explore the scenic Ourika Valley, with its waterfalls, rivers, and snow-tipped peaks. This trip includes hotel pickup and drop-off, and you can choose to relax at a riverside cafe or hike up to the mountainside falls.
  • Atlas Mountains and Berber Villages Day Trip: Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the Atlas Mountains and visit three valleys, enjoy a camel ride, and savour lunch in a Berber family house.
  • Atlas Mountains and Ouzoud Waterfalls Day Trip: Explore the Atlas Mountains and visit the Ouzoud Waterfalls, the largest in Morocco. This trip includes a professional and informative guide, and you will be back in Marrakech in time for dinner.

When planning your day trip to the Atlas Mountains, keep in mind that the best time to visit Marrakech is either side of summer, from March to May or October to November. The weather during these months is more pleasant for outdoor activities, and accommodation rates tend to be lower.

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A night in the Agafay Desert

The Agafay Desert is a great alternative to the much more well-known Sahara Desert, which is quite far from the main cities of Morocco. From Marrakech, it takes two days to get out to the Sahara, whereas the Agafay Desert is only around a 40-minute to one-hour drive away.

If you're short on time but still want to experience the beauty of the desert, the Agafay Desert is a convenient option. It's not the sand dune paradise you might expect of the Sahara, but it's still a great experience.

There are several camps in the Agafay Desert where you can spend the night, including Inara Camp and Nkhila Lodge. These camps offer luxury glamping experiences with comfortable tents, delicious food, and various activities.

Here's what you can expect from a night in the Agafay Desert:

  • A quick and easy transfer from your hotel in Marrakech to the desert.
  • A traditional Moroccan dinner, with dishes such as chicken tajine, vegetable couscous, and Moroccan salads.
  • The option to add on extra activities such as camel rides, quad biking, and buggy rides.
  • A traditional show with belly dancing, fire-eaters, and Gnawa music.
  • Sleeping in a luxury tent under the stars, with private bathrooms and comfortable beds.
  • A traditional Moroccan breakfast in the morning before heading back to Marrakech.

The Agafay Desert is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and relax in a tranquil and unique setting. It's an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in Moroccan culture and enjoy the beauty of the desert landscapes.

Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or a fun adventure, a night in the Agafay Desert is a memorable experience that will leave you with lasting memories.

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Visiting the famous gardens

Marrakech is famed for its gardens, which provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here are some of the most famous gardens to visit:

Le Jardin Secret

Le Jardin Secret is a pristine palace garden located in the heart of the Marrakech medina. Unveiled in 2016, it features two gardens: one with plants from around the world, and another with a clear Islamic influence. There is also a pavilion with information on the garden's restoration, as well as a tower offering views of the surrounding medina.

Anima André Heller Garden

Designed by André Heller, Anima Gardens is located 27km from Marrakech and is accessible via a free shuttle bus. The 2-hectare garden acts as an art gallery, featuring painting and photography exhibitions, as well as unique installations from around the world.

Parc El Harti Gardens

Also known as Jardin Jnane El Harti, this garden is located in the centre of Gueliz, just steps away from one of the busiest plazas in Marrakech. It features palm and citrus trees, and is a popular spot for children to play and people to stroll and relax.

Jardin Majorelle

The most iconic gardens in Marrakech, the Jardin Majorelle were originally owned by painter Jacques Majorelle. They were later purchased and restored by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. The gardens feature plants from five continents, a Cubist villa in vivid blue, and fountains. There is also a Berber Museum and an Yves Saint Laurent Museum on-site.

Menara Gardens

Dating back to the 12th century, the Menara Gardens are set around a large reflecting pool and a historic pavilion. They are a popular spot for locals to escape the city noise and offer views of the Atlas Mountains in the distance.

Frequently asked questions

3 days is the ideal amount of time to see Marrakech. This gives you enough time to explore the Medina and other attractions in the city centre, as well as visit the magnificent gardens around the city's periphery.

Some of the must-see attractions in Marrakech include:

- Jemaa el-Fnaa Square

- Bahia Palace

- Koutoubia Mosque

- Saadian Tombs

- Majorelle Garden

- Menara Gardens

- Medina

- Souks

The city of Marrakech is quite large, but most of the attractions are located within the Medina, which is easily walkable. For attractions that are located further out, you can take a local taxi or the local bus network.

The best time to visit Marrakech is either side of summer, either from March to May or in October and November. During these months, the weather is still warm but more pleasant for outdoor activities.

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