Often described as where Europe, Africa and the Middle East mingle and merge, Marrakech is an unmissable destination. No trip to Northern Africa is complete without a visit. I recently spent 4 days in Marrakech and practically fell in love. It has got to be one of the most interesting and cultural cities I’ve been to – full of history, colour, culture and GREAT food!
It’s home to a thriving medina, colourful shopping, delicious foods and quite frankly some of the most stunning architecture I’ve seen. Are you ready to fall in love with the city too?
Here’s my guide for spending 4 days in Marrakech, which includes some of the best places and hidden gems you must visit. I’ve also sprinkled in a few tips for keeping safe and getting around.
Day 1: Find your bearings & explore your senses
Jemma El Fna Square:
Jemma El Fna Square is the main square situated in the centre of the Medina and is probably the best place to find your bearings and use as a meeting point. Therefore, I would recommend making your way here first once you’ve settled into your accommodation.
It’s renowned for its markets, especially at night when the place dazzles with entertainment. Everywhere you look, you’ll notice the hustle and bustle.
The hoopla and halqa (street theatre) have performed here since the 11th century. Singers, dancers, magicians and an array of food stalls will delight the senses.
However, the square isn’t without its darker side. The eerie sights of snake charmers and monkeys dressed up on chains for means of entertainment are questionably ethical.
But don’t let anything put you off as it’s a fun spot to soak up the madness of Marrakech.
Address: Passage Prince Moulay Rachid, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Wander the souks:
You can’t miss them.
The souks of Marrakech are famed for being one of the most atmospheric and most exotic marketplaces to shop in. They are fascinating (and chaotic) mazes of small shops, eateries and fresh goods.
They are the heart of the medina and have been the centre of trade for a thousand years. Stalls sell all sorts of things from spices and glassware to tagines and scarves. Displays of brightly coloured hand-painted pottery and glistening lanterns were some of my favourite sights.
They are the go-to for any avid shopper, but even if you’re not into shopping, they are a sensuous spectacle well worth visiting. However, they can also be quite crazy and plunging yourself into them can be a bit of a culture shock to the system. For that reason, it might also be worth booking a guided tour where you’ll get additional insight from a local. But go with it, have fun and keep a map to hand.
Day 2: Get Inspired by the colourful palaces and gardens
Bahia Palace is one of the grandest and most beautiful of Marrakech. It may not be the oldest, but it’s certainly one of the city’s most eye-popping and photogenic sights.
The palace was originally built in the 1860s by Si Moussa, the powerful Grand Vizier of Sultan Hassan I of Morocco. It’s had a fair share of occupants since then, but despite this has remained one of the best-preserved sights in the city.
Bahia Palace means ‘brilliance’ in Arabic, and you’ll see just why it’s so brilliant on your visit. You will marvel at its authentic beauty and décor which provide stunning backdrops to your photos. Just don’t forget your camera and a nice outfit to go with it.
Address: Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Entry: 70 Dirhams (£5.50)
The Saadian tombs are another great tourist spot to walk around and be inspired by Moroccan architecture. Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578–1603) built the tombs, and they’re one of the only vestiges remaining from the Saadian dynasty.
He spared no expense when creating these tombs. He imported Italian Carrara marble and gilding honeycomb muqarnas (decorative plasterwork) with pure gold to make the Chamber of 12 Pillars. The tombs were abandoned for centuries until the French re-found and opened them up again in 1917.
The cedar ceilings, poetic epitaphs, and gardens create the glorious mausoleum we see today. For a more enlightened visit, I’d advise taking a guided tour which lasts approximately 30 minutes. You could negotiate on the day, but to avoid business and the chance of getting ‘ripped off’ I would pre-book online.
Address: Rue de La Kasbah, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Jardin Marjorelle is one of the most visited sights in Morocco, and there’s no surprise why – it’s stunning!
French artist, Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962), dedicated forty years of passion for creating this magnificent botanical sanctuary. He planted it with exotic specimens from far corners of the world – you could argue it’s a work of art itself. Full of colour, beauty and creative energy, I absolutely LOVED it.
In 1980, famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé purchased the garden to save it from destruction and invested in its restoration from then on.
“For many years, the Jardin Majorelle has provided me with an endless source of inspiration, and I have often dreamt of its unique colours.” – Yves Saint Laurent
Today, you can visit and amble the enchanting labyrinth of botanical lanes and burbling streams and ponds laden with lilies and lotus flower. Taking in the sounds and colours of nature, you’ll feel immediately relaxed within this hidden oasis of the city.
Address: Rue Yves St Laurent, Marrakech 40090, Morocco
Entry: 70 Dirhams (£5.50)
Day 3: Dedicate one of your 4 days in Marrakech to a day trip or cooking lesson
Day tours in Marrakech:
Hot air balloon rides, the Atlas Mountains and overnight desert stays are just a few examples of the many day trips you can do during your 4 days in Marrakech.
If you’re a fan of the coast, then you could head to Essaouira which offers you the chance to hit the beach and cool down during the Summer months. There are multiple bus departures every day from Marrakech with a journey time of approximately 3 hours.
Nature lovers can venture into Ouzoud waterfalls and Ourika Valley, which all provide spectacular views and a naturistic perspective of Morocco.
These kind of trips are very popular as you could imagine as they also provide a fabulous rest bite from the madness of the Medina.
To avoid disappointment, I would highly recommend pre-booking to avoid queues and unavailability.
Moroccan cooking lessons:
Instead of a day trip, we booked an authentic Moroccan cooking class. Being the ‘foodie’ I am, it would be rude not to!
There are plenty of options available online, but we booked ours with Café Clock, and I LOVED it – I couldn’t recommend it enough. However, here are some other cookery class options I have found for you which all have English speaking guides who’ll be able to let you know which foods are vegetarian and/or vegan.
At Café Clock, we learnt how to make four emblematic Moroccan dishes – salad, soup, main and dessert – chosen together with our chef on the day of the workshop. Vegan and vegetarian options are available, alongside standard meat dishes so you can completely personalise your experience depending on your diet.
One of my favourite dishes we learnt to make was tomato and aubergine Zaalouk – a warm Moroccan salad – which I’ve re-created since returning home so you can try it too.
Café Clock also hosts artsy evenings of storytelling, oud lessons, and calligraphy lessons, so it’s an all-round great place if you’re a passionate creative.
Address: Derb Chtouka, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Day 4: History and Culture
Ben Youssef Madrassa
A Madrassa is an old Islamic school or college. Now functioning as a historical site, Ben Youssef Madrasa was once home to hundreds of students for more than four hundred years. From 1570, it became the largest Madrassa in all of Maghreb (Northern Africa).
It became a museum in 1960, and since its renovation in 1999, it is one of the most popular things to do in Marrakech. The entire inner courtyard is lined with beautiful mosaics, and its walls are adorned with exceptional sculptures and decorative coatings.
It’s known for being one of the world’s most beautiful Madrassa’s – calm, spiritual and perfect in its detaining. You’ll be bowled over by its art and serenity.
It’s currently closed for further renovation, so check whether it has re-opened before you plan your visit.
Address: Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Entry: 50 Dirham (£4.00)
Maison de la Photographie
The House of Photography Museum is a small but interesting place to visit during your 4 days in Marrakech. Its goal is to showcase a very important part of Moroccan history through photographs.
As you walk around the exhibitions, the photography clearly describes the lifestyle of the locals, the way of travel, the music and traditions which all played their role in curating Moroccan culture.
It’s a great place to visit if you’re a passionate photographer. However, its roof terrace is reason to visit otherwise.
After you’ve wandered the exhibits, you can walk out onto a beautiful roof terrace which overlooks the whole of Marrakech. It provides panoramic views of the city and the Aztec mountains in the distance. It’s beautiful and makes the perfect pit-stop for some Moroccan tea.
Address: Rue Ahl Fes, Medina, Marrakech، 46 Rue Bin Lafnadek, Marrakesh, Morocco
Entry: 40 Dirham (£3.00)
Marrakech is well-known for its leather goods and is home to a few tanneries. For generations, the tanneries have employed families who use pre-industrial techniques to create leather.
The tanneries are engrained in Moroccan culture since the Medina was founded over a thousand years ago.
For tourists, many describe them as a sensory overload of smells, colours and sights. However, I would also describe them as an opportunity to reconnect with the making of leather. It demonstrates another way society uses animal products. In that sense, the tanneries would be an educational and somewhat eye-opening experience.
I didn’t manage to go, and I’m not sure how it would have made me feel if I went. However, I think it’s important to recognise how animals products are used for industries other than food. Apart from being a cultural experience, I’m sure it would provide a further motive for striving towards a vegan lifestyle and avoiding leather goods going forward.
Address: Avenue Bab El Debbagh, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
The best vegan-friendly restaurants?
The Moroccan food cuisine has been influenced by neighbouring countries over the years and offers a mouther-watering combination of flavour with inviting aromas and spices.
You will find a lot of meat, but there are vegetarian and vegan-friendly eateries too. A few options include Café Kif-Kif, Henna Art Café and Earth Café – all of whom offer vegan options. You can learn about Moroccan food and find out all my recommendations by reading Vegan Marrakech: The ULTIMATE all-round guide.
There are also vegan food tours available to book onto if you fancy dedicating a whole day to this. For more information, I’ll be writing my ultimate all-round guide for eating vegan in Marrakech next, which I’m sure you’ll find informative.
Vegan-friendly places to stay?
Finding somewhere to stay for your 4 days in Marrakech is relatively easy, and many will accommodate your diet as a vegan.
Marrakech is home to hundreds of stunning Riads. Riads are guesthouses which have been converted from family homes and in my opinion, are the most authentic way to stay in the city.
You will find plenty within and surrounding the Medina. It’s traditional for them to have courtyards in the centre embellished with stunning decor, and there are some extremely beautiful options as you could imagine.
If you’re not feeling the Riad vibe, then there are plenty of hotels too. Whichever option you choose, I would always send an email before your arrival explaining that you’re vegan. That way, staff will feel more prepared and able to ensure your stay is satisfactory.
To help you prepare your 4 days in Marrakech, here are a few Riad options to start you off:
Le Riad Yasmine – £££
Riad Jasmine is one of the most luxurious, photogenic and sought after Riads in Marrakech at an average cost of 500 euro per night. If your budget doesn’t allow you a stay here, they offer public lunch bookings between 12-2 pm. As a vegetarian or vegan, you will need to let them know beforehand so that they can cater well for you.
Riad BE – ££
Riad BE offers a fixed menu of traditional Moroccan cuisine for guests and public bookings. Starting with an aperitif of potato, beetroot, zucchini, olives and flatbread. Then followed by a tagine for the main. They are very open to dietary restrictions and happy to make adaptions to the menu to suit both staying guests and the public.
Where did we stay?
Riad Dar El Souk – £
We stayed at Riad Dar El Souk, which was affordable and a convenient 10-minute walk from Jemma El Fna Square. Therefore, apart from breakfast in the mornings, it was easy enough for us to eat out, which we did for other meal times.
Most Riads get managed by an in-house team and are on hand to help at any time and let you in at night. Abdul was the manager of our Riad and was so friendly and helpful. He spoke great English and therefore understood what a vegan diet was. He was able to communicate this with the kitchen for breakfast times.