After travelling to Marrakech exactly twice now in my life, I'm far from an expert, but if there's one thing I do know, it's that we've experienced some really amazing places to sleep, shop, and eat on both occasions that are definitely worth sharing with you all! So if you're planning a trip (or just pinning ideas to your 'someday' board), get ready to take some notes...
First off, let me say this. 48 hours is NOT ENOUGH TIME. But it makes for a catchy post title. Getting to Morocco in general is not super easy, so to get your money and flight-time's worth I would seriously consider visiting when you have at least a week to roam the country unless you're hopping over from another nearby destination.
Day One: Jump Right In
While some might prefer a lazier first day, when in Marrakech, all I want to do is dive right into the sights and sounds of the medina. So, grab a quick breakfast at your riad get ready to spend the majority of the day shopping!
When it comes to your first time in the medina, I would recommend hiring a guide, unless you're the type with a good sense of direction and experience in this type of shopping, or just feeling adventurous. After my first trip, I felt comfortable enough going back on my own.
The best part of the medina is there's really no wrong way to do it. This map is probably the best I've found online to explain the different souks, which helps if you're looking for specific items. If you're going to do rug shopping, I would do that earlier in the day when you're fresh and ready to sit through dozens of gorgeous rugs being thrown your way (although it's nice to do in the afternoon while sipping a cup of tea too!)
We started at the entrance near Dar el Bacha, and headed straight to the souk for rugs at All Moroccan Rugs in Rahba Lakdima just down from Cafe des Epices. You'll wander by lots of great vendors on your way there so take your time! Start the day by getting a feel for bargaining and getting comfortable with the pace of the medina.
The rug vendors will sit you down with some tea and get you comfortable while they pull rugs out of unending piles. It's best to come with an idea of what you want and don't forget measurements! Most rug places will ship the rugs for you, so you don't have to worry about carrying them around while you continue to shop.
For lunch, you must stop at Le Jardin - the entire restaurant is head-to-toe green, and you know how I feel about that. But beyond the color preference, the food is delightful and the lush garden ambience perfect for a little escape from the medina. (More on this favorite later this week!) Pro tip: Head upstairs to the Pop Up Shop by Norya Ayron for a stunning little collection of bags and breezy dresses.
Other restaurants of note: Cafe de Epices, or wander over to Nomad where you can also find the Chabi Chic store. They are all owned by the same restaurant group, so you can't go wrong.
After lunch, head towards Akbar Delights - a charming mix of home goods, accessories and fashion, and then circle around to Michi - a small store with Moroccan goods designed by a Japanese woman. You'll find plenty more vendors as you head towards her shop. You'll see as you wander through the medina that there are areas where different items are prevalent - leather, lighting, wood, ceramics. And while it's tempting to hold out to see what's around the next corner, unless you plan on returning another day, I'd say buy it when you find it!
If you have the time and feel like adding a little history lesson to your wandering, I would definitely head towards Mederasa Ben Youssef - a former college with stunning architecture and tile work. There are other historical sites in the same area as well.
When you're ready to wind down, head back to the Souk Cherifia where you'll find the vendor where I purchased all my glass and ceramic cups (you can't miss him!) and upstairs shops that are some of the best in the medina. Don't miss Marrakshi Life - it's one of my favorites for its simplicity and lovely design for both fashion and home. (Don't expect medina pricing here though!) You'll find some selections from Chabi Chic here too.
Another floor up you'll find the Terrasse des Epices, which is the ideal spot to enjoy a late afternoon tea or drink! The view is fantastic as you look out over the medina, and the quiet is welcome after a day of shopping. This little corner was the most photogenic.
Other Medina Shops:
- Kasbek - If you're in the market for a caftan, you must try on a few at this beautiful little boutique that is south of the Medina close to the Villa des Orangers - 216, rue Riad Zitoun Jdid
- Mustupha Blaoui - a huge warehouse type of space with every good imaginable. If you have a limited amount of time to shop, this should be on your must-see list because it has a bit of everything! 144, Arset Aouzal - Bab Doukkala
Refresh yourself before heading out for the evening for dinner at El Fenn! If you're not staying there, seeing this gorgeous riad is a must, and the food is wonderful.
Day Two: Spoil Yourself
Start at the Jardin Marjorelle early to beat the crowds! Their cafe (Café Bousafsaf) is delicious for breakfast or lunch so if you go early enough, settle into a table first to enjoy some fresh juice and a quick bite.
The gardens only take maybe an hour to see (if you're stopping to shoot everything like were!). Pro tip: Don't miss the Galerie Love in the far corner of the gardens, and pick up your own mini can of Majorelle Blue paint in the gift shop!
Across from the gardens is a not-to-be-missed 33 Rue Majorelle. It houses some of the most beautiful handcrafted pottery and home goods (like Chabi Chic) and fantastic high-end accessories (I nabbed a lantern from Hamimi).
If you're still in the mood to spend a little money, Gueliz (the 'new' city) offers some more shopping opportunities near the Jardin, so head over to these shops and browse around...
- Moor: Sister to Akbar Delights that skews a bit more modern 7 rue des Anciens Marrakchis
- Michele Baconnier: Fabulous shoes, jewelry and accessories 6 rue de Vieux
You cannot visit Morocco without delighting in the ritual of the Hammam. I do not exaggerate when I call it a life-changing experience. And if it's your first time, I suggest going all out and doing like we did and booking yourself into one of the best spas in the city - The Royal Mansour.
The spa here is absolutely stunning, as are the rest of the grounds - which you won't see without booking a stay or a spa treatment, so consider it worth it for that experience alone. If you're not familiar with hammams, the treatment here is fantastic - laying naked on a warm marble slab, you are scrubbed down like a child, doused with water, and come out the other end feeling like you've been reborn. Or at least your skin has. Take the late afternoon and give yourself at least a couple of hours to take in this ritual and all the spa has to offer.
After recovering from your spa at your riad, enjoy a late evening dinner at La Mamounia.
In the Medina: Staying in or near the medina has its perks as it makes things much easier to walk to (especially if you're there to shop!). There are tons of affordable and luxury riads, but these are two we've experienced:
- El Fenn: I love this place so much I follow them on instagram just to drool over the decor.
- Villa des Orangers: Just a bit outside the medina, a fantastic location for true luxury.
Outside the City: You'll have to hire a driver to get to and from these places, but it's worth it to have a little escape!
- Peacock Pavilions: This has been our go-to spot for the past two years as we love Maryam and her family who have created a stunning retreat here for visitors - it is truly special! Visitors can shop her mini souk.
- Fellah: If the Ace Hotel had a older, more worldly cousin (who didn't even need to try to be cool) in Marrakech, this would be it.