What To See/ Do/ Eat During 5 Days In Marrakech | Budget City Guide
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
This January I finally ticked off a place that's been on my bucket list for years- we went to Morocco! David and I spent just under a week exploring the city of Marrakech and both fell completely and unequivocally in love with it; the post-holiday blues have hit us harder than ever (may have even had a little cry- oops)
Since I started travelling I've covered a lot of Europe and also ventured over to explore the USA, which although being new and exciting places, aren't very culturally different to life here in the UK, and so visiting a place like Marrakech was such a crazy and eye opening experience, and hopefully the first of many times I get to explore places that are worlds away from home! We really made the most of our few days there and managed to see most of what the city had to offer, while also ensuring we weren't running around too much and taking some time to enjoy the winter sun. And so, I've put together the perfect 5 day itinerary that includes all of my city highlights and recommendations for an easy going, adventure filled trip.
Luckily the city isn't far from the airport at all, so once you've arrived and dropped your bags off wherever you're staying, it's time to head out! We stayed at a place called Riad El Walaa and it was wonderful (as well as central for all activities) if you need a really decent priced recommendation of where to stay in the Medina.
A stall in the souks/ the view from La Table de La Kasbah
Day 1- The Medina
- Get your bearings! Marrakech is an attack on all senses, from all angles, so head out for a walk around your accommodation to see whats near by and then head straight to the Medina to get stuck into the thick of it. We walked around Jemaa El-Fna Square and it's surrounding streets for a while, but the square is a LOT to take in (and also a lot nicer at night), so if you're not quite ready to attempt there then cut it out by walking down one of it's parallel streets like Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid. The riad/ cafe filled streets are much less full-on but still an authentic way to experience the energy of the city.
- Koutoubia Mosque. Next to the square is Marrakech's largest mosque and a useful landmark of the city when it comes to trying to navigate your way around. Unfortunately if you are not Muslim you can't go inside, but you can marvel at it from outside or from Parc Lalla Hasna that sits next to it.
-Head to Snack Adam for lunch. We found this place on our first day and ended up visiting a few times! It looks like your average, dingy fast food stop from the outside but don't let it put you off! Try the falafel wraps, they're the best we had while we were away. Even better is that you can get 2 wraps, 2 portions of fries and 2 drinks for 80MAD which is around £6. (Snack Adam TripAdvisor Page)
-Le Jardin Secret (40 - 60MAD). Nestled in the heart of all the chaos there's quiet little oasis. If it's your first time exploring the city's craziness then you will definitely appreciate the peace and tranquility of this place, it's crazy how much the sound of the streets is blocked out by the high walls! Sit in the midst of all the various plants, fountains and pathways to take in some sun and breathe before heading back out into the madness. This garden has only recently opened up to the public and is honestly beautiful. Visit their website here.
-Dinner at BlackChich. I got recommended this place from a Vegetarian Group I am in online as a great place to go for some authentic African food if you have a veggie AND a meat eater in your group, and it did not disappoint! (BlackChich TripAdvisor Page)
The outside space at our hotel was to die for
Day 2- Take A Day Trip
-Ouzoud Waterfalls (£22). We did the most epic day trip we've ever done while in Marrakech, on a tour out to the Atlas Mountains; We did this tour and I honestly can't rate it highly enough. You start the day off with a pick up as close to your accommodation as possible, and then make the 3 hour drive out to the mountains (with a stop half way to pee or buy a drink etc). Once you arrive at Ouzoud your guide will meet you and walk you down the river to the top of the falls. Our guide had such in-depth knowledge of the area and the local culture, and was also hilarious, he made the trip 1000x better. You will then walk down the falls, stopping along the way to take photos, and have time at the bottom to take a few more if needed. Did you even go if you didn't Instagram it?! Kidding aside, you can also jump into a boat right up to the falls at the bottom for a small fee, but it was raining when we went so we decided against it- definitely do it if it's sunny though as the bright coloured boats looked amazing! The way back up gives you time to see the wild monkeys that live around the area, see the wide reach of the mountains from the viewing platforms, and take in the beauty of the falls one last time. Once back at the village, you will stop for lunch which consists of bread, a main, fries, unlimited water/coffee and some fruit to finish for 100MAD each (around £8). I'm sure it was optional but my boyfriend had the chicken tagine which he said was THE best meal he had throughout our whole trip so don't miss out! Once lunch is finished, you will get a tour of a traditional berber household which includes a detailed demonstration of how the locals make both argan oil and olive oil, as well as the opportunity to buy some of the argan products made in the area. After a full day of exploring you can sit back and relax for your minibus ride back to your hotel. It was honestly a perfect trip, the mountains feel so luscious and green compared to the sandy city- we felt like we were in Jurassic Park!
We only spent 5 days in Marrakech, but we wish we'd gone for a little longer as there were SO many day trip options you could do while based there. If waterfalls aren't your thing then maybe try a beach trip to Essaouira, a taditional berber experience in the 5 Valleys, or visit the famous location of Ait Benhaddou which has been used for filming things like Game Of Thrones, The Mummy and Gladiator.
-Dinner at Cuisine de Terrior. If you have the energy to go back out and need a recommendation, try this place and sit upstairs on the terrace. It's a beautiful little spot on the main street with a great view of the craziness below, the perfect place to sit and reflect on your day. (Cuisine de Terrior TripAdvisor Page)
-Jemaa El-Fna. The square is a lot easier to comprehend at night. Although still very busy, there is a better mix of locals and tourists once it goes dark so feels less like one giant trap. If you want to walk off your dinner before heading back then give it another go and see if you agree.
Monkeying around at the Falls
Day 3- Authentic Morocco + The New Town
-Jardin Majorelle (70MAD). Get up bright and early and jump in a cab (around 30MAD from the Medina) to the garden as soon as it opens to avoid the crazy crowds/ OTT Instagram posers. Marvel at the bright colours, gorgeous fountains and the huge range of plants from around the world, and then head over to the YSL Museum for some extra insight. The whole place is so vibrant and beautiful, a highlight of the trip! Visit their website here.
-Walk into Gueliz. The gardens are out in the new town of Marrakech, which is wildly different to the Medina. Take a walk into the centre and have a look around; you can shop at MAC and Zara, have a cold drink in the sun, or cool off near the fountains in the square. Or if all else fails, grab a McDonalds! We loved seeing the vast differences between the two areas of the city and I reckon you would too.
-Lunch at 16 Cafe. Sit on their outside terrace and tuck in, also try the banana split if you're feeling indulgent (10/10 would eat it every day if I could). Alcohol is only served inside, so if you want to enjoy the sun it will have to be a lemonade I'm afraid! (16 Cafe TripAdvisor Page)
-Bahia Palace (70MAD). Spend the afternoon walking around the old palace, full of beautiful mosaics and vibrant colours. We spent a solid couple of hours exploring all the different rooms and courtyards, but you can also hire a guide to give a more detailed insight to it's past. Read more on the website here.
-Dinner & a belly dancing show at Comptoir Darna (Booking required) After an early morning I'd definitely recommend heading back to wherever you're staying to chill out for a second before heading out to dinner and a show- we literally just played cards on the hotel roof terrace and then had a little nap. Once you've re-energized, get dressed up and head into the new town for some of the best food you can find in the city; all while sat among beautiful Moroccan decor and being serenaded by a live band. At 10pm every night they put on an amazing belly dancing show for all guests, which was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, a real 'pinch me' moment! Check out my 'Marrakech' Instagram highlight for a few videos of the show! Now this place ain't cheap so it may not be for everyone, but for a one night treat or special occasion it's perfect, and so we used my boyfriend's birthday as an excuse to celebrate there! An array of breads and nibbles, 2 main courses and 3 rounds of cocktails will set you back around 1300MAD/ £110. Read more or book a table here.
A very colourful day at Jardin Majorelle and Bahia
Day 4- The Culture + The Crazy
-Saadian Tombs (70MAD). Ignore the reviews on this place! I very nearly didn't bother because everyone said it was overcrowded and small, but it wasn't the case at all! The tombs are enclosed in a beautiful sun-lit garden, and the intricate detailing through the rooms themselves are something you just have to see in real life; there's even a film projected onto the tomb walls to give extra information on the tomb's discovery. We went at around 10am and there were literally about 3 other people there, so definitely head there early! Learn more on the website here.
-El Badi Palace (70MAD). Of all the culture spots we visited in Marrakech, I think this was probably our favourite. Explore the ruins of the old gardens, see the holes they used as prisons and marvel at the palace from above using the terrace view point. El Badi also has a little museum filled with artifacts and tiles that have been excavated from the palace in the past few years. It's such an interesting place, and the open plan of the whole site means it basks in glorious sunlight making it even more breathtaking. Read more on the website here.
-Lunch & drinks at Kosy Bar. This is one of the only places we found in the Medina that will serve you both food AND booze while on the same roof terrace. Grab a beer and some pizza, and watch the craziness of the square below while you recharge. (Kosy Bar TripAdvisor Page)
-Quad bike through the desert! (£34) We finally ticked quad biking off the bucket list and with the most insane back drop behind us too! We booked this trip and I would really recommend it, the instructors were so professional and helpful, and safety was the priority while also letting you have as much fun as possible. One thing I will say is that if you don't feel that comfortable on the bike when doing the test lap, please tell them! I saw one girl get off and just hold on to the back of the instructor, and was too prideful to admit I'd like to do that too. In the end I reckon they could tell I was fully fearing for my life, so an instructor got behind me and just steered through the difficult bits for me instead and it made it SO much more fun! So please just be honest haha, they're harder to steer than they look and the course is very bumpy! David was razzing it around everywhere and having the time of his life, so if you're any good at it don't worry, you'll be allowed to do the whole route freely and have the full quad adventure experience!
-Dinner at La Table de La Kasbah. This might have been my favourite place we ate throughout our whole time in Marrakech. The terrace is gorgeous with a fab view of the mosque opposite, the service was perfect and the food was insane. David said the lamb in his tagine was the best meat he'd ever eaten! They have a really good selection of vegetarian dishes too, I'd recommend the Pastilla. If you go to any of the restaurant recommendations from this post, go here! (La Table de La Kasbah TripAdvisor Page)
Completed it mate
Day 5- Last Minute Exploration
-Dar Si Said (30MAD). Marrakech's most famous museum is the perfect place for a quiet morning before a long evening of travelling home. They have everything from ancient Moroccan objects to ornate carpets, and all set out in a beautiful palace-like building. Read more on TripAdvisor here.
-Lunch at Henna Art Cafe. If you're veggie or vegan, you are going to LOVE the menu here. Grab a book of designs and take it up to the terrace where you can eat, drink, and pick which beautiful pattern to have put on you (you can also just eat if Henna isn't you're thing). The food was so fresh, and the henna options were amazing. They start from 50MAD/ £4 and go up to around 250MAD/ £20, so there's something for everyone! The woman did my artwork so quickly and efficiently with not one mistake in sight, you could tell just how experienced she was- a great and professional place to get some henna done before you leave! (Henna Art Cafe TripAdvisor Page)
-Shop in Souk Semmarine/ Souk des Epices. No trip to Marrakech is complete without a trip to the souks, you could get lost in the endless alleyways if you wanted to. First thing's first, no, you don't need a guide! Reviews about how vast and scary the souks were had put the fear of god into us about going in and never coming back out again, but we decided to just risk it anyway and I'm so glad we didn't pay someone to take us through- it's really not as big and scary as it sounds! You can buy everything from food, to homewares, souvenirs or jewellery and bring a little bit of your trip back home with you. Souk Semmarine is the largest and the main souk next to Jemma El-Fna, but visit Souk des Epices if you're wanting to take any lovely Moroccan herbs/ spices or tea home with you!
Fresh Henna/ Exploring
And then it's time to travel home! I definitely wish we'd spent slightly longer here, I think a week/10 days would be the perfect amount of time to thoroughly explore the city, do a few day trips and also spend a day or too relaxing by the Riad pool too. Overall Morocco is possibly my favourite place I've visited so far, I grew to love the chaos and now England seems really quite mundane in comparison! It was also super cheap to explore, so great for budget travels.
I'm so desperate to go back and explore some more of Morocco already. Let me know if you have any recommendations of which city to visit next, and as always, send photos! Meg x