Your Guide to 3 Days in Marrakech, Morocco . . .

Your Guide to 3 Days in Marrakech, Morocco . . .

Historic Marrakech, translated as the 'Land of God' is a city of magic, beauty, and old-world charm. Whether visiting the beautiful La Mamounia Palace, watching a dynamic belly-dancing performance or spending the afternoon wandering the streets of the Medina, so full of tradition and heritage, one begins to understand why Marrakech has become a tourist phenomenon. Despite almost 50 years of French trade and dusty streets, the city has maintained a sense of mystery and romance not seen anywhere so close to Europe.

This 3-day itinerary will get you to the most popular spots, the grandest restaurants that offer an authentic dining experience and the perfect places that give you the most Insta-worthy photo ops!

Day 1

1. Walk through the Medina

It is here, within the dense, hot atmosphere of the Old City enclosed by its ancient walls that the majority of visitors to Marrakech spend their time.  On your first of three days in Marrakech spend an hour or two strolling down nameless street after nameless street, wandering around the souks and spice markets (the locals will help you get out if you lose your way), picking up bargains from leather shoes to silk rugs.

If you have time, go for a hammam and massage at Le Bain Bleu, an affordable (around $50 for a 1-hour treatment) yet upscale hammam located down a narrow alleyway. 

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2. Visit La Bahia Palace

Within the medina, there are a number of things to besides shopping.  Head over to La Bahia Palace, a 17th-century architectural wonder with elaborate gardens that was once home to a harem. The name means "magnificence," and it's mystical courtyards offer a calm distraction from the pressure and noise of the Medina.

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3. Head to a cafe for lunch

Marrakech has a vibrant cafe culture.  If you stop to buy anything at the souk shops, you will invariably be offered Moroccan mint tea.  But if you want something more substantial, consider stopping at one of the cafes that surround the famed Jemaa-El-Fnaa square overloaded with its many performers, from snake-charmers to henna artists and hawkers.   Or, you can venture out of the City walls and visit any of the modern cafes in the new city of Gueliz.  We had lunch at  Café de la Poste, which is almost an institution in Marrakech.  With its wicker seating, ceiling fans and continental cuisine, this cafe boasts a serious colonial vibe.  Others to consider are Café des Epices and Café du Livre. (http://www.travelandleisure.com/local-experts/marrakesh/5-best-cafes-marrakesh)

4. Take a Tuk-Tuk or a Caleche (horse-drawn carriage) to La Mamounia

La Mamounia is known as the grandest hotel in North Africa.  It is rumored that when the prince of Qatar visits he books out the entire hotel for himself and his wives.  Its interiors—beautifully renovated with authentic Moroccan charm and elegance are worth visiting and its grounds are a lush oasis of calm and beauty.  If your budget can bear it, reserve a room here.  Otherwise, make a reservation at the Churchill bar.  It has live music, a cozy ambiance and it's great for people-watching!

5. Walk to Koutoubia Mosque

From La Mamounia, Koutoubia Mosque is walking distance.  Get there about 40 minutes before the evening sun goes down to catch the sky—with its head dark, and its scarves of color it looks like an African woman with an orange in her hand.

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Day 2

1. Visit Atlas Mountains

For an adventure outside the city, the High Atlas mountains are a mere 40 km from Marrakech—you can take a taxi or a private car, that your hotel can arrange. Here you can ride, trek or simply soak up the purity of the air and inhale the natural aromas.

We had a lunch reservation at the award-winning Kasbah Tamadot, a mountain-hotel retreat which is owned by Richard Branson.  Set in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, it provides an idyllic reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.  If you have time, you can spend 2-3 lazy days here, doing absolutely nothing or everything. The hotel has an extensive list of daily excursions and hikes as well as a luxury spa.

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2. Have a Moroccan dinner

For an authentic Moroccan dining experience, visit either Dar Yacout or Azar in the Old City. The former restaurant is more traditional, and the experience is akin to dining in a Moroccan palace. The old building has intricate tile work and heavy drapery.  Accompanied by Moroccan music, you are treated to a traditional Moroccan meal - Moroccan salads, chicken lemon and olives, lamb tajine and sumptuous desserts.  Azar offers live music by a band and later, belly dancing by three performers which was the highlight of our visit.

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Day 3

1. Visit Essaouira

If seeing goats on trees is on your list of things to do in Morocco, head to Essaouira for a day trip.

Essaouira is a fishing port town known as the 'Windy City of Africa' because of the coastal wind that blows so hard for most of the year that relaxing on the beach is impossible. But, there's a lot more to do than windsurfing in Essaouira—wander around the old fortress or check out the millions of sea-gulls and seafood vendors at the old fishing port.

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However, the highlight of my trip was spotting goats perched up on Argan trees on the highway between Marrakech and Essaouira happily munching on fruit. Why? The Argan tree produces a nut, which is surrounded by soft flesh and a tough outer skin.  The fruit's pulp is what attracts the goats to the Argan trees and luckily for the Moroccan goats, the fruit is not consumed by humans.

2. Have dinner at Nomad

Nomad is one of the best and most popular restaurants in Marrakech. There’s no alcohol served, but there are two levels of lovely rooftop terraces looking over the medina and plenty of delicious non-alcoholic beverages like mint tea, espresso, and avocado smoothies.

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For the globe-trotters, the adventure-seekers and the memory-makers, Marrakech is a must-visit!

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