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Marrakech Itinerary: See The Best Of The Red City In 2 Days

Marrakech Itinerary: See The Best Of The  Red City In 2 Days

In this Marrakech itinerary for a 2-day visit, you will discover all the must-see Marrakesh attractions, allowing you to explore and experience this popular Moroccan destination on a short break.

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Is Marrakech worth visiting?

Beautiful Marrakech, in the heart of Morocco, is a destination steeped in rich history and unique culture. It has become a top travel spot for those seeking an authentic North African experience and is Morocco’s most visited city.

Marrakech offers something for everyone, from its bustling markets and maze-like alleyways to its stunning architecture and enchanting gardens. It is a blend of old-world charm and modern-day energy, and there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you want to explore ancient landmarks or indulge in delicious local cuisine, you’ll find plenty of reasons to fall in love with this charming city.

Top Things to Do in Marrakech

  • Stroll around Le Jardin Secret
  • Pick up a souvenir in the Medina
  • See the beautiful architecture in Ben Youssef Madrasa
  • Experience Jemaa el Fna Square.
  • Admire Koutoubia Mosque
  • Enjoy lunch at a rooftop restaurant
  • See the ruins of El Badi Palace
  • Wander around the charming Bahia Palace
  • Visit the world-famous Yves Saint Laurent garden
  • Discover the resting place of sultans at Saadian Tombs
  • Take a look at Menara Gardens
  • Enjoy lunch at a historic restaurant in Gueliz

Map of Marrakech Attractions

Marrakech is a walkable city, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the medina.

On my first day, a driver dropped me off at a meeting point, and I walked through the narrow streets in the medina with my guide to each of the Marrakech attractions on my itinerary.

On the second day, a driver drove us to each of the three landmarks we had chosen to see. It was easier to do this as they were a little further away from the centre of Marrakech.

Day One Marrakech Itinerary Overview

  • Le Jardin Secret
  • Medina Souks
  • Ben Youssef Madrasa
  • Mosque
  • Lunch at Dar Dar rooftop restaurant
  • El Badi Palace
  • Bahia Palace

What to See and Do in Marrakech on Day One

For my first day of sightseeing in Marrakech, I opted to do a full-day guided tour.

My Marrakech city tour coincided with the religious Muslim Eid festival. This meant shopkeepers and locals were visiting family in the Atlas mountains on an extended weekend break, and the medina and souks were pretty empty.

It was not what I expected, but it was a great way to see a different, calmer side of Marrakech- not the manic, noisy street scenes I had imagined encountering!

Our guide was a wealth of knowledge, and we learnt a lot about the history of Marrakech and how Islamic culture has evolved through the centuries.

In the morning, our guide took us to a garden, an Islamic school, and the souks, with a stop for mint tea in Marrakech’s famous 11th-century Jemaa el-Fna Square.

We finished our morning with a delicious lunch in a rooftop bar before visiting two palaces in the afternoon.

Marrakech travel advice: Morocco has a closed currency so you can only buy it once in the country. Make sure you change cash or credit cards at the airport / or at your hotel.

Entry to the majority of landmarks in Marrakech had to be paid in cash. Majorelle Garden (only online) and Le Jardin Secret (credit card accepted) were the only exceptions.

Le Jardin Secret Marrakech

Le Jardin Secret entrance fee for adults (2023): 80 Dhs (credit card or cash accepted)

Address: Rue Mouassine 121, Marrakech Medina

green roofed pavilion in the centre of gardens in Marrakesh

After meeting my guide at Riad Tizwa, we started our tour of Marrakech by strolling through the winding streets, admiring the various colourful shops, until we arrived at Le Jardin Secret, hidden away in an unassuming side street.

The gardens have been given the right name as they are an oasis of calm away from the noisy streets beyond.

Once the home of important Saadian figures and dating back 400 years, the gardens were abandoned and only re-discovered in the mid-nineteenth century by two Italian brothers.

They set about renovating the plot and replanting it with the lush flowers and fruit trees that can be seen today. The central pavilion was also lovingly restored and now offers visitors a beautiful place to shade from the sun during a visit.

Secluded Spots in Le Jardin Secret

There are two parts to Le Jardin Secret; the first takes you around densely planted pathways to a red brick building with a small turtle pond. It is a great spot for taking photographs.

Secluded seating spots are dotted around the small area, offering a quiet place to take in this beautiful scene.

Red building in Le Jardin Secret in Marrakesh

The centre-piece in the second garden section is the green-roofed pavilion with its beautifully decorated ceiling and a charming fountain. A glazed bottle green tiled pathway leads to it, with a water channel running through it to irrigate the garden.

Check out the small exhibition, including original photographs of the site during its renovation. It’s worth visiting if you want to learn about the history of Marrakech’s secret garden.

You need around 30 minutes in the garden, but allow a little extra time to enjoy a cool drink at the rooftop cafe. Climb the stairs to the terrace for lovely views across Le Jardin Secret and the terracotta rooftops beyond.

This was one of my favourite places to visit on my trip to Marrakech and should be included in your itinerary.

View over the garden and pavilion and out to the red buildings of Marrakesh

Explore the Marrakech Medina and See the Souks

Stepping out of the tranquil oasis of Le Jardin Secret, we immediately plummeted back into the labyrinth of streets that wind around the Marrakech medina.

Scooters weaved around us as we made our way to our next stop, and street vendors prepared their stalls for the day’s trade.

Even though this was nowhere near the extent of a normal day in Marrakech outside of Eid, it was still busy in certain areas of the medina.

Seeing the varied assortment of goods displayed along the narrow lanes was great. Items included dyed yarns, leather and copper goods, spices, fruit and veg and even basket weavers.

ladies in a market making baskets in Marrakesh

With it being a national holiday, many shops were shut, which was interesting as I had previously only seen images of the Marrakech medina in manic light.

Capturing images with the wooden shopfronts locked up was good as these would normally have been open and displaying the shopkeeper’s wares.

row of closed shop fronts in the Marrakesh medina

Our guide also took us to a popular shop where the owner used to be the King’s chef. He is known worldwide for the slowly roasted lamb he cooks beneath the ground. Even Gordon Ramsey is a fan – evident from photos in the shop!

Of course, many stalls sell mint for the famous Morrocan mint tea – also olives, a favourite ingredient in many Moroccan dishes and a huge range of spices.

Ben Youssef Madrasa

Entry fee for adults: 70 Dhs (cash only)

Address: Rue Assouel, Marrakech 40000

intricate carvings on arched windows in Ben Youssef Madrasa in Marrakesh

Ben Youssef Madrasa is a major tourist attraction in Marrakech, and having seen the photographs of its elaborate interior was one architectural masterpiece I had to see.

This historic 14th-century building in the heart of Marrakech was once the largest Islamic school in North Africa. For four centuries, it was attended by students in various sciences and fields from around the world. The students were schooled to become religious leaders of their communities.

It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site open to visitors. The architecture reflects the splendour of Essaadi art with intricate wall carvings and elaborate tiling, making Ben Youssef Madrasa a must-see in Marrakech.

Angie standing infront of a brightly tiled wall in Ben Youssef Madrasa Marrakesh

On my visit, I was struck by the vibrancy of the tiling in such an old building. Each design represents a religious sign or word, with the words from the Koran engraved in a frieze running around the building. Ancient cedar wood has been used in the design, as has Italian Carrera marble.

And in case you are wondering, I didn’t choose my outfit to match the decor!

words from the Koran etched into the walls of Ben Youssef Madrasa

Central to the courtyard is a small water feature with jets. In the wings are hallways with ceilings bearing the upper-floor bedrooms. You will have a great courtyard view by taking the stairs to the student quarters.

In an opening in the courtyard, there is a Mihrab (prayer room) dominated by a huge chandelier.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Ben Youssef Madrasa and would recommend adding it to any Marrakech itinerary.

One of my tips for Marrakech is to get up early to visit the main attractions to get photographs without the crowds.

Jemaa El Fnaa

If you know nothing else about the attractions in Marrakech, I am sure you will have heard about the famous entertainment square. The 11th-century Jemaa el Fnaa (red square), once an execution spot, is where Marrakech goes wild.

Snake charmers, acrobats, street vendors (selling almost everything and anything), henna painters, food stalls and musicians. It’s a cacophony of sights and smells.

One of the cheap things to do in Marrakech is to sit in one of the cafes in Jenaa el Fna, order mint tea and watch the activities in the main square. Sadly, it was pretty empty due to Eid (Ramadan), but normally it is bursting with weird and wonderful sights.

Our guide told us it is often quieter in the day, but in the evening, the entertainment really cranks up.

He also explained that Moroccans are known as evening strollers (I love that saying) and don’t come into the square until later in the afternoon/evening, so the vendors don’t set up until later. Coming out when it is cooler and not in the mid-day heat makes sense.

Even so, I did see one snake charmer and, sadly, a few monkeys, ready to be photographed with tourists who should know better. There were also some musicians playing traditional Moroccan instruments. Apart from them, it wasn’t the Jemaa el Fnaa I was expecting to experience.

Angie’s Tip: Avoid travelling to Marrakech during Eid if you want to see a livelier side to the city. Also don’t be tempted to take photos of any street entertainers or they will want to be paid, and as my guide warned me – they can be forceful!

Jemaa El Fnaa in Marrakesh

Koutubia Mosque

Close to Jemaa el Fnaa is the 12th-century Koutoubia mosque, a landmark in Marrakech. The minaret (tower) rises to 77 metres and is a focal point in the city.

The red stone and brick building has a Moorish design and was the blueprint for the Giralda bell tower in Seville. It is the biggest mosque in Marrakech.

Unlike other mosques around the world that I have been inside, including the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, this one is not accessible to non-muslims. In fact, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is the only mosque in Morocco that non-muslims can visit. 

Even so, Koutoubia mosque is a lovely building to pass by and admire, and a small garden beside it is a pleasant place to take a break.

Where To Eat in Marrakech on Day One

Dar Dar Rooftop Restaurant

Address: 4 Riad Zitoun Lakdim, Marrakech

After a fabulous morning of Marrakech sightseeing, we headed to our lunch spot at the Dar Dar Rooftop Restaurant. With fabulous food and views across the rooftops, we had needed to pre-book a table, and it was so worth it as people were arriving and being turned away due to its popularity.

We sat on a side table (best spot) on the rooftop terrace and were quickly brought the tapas and cocktail menu (yes, Morocco does tapas, too!)

Looking through the delicious menu, it was hard to choose what to order as to be honest, we wanted to try everything. However, we settled on four dishes to share, which was just about the right amount.

Dishes included Bad Boys, a trio of filled tortillas, Havana cheese with honey and almonds, veggie spring rolls and my absolute favourite, chicken pastilla. It has to be tasted to be appreciated; believe me, it is amazing!

We accompanied our lunch with some original mojitos and orange blossom mojitos. Again, the cocktails were on point and delicious.

view of palm trees and rooftops in Marrakesh

El Badi Palace

Entry fee for adults: 70 Dhs (cash only)

After lunch, we met up with a different guide and were taken to the El Badi Palace ruins.

Once an utterly extravagant palace built for Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour, known as the Gold King, it has been raided and abandoned over the centuries and is now a shell of the elaborate Royal home it once was.

Nevertheless, if, like me, you love to learn about the history of the places you visit, then El Badi Palace will give you an insight into Marrakech’s past through its small on-site museum filled with archaeological artefacts.

One of the things to know before going to Marrakech is that French is spoken and written everywhere, so if you aren’t a native speaker, you will have to use your imagination by looking at the photographs on the walls as to what it once was like.

interior ruins of Badi Palace

The Badi Palace complex was built around a central courtyard with a central pool and was inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.

The Sultan built the Palace as a showpiece to celebrate festivals and accommodate dignitaries. While the main buildings are crumbling, the remains of vibrant tiling can still be seen around the site.

While the Badi Palace is of historical importance, there isn’t much to see there, so if you are pressed for time, this is one of the places in Marrakech to leave off your itinerary.

Angie’s Tip: Climb the stairs to the terrace for views over Marrakech’s rooftops (and the numerous satellite dishes!). And look out for the storks who nest on the chimney stacks of the palace. You can’t miss the storks in Marrakech as they are all over the city.

rooftop views from Badi Palace

Bahia Palace

Entry fee for adults: 70 Dhs (cash only)

Our last stop on day one in Marrakech was the stunning Bahia Palace, meaning ‘brilliance’ in Arabic.

This stately residence has 150 rooms, including four to accommodate the sultan’s four wives (all equal in size, so no squabbling) and 24 concubine rooms.

The palace is one of Marrakech’s must-see tourist attractions because of its extraordinarily beautiful decorative tiling and carvings, which can be seen everywhere.

The Bahia Palace’s styling is a mix of Islamic and Moroccan designs. In particular, the ceilings are quite incredible. Pure decadence on a grand scale!

We noticed everyone walking around, looking upwards at the ceilings. It wasn’t hard to understand why, as the ceilings are spellbinding, and the work that has gone into them is incredible.

The palace’s rooms are lovely to see, and if you are interested in interior design and architecture, the Bahia Palace is a feast for the senses. Even the door paintings are delicate and charming.

After you have looked around the palace rooms, head into the garden, filled with orange trees and fountains. Walk along the pathways and find a shaded spot to sit and admire your surroundings.

Make sure to visit the pavilion and see the stained glass windows as they reflect their colours onto the mosaic-tiled floor – it’s quite something to see. Bahia Palace is considered the first North African building to use stained glass as a decorative feature.

Be prepared for the crowds who want to take photographs here; it was quite overwhelming on our visit. If you are particularly interested in taking photos, you must get to Bahia Palace early!!

Day Two Marrakech Itinerary Overview

  • Majorelle Garden
  • Saadian Tombs
  • Menara Gardens
  • Lunch at Cafe De La Post

What to See and Do in Marrakech on Day Two

For my second day of sightseeing in Marrakech, I opted to do a half-day tour with a driver.

I was picked up at 9 am from my resort and driven to each of the three Marrakech landmarks listed below.

The two gardens are in the Gueliz district. They are a long walk from Marrakech city centre, so I was glad we had a car to take us around.

I decided not to have a guide with me for the day and read about the places we were visiting from the information boards. Be warned, almost everything in Marrakech is in French (the city’s first language).

We finished our morning with a delicious lunch in Gueliz before returning to our resort at 3 pm.

Jardin Majorelle – YSL’s beautiful art Deco and Moorish garden

Address: Rue Yves St Laurent, Marrakech 40090, Morocco

Majorelle blue house in the Marrakesh gardens

Undoubtedly, a trip to Jardin Majorelle is one of the most popular things to do in Marrakech.

Due to its connection with the designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, who made it their home in the 80s, the Berber blue house and botanical garden have been featured in publications worldwide, attracting continual visitors over the decades.

Before it became such a famous attraction in Marrakech, it was the home of the French artist Jaques Majorelle in the 1920s.

He loved the traditional blue Berber houses and wanted to create the look for himself and surround it with a beautiful botanical garden. Sadly Majorelle couldn’t afford its upkeep leading to it falling into disrepair.

YSL saw its potential and renovated the property. He introduced a palette of colours to complement the main house’s existing indigo-blue and renamed it Villa Oasis.

Today, Jardin Majorelle is a beautiful place to spend an hour or so. Wander through the lush botanical garden, along winding orange pathways and stop at the tranquil lily pond. Carry on to Yves Saint Laurent memorial, the bookshop, the gift shop and the small museum.

lily pond at Majorelle Garden Marrakesh

Along the way, take a moment to rest on one of the brightly coloured benches and listen to the sound of birdsong. It is hard to believe the bustling city of Marrakech is on the other side of the tall walls that enclose the garden.

Jardin Majorelle is one of the younger places to visit in Marrakech compared to the ancient history surrounding the major city landmarks, but it is still a must-see in Marrakech.

Helpful Information for Jardin Majorelle Marrakech

Admission Fee 2023 Prices: Garden only: Adults 150 Dhs | Garden and Berber Museum: 200 Dhs | Garden, Berber Museum and YSL museum 300 Dhs

Timed Jardin Majorelle tickets must be booked online before a visit. On arrival, two queues on either side of the entrance have a sign with the time slot over them. Make sure you queue in the correct one for the time shown on your ticket.

You can also buy an entry ticket to Jardin Majorelle and a relaxing traditional Moroccan hammam experience.

How long do you need? One hour for a leisurely stroll around the garden, with time to take photos. Two hours if you also want to visit the museum, bookshop, and gift shop and stop for refreshments at the garden cafe.

Saadian Tombs (Tombeaux Saadiens) – Royal Mausoleum

AddressRue de La Kasbah, Marrakech. The entrance to the Saadian Tombs is tucked down the south end of the Al Mansur mosque. It is directly opposite the Kasbah Café.

Entry fee for adults: 700 Dhs (cash only)

The 16th-Century Saadian Tombs were created to bury the founder of the Saadian dynasty, Muhammad Sheikh.

Later, Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour, who also built Badia Palace, enlarged the area to include three new rooms, which became his funeral complex.

The rooms are designed with intricately carved walls, marble columns, cedar wood ceilings and beautifully coloured mosaic floors and walls. A Koranic freeze runs around the chamber. I loved how light and airy it felt, not dark and dank as you might expect a mausoleum to feel.

White mosaic and marble interior of Saadian tombs Marrakesh

Following his death in 1603, the Sultan was buried in the most luxurious part of the Saadian Tombs, the Chamber of Twelve Columns. Royal successors, including his son, Zidan, were subsequently buried nearby.

A few decades after Al Mansour’s death, the Alaouite Sultan Moulay Ismail walled up the Saadian tombs. He wanted to keep his Saadian predecessors out of sight and mind.

Forgotten and abandoned, the mausoleum was eventually re-discovered in 1917 following an aerial photograph of the Kasbah.

Seeing the Chamber of Twelve Columns

Be aware that you must queue to see the twelve-column royal tomb room. The heat can be quite oppressive, so bring water and a hat.

We queued in 38 degrees for around 20 minutes, and it was only April. I last felt heat like this in Angkor Wat in Cambodia!

people queuing in the Saadian Tombs

Once you reach the front of the queue, take a quick look and move on. You can’t enter the royal Twelve Column Chamber but can take photographs from a small viewpoint.

It will only take around 40 minutes (including queueing) to visit Saadian Tombs as it is only a small place.

The Saadian tombs are beautiful to see but are not one of the best things to do in Marrakech.

Once you have seen the twelve-column room and two outer chambers, there is not much else to see besides a few outdoor tombs with bright mosaic coverings for the lesser royal family members and important dignitaries.

There is a short video about the history of this Marrakech landmark, but unless you speak French, the main language in Morocco, you won’t understand a word of it!

Angie’s Tip: Once out of the Saadian Tombs, cross over the road to Cafe Zeitoun. It sits on the corner opposite the 12th-century Al Mansur Mosque, one of Marrakech’s most important historic mosques.

Take shade under the central tree and enjoy one of their delicious smoothies while taking in the sights and sounds of the Kasbah district, the city’s former citadel.

Menara Gardens

Address: Menara Gardens is located 3km southwest of the medina, on the outskirts of the city walls.

If you are short on time, this is one place you could miss off your itinerary. It isn’t a garden in the real sense of the word; it is more a large expanse of olive trees with an irrigation reservoir at the centre.

While the public area is free to enter (because there are only olive trees), the 16th-century pavilion and tiny rose garden will cost 500 Dhs to visit.

We paid the entry fee, but it was a disappointment as all there was to see was the decorative interior of the pavilion.

While this was once where sultans came to relax, it is not somewhere I would rush to visit.

Pavilion beside the water in Menara Gardens in Marrakesh

Where To Eat in Marrakesh on Day Two

Cafe De La Post

Address: Angle Boulevard El Mansour Eddahbi and Avenue Imam. Reservations are advisable.

Situated in a historic building in the heart of Gueliz, Cafe De La Post has a colonial vibe with ceiling fans, dark wood, red floor lamps and potted palms.

view looking down over the tables and customers at Cafe de La Post in Gueliz Marrakesh

After a hot morning sightseeing in Marrakech, we were ready to enjoy lunch and a refreshing mojito cocktail.

I had a club sandwich, and Mr P had a croque monsieur with frites. Both were delicious, and the food presentation was on point. We followed with tarte tatin and a chocolate cake.

Cafe de la Post was very different to the rooftop restaurant we had previously visited. It was good to experience these two places to eat in Marrakech.

Once we had finished lunch, we were met by our driver, who took us back to Barcelo Palmerie to relax beside the pool after a busy morning seeing the treasures of Marrakech.

Conclusion

While I usually arrange my trips independently, I booked five nights in Marrakech with EasyJet Holidays this time.

The pricing was excellent, and my hotel, the Barcelo Palmerie, was a 25-minute drive from the Medina. All transfers and flights were included, and my accommodation was half-board.

My Marrakech travel itinerary was a mixture of lounging around a pool, reading a book and sipping on cocktails with two days of going into the heart of the red city and seeing all the main sights of Marrakech. It was a perfect combination.

SOS Travel arranged Marrakech transport, guides, and restaurant bookings on both days. My tours were tailored to my requirements, and I was provided with a selection of restaurants to choose from.

My Marrakech tours were paid in full, and I am not promoting SOS Travel in return for a freebie. I am happy to recommend them because I was 100% satisfied with everything they arranged, and the pre-trip communication was spot on.

I hope you have found this travel guide useful and that it has inspired you to visit Marrakech.

If you intend to stay for longer than five nights and travel around, there are plenty of hidden gems in Morocco away from the tourist trail, such as a day trip to the Agafay Desert.

Please Pin for Future Travel to Marrakech

Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my travel resources page to help you plan your trip.

sandra

Saturday 2nd of December 2023

Thank you for sharing. This is awesome.

Shari

Friday 19th of May 2023

Wow. This looks amazing and like someplace I would love. The info is great and the shopping looks amazing.

WhereAngieWanders

Sunday 21st of May 2023

I am glad my post has whetted your interest to visit Marrakech.

Amy

Thursday 18th of May 2023

Thanks for all this info! I think having transportation and tours organized for you is essential in a place like Marrakech. (Love the pictures of the shop’s doors!)

WhereAngieWanders

Friday 19th of May 2023

Thank you, it is such a great city to photograph.

Shafinah

Thursday 18th of May 2023

This is awesome! I never knew you could cover Marrakech in such a short time - and this includes so much done too!

WhereAngieWanders

Saturday 20th of May 2023

I am glad I have highlighted Marrakech to you as a lovely place for a short break