Looking for a short city break filled with beautiful sunny views, great markets, relaxing activities, and delicious food? Then Marrakech is your answer! Take a look at how much you can do with just 4 days in Marrakech and still have time to spare in the gorgeous Moroccan city.
On the hunt for a late winter mini-break, my travel companion Hannah and I had just 4 criteria:
- Somewhere we hadn’t been before
- Somewhere we’d be unfamiliar with
- Somewhere inexpensive
- Somewhere warm
After assessing the choices and trawling through SkyScanner to find the best deals, we really only found one option jumping out: Marrakech.
The vibrant city of Marrakech is an ideal getaway for those looking to mix up their city breaks and experience a different culture from that of Europe. With densely packed souks crammed with trinkets, pottery, textile items, food, and more you could easily spend your entire trip enjoying the bartering and shopping available! Outside of the medina are a wealth of intricate gardens, historical points of interest, and more to keep you occupied for your entire visit. We were sold and swiftly booked our flights as soon as the paychecks were in.
Skip to a couple of months later, and we were off! We went to Marrakech with almost no plan of what we wanted to do during our time there, and subsequently quickly learned a few crucial lessons about what you might need to know before arriving and the kind of scams to avoid! Nonetheless, if you are looking for a bit more structure to your Marrakech itinerary here is what we got up to during our 4 days in Marrakech.
For the visual learners out there, this map shows the key places we visited in Marrakech during our 4 day visit:
Keep reading to see our favourite foodie hidden gems inside the medina of Marrakech below!
Day 1 Travelling To Marrakech
10.30am – Depart London
I have a theory that pretty much any time you travel by plane you’re very likely to spend at least half a day travelling, no matter how long the flight is! Factoring in the flight time, check in, security, and getting to and from airports on both ends it’s always a good idea to give yourself an easy first day when you arrive.
4pm – Arrive Into Marrakech Menara Airport
After a slightly bumpy flight where I had the pleasure to sit next to an off-duty pilot, we touched down in Marrakech Menara Airport. But, our journey was far from over. Leaving Menara Airport is a tediously slow process, especially if, like us, you arrive midafternoon which is almost always airport peak time.
Once you make your way through the usual maze of corridors to reach passport control, you have to queue for a decent while to allow for the manual process of passport checks and visa approvals to occur.
We also then decided to grab some cash as we were unsure of any ATMs in the arrivals hall (there are, don’t worry!) but that was another lengthly queue to endure. Nearly there! Our last hurdle was putting our luggage through customs scanning, and we were free!
6pm – Finding The Riad & Dinner
We hopped into an old yellow cab and were taken towards the Medina (the walled inner part of a city) of Marrakech. Stopping just outside one of the arched entrances, we dutifully overpaid for the short 15 minute ride and headed inside the narrow streets in search of our accommodation. With our trusty MAPS.ME app guiding us and with a couple of wrong turns, we found ourselves at the entrance to Riad Layla Rouge and were greeted by Salem, one of the staff at the riad.
We settled the payment and briefly looked over the various excursions on offer from the riad. Salem then was incredibly kind and offered us food! Having had a long trip it’d been a while since lunch, so we were keen to say yes, if a little apprehensive of what to expect as accepting food from a stranger is quite the gamble!
A delicious vegetable tagine arrived at the table and we were absolutely thrilled to be sampling our first taste of real, authentic Moroccan food. With very full tummies (we were too polite to refuse the offers of seconds!) we excused ourselves to find our room. The hospitality and generosity was unexpected and extremely kind, but having only just arrived we were a little weary and sceptical of intentions – would we be expected to pay? If so, how much?
At last in our cosy but colourful dorm room we freshened up and headed out.
Riads In Morocco
In Morocco, you’ll often come across riads as a synonym for your hotel. A riad is a home that’s build around a central courtyard, similar to an atrium styled building. Such buildings can be unassuming when wandering the streets of the medina, as through a narrow entrance way you’ll find yourself in a strategically constructed building to maximise the space inside!
Riads are generally priced slightly lower than grand hotels, and understandably so due to their size and likeliness to be run by a small number of staff. We chose Riad Layla Rouge as we loved its vibrant colours and homely atmosphere. Other riads available to browse on Hostel World can be found at cheaper prices, or more for the rather romantic aesthetic look. Without knowing much about locations, we simply went for what looked great and seemed to be central in the medina. And, at under £8 per night it ticked all the boxes for a reasonable price.
The cost of 4 nights in Marrakech at Riad Layla Rouge in the 8 bed dorm was £30 per person – a real bargain! The dorm room comes with an en suite, lockers, towels, and has plenty of space to be comfortable. We were thrilled with our choice, especially once seeing the THREE roof terraces, finding the WiFi code, and discovering the free breakfast!
Due to the nature of the complex streets inside the medina and souks, some riads have signage scattered around the souks, above the archways of various streets. We didn’t even notice signs to Riad Layla Rouge were there until late into our trip! Although by this point we’d come up with our own method of finding our way back, they offer valuable help to those who might be prone to getting lost!
7.30pm – Exploring The Souks of Marrakech
Going for a the first wander in the souks of Marrakech is unlike any other experience. Guaranteed to get lost, overwhelmed by sensations in every form, we were excitably pointing out foods we wanted to try and items we wanted to buy. We were hooked in!
No matter how long you visit Marrakech for, you’ll definitely find yourself in the souks at some point. In our 4 days in Marrakech, we must have spent more time in the souks than anything else, if only finding our way around!
Walking through Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakech’s main marketplace and square, we caught sight of various tourist traps such as snake charmers and henna tattooists, right alongside stalls for food and souvenirs. Heading towards Koutoubia Mosque as the sun began to set, we instantly fell in love with Marrakech!
Grabbing a fresh smoothie on our way back, we began planning out what to do over the following days of a short break in Marrakech. With a rough day by day itinerary planned, we got some rest to be ready for the next day.
Day 2 In Marrakech
Up at a decent time, we headed for the complementary breakfast available from Riad Layla Rouge. Breakfast consisted of sweet breads and cake-like items alongside butter, honey, a yoghurt, orange juice, and the famous Moroccan mint tea. It’s safe to say we got our money’s worth!
10am – Visit Saadian Tombs
We had opted to explore a different area of Marrakech each day, starting with the south. The first stop of the day would be to the Saadian Tombs.
Discovered 100 years ago, the tombs date back to times of the Saadian dynasty around the late 16th century. After paying the tourist entry fee of 70 Moroccan dirham (about £5.60) we headed through the narrow walkways to a larger open courtyard. I must admit, we were a little underwhelmed by the tombs. Without any signage and by not being on a tour, we had no indication of what we were looking at. Spotting a queue to peek inside one particular room mausoleum, we assumed this held the resting place of the sultan. Although the tombs are undeniably beautiful, we weren’t overwhelmed by them and would choose to skip them if visiting again.
11am – Explore Bahia Palace
Next up, we wanted to visit the palaces of Marrakech. There are several palaces in Marrakech, two popular attractions being El Badii and Bahia. We stopped at El Badiii to assess our interest, feeling cautious of heading straight in after the disappointment of the tombs. El Badii happens to be palace ruins of the same era as the tombs. Although we anticipated the palace to be a more informative and grander experience, we decided to check out Bahia Palace to compare first.
This turned out to be a great choice, as upon entering the grounds of Bahia Palace we knew we’d enjoy visiting. Paying the 70dh again (that seems to be the common entrance cost), we began exploring the various courtyards and gardens decorated in the iconic Islamic and Moroccan style. Built in the late 19th century, the Bahia Palace is well-kept and clearly shows a more modern style throughout. We loved admiring the delicate ceiling details, finding quiet reflective spaces, and walking between the lush greenery of the gardens. It’s a great way to spend some time outdoors but also out of the searing heat, as well as understanding more about Moroccan style and hi
2pm Relax In Le Jardin Secret
After wandering back through the souks and pausing for the most delicious on-the-go samosa lunches, we paused for some mint tea in Jemaa el-Fna to plan our next steps. We opted to head further into the souks and see what we could find. After a bit of haggling practice, we came across Le Jardin Secret – the secret garden. Finding entrance prices to be slightly cheaper for young persons/students (30dh rather than 50dh), we headed in!
We enjoyed seeing more of the city’s famous gardens, as we did through much of our 4 days in Marrakech. Le Jardin Secret is a peaceful oasis with bubbling fountains and hidden gems in a spacious yet not expansive courtyard filled with various shrubs and plants. We decided after a rather busy morning of walking and history, this would be a good chance to enjoy some more mint tea and take some time for ourselves.
We stayed for a good while in the garden, only leaving as we felt the sun begin to lower and our bodies becoming restless to move again.
5pm Experience A Traditional Hammam
On our trip back to the riad, we of course paused at various points to admire attractive trinkets and possible souvenirs. Just around the corner from Le Jardin Secret, we came across Mouassine Fountain, one of the few functioning fountains remaining in Marrakech from the 14th century. The waters of the fountain supply residents of the Mouassine complex for cooking, bathing, and crops. Coincidentally, this was one of the hammams we were interested in visiting during our 4 days in Marrakech!
Without going into too much detail (you can read the nitty gritty info on our hammam experience in my dedicated post about it), we were soon finding ourselves immersed in the hammam experience, getting a full body scrub. We came away around an hour later feeling fresh, clean, rejuvenated, and enlightened. I’d highly recommend the Hammam Mouassine for anyone looking for an authentic but tourist-friendly experience. And as the oldest hammam in Marrakech you know it’ll be memorable!
7.30pm Grab Dinner In Jemaa el-Fna
After a quick change back at the riad, we were ready for dinner! There are so many food options in Marrakech, it’s hard to know where to begin. With vendors trying to entice you with every possible trick, compliment, and method we simply started walking towards one that looked busy enough to be good food. We just wanted cous cous after all!
Unfortunately, we did not end up with just cous cous. Our stomachs overtook our brains and we soon ended up with more plates than we’d ordered, and quite literally paid the price – an eye-watering amount more than we’d hoped… Oh well, lesson learned to be firmer in saying “no” next time! We skulked back to the riad feeling ever so slightly poorer than when we’d left, aiming for an early night instead.
Day 3 In Marrakech
9.30am – Learn To Make Moroccan Food At Amal Cooking Class
After another satisfying breakfast we were off to enjoy a cooking class at the Amal Centre in Targa, a short taxi ride away. Alongside a handful of other eager foodies, we learned to make vegetable tagine and observed the others making chicken pastilla and beef tagine.
As you can see in my previous post about our time at the Amal Centre, the cooking school is not primarily a place for tourists to learn the techniques of Moroccan cooking, but instead a place for local disadvantaged women to train in culinary professions and further their opportunities within the industry. We felt truly lucky to be taught by these wonderful, humble women, and to have to the chance to learn more about the brilliant (and delicious!) work the Amal Centre do as a non-profit organisation.
The cooking class took up the majority of the day, from cooking, eating, learning, and chatting it felt like time was flying by! Not only that, but we enjoyed the relative peace and calm environment of being further out of the city for a short while.
The cooking class was by far the most expensive activity of our trip at 360dh (£28). As you can tell by my rave review, it’s worth every penny though!
3pm – Wander Through The Beautiful Jardin Majorelle
Having stuffed ourselves silly with our handiwork, we headed back towards the city centre. As we were in the northern area of Marrakech, it seemed fitting to stop by Jardin Majorelle before re-entering the medina.
Within the complex of Jardin Majorelle, one can pay to visit the Yves Saint Laurent museum, the Berber museum, or just the garden grounds. Combo tickets are also available, but with limited time and a tight we decided to just visit the gardens. With little-no interest in fashion we thought the YSL museum wouldn’t be up our street anyway.
Entry cost us the usual 70dh and we enjoyed the artistic botanical gardens and careful designs throughout this green haven. It’s not as quiet nor as empty as Le Jardin Secret, but you can see why this is clearly the favoured attraction with so much more to see and do. Had we had more time, it would have been nice to see the Berber museum, but the gardens alone are worth the entry, particularly if you enjoy gentle strolls through nature!
7pm – Indulge With Delicious Pastries In The Souks
With another busy day from our mini break in Marrakech over, we went on the hunt for another food item that we’d yet to try. Both Hannah and I love sweet treats, so the many pastry stalls dotted throughout the souks were a constant temptation for us. Still recovering from a big lunch, this seemed like the perfect time to enjoy something sweet instead of hunting out any savoury meals.
We found the perfect little spot to do just that. In the very backs of the souks with almost no tourists around we found a chatty, charming man selling sweet pastries and treats from his small stall. We spotted a couple already in the process of choosing their items, which immediately piqued our interest in this man.
He offered us samples, was happy to answer and advise on our choices, and we eagerly started to fill up a box with treats. Even being so kind as to throw in a couple of freebies, the box came to 60dh (£4.80) between the two of us – so cheap! We hurried back through the souks, stopping only at our favourite smoothie stall for something fresh to wash down all the sugar, and got back to the riad to tuck in.
The treats we purchased included:
- Small cake-like item with date swirls
- Crispy tubes filled with peanuts
- Almond and rose water horns with a soft filled
- Cookies with sesame seeds
- Pistachio-flavoured window biscuits
- Coconut spheres with soft centre
- Almond and sesame biscuits with star anise
It’s hard to pick a favourite, but if I had to it would be the pistachio window. I just adore anything with pistachio! When picking our items, it was a little tough to be sure we’d like them but our gambles paid off and we LOVED our box of snacks! Just thinking about those sticky, sugary textures that dance on the tongue is making my mouth drool… Next time I’ll get more and bring some home!
Day 4 In Marrakech
11am – Walking Through The Tanneries of Marrakech
For our last day in Marrakech, we decided to take it easy. It was certainly important that we add relaxation to our Marrakech itinerary! Like many short city breaks, one tends to tire out from so much walking, sightseeing, and enjoying! Up a little later than usual, we still managed to get our brekkie in before heading out east to find the tanneries of Marrakech.
Tanneries are where leather is made, and this unique occupation has become somewhat of a tourist attraction for visitors to observe the process taking place. We walked to the area where the tanneries can be found, and were rather disappointed. It turns out the area is rather closed off, only accessible by paying for a tour (which we heard is an easy way to be ripped off!). Deciding that we weren’t really that interested, we continued on knowing we at least went to the area, despite not seeing anything.
1pm – Shop In The Souks & Lunch
Walking a different way back through the souks and a rather long detour (we had the time to spare!) we ended up back at the souks. It seemed like a good chance to really investigate the market stalls in the souks, but alas we decided against any purchases on this occasion, having already gained a small bowl each from an earlier evening.
2.30pm – Relax On The Rooftop (with smoothies and pastries)
As it was lunch time, we had just one mission: finding the samosas from the previous day! Hannah had a feeling we’d been around the right area on our way to the tanneries as she’d recognised a few cafes, so we aimed back to that alley branching off the main square.
We’d seen an alternative samosa stall which was an option, but we felt so loyal to our lovely samosa lady we had to try our best! Just a couple of minutes of walking through the souk can you believe we came across her right as she was setting up?!
We almost jumped for joy we were so excited to taste the cheesy, rice-filled pastries again. We stocked up on a couple each and it appeared we were there early as they were oh so fresh and scalding hot.
Not willing to waste any time for them to get cold, we hurried back to the riad only stopping for yet another smoothie from our trusty vendor.
Back at the riad, we sat on one of the roof terraces enjoying some well-earned sunshine and munching away. Better yet, with 3 roof terraces we switched between them when we became too warm, or to enjoy the remaining sweet pastries from before!
It felt like a proper chance to take in the aerial views of Marrakech as we enjoyed the warmth on our skin (maybe a little too much, our pale complexions caught the sun quickly!).
6.30pm – Dinner At Fine Mama
With our activities all ticked off and our bodies fully relaxed, what else is there to do but enjoy a last dinner of delectable Moroccan food?
Back to Jemaa el-Fna, we wanted to find a “proper” restaurant where we could order at leisure off a menu, rather than the hustle of the market food vendors. There’s plenty of choice in the centre of Marrakech, with many greeters ushering you in with a menu or special offer. A little further from the square we came across Fine Mama, a bright and well-maintained place that looked to have a rooftop terrace and a menu that suited our tastes and budget for the evening. The greeter was exceptionally friendly, not pushy at all so we said we were browsing and might be back later. After a little more investigating, we felt drawn back to Fine Mama.
What a good choice we made to stick with this choice of restaurant! A corner table overlooking the street with the lowering sun behind us, we ordered some incredible meals of falafel wraps and veggie bowls, finished off by a creamy dessert and of course more mint tea! It hit the spot just right, we felt satisfied by a fresh, relatively healthy dinner AND it cost us less than the market stall dinner at only 90dh (£7.20) per person!
We returned to our hostel and chilled out for a little while before I had to turn in for an early night. My flight the following morning was obscenely early so I was keen to get some rest! I’d already booked a taxi through the riad’s owner, who was even so kind to escort me out of the medina to the taxi driver who’d take to me to airport at 5am… Such a great service even to the very end!
The flight back was easy and before I knew it the 4 days in Marrakech had come to an end as I landed back in drizzly London. I left Hannah to enjoy the rest of her trip as she moved on to Essaouira which I hear is a beautiful, relaxed place on the coast. I very much hope I can return to see more of Morocco in the near future, 4 days in Marrakech was the perfect sample and left me wanting more!
Where To Eat In Marrakech
As you can tell, we found a wealth of incredible food in Marrakech, and with so much choice it’s hard to begin knowing where to eat in Marrakech! I’ve summarised our favourites for you here:
The main square is an obvious choice for finding food in Marrakech, and they know it. Be aware you could end up paying a high price for lower quality food if you remain right in the centre. Unless you’re looking for the experience, I’d recommend avoiding the food in this part of the medina.
Having said that, the many smoothie stalls are a real treasure – often you can try a special recipe or order a custom-made smoothie, choosing from a variety of fresh fruits. We especially liked the friendly, honest, and helpful guys at stall 23 – go check them out!
If you hadn’t already guessed, we LOVED Fine Mama! The staff are great, the food is exceptional, the location is perfect. What’s not to love?
All throughout the souks are some amazing food vendors offering anything you could want. We only visited a couple, but as the loyal tourists we are we stuck with them!
Without names for these vendors, you’ll have to excuse the poor title. The pastries we purchased from this lovely man are one of my food highlights from the trip. I’m sure that similar sweets are available from other stalls, but we knew this was above average from the service alone! Furthermore, we made sure to find a vendor where the food wasn’t left out much, there weren’t any insects or flies around or on the food, and the prices were honest (by weight).
The second superhero of the souks is of course our beloved samosa lady. Such a simple little cart set up she has, but oh boy these are some good snacks. You can choose from vegetables, cheese, or chicken samosas. And once you’ve paid can help yourself to the number you ordered. You have the option to add some hot sauce or garnish if you wish, and seeing we wanted some sauce on the side she was kind enough to fashion a small pot out of foil for us. Again, amazing service goes along way and you’ll be remembered! Despite speaking no English, we knew she was a kind-hearted woman and appreciated her food and her as a person.
Getting Around Marrakech
As with all trips, one of the first issues faced is figuring out how to get around a new city. Visiting Marrakech from the UK (or any European country), you’ll probably face the problem that your phone service provider doesn’t offer very cost-effective deals for using 4G in Morocco. While most accommodation offers WiFi, this doesn’t help with using GPS while out in the streets. And, with such a complex warren of alleyways in places such as Marrakech, such a map would prove very useful!
Fortunately, the app MAPS.ME is a free, offline app that works just like any other online map. You can bookmark places of interest and use your phone’s offline location tracker to get the easiest routes to your destination. This saved us more times than I can count, and it proved invaluable when we wanted to remember how to find our way back to the odd food vendor that isn’t exactly a Google search away!
I can’t recommend this app enough – wherever you’re going you’ll find it a handy way to save your data, or avoid purchasing unnecessary SIM cards!
Cost Of 4 Days In Marrakech
Our 4 days in Marrakech was very much on a budget. For a short break, we expected to have costs under around £250, however, with some unexpected additional costs and the prices of certain activities being higher than anticipated, we spent around £300 for 4 days in Marrakech, per person.
Pre arrival & London Costs
- £81 – flight with Ryanair
- £26 – return train from London Liverpool Street
- £5 – tube to/from London Liverpool Street station
- £6 – breakfast at airport
- £4 – lunch airport snacks
- £8 – accommodation deposit
Cash drawn out in Morrocan dirhams:
- £20 – 120d
- £81 – 1000d
- £66 – 800d
Grand total cost for 1 person during 4 days in Marrakech: £307
The following costs are what we spent daily in the local currency. A couple of costs such as taxi rides and the sweets were halved between the two of us, so if you’re travelling alone expect these prices to be more.
Day 1 Costs In Marrakech
- 100 taxi from airport
- 300 riad accommodation
- 12 water bottles
- 10 smoothie
Day 2 Costs In Marrakech:
- 70 Saadian Tombs entry
- 70 Bahia Palace entry
- 20 lunch (samosas)
- 10 drink at cafe
- 30 Le Secret Jardin (student discount, 50 adult usual price)
- 150 hammam
- 110 dinner at market stall
- 20 bowl souvenir
Day 3 Costs In Marrakech
- 75 taxi to Amal Centre
- 360 Amal Centre cooking class
- 25 taxi back to medina
- 70 Jardin Majorelle
- 5 postcard
- 30 sweet pastries
- 10 smoothie
Day 4 Costs In Marrakech
- 20 lunch samosas
- 10 smoothie
- 5 water bottle
- 80 dinner at Fine Mama
- 150 taxi to airport
As you can see, it’s easy to see and do a huge amount with 4 days in Marrakech on a low budget! We were especially stingy and on another trip I’d be aware of the key expenses such as taxis, and would be more willing to splash out on fun things like food! Budgeting for short breaks can often seem challenging because you want to do and see as much as possible. However, with a little forethought and plenty of discipline, you don’t have to break the bank by any means.
If you’re still reading this mammoth post – well done! It’s been a long one, but I hope it’s shown how great Marrakech is as a city break over a few days. Our Marrakech itinerary is by no means definitive, but it was the best use of our time and interests – I think we did pretty well!
What would you be most excited to do in Marrakech? Would you prioritise food over activities or try to do a bit of both? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you have any questions feel free to let me know below!
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Patrick Whittle04/15/2019 at 9:01 am
Wonderful detail, well presented: well done, Suzy!
Laura04/28/2019 at 3:51 pm
This looks like a great trip. I love the breakdown of everything too! Thanks for sharing!
suzystories04/29/2019 at 7:44 pm
Thank you! It certainly was indeed 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it. Happy travels!