48 hours in Marrakech - Highlights Itinerary for 2 Days
Over the last decade, Marrakesh has really come into its own as a holiday destination. It also attracts digital nomads who aren’t content with a short trip, having experienced the convenient and entertaining lifestyle this city can offer.
Marrakesh is a hit with both celebrities and regular travelers, who come from all around the world to tick it off their bucket lists.
This beautiful and mysterious city is blessed with epic scenery everywhere you look, as it sits below the stunning peaks of the Atlas Mountain range.
From miles around it is possible to see the Moorish minaret of 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque, which is a symbol of Marrakech and a sight to behold.
Visitors love to stroll around the maze-like alleys of the medina (the walled medieval city from the days of the Berber Empire) and see the colourful and bustling souks with their combination of rich scents, music and conversation permeating the atmosphere.
When you’ve got only 48 hours in Marrakesh, you’ll want to spend it wisely. Our two day Marrakech itinerary below will ensure you don’t miss out on anything important:
Day One of 48 Hours in Marrakech
Visit the main square, Jemaa el Fna
Jemaa el Fna can be found in the centre of the old town. It’s a large open space that quickly fills up with a myriad activity from the early morning onward. Here you’ll see small merchants, hawkers and entertainers of all kinds.
There are likely to be snake charmers coaxing cobras out of their pots with a flute melody or two, magicians pulling tricks, some storytellers beguiling tourists with incredible tales.
At night the square transforms into a massive open-air dining area full of lantern-lit stalls and mouth-watering smells, so pop back there in the evening during your 48 hours in Marrakech if this appeals!
Grab a bargain in the souks
Just north of the Jemaa square, you’ll find the famous souks. Souk simply means market, but there are no markets quite like these.
Prepare for a sensory overload, as there is so much going on it’s hard to take it all in. Get your hands on an array of flavoursome herbs and spices, pick up a vibrantly coloured scarf, some incense, a piece of unusual jewelry, or some local textiles or pottery.
The heaving souks are an experience whether you put your hand in your pocket or not, but if you do, be prepared to barter! It’s standard, and if you don’t, you’ll probably pay way over the odds.
Wander around Place de la Kissaria
Place de la Kissaria is an open space surrounded by public buildings, situated at the north end of the souks.
It is home to the Ben Youssef Mosque, which was totally rebuilt under the Almohads, and has been again a few times since then.
Grab a combined ticket at the Marrakech Museum and adjacent to that you’ll find the Almoravid Koubba, a little two-storey building below ground level.
This modest building is the only one that survived eleventh-century Almoravid dynasty, which is responsible for today’s typical Moroccan style.
Grab a tasty lunch at the famous ‘Le Fondouk’
With only 48 hours in Marrakech, anyone who knows this city would recommend a visit to Le Foundouk when the urge to eat calls.
The restaurant oozes Moroccan charm and style, and the menu is something special; it’s packed with international foods (think Thai chicken, or duck in sour sauce) so there’s no need to stick with Moroccan cuisine if it’s not your thing.
If it is your thing, choose from various tajines, briouats and brochettes, all of which are absolutely delicious.
Stop by the tanneries
Be warned, the tanneries are going to challenge your nostrils! However, they educate on the process that animal skins go through to become leather.
The tanneries of Marrakech are ancient and basic in appearance, but they manually transform smelly animal hides into workable leather all day long and it’s quite interesting to witness.
View the tanneries from the roof terrace or resolve to put up with the smell and make your way down to the ground level while the operatives are working.
The latter option is only available in the morning, so head back tomorrow if you’re particularly interested in the process.
Visit the Jardin Majorelle
Step outside of the Medina and into nature. The Majorelle Garden in Marrakech is one of the country’s most popular sites. French painter Jacques Majorelle spent forty years creating it, between 1886-1962.
The result was a stunning twelve-acre garden full of lily ponds and diverse cacti species.
So appealing was this ornamental garden that it was bought by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in 1980, and he owned it until 2008. This is a great place to take a peaceful break from your crazy 48 hours in Marrakech.
Dine at Le 68 Bar À Vin Marrakech
When you’re done in the gardens, you’ll be perfectly placed to wander over to Le 68 Bar a Vin on Rue de la Liberté for a delicious evening meal of something like grilled chicken with cream mushroom sauce, roasted chicken with potatoes or a selection of tapas; wash it down with a lovely glass of wine or a cold beer and relax after your busy day.
The service is excellent and the restaurant stylish and inviting. You can’t go wrong!
Day Two of 48 Hours in Marrakech
Pass through the Bab Agnaou gates
Bab Agnaou is one of the nineteen gates of Marrakesh, which were built in 1885 during the Almohad dynasty.
Bab Agnaou is one of two original entrances to the Kasbah and is widely considered to be the most magnificent gate in the city.
Between the arches, the intricate carving, and the captivating blue granite, this gateway is the subject of many artistic photographs.
See the Saadian Tombs
The Saadian tombs (on the south side of the Kasbah Mosque) are sepulchres dating back to the time of the Saadian dynasty sultan Ahmad al-Mansur.
Discovered in 1917 and subsequently renovated by the Beaux-arts service, the Saadian Tombs are the opulent final resting places for one-time royalty, and they were hidden for many years.
Today these tombs are very popular with tourists, so you’ll need to get there very early if you don’t want to get caught up in the crowds! A must during your 2 days in Marrakech.
Explore the ruins of El Badi Palace
The ruins of the El Badi Palace should definitely be on your list. The ruins are as vast as they are mesmerising, with their sunken gardens and pavilions.
It’s also possible to see the original minbar (pulpit) from the Koutoubia Mosque, but you’ll have to pay 10dh at the door on arrival.
Originally commissioned from Córdoba in Spain back in 1137, many Muslims consider this pulpit one of the most significant pieces of artwork ever created.
Get some lunch at Café Dar Touareg
Café Dar Touareg on Rue Tougma boasts a lovely terrace overlooking the Medina, so you can sit out in the fresh air and satiate your appetite with typically Moroccan hearty dishes that are perfectly spiced.
If you prefer to sit indoors in the homely atmosphere, you can – the café is quiet and peaceful, the service is excellent, prices are good and there’s even free WiFi if you want to catch up on your emails. But with just 48 hours in Marrakech, leave the emails until you get home!
Behold the Bahia Palace
The Bahia Palace is unparalleled in terms of architecture; it oozes nineteenth-century grandeur, and inside you can gaze upon some of the finest ceiling art of that century.
The name ‘bahia’ means ‘brilliance’, and the palace was built with the aim of being the greatest palace of that era.
Just south of the courtyard you will find a sizeable riad dotted with pretty fruit trees and there are plenty of gorgeous gardens to wander around.
Drop into the Dar Si Said Museum
Lastly, try to find time for a stop at the Dar Si Said mansion from the nineteenth-century.
Today it is no longer a sumptuous old palace, but a museum that displays extravagant woodwork and costumes, as well as ornate artisanal objects including carpets and ancient chests.
It is worth visiting for the artistic Hispano-Moorish ceilings, plaster work and carved cedar woodwork alone.
And that’s a quick tour of 48 hours in Marrakech! 2 days in Marrakech is obviously not enough time to get to do everything in the city, but hopefully, with this itinerary, you’ll be able to find a lot to love about Marrakech.
You can also check out some other top things to do in Marrakech here.
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Author Bio: Sam Ross runs the blog thehammockhombre.com – a travel blog focused around the digital nomad lifestyle. Over the past 3 years, he’s travelled to every continent, so writes on a broad range of countries, cities and destinations.