Bustling, beautiful and mysterious Marrakech is a city like no other. Getting lost among the labyrinthine streets and chaotic souks will give you an immediate feel for the city’s seductive charms. Make the most of a quick trip with tips from our local Marrakech guides on how to spend a memorable 24 hours in the city.
Start your visit to Marrakech right in the heart of the action, in the city’s main square of Djemaa el Fna. The UNESCO-recognised square is equal parts mesmerising and chaotic any time of day or night, but it’s also a great place to get your feet wet in Marrakech, getting a feel for the rhythm of local life and having a filling breakfast before you start your whirlwind day of sightseeing. There are many square-side cafes to choose from for a cup of strong coffee or sweet mint tea.
Once you’re fully awake, caffeinated and satiated, make your way on foot through the square’s surrounding alleyways and souks to the worthwhile Marrakech Museum for a dose of rich history courtesy of the museum’s vast collection of ancient Berber-Moroccan items. The museum is housed within the former Mnebhi Palace, a beautiful building and a good example of classical Andalusian architecture.
Now that you’ve likely worked up an appetite again, leave the museum in search of sustenance. We recommend Nomad, about a 20-minute walk from the museum. The restaurant, housed in a former carpet store, is spread over four floors and includes two terraces for anyone who wants photo-worthy views of the hustle and bustle below. The menu us comprised of traditional dishes with an updated twist and you can expect a good variety of sharable dishes and larger mains, including some good vegetarian options.
After lunch, take a 20-minute stroll (or hop in a taxi) to Jardin Majorelle, the vision of landscape painter Jacques Majorelle. Following the painter’s death, the garden fell into disrepair, but the land was then acquired by fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé in 1980. The two saved the garden from property developers and restored to its former beauty. Spend a relaxing afternoon meandering the vast landscaped grounds, complete with soothing streams and fountains. Make time for the on-site Berber Museum, housed in the Art Deco villa-studio of Jacques Majorelle.
A 20-minute taxi ride from Jardin Majorelle will get you to Café Clock. In Fez since 2007, Cafe Clock Marrakech is much more than a place to get a bite to eat. In addition to their extensive menu (try the camel burger and milkshake with homemade ice cream), Café Clock is also a cultural hub offering live music several nights a week, as well as hikayat (traditional Moroccan storytelling). They also offer cooking classes and other workshops and events.
For travellers on a short visit, we’d recommend having a layover that will allow you to spend two hours in the city centre, and another hour for travelling to and from the airport, factoring in time you’ll need to go back through security before your flight.
The best way to get from the airport to the sites is by taking bus number 19, which runs roughly every 30 minutes. You can find the stop to the left of the road immediately outside of the Arrivals Hall at Terminal 2.
If you want to see Marrakech in two hours in the morning or afternoon, head straight for the the city’s main square of Djemaa el Fna. This will be like diving straight into the deep end in terms of sensory overload, but if you want to get a feel for Marrakech with minimal time on your hands, this is how to do it. Our Marrakech tours are also a great way to make the most of 24 hours in the city. Spend some time exploring the maze of surrounding souks and then nab a table at a square-side café for a snack and a pot of mint tea before heading back to the airport.
If you’re in Marrakech for an evening or nighttime layover, Djemaa el Fna is also an option as the square really comes alive as the sun goes down. There are plenty of places to have something to eat before your flight and watch the energetic hum of local life. Alternatively, Café Clock, which we recommend above, is a great place to fill up before your flight and (depending on the night) catch some live music or traditional storytelling.