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Marrakech, arguably Morocco’s most famous and visited city, is in the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and is worthy of any weekend itinerary. Discover the best way to make the most of 48 hours here.
Looking for the perfect introduction to a weekend in Marrakech? No visit to the city would be complete without a wander around the famous, bustling square located inside the old city walls. It’s a treat for all the senses: enjoy the smells of the restaurants enticing you in with their tagines, oils and incense burning from the corners of shops and stalls. You will be able to bargain with the locals to take home leather goods, Moroccan ceramics, handmade clothing and lanterns for a good price. On the square, enjoy some of Morocco’s finest street food and the chance to be decorated in traditional Moroccan henna art. Take the opportunity to watch passers-by, as locals stock up on their goods and tourists lose themselves in the labyrinth of the souks. You may also encounter snake charmers and admire the sights. In the morning, you can enjoy a fresh fruit juice while you stretch your legs exploring the souks. Meanwhile the square is a perfect place to find a ‘panoramic’ cafe and watch the sunset over Moroccan rooftops in the evening.
The vibrant colors of Morocco, so often replicated in homes thousands of miles away from the authentic patterns of Marrakech, are nowhere more displayed than in Jardin Majorelle. This place was a beautiful gift from Yves Saint Laurent to the city, designed in the 1920s. These botanical gardens and artist’s landscape are also home to the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech. The haven of calm is only a short taxi ride away from the center of Marrakech. These beautiful gardens are enclosed by majestic blue walls, charming decorative windows and cascading greenery. Enjoy strolling across mosaic tiled walkways and intricately carved bridges which levitate you over little lagoons filled with brightly colored Koi carp fish. With palm trees to keep you shaded, here there are plenty of benches to sit and enjoy your surroundings. Open a book or sip on a traditional cup of Moroccan mint tea in Jardin Majorelle’s enchanting patio cafe.
A delicious way to enjoy Morocco is through its incredible food. The souks are famous for their colorful spices piled high in barrels which seem to go on for miles. Dried fruits, olives and fresh fruit and vegetables are all on sale too. Staying in a riad in Marrakech is highly recommended; the intimate and enchanting pull of riads is unbeatable and an experience worth having while you’re in this beautiful city. Riads often have magical little rooftops and offer in-house cooking classes where owners share their tips and tricks of Moroccan cooking with their guests. At Riad Viva, the friendly staff will organize a trip to the fresh food markets to purchase your ingredients, which you will bring back to transform into a lamb and prune tagine, spiced Moroccan cous cous and meze style dips. Whatever you decide to make, you can enjoy your creations at a candle-lit dinner on their charming rooftop.
An absolute must-do is a day trip to the incredible Ouzoud Falls. Marrakech is perfectly situated for a short drive into the Atlas Mountains to visit the Ouzoud Falls, Ouzoud meaning ‘the act of grinding grain’ in Berber. The 110-meter tall waterfalls are surrounded by orchards of olive trees, shaded paths and small old mills. Your day trip here is likely to involve a guided walk through the orchards, a walk (steep and uneven in places) down to the bottom of the falls and a lunch stop overlooking the cascading wonder. You are likely to encounter a few of Ouzoud Fall’s residents, wild monkeys who will jump at the chance to pose for a picture on your shoulder. Stand in the right spot and you will no doubt see a rainbow or two. Depending on the time of year you visit Marrakech, the waters will invite you for a swim to cool off from the North African sunshine. So, be sure to pack your swimwear.
City breaks can involve lots of walking and searching for the next sight, and after a day hiking Ouzoud Falls, there’s no better way to treat yourself than with a traditional Moroccan hamman and massage. Hammans are a large part of the Moroccan lifestyle, with natives taking regular visits to clean, pamper, unwind and socialize. Argan oil massages, rose water footbaths and a eucalyptus body wash are all treats included in this divine treatment. Relaxing in the scents of argan, apricot and amber is a great way to experience a local activity and add some luxury to your weekend in Marrakech. They will recommend you leave the oils on your skin overnight to feel like silk the next morning. Behind the stain-glass entrance to Les Bains De Marrakech, you can enjoy a wide range of spa treatments and use of their tranquil courtyard pool.