View of Koutoubia Mosque and gardem in Marrakesh, Morocco

How to spend 24 hours in Marrakesh, Morocco

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Marrakesh: The land of date palm oases and intoxicating scents, rich spices, luxury hotels, bustling souks and decadent cuisine served on sunny rooftops.

If you want to get a taste of all that Marrakesh has to offer but only have 24 hours to spare, our Morocco specialist, Emma (there she is below!), is here to help. Below she shares her perfect way to spend a day in one of the world’s most alluring cities.


Emma what to do in Marrakesh

Where? Southern Morocco 

Why? A buzzing feel in chaotic markets, a delicious and varied food scene, and plush traditional riads 

When? Spring or autumn – travelling during these seasons means you’ll hit the Goldilocks ideal; not too hot, not too cold.  

Marrakesh Morocco

Best viewpoint? Anywhere up above Jemaa el-Fna – most of the cafes and restaurants that line this infamous square have rooftops from which you can watch the world go by as you sip on a refreshing mint tea. Le Grand Balcon de Café Glacier is one of the most popular (even if it can be a little expensive for that reason, but it’s worth it). The atmosphere is particularly wonderful in the evenings, when the market stalls are all lit up and you can watch the smoke float out over the rooftops.  

Alternatively, the view from many of the riad top patios also provide spectacular vistas over the city. Riad Ilayka is one of the best for this, and they make a cracking mojito to enjoy from their pagoda on the roof as you watch the sun go down and listen to the call to prayer. 

Climate?  Much like what you’d expect in southern Europe – very hot summers and chilly winters, which is why autumn and spring make the best time to go.  


What to eat? Aside from the classic tagine, you must try a pastilla while you’re in Morocco – a bizarre-sounding dish of chicken (or more traditionally pigeon) with lots of spices, wrapped in filo pastry and sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it really does!  

Emma’s top tip? Embrace the fact that you will almost certainly get lost. The streets of the medina are a heady maze and difficult to navigate if you’ve never been there before, so make a mental note of shops and restaurants as you go along so you can more easily retrace your steps. If you do get lost, go into shops to ask for directions – the locals are very much used to it!  

Lingo? A shukran (thank you in Arabic) and a smile will get you a long way in Marrakesh.  


24 hours in Marrakesh

Marrakesh Morocco

Rise and shine

After a delicious spot of breakfast on your hotel’s rooftop, it’s time to explore one of the best museums in the city. Of all the famous museums and landmarks in Marrakesh, Bahia Palace is without doubt one of the most beautiful. It’s best to get here early (it opens at 9am) and beat the crowds so you can wander around the stunning tiled rooms in peace. An hour or two here is plenty though, then you can take a wander off into the souks to do some shopping and generally get to grips with Marrakesh life.

Get ready to haggle – this is a pastime in Morocco and we recommend an opening bid of at least half what the vendor has offered, accompanied by a smile of course! The locals appreciate a strong bargaining battle, and good humour and charm will get you everywhere here.

Range of lantern and lamp hanging in the market at Marrakesh, Morocco.

A spot of lunch

In the medina there are so many great places to eat that choosing can be a bit overwhelming! Two of my favourite lunch spots are Le Jardin, a café and restaurant serving up traditional Moroccan cuisine in a trendy atmosphere (the kofta tagine here is particularly good – I’d go back just for another try!) Or, try L’Mida, a relatively new restaurant with its beautiful rooftop area and menu filled with fresh green salads and perfectly-cooked meat, fish and veggie dishes.

Jardin Majorelle Marrakesh things to do in MarrakeshAn afternoon amble

Grab a taxi from nearby Jemaa el-Fna and head over to Jardin Majorelle, just a 10-minute drive away. This colourful botanical garden was created in the early 20th century and owned at one point by fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent. It’s a beautiful, tranquil space and its signature bright blue and yellow splashes of colour make for a lovely post-lunch stroll for a couple of hours as you tagine goes down! If you’re at all interested in fashion, the YSL Museum next door is well worth a visit to peruse through some of the designers’ most impressive collections.

24 hours in Marrakesh what to do in Marrakesh


Foodie fun after sunset

As afternoon turns into evening, why not join a private tour guide to explore the food scene of Marrakesh by night? This tour starts with a guided walk through the souks in order for you to understand the ingredients found throughout modern cuisine, and what the average Moroccan eats day-to-day. You’ll then head to the iconic bustle of Jemaa el-Fna and sample some street food for your dinner – having a guide with you really helps to get the best out of the many stalls that fill the square at night – it’s hard to know what to go for when you’re flying solo! This is the perfect way to top off a grand day out in Marrakesh (especially if you’re all about the food like I am!)


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