I bet you've never thought of going to Africa for the weekend? But what if I told you could enjoy a city break in Marrakech in two short days and it is less than 4 hours from Dublin? I have been captivated by Marrakech for a long time and had it on my must-visit list. A cheap (ish) Ryanair flight and a super cool Riad for accommodation meant that this pipedream could very easy become reality. It also served as a rather unconventional hen weekend for my best friend. So here are ten things to do in 2 days in Marrakech!
1. Shop til you Drop
Marrakech is famous for it's Souks, where you can buy just about anything from spices to shoes, lanterns, jewelry, mirrors and teapots. You simply can't go to Marrakech without at least dabbling in the art of haggling in the bustling markets.
You have to be firm, because the sellers will chance their arm to over charge you for items, but you will soon get into the swing of things and pick up some pretty special souvenirs. Sadly, if you're like me and only bring hand luggage, you may have to leave most of your desired items behind.
2. Eat some street food at Djemma El Fna
Undoubtedly the biggest culture shock of the trip was this chaotic square. At every turn, musicians, dancers and large groups of local people make this the loudest and most boisterous place I have ever been in my life. Try avoid the local women who will attempt to grab you and brand you with some pretty bad henna! But once you make it through the crowds, you can graze on some fantastic street food. My friend and I had a vegetarian feast washed down with some sweet peppermint tea.
3. Enjoy a coffee with a view
Marrakech is full of cafes and restaurants with stunning rooftop terraces. You can choose to eat a tasty tagine, sip on mint tea or coffee or even smoke a shisha pipe, all the while taking in the incredible views of the city.
4. Jardin de Majorelle
The gardens at Majorelle are easily one of the brightest and most popular attractions in Marrakech. It is a quiet and tranquil place, by comparison to the rest of the city. It doesn't take long to wander around, but the vivid blues and mustard colours are a sight to behold. A tribute to Yves St Laurent lies in the garden, marking the spot where his ashes were scattered. Other interesting featres include a sophisticated cafe, a rather expensive gift shop and a gallery of Yves Saint Laurent "Love" collection.
5. Learn about the history in pictures
Marrakech Mueseum of Photography provides a very interesting insight to the history of Morroco through it's collection of monochrome photographs. After browsing the old photographs and learning more about the Berber people, you can enjoy a coffee on the trendy rooftop terrace and look out over the city once more.
6. Explore Ben Youssef Madrassa
Ben Youssef Madrassa is an old Islamic college connected to the nearby Ben Youssef Mosque. Home to some of the most beautiful Islamic architecture and mosaics, you can wander around the students quarters and quite literally get lost. The Madrassa, obviously no longer functions as a school, but is open for the public to enjoy.
7. Take a day trip to the Atlas Mountains
This may be a stretch, as it will take up most of a day, but if you want something really different, you can easily take a trip to Ouzoud Waterfalls, approximately 3 hours drive from Marrakech. Pass through a traditional Berber village on the way and you can stop for some mint tea or even buy some locally produced Argan Oil on the way.
Ouzoud Falls in the Atlas mountains can provide a welcome change of scenery with it's beautiful views of the mountains nearby. A short walk downhill through olive trees brings you to the foot of the waterfall, where you can take a boat ride right under the waterfall to cool down. Afterwards you can enjoy lunch with a view and a dessert of juicy oranges.
8. Experience a Hamam
This is certainly one of the stranger experiences, but a must. Hamams can range greatly in price so we chose one of the more budget friendly at around €25. In some cities you will find people trying to coax you into night clubs, but in Marrakech it is luxury spas. We opted for a traditional Hamam with a mud body mask and scrub. The experience was..... interesting, but I'm not going to give too much away, you'll have to try it out for yourself!
9. Get Fruity
Ever health conscious, my friend and I were very excited to find a smoothie bar just of the Medina. So Fruity has a vast menu of fruit juices, smoothies and crepes and we actually went back twice for our fruity fix. I tried a smoothie with avocado as a base, which was very interesting and made me feel a little bit better after all of the tagines!
10. Stay in an Amazing Riad
If you want to get a real authentic experience then stay in the heart of the city in a traditional Riad. I have to say that the highlight of our trip was our amazing accommodation. We stayed in Riad Chafia right in the Medina area. Not only was the location perfect for us, the little Riad gave us a real experience of Morocco, from its gorgeous furnishings to traditional breakfast and plenty of spaces to chill out. The owners could not have been more helpful, advising us on everything from shopping to eating and things to look out for. There were only 5 rooms, which allowed us to chat to other guests and relax at the end of a long day. I also have to mention that the rooms are absolutely gorgeous!
For more info see http://riadchafia-marrakech.com/
So there you have it. 10 Fab things you can do in 2 days in Marrakech. So you can't make the excuse that you don't have time to visit!