Long known to travelers looking for a truly exotic getaway, Marrakech has come into its own as a world-class destination. It’s a city where you can visit a newly built shopping mall with the latest fashions, then quickly descend into the Medina, where nothing has changed for centuries. From beautiful gardens, to old palaces, to bustling markets, to incredible mountain views, to sultry nightlife and some of the top chefs in the world, Marrakech is simply a city that has it all. While there’s no way you can do and see all the incredible things this city has to offer in just 48 hours, this two-day itinerary will help you get the most out of a short stay.
Most people will enter the city via the airport, or via train from a city such as Fez or Casablanca. Either way you come in, it’s quite easy to catch a taxi to your hotel. Just be mindful that the taxis have set rates to transport visitors to the hotel zones, so bargaining will do you no good here.
One of the most posh and convenient places to stay in Marrakech is the Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa. Make it your base for the weekend and you will have absolutely no regrets. When your taxi pulls up, you’ll see the large fountain, limousines, red carpet and lavish garden awaiting your arrival. You’ll get red carpet treatment while staying there, too. There are actually two Sofitel hotels in the same complex, the other being the Sofitel Marrakech Palais Imperial. No matter which you pick, you’ll still have access to all the amenities of the complex.
Check in to your hotel and get situated, then head out for lunch to gear up for a day of walking at one of the top restaurants in the city, Amaia. It’s about a five-minute taxi ride or less from the Sofitel, right at the edge of the Gueliz (the new city). The decor is classy and fun, with beautiful wine glasses lined up on the bar and whimsical decorations. The owners relocated to Marrakech from France, and serve up gourmet Mediterranean fare like freshly cut beef carpaccio and classic French seafood dishes.
Once you’re full, catch another taxi, or if you’re up for it, walk over to the Medina and spend the afternoon inside. Head straight for the Djemaa El-Fna, a square famous for its snake charmers, food stalls, and hawkers of all kinds. Once you’re there, you can head in any direction to explore the souk, a maze of vendors selling leather goods, purses, dresses, jewelery, spices, and Berber trinkets. You’ll also find horse carriages lined up to give rides outside of the Medina, and (sadly) small monkeys chained up for photo opportunities. You could literally spend days walking through the souk admiring items from the array of interesting vendors — it’s certainly the star attraction of the city.
After you’ve loaded up on Moroccan goods, you’ll probably have a big appetite (if you haven’t already sampled too many free honey-coated pastries). Wander deep through the souk to the Arset Ben Chebli district — about a 20-minute walk meandering through streets from Djemaa El-Fna — until you find Latitude 31. The scenery in this area of the Medina is much different, with extremely narrow alleyways, motorcycles passing between people, and sunlight beaming through the cracks of the wood ceilings and illuminating the dust in the air. Once at the restaurant, you’ll be transported into a tranquil atmosphere full of orange trees, reminiscent of what you’d expect in a Mediterranean villa. The restaurant specializes in gourmet Moroccan cuisine, with tasty dishes like seafood tagine and heavily spiced chicken thighs. If you stay late enough, a DJ often sets up on the patio to spin some chill-out house music late into the evening.
Concluding the meal, walk north from the restaurant until you reach one of the Medina gates, where you can easily grab a taxi (instead of walking back through the Medina). Once back at the hotel, and if you aren’t exhausted from the heat, head downstairs to the SO Lounge and dance the night away to high energy music while enjoying some of the best cocktails in the city. It’s not quite as crazy as the scene you’ll find in Ibiza or Cancun, but the Moroccan and international crowd will keep the party going until four in the morning — easily.