Marrakech in Three Days
Day 1 Arrival
Evening for dinner at the restaurant “La Cantine des Gazelles” also heated if needed, then walk around Place Jemaa el Fna, change money at Hotel Ali (best rate in Marrakech, open 24 hrs) or CHANGE at Café Argana, back to our Riad, maybe have a tea on the terrace.
After breakfast walk in Ca. 15 minutes leisurely to Jemaa el Fna, then through the northwestern souks to Dar Cherifa, a very worth seeing well renovated 17th century riad, cultural center away from mass tourism with lots of atmosphere. Go to the roof terrace and drink a tea or spiced coffee downstairs in the patio and read the chapter “Over the Roofs of Marrakech” from Elias Canetti’s book “The Voices of Marrakech” Then through the streets of the Funduks (caravanserais, very interesting, traditional ambience, some of them still original, some with interesting handicrafts), Fontaine Mouassine, and i go to the Musée de la Musique, a very interesting house, in which one is not only informed about the rich music tradtion of Morocco, but also visits a wonderful interior of a rich merchant fSufi amily. A famous modern Moroccan artist lived and painted here and legendary parties were held here in the wild 70s. Che Guevara lived here and also the Stones were guests here. In the evening there are often concerts with Berber, Arab or Gnawa music. With the ticket for the museum you get 40 dh discount. Then over the dyer markets and Suks, the former slave market, fetish market, carpet market, with intermediate stop on the pretty Place Rahba Khedima and to the restaurant Dar Timtam – most beautiful house in the Suk, secret tip: if you say that you come from the Riad Michel you get another menu and eat royally a menu from 95 Dirham (only to 17 o’clock open). Back to the Jemaa el Fna, drink an orange juice at stand 35, briefly run over to the venerable Kotubiamosc (you are not allowed to enter, but the gardens behind are very beautiful and in the winter months there should be oranges on the little trees). Back to the riad, late afternoon possibly in the neighborhood hamam,(See article “Hamam”) In the evening take bus number 1 to the new town, get off after the square du 16 Novembre (in front of the Carree Eden), cross the boulevard, and go left into the first street 100 m. Here you will find the very popular fish restaurant Al Bahria. Super Paella, Super Fritture Royale for about 5 euros is enough for 2, side dishes included or you pick out the fish at the counter, and let it grill. This is also cheap and very fresh, an insider tip. Possibly you might visit the skylounge bar on the roof terrace of the hotel “La Renaiisance” Where there is music, alcoholic beverages and a wonderful view over the roof pool and Marrakech. Afterwards best by cab (about 4 euros) back home or stop at the Place.
Be at the Saadian Tombs at 8:55 in the morning, otherwise there are too many people waiting in line. This is the “Taj Mahal” of Marrakech, about 25 minutes walk from our Riad. Then possibly to the Berber pharmacy in the Bab Aganaou, where a perfectly english speaking Moroccan will explain to you everything about spices, Agan oil and Arab traditional medicine. Very interesting, everything to smell, feel and taste. All products there are certified organic and high quality, but also expensive. No obligation to buy. But here you should not buy cooking agan oil there, too expensive and also no saffron. The other things, especially the ointments, creams and aroma or massage oil and scented stones are excellent and worth the money. Then go to to El Badi Palace, (Stork Palace) once the largest palace complex in the Maghreb, seat of Sultan Ahmed the Magnificent. In the back left corner of the palace courtyard is a short animated film that gives you a good impression of the former splendor. Then further over the Place Ferblantier (brass forge) and the spice market (Mellah, Jewish quarter), where you can get fresh spices at local prices from our spice dealer Reda (+212677294097), close by in the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) you can visit a interesting Synagogue and wtch a film about the highly interesting hisory of the jews in Morocco. Advance to the Bahia Palace, worth seeing complex, with beautiful room corridors and great cedar ceilings and harem – very crowded. Then via Rue Zitoun back, detour right to the very interesting museum Dar Si Said which is a good alternative to the overcrowded Palais Bahia and also includes a carpet museum. The state rooms on the 1st floor are the most beautiful of Marrakech, the garden with fountain is also very worth seeing and you get a good impression of how the rich lived there. Here are only a few tourists, (so rather skip the Bahia Palace if too many tourist groups are there). Then continue in 5 minutes to the square Jemaa el Fna. There, in a small hidden side alley near the Café de France look for the lamb roasters, where the lamb comes out of the clay ovens in the ground (Mechoui) an absolute favorite dish of the Moroccans, best lamb ever!!! Insider tip, every day except Fridays. Let the lids of the ovens open and take pictures down where the lambs are cooking on skewers. Buy (price per kilo 18 euros, weighed and cut in front of you) a little lamb meat, which you get on a tray with bread and eat it right away possibly in the alcove behind the oven or have it brought to a nearby restaurant and order a tea with it. All this is done by the people at the counters. You pay when you leave. It’s an archaic dining experience, especially since these clay ovens have been heated daily at this site for 800 years. Afterwards, take a detour to Rue Darbachi, the busiest street leading to the most popular Ben Saleh neighborhood. After about 150 m, after a small square with restaurants, there is a small juice store on the right where you can get the best fruit pulp mix in Morocco for 6 dirhams, always made very fresh, take “Panaché ” (mixed in layers in a glass).
Then go back to our Riad, this time just Rue Dabachi in the direction of the mosque Ben Salah, then left into Rue Azbezt and look at the Medersa Ben Youssef, perhaps the most beautiful Koranic school in Morocco, which has recently been well renovated. If you still haven’t had enough, you can visit the nearby Museum of Photography and end the day on the wonderful roof terrace.
Best in the morning 8 o’clock!!! by cab (by bus is cumbersome) to the Jardin Majorelle, the now second most beautiful garden of Marrakech in the new town, (unfortunately expensive entrance – necessarily reserve via internet), with fantastic succulents and cacti and the villa and tomb of Ives Saint Laurent and a small but fine Berber Museum. The garden is a tourist “must” therefore from 9 o’clock terribly crowded, especially in the seasonal times. Besides the Yves Saint Laurent Museum is also worth seeing, because the designer had a lasting influence on the development of Marrakech to the center of the jetsetters. From there, either take a cab or walk (about 15 minutes) to the northern city gate, Bab Doukala. Go through the city gate and then the Rue du Bab Doukala, very busy typical absolutely untouristy shopping street in about 15 minutes to Dar el Bacha, a palace worth seeing of Glaoui Pascha, who ruled the south until the 1950s. Here you can also find a very special coffee shop with hundreds of coffees served in golden cups! Then on to the Ben Youssuf madrasa, the most beautiful madrasa in Marrakech – if you didn’t make it yesterday. An absolute MUST!!! Possibly next to it, check out the Musée de Marrakesh, an interesting stylishly renovated palace with huge covered courtyard, hamam and interesting exhibitions. ATTENTION!!!: do not let yourself be towed in this area by people who want to show you the tanneries – “Les Tanneurs” – for free. The area is confusing and you can hardly find your way out and if you don’t buy anything in the much too expensive leather stores, through which you “accidentally” have to pass, if you want to get out of the tannery again, then you’re in trouble. There is only unnecessary trouble and loss of time. Hands off!!! Afternoon free for strolling over the souks, in the evening back to the Riad.
Alternatively, I recommend the Anima Garden (www.anima-garden.com) by André Heller, a little outside, but excellent and free with the shuttle bus from the park ring La Koutoubia (behind the Koutoubia Mosque) reachable.(The garden is not yet overcrowded and a wonderful rest from the hustle and bustle of the city.
All information to the best of my knowledge or conscience but without guarantee!
Have fun in Marrakech