The North African oasis is just a four hour flight away.
I have always wanted to go to Marrakesh ever since I was a child. It was the first holiday I remember my parents going on (and leaving us all behind at home). They came back with so many beautiful decorative antiques, stories of gorgeous Berber food and enjoying the breath-taking views of the Atlas Mountains on the horizon and watching the magical sunset from one of the countless rooftop bars of the infamous Medina.
I travelled to Morocco in April, which meant the weather was a bit hit and miss. In general the weather is unpredictable with hot days and deceptively cold nights so I would pack light layers but don’t forget your cosy jackets or jumpers for when the sun sets or sudden rain hits.
I took my trip to Morocco as a bit of a relaxing holiday to wander, eat great food and catch up on some sleep. But I’m already planning on returning to have an active holiday filled with hikes up in the Atlas mountains and treks out to the Sahara.
I have made this diary as informative as possible to give you quick tips to make your research that bit easier. Marrakesh itself is not that big so you’ll find after a day or so you’ll get your bearings of where everything is located. I think three days is optimal. In a short trip you could get to see all the highlights.
For really good traditional Moroccan food head to this place. It’s the perfect spot to
try a little bit of each dish. The restaurant itself is in a hotel but the price is still okay at about €20 per person for a large meal.
I love this place, before I travelled so many people had recommended I go here. It’s in the middle of the medina looking over a busy square full of stalls. It’s such a great place to have breakfast right through to dinner and I guarantee you’ll go back there more than once on your trip. It has Moroccan dishes but with a European twist. You can see it’s a big favourite with many tourists as it’s got great views over the city and fantastic food.
Initially I wasn’t too keen on visiting here. I guess ignorantly I presumed it would be a bit naff. The museum is small, you can get it done even in a short gap of your day, and the outfits from the YSL runway shows through the years are mesmerising – even if you’re not a fashion lover, it’s quite fascinating. You’ll have to get a taxi over to this spot but it’s worth it because there is more than one attraction nearby.
These gardens are just next door to the museum hosting exotic plants, streams, vibrant buildings and long pathways. The gardens were made by French painter Jacques Majorelle and took him 40 years to complete. It’s a gorgeous place to visit, you won’t spend all day there but take time to enjoy it, grab a tea or food at the café and take it all in.
I would recommend going early in the day to avoid long queues and the “people traffic” at the museums. I’d also recommend asking your hotel to pre-book tickets which save you from queuing for both these gardens and the YSL museum.
The Medina and the Secret Garden
Get lost through the wandering narrow streets of the medina. I love a bit of chaos and a haggle so I could have stayed there all day. Each stall is overcrowded with whatever their product is from leather bags, shoes or lamp shops. It’s a sensory overload at its best. Make sure you haggle to get a good deal otherwise you’ll end up paying a small fortune.
It can get a little intense if you go during peak hours and that’s when the Secret Garden is perfect for an escape. Located just on the edge of the medina, it’s like entering another world when you step through the gates, a beautiful garden setting with a café. When you’re sitting there it’s hard to comprehend that outside the walls there’s so much hustle and bustle. We would go there once a day to have a mint tea and a wind down during the high heat.
How to get there: Luckily for us Ryanair has started direct flights from Dublin! With a flight time of only three hours and 45 minutes, it’s a very easy place to get to for a long weekend. We flew over early on Thursday morning and flew back Sunday night (it’s a late one, so you might want to plan a late arrival at work the next day).
Four days is plenty to discover Marrakesh, however, if you fancy discovering more than just the city and want to experience some adventurous activities like hiking in The Atlas Mountains or a camel ride through the desert I would suggest at least a week.
Where to stay: There are fantastic hotels and riads all across Marrakesh suiting whatever budget you’re travelling on. If you’re splashing out, go for La Mamounia. Widely considered one of the best hotels in the world (with prices to match). The gardens in the hotel alone are worth the splurge.