Some ideas for how to pass a weekend in the “Red City”, a destination that’s ideal all year round.
Marrakech is the perfect weekend getaway destination any time of the year. However spring, autumn and early summer showcase the city at its finest. Warm days and not-too-chilly nights comprise the lovely temperatures, and while winter can be warm, too, take care to remember that the temperatures drop dramatically at night! It should come as no surprise that summer’s temperatures are consistently hot. Plus, the guaranteed sunshine enhances the city’s warm color palette, and when juxtaposed against the vibrant blue sky, the city is a true marvel to behold.
Marrakech’s nickname, “the red city”, stems from the hue of the imposing twelfth-century wall that once enclosed the old city as well as the buildings that line the medina within. It’s easy to get lost in this intricate maze of narrow serpentine streets that were once the heart of the old town. Today, they’re lined with enticing shops and food establishments that beckon you as you explore.
So, if you haven’t already been, what are you waiting for? Get going! Here are some ideas for an unforgettable weekend Morocco’s “Jewel of the South”.
Start exploring the city at the medina souks (markets). Time goes by quickly as you peruse the stands of merchants selling oil, spices, carpets, clothing, and more! A word to the wise: Be prepared to haggle! Marrakech’s Berber locals are well prepared for negotiation…which can be a very long process.
When you’ve had enough of the suks, head to the Marrakech Museum located inside the decadent salons of Mnebhi Palace. Constructed in the late nineteenth-century by legendary architect Mehdi Menebhi, the palace was carefully restored by the Omar Benjelloun Foundation and converted into a museum in 1997. This perfect representation of classical Andalusian architecture is complete with fountains in the central courtyard, traditional seating areas, a hammam and intricate tile-work and carvings. Both modern and traditional Moroccan art are on display alongside fine examples of historical books, coins and pottery created by Moroccan Jewish, Berber and Arab cultures.
If you’re into botanics, the Jardin Majorelle is a must, a mesmerizing desert mirage of 300 plant species gathered from five continents. Even if plants aren’t your thing, visit the gardens for the Art Deco studio, home to the Musée Berbère, which showcases the rich panorama of Morocco’s indigenous inhabitants via some 600 artifacts. Fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent co-owned the gardens with his partner Pierre Bergé, and they lived in the on-premise villa. In fact, YSL’s Majorelle Blue eyeliner, nail polish, mascara and eyeshadow shade is named for the gardens, which are such a part of the YSL legacy that a museum dedicated to the fashion icon opened on 16 October 2017. Appropriately located on Rue Yves Saint Laurent, the museum logs how this city and country had a profound influence on the YSL legacy. Bergé himself personally selected the thousands of clothing pieces and accessories that will be on display in the new, 43,000-square-foot building.
Evenings are a must for eat street food at Jāmi el-Fnā This crazy, chaotic hub is the heart and soul of Marrakech, where snakes are charmed by day and music plays by night.
After a regenerating night (Moroccan riads are famous worldwide!) you must visit the Kasbah area, where you’ll find must-see monuments and locales such as the Bahia Palace, known for its stunning apartmetns and open air interior courtyards, and the Saadian tombs, magnificently decorated with colorful tiles, Arabic script and elaborate carvings.
Very close to the tombs, you’ll find the Medersa, an Islamic school (nearly 900 students were once housed here, and it’s difficult to imagine how they all fit inside these walls!) attached to the Ben Youssef Mosque, home to some of the most beautiful art and architecture in Marrakech.
If the Michelin Guide awarded stars to Moroccan restaurants, it’s likely that Dar Moha will have earned (at least!) one. Go here for a special occasion where one of Morocco’s most beloved chefs, Moha Fedal, offers refined takes on the traditional tastes and flavors of his country.