Romantic, bustling Marrakech sits high on most travelers’ bucket lists, and if work travel takes you close to this Moroccan gem, you’re in luck. Marrakech’s stunning architecture, friendly people, and ridiculously good food make it the ideal place for a few days of top-notch bleisure. Here’s your guide to a perfect weekend in Marrakech.
First, get your shopping (and bargaining) on at some of the city’s famous souks. Take some time to wander through the medina, and don’t be afraid to get lost. La Porte d’Or, a two-story bazaar, or Bab El Khemis, a market off the beaten tourist track, are both well worth a visit. You’ll find food, spices, antiques, rugs, handicrafts, and every other treasure under the sun.
As the afternoon winds down, venture over to Jemaa el Fna Square, but don’t expect to spend too much time there. The square is Marrakech’s main tourist hub, and while it does offer some gems, it also comes with all the not-so-fun trappings of a central tourist spot. Pass through just long enough to get a feel for the atmosphere and to spot any nearby souks that catch your eye.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, grab dinner at Dar Rhizlane Bejgueni, one of Jemaa el Fna’s true treasures. This 40-year-old establishment serves up some of the best sandwiches in the city.
Start your day by hopping aboard a hot air balloon guided by Ciel d'Afrique, and take in heart-stopping views of the Atlas Mountains. High above Marrakech, you’ll see Morocco in a whole new light. It’s the stuff Instagram dreams are made of.
When you’re finished floating through the stratosphere, hit Zwin’ Zwin’ Cafe to break for a pot of Marrakech’s legendary mint tea. The cafe’s rooftop offers panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains. After you’ve refueled, take some time to explore El Badi Palace, a 16th-century archaeological site with a maze of rooms and hidden treasures to explore. Be sure to pause to take in the exquisite tiles and ancient views.
Spend your evening getting up close and personal with Moroccan cuisine in an immersive cooking class. Whip up your own masterpiece of a dish with a session at the Amal Centre or Hakima’s Moroccan Cooking School. Both teach traditional techniques using fresh, local ingredients - and natch, you get to feast on your creation when it’s finished.
Enjoy a tranquil start to your day with a visit to Jardin Majorelle, a 12-acre botanical garden created by French painter Jacques Majorelle. It’s a true paradise, with over 300 varieties of plants, art deco design, and lots of peaceful winding paths to get lost on. While you’re in the area, enjoy breakfast at Pause Gourmande, a beloved nearby restaurant.
After your garden stroll, let the pressure of a long week melt away at the spa at La Mamounia. This high-end riad’s famous spa isn’t just for overnight guests: any traveler can splurge on a day pass for next-level relaxation. The spa’s Hammam bath, massage offerings, clay tennis courts, gardens, and pool make for a refreshing conclusion to your adventure.
Once you’re good and relaxed from your spa treatment, slip into fancier attire for dinner at Le Marocain, one of La Mamounia’s revered onsite restaurants. At Le Marocain, you’ll dine on fresh Moroccan cuisine as live music plays nearby. Talk about a dreamy send-off.