With over 300 days of sun per year, a winter break to Marrakech is a safe bet for sunseekers looking to soak up some vitamin D within a two-hour flight from most European cities. Even in this coldest season of the year daytime temperatures still hover around a balmy 20 degrees celsius (high 60s fahrenheit), making it the ideal time to visitor for those wishing to enjoy the city without the stifling summer heat. In addition, with any luck, the city’s backdrop of the Atlas mountains will be sprinkled in a layer of snow, giving a hint a wintery spirit to your warm getaway. Here’s why we think Marrakech is the perfect winter escape and what to do and where to stay to make the most of the off-season in this vibrant city.
Peacefully Wander the Medina
Getting lost in the Medina is a must on any trip to Marrakech, plus winter provides the added advantage of fewer crowds. You can slow your pace, enjoy area’s historic sites without hoards of other visitors, gaze up at the sun-kissed rooftops and savor the rich play of colors of the traditionally built clay houses which give the “Red City” its nickname. For a cultural break, stop in at the Bahia Palace, a sprawling complex built for the Grand Vizier of Marrakech at the end of the 19th century. With the aim of creating the greatest palace of its time, it showcases the best of Moroccan craftsmanship and design. Being able to capture its courtyards and intimate rooms tourist free is a real treat.
Shop at the Silent Souk
The souk of Marrakech can sometimes feel a little overbearing with shouting vendors, the shove of the crowds and over abundance of stands to choose from. The experience is much more relaxed in winter. Since there are fewer customers, its laneways are easier to navigate, vendors are happier to have potential clients and can also take the time for a real discussion with clients instead of going straight for the hard sell. If you go in early-mid December, it’s also the occasion to pick up some original holiday gifts and at a bargain.
An Elegant Afternoon Tea in the Garden
Every trip to Morocco has to include some delicious Moroccan mint tea, have yours during an afternoon break in the gorgeous gardens of the legendary La Mamounia hotel. This grand palace hotel accepts outside guest to its various first class dining and refreshment facilities. Before setting in at a table at their Bar Menzeh, you can stroll through the estate’s large gardens along its sunny palm-lined walkways, discovering its orange groves and many flowerbeds. A tranquil haven in this bustling city.
Sunset Cocktails on the Terrace
Take in the last of the day’s rays while watching the sunset either from the terrace of your villa or one of the many rooftop bars across the city, like at the Sky Lounge of the Pearl Hotel. Alternatively, our Senior Client Manager, Naomi Clark, enjoys taking in the sunset at la Terrasse des Epices, found near Place Djemaa El-Fna. Moroccan winter sunsets are stunning, particularly if your view also consists of the rooftops of the medina or the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. Winter nights can get a little chilly, though the crisp air can be rather refreshing and a good excuse to cozy up if you’re on a romantic getaway.
Sun and Sea on a Day Trip to Essaouira
At only a two and a half hour drive from Marrakech, Essaouira makes for a wonderful day-long excursion. Much smaller than Marrakech, this pretty seaside town is picturesque, has a laidback ambiance and is a great place to experience a different side of Morocco. You’ll have the perfect day peering at the shipbuilders and wooden boats at the port, wander its narrow alleyways, climbing its historic ramparts and having a leisurely lunch of freshly caught seafood on a sunny terrace, like at Taros, another tip of Naomi Clark. For some great for traditional Moroccan cuisine, Naomi suggests Les Alizes Mogador, an excellent restaurant run by a Moroccan couple in a 19th-century house.
Retreat to the Desert
If you can spend five days or more in Marrakech, you may want to venture into the desert. Marrakech lies close to the base of the Atlas Mountains and on the other side is the beginning of the vast Sahara Desert. Our Africa experts cazenove+loyd can an extremely unique private desert camp experience which takes you from Dar Ahlam, the ‘House of Dreams’ in Ouarzazate province, known for its palms groves and its kasbah and from there you’ll travel into the desert to a secluded private luxury desert camp for an enchanting overnight under the stars. Read more about the experience in this feature.
Recharge at a Hammam
Marrakech has some of the best spas in the world, another reason which could attract visitors in need of some pampering after a long hard year at the office. Pamper yourself with a morning at the hammam, decompress in the steam room and relax over some heavenly spa treatments and massages. You might not even have to leave your accommodation, if you’re staying at a place a fabulous spa or riad equipped with a deluxe in-house hammam.
Where to Stay in Marrakech in Winter
Riad Derb Sraghna
For a comfortable and luxurious stay in the center of the Medina, consider this beautiful traditional riad by Villanovo. Located close to the souk, Jemaa el Fna square and the Dar el Bacha palace, it was carefully renovated in 2007 and transformed into a private guesthouse.
The courtyard house blends elegance and tranquility while respecting the simplicity of historic riads. Enjoy its traditional Arab-Andalusian architecture built around a central courtyard featuring orange trees and a small fountain.
Each room is uniquely decorated with a charming array of family heirlooms, old prints, large mirrors, vintage photographs and paintings. These create a feeling of nostalgia, of travel, of encounters in distant lands.
The riad has 10 spacious bedrooms and suites, all of which have private bathrooms. Guests can make use of three different salons, a spacious, sunbath kissed roof terrace and a hammam. The attentive staff cater to all your needs and to ensure you have the perfect trip to Marrakech.
For further information on this lovely property or other refined accommodation in Marrakech, contact Villanovo here.