One of North Africa’s most exciting destinations, the Moroccan city of Marrakech offers a wide variety of treats for all the senses. Alongside trendy hotels and celebrated restaurants you’ll discover all sorts of colours and smells in the local souks. But with so much going on, where do you start? Here are some ideas on where you can go and what you can do on your visit.
The famous Djemaa el Fna square is the obvious point to start your tour round Marrakech. Once upon a time this was home to an array of drummers, acrobats, dancers, tradesmen and snake-charmers making a riot of noise. Recently the old traditions of the square began to die out until the locals launched a campaign to save it. That was when UNESCO decided to designate it a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. Then you can take in Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden that was once owned by none other than Yves Saint Laurent. Explore the stunning Bahia palace, built for a grand vizier’s four wives and 24 concubines, shining in the African sun beneath the towering 220 ft minaret of the 11th century Koutoubia Mosque.
The souks are where Marrakech truly comes alive. Explore the tangle of alleys that meander through the heart of town and stumble upon all kinds of craftsmen plying their trade, from the babouche slipper souk and the dyers’ souk to the ironworkers’ souk and the carpet souk. There you’ll find sleek ceramics, magnificent embroidered blouses, silk and woven carpets, striped hammam towels, and so much more that will surprise and delight you. Then pay a visit to the magical Maison de la Photographie (House of Photography) where you can admire portraits that will take you through the history of this special city. When you’ve explored the gallery, head up to the roof terrace cafe where you can sip a drink while looking out over the Medina. For a taste of Morocco, head back to the Djemma el Fna square where you can join the queues tasting the street food in the early evening. You could try the bean soup, sizzling aubergine, or the chicken tagine with caramelised pumpkin. Whatever you taste, you’ll enjoy a real treat.
Where to Stay
If you’re going to Marrakech then you have to try a riad. The local take on boutique accommodation, a riad is a compact townhouse with a cool and green courtyard, complete with special touches like embroidered pillows and rose petals scattered across the beds. Take a look at Chic Retreats and find somewhere special from which you can explore this wondrous place.