Visit Morocco’s largest souk and Africa’s busiest square
Marrakech is one of the world’s most fascinating, sensuous and culturally rich cities – its spellbinding charms are certain to leave a lasting impression on you. A holiday here will grant you glimpses of ancient Morocco, allowing you to lose yourself in the medina’s labyrinthine streets and alleyways, to shop for jewellery, cosmetics, spices, slippers and leather goods in Morocco‘s largest souk. You can watch sorcerers, fire-eaters, snake charmers and musicians in world famous Djemaa el Fna - Marrakech’s central square - which is believed to be the busiest in all Africa. Known as the ‘Red City’ because of the deep red local clay used to build the original houses and walls, Marrakech has existed for over a thousand years. 21st century Marrakech is home to modern luxury hotels, as well as boutique hotels, family hotels in converted riads, and budget accommodation. Marrakech is served by Menara Airport (RAK) which is just 3 miles from the city.
A holiday in Marrakech is almost certain to include leisurely exploration of the medina or old city with its wonderful mediaeval architecture. Visitors won’t fail to be impressed by the outstanding mosque at the heart of Marrakech - the Koutoubia Mosque - with its 203ft tall minaret dominating the city’s skyline. Other sites to enjoy include the brightly decorated Saadian tombs which date from 1557, the Mellah, which was once the largest Jewish quarter in Morocco, and the maze-like souk area with its tiny shops and vast community of busy craftsmen. There are several museums in Marrakech including the Dar Si Said Museum, the Marrakech Museum and the Islamic Art Museum at the Majorelle Garden.
Marrakech offers more than a taste of bustling Moroccan city life. Your stay here should include a trip or two into the surrounding landscape to appreciate the stunning, snow-capped mountain range of the High Atlas, just 30 km south of Marrakech. If you are staying in Marrakech for more than a few days, try to visit the peaceful valley of Ourika, a green oasis of streams and waterfalls, where locals go to escape the city heat. From Marrakech it is also easy to visit Essaouira, the beach haven of Agadir, and the historic city of Taroudant.
The all inclusive holiday concept has become more common in Moroccan destinations in recent years. Marrakech boasts plenty of eye-catching hotel accommodation, combining good service, modern holiday facilities and traditional architectural styles. This amazingly exotic destination now offers the kind of village-style resort hotels you might expect to find in resorts like Agadir or more established beach resorts in Spain and Portugal. Most of these hotels are located on the city outskirts or in the New City. For a memorable luxury holiday, choose an all inclusive holiday in a Marrakech luxury hotel. Expect to find sumptuous spa facilities, classy restaurants, fantastic pools, exotic gardens and very attractive prices.
Marrakech enjoys sunny weather all-year round, with hot summers and mild winters. With a sub-Saharan climate, the summers can experience very extreme temperatures, with day and night temperatures varying considerably. The city sees distinct seasonal changes, with the average annual temperature being 18C.
Wander around the fascinating souks of Marrakech, taking in the vibrant colours and sounds of these traditional markets. Selling everything from locally made crafts, silks, carpets and leather to teas, herbs and spices, the labyrinth of streets offer a delight to explore and plenty of bargains to haggle over.
The heart of the city, the legendary central square of Djemaa el Fna, is Marrakech at its best. Declared a World Heritage Site, this historic square is bustling night and day, and packed with food stalls, tradesmen, musicians, acrobats, fire-eaters and snake-charmers - a must-see for any visitor here.
The City Walls
Tour the medina, the oldest part of the city, filled with palaces, mosques and tombs, and encircled by 13th century rose-coloured walls, known as the 'ramparts'. Take a horse-drawn 'caleche' tour around the city walls - an ideal way to soak up the sights.
Other sights to see include the citys' landmark, the Koutoubia Mosque, the Musee de Marrakech, the tranquil Ben Youssef Medersa, and the Palais el-Badia. The Saadian Tombs, which lie in lavish mausoleums and surrounded by rich flower gardens, are a popular tourist attraction, as are the colourful Majorelle Gardens, owned by Yves St Laurent.
Hammam steam baths
The public baths in the city are an age-old tradition, and a complete experience for the adventurous visitor. Choose from private or public, single-sex or communal, and enjoy a calming and cleansing retreat from the hub of the city.
Dining and entertainment
Cafes, food stalls, bars and restaurants abound here, all serving a vast array of Moroccan and international food. Try the local specialities, such as couscous, tagine and pastillas, or watch the world go round over a mint tea or strong Moroccan-style coffee. The city is home to a wealth of entertainment options, from traditional shows in the square and authentic belly-dancing, to trendy bars and modern discos and clubs.
Marrakech is a great base for exploring the neighbouring Atlas Mountains, with plenty of day trips available for trekking and experiencing the local Berber village life. Trips into the Sahara Desert can also be arranged from the city, and the popular port town of Essaouira on the coast is a 3-hour trip.