A cataclysm of vibrant colours and lively promises, Marrakech holidays typify what Morocco has to offer with the city’s spice-scented air, teeming souks and compelling culture. Here you can entertain thoughts of immersing within an exciting atmosphere, one that thrives with the prospect of bustling markets, verdant gardens and all-night party potential – the Red City has it all.** The dynamic city showcases how Morocco is evolving by combining a host of natural attractions with powerful traditions and authentic practices, the country becoming an emerging location for culture vultures and holidaymakers to experience something new and inspiring with many things to do. Traverse the narrow alleyways and meander through the lanes created by market stalls, holidays to Marrakech are an unforgettable experience, wherever you head.
The Magic of Morocco
Beyond the immersive souks, you will find majestic palaces, decorative mansions and plenty of history brimming beneath the surface. From afar you will be able to spot the Koutoubia Mosque, a delightful landmark that will be all you need to see in order to understand the grandeur with which the city was created, and not far away from here can be discovered the Saadian Tombs. Morocco can also be explored through its multitude of museums, many of the best being a prominent presence on Marrakech city breaks, whereas Casablanca is famous for displaying the country’s world-class art galleries. Delve into the city’s culinary genius with a light lunch under banana palms or a romantic, candle-lit meal in one of the many top quality restaurants that hide away between narrow side streets and down well-lit alleys. Libzar is well-known throughout the area for providing high quality Moroccan cuisine, whereas the award-winning L’Annexe provides something a little closer to home in the form of French foods. Make sure you head to Fez for an equally rich assemblage of fine eateries, whereas Agadir’s roots as a fishing harbour will not disappoint the adventurous foodie – perfect food before a night out on the town.
Morocco’s Red City presents a hypnotic array of sights, smells and flavours that intoxicate visitors with the charms and traditions of a different world. Marrakech can be naturally divided in two, with the historical medina surrounded by the modernised district of Gueliz, decked out with chain restaurants and brand stores.
Jemaa El-Fna, Africa’s largest square, is the spiritual heart of the city and one of the most compelling attractions in Marrakech. The square is full of both the spice of life and actual spice, and you’ll find various types sold on the many stalls that adorn the area, alongside fruits, carpets and traditional garb. By night, Jemaa El-Fna is invaded by sizzling and aromatic Moroccan food stands, all vying for your attention.
The city also boasts a number of beautiful, green gardens, access to the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and steamy Sahara Desert, as well as being in touching distance of other popular destinations in Morocco, including Agadir and Casablanca.
Recharge and Relax
Morocco is famous for its relaxing hammams, something that Marrakech has no shortage of. These traditional spas are a great place to come for some relaxing treatments. One of the best is Les Bains de Marrakech where you can enjoy massages, scrubs and relaxing pools; they even have their own skin product range!
If retail therapy if your method for recharging your dwindling batteries, then you should take to the endless maze of the souks. Wander around and score some bargains, but brush up on your haggling skills first if you want to achieve decent value.
Wine and Dine
It’s impossible to miss the white, umbrella-clad stalls that descend on Jemaa El-Fna every night. The searing joints cook up a variety of cheap and traditional grub including a plethora of tajines, couscous dishes and soups. The atmosphere is as engaging as the flavours and aromas that emanate from the stalls – just make sure you choose carefully and count your change!
The square is home to more international fare too, mainly found in the various cafes that are spread around the perimeter. Café Mabrouka serves up meals like pizza and pasta amongst traditional dishes of Morocco, while the classier ambience of Le Marrakchi comes complete with delicious food and some alcohol – which is hard to come by in these parts.
The square is also a great place to get a glass of fresh orange juice every morning, squeezed before your very eyes. Many of the cafes in this area serve up sweet, traditional mint teas that you can drink alongside the locals and, in our eyes, it’s one of the most pleasant things to do in Marrakech, especially with a decent view of the square below.
Couples will find many things to do in Marrakech, especially in the plethora of sedate and romantic gardens that find their home in the city. The gardens offer an escape from the fast pace of the historical centre, allowing couples the chance for some peace and quiet, and a relaxing afternoon surrounded by pretty plants and flowers. Majorelle Gardens is quite small but very attractive, while the Menara Gardens, which are a little further from the centre, boast a gorgeous mountain backdrop and an attractive 16th century pavilion. The green oasis of the Palmeraie is another great place to find some peace, and the journey to the area will expose you to some very picturesque scenery.
Many of the riads around town are grand and romantic, offering pampering sessions for couples, as well providing you with your own Aladdin-style setting and a comfortable bed on which to rest your head.
Couples should also take the trip out of the city to the stunning Cascades d’Ouzoud – a beautiful set of waterfalls that will allow you to cool off with an afternoon dip in a mesmerising location.
One of the top Marrakech attractions for visitors is its ability to transport you into an entirely different culture to the one experienced just a quick trip across the Strait of Gibraltar. The juxtaposition is very significant, and nowhere captures this culture shift more so than Jemaa El-Fna, which is arguably the heart of this different world. The magnitude of this culture is further exaggerated in the chaos and colour of the souks which culture vultures will enjoy circling around for hours.
Koutoubia Mosque is a religious icon of Marrakech and the largest mosque in the city. It towers at 253 feet high and is beautifully decorated, especially by the lights that illuminate it at night. A little further from the main square you’ll discover the ruined palace of El Badi. This is a great place to explore, if not for the expansive grounds, rich history and fantastic terrace views, than for the giant stalks nesting along the walls.
Action and Adventure
Marrakech in itself encompasses action and adventure. The city is always flowing at an incomprehensible speed, especially in the heart of the city’s various souks. Taking a stroll around these giant marketplaces is a fantastic experience. You will, sometimes quite literally, get lost in the maze of colour, spice and barter. At some point you’ll probably end up in a carpet shop sharing a mint tea with your new best friend – it actually happens!
You’ll have to head a little bit out of the city to discover the adventurous Marrakech attractions. The city is a gateway to the desert and is home to many tour companies offering trips to the sand; two of the best are Hip Marrakech and Marrakech Desert Tours. Trekking across the desert on the back of a camel will accomplish your Lawrence of Arabia fantasies. Marrakech is also the natural jumping off point for trips to the Atlas Mountains. The mountains are littered with beautiful, traditional villages, towns and souks, and a stay in a charming Kasbah is a fantastic experience. Those more eager for action will find satisfaction in the hiking opportunities in the mountains; just make sure you have a guide with you.