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Marrakech is a bold and vibrant city and has a lot to offer both the adventurous traveller and those who are looking for a bit of luxury.
You will find all sorts in the souks of Marrakech, from incredible antique doors selling for ?100, 000 to handmade Berber blankets, spices and mint tea, all the way down to small hand-carved ornaments and trinkets. I found the best way to explore the convoluted maze of streets and alleyways was to dive in and allow myself to get slightly lost if necessarily. El Badi Palace, Menara Gardens and the Marrakech Museum were some of my highlights and are all easily reachable within the city. In the daytime you will find the blistering heat tends to keep things more subdued, but it makes for a good chance to see the square in its entirety before it gets dark. It is by night that the square really comes to life though, resembling more of an impromptu carnival than a public square. Be cautious if you decide to eat at the square, as although the food is generally fine it’s best to avoid foods that aren’t boiled, fried or peeled in front of you – an upset stomach is always possible, though rarely serious. There are many upmarket resorts and hotels in Marrakech, but none will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time and woken up in a palace of some magical and distant land quite like a traditional riad.
The intricate carvings and decorations feel like they should form an ancient temple, and the thick solid walls and giant nondescript wooden doors give you a feeling of protection and comfort hidden away from the chaos of the streets. Most riads are small and intimate in comparison to hotels and resorts as they are essentially converted large family homes. The Moroccan Hammam is a place where locals go to socialise, relax and meet one another, but also to get scrubbed within an inch of their lives! If you do decide to go to a traditional hammam it’s worth familiarising yourself with the local etiquette first. If this all sounds a bit much you can opt to go to a tourist hammam where the experience will be similar to the above but much more relaxing and less painful. Away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, it’s hard to believe you are only three hours away from the UK. Art and music play a huge part in Moroccan culture, and Marrakech itself has a history of attracting well known artists and musicians. A highlight for me was meeting a real Gnaoua or Gnawa musician from the Sahara and having the opportunity to play together at our riad.
Gnaoua culture originates in ancient African Islamic culture but is very much an integral part of Moroccan tradition today.
Although the tanneries are a million miles away from the luxuries of the New Town, and the pungent smells border on the obnoxious to the western nose, there is something very authentic about a visit to the tanneries. When you visit the tanneries you will be invited in by a local and offered to be shown round for a small fee.
Prices can be as low as ?28.99 one way without checked bags, however an average fare would be in the ?150 mark return. Marrakech offers everything from cheap hostels to 5* luxury hotels and, of course, the famous traditional riads. Prices taken from TravelSupermarket for stays in January 2014, based on a two-night stay for two people, bed and breakfast. Walking is the way to get around in the Old Town due to the maze of narrow streets and bazaars. If you are staying in the Old Town it pays to have the staff of the riad meet you at the airport to find your way to the property.
It is very cheap to eat in Marrakech and you can easily eat like a king at one of the many small food stalls and ‘pop up’ style restaurants. I would unequivocally recommend Trekkinginmorocco to anyone wishing to see more of what Morocco has to offer. My wife and I did a one day tour with Ahmed and his team up to Imlil, and it was fantastic.
We did a lot of research into the tour operators working in the high Atlas region on price and reputation, and finally decided on Trekking Morocco. We were picked up at 0930 by Ahmed, founder of the company, in his ac jeep and taken first to where a women cooperative make Argan Oil. Arrived back into Imlil for a tasty locally cooked lunch followed by a bit of a snooze in the late afternoon sun. We finally got back to our Riad at 1930 after we’d stopped to buy bus tickets enroute. We had agreed a price on the phone, confirmed with email and one of the nicest things – is that for the whole day, money was not mentioned.

Going on line to look at day trip possibilities I found a trip which appeared to offer just what we needed . We were picked up promptly at 0900 from our hotel, in a roomy vehicle and started our drive out of the city . After a couple of hours we reached our destination Imlil, a small village nestling amongst the highest peaks of North Africa . Arriving back at our hotel about 1830 hours we paid the agreed price to our driver And a tip for his excellent safe driving and courteous manner . Hi Will, really enjoyed your article about Marrakech, We are travelling there in Nov so hope to put your advice to good use! I’m traveling to Marrakesh with husband as his Xmas gift and I’m already concerned as we only have 3 days!!
Sorry!We're trying our best to restock the items, Please leave your e-mail and we will inform you via e-mail when the item is in stock.. Though the jewellery range was introduced to earn foreign exchange to run the Titan watch business, it has evolved into a fashion jewellery major on its own steam. If you do possess the copyright to any of these photographs and would like us to take these down, please do let us know.
The spice shops are a particular highlight, with highly fragrant mint tea, frankincense and all manner of traditional soaps, medicines and Berber make-up. There are a few signs dotted around which will point you back to the Dejeema el Fna, and locals will be happy to help you out if you ask – though if they offer to walk with you they may ask for money. It can be a lot of fun and a really good way to talk to local people and learn more about their way of life. From the famous Koutoubia Mosque completed in the 12th Century at Djemaa el Fna to the Ben Youssef Medrassa Islamic College, the architecture in Marrakech is stunning. You will come across market stalls, story tellers and snake charmers who are best admired from afar (unless you want to pay to have a rather large snake removed from your shoulders!).
You’ll find food stalls, games and music, as well as seemingly spontaneous shops laid out on rugs in the street.
The riad courtyards are so cool and quiet that you’ll feel you have entered the tranquillity of a secret garden, and the roof terraces provide a beautiful space to stay up and chat until the early hours.
Unlike western spa treatments, the goal here is to open up the pores in various steam rooms of varying heat.
I didn’t find the time to visit a hammam but any discomfort is probably worth it as you’ll feel incredibly clean when it’s done. For example, local hammams are strictly segregated and while it may be acceptable and normal for women to enter naked, men must wear shorts. The nomadic Berber tribes that live there offer an insight into a lifestyle which is strikingly different to anything of the western world. If you travel out further you reach the Sahara Desert where you can arrange to stay in a traditional Berber tent and sleep under the stars.
Most trips will include some sightseeing in the Atlas Mountains, visiting places like Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate and Todra Gorge, and a night in the Sahara under the stars at a Berber camp, experiencing traditional Berber music and food by the camp fire. Highlights of the year include The Marrakech National Festival of the Popular Arts, The Marrakech Folk Music Festival and The Marrakech International Film Festival. Every year in July they hold The Gnaoua and World Music Festival in Essaouira which incorporates all Gnaoua styles, including Gnaoua fusions with jazz, blues, hip hop and reggae. The tanneries and the crafting of leather have remained unchanged here for hundreds of years. These guides are generally worth the money, but the leather shop they take you to at the end is a little overpriced, so bargain hard.
Although you could easily spend a few days here, it is possible to visit on a day trip if you are short on time. The Portuguese influence can be seen in its beautifully whitewashed buildings, bright blue boats and ancient seafront fortifications.
Famed for its use of cobalt blue paint and tranquil picturesque ponds, it’s a refreshing break from the dust and heat of the main streets. Created by Jacques Majorelle, a French painter, over a 40-year period, it was first opened to the public in 1947.
Easyjet operates from Gatwick, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester, and Ryanair operates from both London’s Luton and Stansted airports. The Old Town has more of this type of accommodation and the New Town houses more modern hotels.

There are taxi services between the new and old towns and for destinations such as the Majorelle gardens. If you want to eat more western style food, the larger hotels and some restaurants in the New Town cater to these tastes. After a couple of days in the hectic city, we realised we wanted to escape and experience a little more of the scenery and culture if Morocco . I emailed them and had a very swift reply which described the day visit to the High Atlas mountains, it would cost 120 US dollars for both of us and no money need be paid in advance . On the way back we detoured to a remote village, where the driver explained saw few tourists and was a very special place for the Berber people .
For the price it was fantastic value and gave us a personalised experience, everlasting memories, great photographs and an opportunity to meet the Berber people and learn about their culture and customs . If you stay in the new town you could get a cab to the main square and then walk from there.
In contrast, the New Town offers a more Western European vibe, with designer shops, fancy hotels and restaurants. This isn’t a problem as you can politely decline, but often they do a good job of showing you something you’d ordinarily miss, so it doesn’t hurt to give them 10 or 20 dirham (less than ?2). By the end of the week I was buying things at one sixth of the asking price and being invited for mint tea with shopkeepers. As well as locals bartering around piles of new trainers, you’ll also find beautiful lanterns for sale. You then scrub yourself and others as hard as you can with an exfoliating glove and a gooey soap called savon noir (made from natural olive oil). Wasting water is considered very rude, but helping a stranger to scrub and clean themselves is normal, expected, and a sign of kindness. Be sure to research tour operators online before you go as this is something you’ll want to make the most of and a good tour guide is priceless.
You can also catch an opera in the New Town and you’ll find painters, artists and musicians all over the streets of Marrakech.
Unlike Marrakech, which is hot and arid most of the year, Essaouira is cooler and benefits from the fresh, cool breeze of the Atlantic Ocean. Although Essaouira is naturally increasing in popularity it still retains its charm as a relaxed, bohemian seaside town rich in culture and history and doesn’t feel particularly touristy. In 1980 it was bought by Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent when they discovered it was going to be turned into a hotel complex, and it has remained a sanctuary of tranquillity in the centre of Marrakech ever since.
Ensure you agree a fare before getting into the taxi, but they are cheap and will not cost you much. As our journey took us into Berber territory and we wound into the Atlas Mountains we asked to stop a couple of times for pictures and Ahmed welcomed this. The process was explained to us, there was no pushing to sell and everything was relaxed and friendly . At this point we were asked how we would like to spend the day – how long trekking, with or without a mule? Beautiful, friendly, non pushy people and an opportunity to buy local produce cheaper than Marrakech.
We then continued our climb up into the mountains with amazing views and had an opportunity to ride a camel which was included in the tour cost .
We walked for about one and a half hours through small Berber villages to a waterfall, meeting many local people and our guide explained the local customs and culture whilst we were surrounded by incredible views . We then continued on a short walk to experience life in a Berber house, met the family and my wife had a Henna tattoo on her hand . He is a very genuine and friendly man, never stops smiling and who is not out to rip you off; but to better his company and reputation by giving you an exceptional experience in Morocco.
I won’t hesitate in using the company again in the future and wish him and his family all the best.

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