- Cityscape Minarets and mountains
- City life Mint tea, mules, medina mayhem
Berber, Arabic and Moorish culture, oriental spices, desert landscapes, glamorous hideaways... all with a French accent.
Marrakech is a city unlike any other: nowhere is exoticism better showcased than in this ochre-and-rose-hued North African hive of activity. Indulge in a hammam at your tile-and-tadelakt riad before bartering for treasures in the kaleidoscopic souks, then snack on pigeon pie from a stall in the grand place, amid snake charmers and belly-dancers. To escape the hurly burly of the medina, sup on tajine and couscous in a chic cushion-filled restaurant in the Kasbah, or sip Cristal by candlelight in a hip muslin-draped, after-hours hang-out in the new town of Guéliz. And more adventures await, with the Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert and coastal town of Essaouira all but a drive away.
Do go/Don’t go
It’s great to get your Christmas shopping done here, and New Year is fun, but this is prime time, so it's busy, with prices pushed up accordingly. July and August are unbearably sweltering, while spring and autumn are delightfully balmy – October/November and February are wonderful times to visit. Things can be slow during Ramadan, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.
- Planes Fly to Ménara International Airport with BA (www.ba.com), Air France, Royal Air Maroc or its budget carrier, Atlas Blue (www.atlas-blue.com) – although it’s not the slickest operation. EasyJet flights from Gatwick are a good option.
- Automobiles There is not much point renting a car: all hotels can organise a pick-up from the airport and the centre of town is only a 15-minute drive away. If this is your first time in Morocco navigating can be confusing. Plus the traffic can be somewhat chaotic what with having to avoid donkeys and horse-drawn carts.
- Taxis Small cabs (or 'petits taxis') take up to three passengers and stay within the city limits. They are metered; sit in the front seat so you can keep your eyes on the ticker, or make sure you agree a price before setting off. Big cabs ('grands taxis') take up to six people. It's always best to establish a price for your journey regardless of the government's attempts to enforce standard rates. Always have small change on you: it may be hard to get the correct change without hassle. Taxis tend to be pricier after 20h.