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Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech, Morocco © Acp

Marrakech Travel Guide

Affectionately labelled the 'Paris of the Sahara', Marrakech is one of the most alluring urban travel destinations in the world: 

A mysterious, labyrinthine medina, snake charmers, acrobats, colourful bazaars, and ancient Moroccan architecture await travellers in Marrakech. The intoxicating city was once an ancient caravan trading post, and retains its traditional atmosphere alongside a lively, modern tourist trade which draws millions of visitors to Marrakech every year.

Marrakech is not always an easy destination. It can be a chaotic city which even the most seasoned travellers can find bewildering; however, the challenge is part of the appeal for many adventurers. The city's souks and restaurants are a treat for travellers, making Marrakech a great stop for foodies and shoppers. History buffs will find plenty to interest and enchant them, and those in search of a vibrant nightlife will not be disappointed. Anyone who has a yearning for exciting cultural destinations will be charmed by a holiday in Marrakech, which can feel like a trip back in time to medieval Morocco.

Best time to visit Marrakech

The sun shines nearly all year in Marrakech, which has a climate similar to the Mediterranean. Those who enjoy the heat should holiday in Marrakech during July, but the best time to travel to Marrakech is during spring (April to June), when bright, blue skies contrast with the tangerine hue of the city's clay buildings, and temperatures are sublime. Read more on Marrakech's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Marrakech

-Marvel at the incredible interiors of the Ben Youssef Madrasa, once an Islamic college.

-Watch street performers and browse stalls at Djemaa el-Fna, the city's main square.

-Wander through the Museum of Marrakech, housed in the Dar Menebhi Palace.

-Explore the ruins of the once magnificent El Badi Palace.

What to do in Marrakech

-Enter the medina through Bab Agnaou, the most ornate of the city's ancient gates.

-Stroll through the gardens of the famous Koutoubia Mosque and hear the haunting call to prayer.

-Take refuge from the heat in the stunningly colourful Majorelle Garden.

-Visit the Saadian Tombs, a 16th-century necropolis with beautiful mosaics.

Beyond Marrakech

Marrakech is a fantastic base for excursions into the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert and there are numerous popular daytrips from the city. Visitors in search of a beach break head to the popular resort city of Agadir; for an experience of ancient Morocco visit the UNESCO-listed Ait Benhaddou; to appreciate the natural beauty of the mountains explore the Todra Gorge; and for a touch of skiing in the winter months head to Oukaimeden.

Getting there

Marrakech-Menara International Airport, situated about four miles (6km) southwest of Marrakech, is among the busiest airports in Morocco and can be a bit chaotic. There are direct flights to Marrakech from a number of cities in Europe and the UK and indirect flights from the United States.

Get more information on Airports in Marrakech.

Did you know?

-The name Marrakech means 'Land of God'.

-The classic Hitchcock movie, The Man Who Knew too Much, was filmed in Marrakech.

-Somewhat unexpectedly, there are a handful of golf courses in Marrakech.


Overview


Traversing the alleyways and souks of Marrakech, particularly in the Medina (Old City), it is easy to believe you have been transported back in time or stumbled onto a movie set for a medieval Arabian Nights production. It is this enchanting, fairy-tale quality that brings thousands of sightseers to the most-visited of Morocco's three imperial cities, Marrakech. The heart of the Medina is Djemaa el-Fna, an irregular 'square' where everything seems to happen - the place to which tourists are drawn time and again to soak up the carnival-esque environment. Tourism, though, has not spoilt the atmosphere, if anything, it has only added to it. The modern side of Marrakech (called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle), with its luxury hotels, banks and streets bursting with motor scooters, blends well with the past in a metropolis made up of people from the Berber Atlas tribes, Mahgrebis from the plains, and Saharan nomads, among others.

Marrakech was founded in 1062 by Youssef bin Tachfine of the Almoravid dynasty, and his son perfected the city by bringing in architects and craftsmen from Cordoba to build palaces, baths, mosques and a subterranean water system. The city walls were raised from the red mud of the plains, with the snow-covered peaks of the High Atlas Mountains forming the city's backdrop, though they are often hidden by the heat haze which blankets Marrakech.

One of the many ways to soak up the sights and sounds of Marrakech is in one of the hundreds of horse-drawn carriages (known as caleches) that are for hire, but it is also necessary to take in the Medina's souks on foot, plunging into the hurly-burly maelstrom of passages where tradesmen ply various crafts, from cloth dyeing, copper beating, and leather working, to herbalists, perfumers and slipper makers.

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