Marrakech Souks are a real life Aladdin’s Cave
It surprised me that the majority of friends I asked, warned me I might not like Marrakech. I loved it! Far from finding the chaotic markets a hassle, I only wish I had more luggage to stock up on bargains.
3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
SOUKS | or Markets. Hundreds of colourful stalls clustered by product and located north of the Medina. Aim to check out the main ones. But know you’ll get lost time and time again! Covered Souk Semmarine is the main artery. Don’t miss Souk Sebbaghine, meaning Dyers Souk. Also check out: Aachab Atlas apothecary.
ATLAS MOUNTAINS | never expected to see rain in Morocco, let alone SNOW! Terrible fortune with the weather led to a highly recommended day trip over this beautiful mountain range to visit the UNESCO site of Ait-Ben-Haddou dating from the 17th century (and site of many films including Gladiator).
HAMMAN | particularly perfect for those rare rainy days! This experience at Medina Spa was expectedly fabulous and a glorious 3 hours of pure indulgence. Be prepared to get naked, be scrubbed until you shine, and drenched in buckets of water.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
JEMAA EL-FNAA| the Medina, or market place, is the square at the heart of old town Marrakech. You’ll criss-cross through it many a times. Two prime spots are Grand Balcon for people watching, and the food stalls in the centre. Also check out: Koutoubia Mosque to the West.
BAHIA PALACE | means ‘brilliance’. Admire the impressive floor, wall and ceilings that are largely painted, gilded, and inlaid woodwork. Only a portion is open to the public and that’s the opulently ornamented harem that once housed four wives and 24 concubines.
RIAD | from even brief research there’s clearly a riad to suit all briefs. From basic to uber-luxurious. We kept it simple and stayed here which was a ridiculous £10 each a night and perfectly comfortable. I’d splurge on a proper pool next time in order to have a haven from the crowds.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
ANIMALS | are a prominent part of the vibrant Medina scene. Unfortunately you will see monkeys and snakes, who can’t be having much fun being peddled around for dumb tourists.
ALCOHOL | wine and holiday go so nicely hand-in-hand. So old town and its lack of booze is a bit of a shock, but a pretty refreshing change. Overload on Moroccan tea with every meal instead.
DARK ALLEYS | despite being 2 girls, I can report we really didn’t have any problems. My only watch-out is at night avoid straying too far. The quieter streets feel a little more ominous with excessive offers to show you to destinations (for a tip). Also check out: even eating at Le Foundouk felt weirdly out of the way.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
JARDIN MAJORELLE | bought by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1980s. It is reportedly beautiful with an astounding electric blue villa atop the 12-acre botanical garden, with Moorish and art deco features.
AND KNOW THIS: Morocco is the largest processor and exporter of sardines in the world.