From the moment you arrive in Marrakesh, you’ll get the distinct feeling you’ve left something behind – a toothbrush or socks, maybe? But no, what you’ll be missing in Marrakesh is predictability and all sense of direction. Never mind: you’re better off without them here. Marrakesh is too packed with mind-boggling distractions and labyrinthine alleyways to adhere to boring linear logic. If you did have a destination, you’d only be waylaid by snake charmers, out-of-control donkey carts, trendy silver leather poufs and ancient Berber cures for everything from relationships to rent.
Start at the action-packed Djemaa el-Fna, and if you can tear yourself away from the castanet-clanging water-sellers and turbaned potion-sellers, head into Marrakesh’s maze of covered market streets. Marrakesh’s souqs are like a cold Riad plunge pool on a scorching July day: nothing quite prepares you for the shock. Dive in headfirst at any street headed north off the Djemaa el-Fna, and with any luck you’ll emerge exhilarated and triumphant some hours later, carpet in tow.
While you’re in the heart of the Medina, you may come upon a palace museum, stay in a Riad guest house, and venture a dish of piping-hot snails. But it’s worth leaving the charms of the old city occasionally for dinner, drinks, art galleries and fixed-price boutique shopping in the ville nouvelle (the new town). Go with the flow, and become an honorary Marrakshi bahja (joyous one).
Get fresh with freshly squeezed orange-juice carts on the Djemaa el-Fna.
Then dive right into the maze of souqs towards the Rahba Qedima where potion sellers promise cures for whatever ails you, from stubbed toes to broken hearts. Up the street, the glorious decor at Ali ben Youssef Medersa will raise eyebrows and lift spirits, Dar Bellarj will show you what Marrakesh’s creative minds are up to lately, and the Musée de Marrakesh crafts displays provide a point of reference for the work you’ll find in the souqs. Shop your way over to Souq Sebbaghine (Dyers’ Souq) where skeins of wool are hung out to dry, pass the gossipy Mouas-sine Fountain and unwind with a leisurely lunch at Terrasse des Épices Stop for a coffee or tea amid the Saadian splendours of Dar Cherifa, then hit the Djemaa el-Fna to take in the sunset spectacle before dinner at stylish Villa Flore. The next day go for the glitz at the Saadian Tombs before getting royally wowed by the woodworked ceilings at the Bahia Palace. Grab some mechoui (roast lamb) to go from Mechoui Alley and enjoy your picnic feast in the technology-assisted splendours of the Cyberpark . Post-mechoui, haggle your way into a cab to chill out at the Jardin Majorelle, then troll the galleries off Rue Yougoslavie and boutiques along Rue de la Liberté. Stop for a cocktail on the rooftop at ultracool Kechmara , before your dinner at nearby Al Fassia , and cap off the night with a toast in the company of smooth-talking diplomats and shimmying candle-dancers at Comptoir .
Follow the two day itinerary, and on the third day take an easy day-trip to hike the High Atlas foothills around lovely Imlil wedged between snowcapped mountains and terrace-farmed hillsides.
Return to Marrakesh in time for cocktail hour at Kosybar and finish up with an utterly memorable meal in Djemaa el-Fna.
On the fourth day go for a cooking course or Palmeraie cycling circuit, then get steam-cleaned in one of Marrakesh’s legendary hammams . Finish in style, strutting your stuff at Pacha .
in a Riad guest house, and venture a dish of piping-hot snails. But it’s worth leaving the charms of the old city occasion ally for dinner, drinks, art galleries and fixed-price boutique shopping in the ville nouvelle (the new town). Go with the flow, and become an honorary Marrakshi bahja (joyous one).