No amount of preparation can fully make you ready for the magic that is Marrakech. The city that moves to its own energetic beat, the Red City is as pulsating with energy as it is beautiful. From its leathery stalls to its beautiful carpet souks, the city enthrals your soul.
Marrakesh, or as the French call it, Marrakech, is one of the most important cities in the Kingdom of Morocco. This beautiful city is reputed to rejuvenate the senses. It lets you cut yourself loose from the rat race and allows you to breathe in its vibrant culture and unmatched hospitality.
Marrakech. Image from https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/48-hours-in/marrakech-travel-tips-where-to-go-and-what-to-see-in-48-hours-a6802146.html
Marrakech as a tourist destination is ideal for couples, families and solo travellers alike. The city can be visited at any time of the year though tourists tend to throng the city particularly during the months of March through May and September through November and December.
In order to understand and live the vibrancy and hospitality of the city, it is a brilliant idea to vacation at one of the luxurious villas in Marrakech that are traditionally built yet accommodate the most modern of needs.
1. THE BEN YOUSSEF MADRASA
This beautifully preserved building used to be an Islamic school in the 14th century and home to about 900 pupils. This madrasa is a fantastic example of Moroccan architecture and design. You may admire the colourful tiles or wander around the courtyard, and if you do happen to reach early enough, just bask in the tranquillity and silence.
It is located in Kaat Benahid, Medina. The timings are 9 AM to 7 PM which change to 6 PM in the winters. The cost of entry is 20 Dirham.
2. TAKE A CULINARY LESSON
At the top of most bucket lists when visiting a new country, is to indulge in the local cuisine. Many of the villas offer this option, you have the option to visit the souks hunting for the right ingredients, come back and learn some local dishes from the chef.
3. THE MEDINA
If you wish to lose yourself completely in Moroccan life, the Medina is where you should be. The old city (Medina) is one of the most beautiful areas of Marrakech and can give loads of insight into the daily routines of the local folk. From spice, lamp and carpet souks to a crazy and confusing maze, a visit to the Medina is nothing short of spectacular. In fact, if you are worried about getting lost in the Medina (and you should be), you can also consider taking a walking tour.
4. HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
A hot air balloon ride just as the sun rises from its sleep over the dunes of the Moroccan Sahara is just the kind of beauty one must indulge in the wee hours of the morning.
5. HAVE A HAMMAM
Hammams are extremely popular this side of the world. A hammam is a warm bath with a massage and a hot sauna. The kind of experience you want to have at a hammam really depends on the kind of money you are willing to shell out. Little hammams are dotted all over the medina though slightly away from the touristy places and cost around 10 to 15 dirham to enter, 15-30 dirham for a scrub and 50-100 dirham for a massage. If you are looking to indulge in a much more luxurious experience, consider places like The Royal Mansour, Heritage Spa and La Mamounia.
Tip: It is always a good idea to book your session in advance.
6. SAADIAN TOMBS
Dotted with orchards of oranges and palm, beautiful gardens, this is the final resting place of Saadian Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour ed-Dahbi. These tombs are proof that, for some people, wealth lives on even after death. This place is located on Rue de la Kasbah, next to the Koutoubia Mosque. It is open from 9 AM to 4.45 PM every day and entry costs 10 dirham.
7. KOUTOUBIA MOSQUE
The Koutoubia Mosque is located deep inside the medina and is the most major landmark of the city. Its minaret can be seen from over 20 kilometres away and dominates the skyline. It is located on the Corner of Rue de la Koutoubia and Ave Mohammed V but it is closed to all those who are not Muslims.
8. STAY IN A RIAD
Even though Marrakech has a great many beautiful resorts and hotels, nothing can make your vacation better than staying in one of the many traditional riad or villas that resonate with the essence of Moroccan architecture mixed with modern marvels.
9. MARRAKECH TO MERZOUGA
This is a 3-day safari in the Moroccan Sahara Desert. It includes spending the night at a traditional Bedouin camp in the Erg Chebbi dunes, riding camels to watch the sun rise and set and seeing the Kasbah of Ouarzazate.
10. MARRAKECH TO ESSAOUIRA
Go on a day trip to the beautiful town of Essaouira, on the coast of Marrakech. Visit the medina, the sea and also see Berber women working in the production of Argan oil.
11. BERBER VILLAGES
Visit the Berber settlements of the High Atlas Mountains as part of a day trip. The beautiful trek will take you through hamlets like Ait Mizan, Imoula and Targa.
12. OUARZAZATE AND AIT BENHADDOU
Go on a day trip to Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou. Cross the Atlas Mountains to descend into and discover 2 of Morocco’s most gorgeous deserts.
There is much more to Marrakech than just these places, for these are just the tip of the iceberg. Good luck to coming back from the Red City without its energy gushing through your veins!
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