From the moment you arrive in Marrakesh, predictability and all sense of direction is lost. Start your day at action-packed Djemaa el-Fna and head north into Marrakesh’s maze of souks, where Berber tribes once traded slaves, gold, ivory and leather. Today, tourists scour people-packed alleys for carpet bargains and babouches. If you look carefully, you’ll also spot a number of creative new boutiques and galleries. They signify the evolving face of the medina as a new generation of craftsmen and artists try to connect the city’s hankering for modernity with its traditional craft heritage.
Beyond the souks, the medina is an ideal place to explore private palaces and riad mansions, many of which now provide the city’s most atmospheric accommodation. But it’s worth leaving the old city occasionally for dinner, drinks and art galleries in the ville nouvelle (new town), mountain bike rides in the palmeraie (palm oasis) or horse-riding and weekend retreats in the Agafay Desert or Ourika Valley.
As with most cities, the key to Marrakech is a good guide. Some of our favourite excursions include an insider’s vintage sidecar tour through the maze of Marrakech’s Medina, a private cooking class with ingredients straight from the souks, or floating over the Agafay Desert in a Hot Air Ballon at dawn.