1. Djemaa el-Fna
Possibly the most lively and unforgettable town square in the world. Lined by orange juice sellers during the day, the Djemaa becomes part dining room (everything from sticky sweets to lamb soup) and part circus (acrobats, snake charmers and bouncing dancers) once dusk falls. You’ll probably want at least a taste of the Djemaa every day (and night) you spend in Marrakesh, but watch out: before you know it, you’ll be addicted to the heady smells, colourful spectacle and glorious unpredictability of this unique meeting place.
If you look up – you’ll see the minaret of the famous Katoubia mosque from just about every corner of Marrakesh. This symbol of the city is actually only 77 metres high, but the local topography and the rules of the city mean no other building can rise above it. Built in a traditional Almohad style it’s particularly beautiful, especially at dusk as the sun sets and muezzin calls the faithful to prayer.
3. The souks
You could easily spend your entire Marrakesh sojourn wandering, haggling and purchasing your way through the city’s inimitable jumble of colourful stalls and shops. Think bejewelled silk babouches (slippers), brightly decorated pottery, sumptuous scarves, leather goods, jewellery, perfume and spices, the souks are an assault on the senses (and possibly your wallet too).
4. Unwind in a riad
Stay in an exotic private residence in the heart of Morocco’s old city. Riads (literally “garden house”) have been popping up all over Marrakesh for the past few years and offer a wonderful, usually luxurious and affordable, chance to stay in the heart of the medina (old city) in a traditional guest house built around a central courtyard. Check out www.riadabaka.eu and you’ll be right in the thick of things.
5. Jardin Majorelle
Marrakesh is home to a number of wonderfully peaceful gardens that make a great escape from the searing summer heat. Of these, the Jardin Majorelle & Museum of Islamic Art are a calm escape from the frenetic pace of the city. The ashes of French couturier Yves Saint-Laurent, who owned the garden, were scattered at the Majorelle on his death in 2008.