When seeking an unusual location for a New Year vacation, exotic and exciting Morocco is the ideal destination. This north African country has much to offer, and the city of Marrakech is an ideal place to start.
Framed by the Atlas Mountains and surrounded by the Sahara desert, Marrakech is a place of constant fascination. The following covers some of the recommended spots to visit in what is known as the “Red City,” due to the ochre colors of the traditional Moroccan buildings in the town.
The Old Town area of Marrakech is a must-see stop on your tour, with its many souks offering countless and colorful items to take home with you. The Medina is the perfect spot for a little retail therapy, where you can choose from clothing and textiles for the home, beautiful handmade pottery, baskets, and multi-hued woven carpets.
Breathe in the scent of spices, displayed on multi-colored stalls, as sellers try to get your attention as you pass through the narrow, winding alleyways of the town. It is probably best to window shop on your first pass through the souks, as often you can get a better deal elsewhere.
While in the Old Town, visit Jemaa El-Fna, the well known square in the heart of Marrakech. This square varies depending on the time of day. In the daylight hours, Jemaa El-Fna is a place of noise, hawkers and sellers of orange juice and snacks, while in the night it turns into a magical bazaar full of musical entertainment, story tellers, acrobats, snake charmers, and food stalls.
According to the Rough Guides, if you can’t take the crowds in this busy area of Marrakech, you can head up to the rooftop terraces such as the Café du Grand Balcon for a little respite, watching the action from above while enjoying a coffee or refreshing mint tea.
While in the square, enjoy a bite to eat but bear in mind that the cafés circling the square are mostly tourist oriented, so rather visit the local vendors’ stalls for the real taste of Morocco, along with the more familiar cold drinks.
The Ville Nouvelle, or newer part of the city, is maybe not as interesting as the Old City, but it does have an interesting and relaxing place worth visiting. After a busy time exploring the hectic souks, the Jardin Majorelle, or Majorelle Garden, offers a stroll through green and lush plants and trees surrounding a colorful Moorish building, housing an art museum dedicated to the garden’s creator.
The garden reportedly took French painter Jacques Majorelle some forty years to create and is filled with exotic plants, burbling streams and pools covered in lotus flowers and water lilies. Many birds take shelter in this shady and quiet place, filling the air with their song.
According to a blog by Dar Ayniwen, the garden and rich blue building are a perfect example of the French Colonial era in Marrakech and Morocco in general, and the garden has since been taken over by the famous designer, Yves Saint Laurent, a big fan of Marrakech, who opened it to the public.
For those who prefer a modern city — in line with major cities all over the world — Guéliz is an area close to the Jardin Majorelle and is perfect for a luxurious shopping and dining experience, or even just a McDonald’s burger and fries.
Surrounding the main thoroughfare, Avenue Mohammed V, you will find a series of more upmarket shops, fast food outlets, cafés, and restaurants, with the Place Abdelmoumen Ben Ali offering the best concentration of luxury shopping experiences.
On a clear day, this area offers amazing views of the Atlas Mountains, which form a beautiful backdrop to the fascinating city of Marrakech. For a more in depth view of this lovely city and its daily life, enjoy the short documentary video included below.