With more flights to Marrakech from the UK now than ever before, it’s never been easier to fly south and chase lashings of exotic winter sunshine while temperatures plummet back home. While the city can get very hot in summer, early autumn and winter are better times to explore the “Pink City”.
From balmy summer nights to the aromatic scents of the markets and the magic and mystery of conjurers, snake charmers and musicians, Marrakesh is one of the most captivating places in the world.
With more budget flights in service from the UK to Morocco’s most famous city, more and more travellers are choosing to hop over to Marrakesh for a quick city break. Here are our highlights of what to enjoy during a weekend away in the exotic Moroccan capital.
Once you luggage is safely stowed in your hotel and you’ve refreshed, have a wander towards breathtaking Djemaa el-Fna – the main square and market place in Marrakesh’s medina.
5pm At sunset, make sure you grab a seat at the popular Café du Grand Balcon and take in the sights. You’ll feel the stresses of life start to ease as you watch acrobats flip and musicians play. We also recommend sipping a traditional mint tea as you take in the delights.
6.30pm Rumbing tummies will love the adventurous and exotic cuisines of the market. Taste the flavours at the 100 makeshift barbecue stalls, which come to life at night, serving all manner of local dishes.
8pm Relax and unwind in a hammam (steam bath) at Le Bain Bleu – the orange-blossom massage has to be tried to be believed.
The Next Day:
10am Pay a visit to Ali Ben Youssef Medersa, an ancient centre of Islamic learning, which is now a museum. Afterwards, take a stroll through sous and enjoy the beautiful displays of ornate lanterns in Haddadine (Metalworkers’) Souk, and the enticing scent of leather in Cherratine (Leatherworkers’) Souk.
Foodies will love the towers of 37-spice blends in Rahba Kedima, the old spice market – make sure you pick up some sweet and hot spices to take home.
1pm Collapse onto a divan to admire your shopping at Villa Flore and sample their super chef’s aubergine caviar, washed down with local wine.
3pm Take a stroll to the Jardin Majorelle (7), the peaceful garden of designer Yves Saint Laurent in the Ville Nouvelle (new city). The stunning blue, lemon yellow and and green shades make for beautiful photos.
5pm Art lovers will enjoy Morocco’s cutting-edge art galleries, clustered in the Ville Nouvelle. Graffiti meets Berber at David Bloch Gallery (davidblochgallery.com) and Galerie Noir Sur Blanc (facebook.com/galerie.noirsurblanc), while Galerie Rê (galeriere.com) and Matisse Art Gallery (matisseartgallery.com) display more abstract art.
7pm Enjoy a spot of people-watching before dinner at one of the chic European-style cafes in Gueliz.
8pm Tuck into a well earned dinner at Al Fassia (00 212 524 43 40 60; booking essential), where you can sample a proper Moroccan diffa (feast) with four courses. The tender lamb is a must-try and is roasted so slowly that it has to be ordered 24 hours in advance.
10.30pm Head to the trendy Le Comptoir bar and soak up the atmosphere and admire the belly dancers. Be sure to wait around until midnight, when glamorous dancers descend staircases balancing trays of lit candles on their heads. Or, have a drink in the historic Churchill Bar at Marrakech’s most famous hotel La Mamounia, a beloved favourite of Sir Winston himself.
Where to stay: Swiss timeshare specialist Hapimag’s chic Marrakech Residence, in La Palmeraie. Just outside the city, the resort has a cool blue pool, swaying palm trees and many of the suites have their own gardens. Temperatures are cooler in this palm oasis where a lot of the five star resorts are located – about 5C lower, on average.
Hapimag can organise excursions to argan co-operatives or the charming coastal and kite surfing resort of Essaouira and the hotel can also provide guides to take you into town for a day of sightseeing and shopping. Organized excursions leave on set days and times during the week, so be sure to ask when you check in.
Getting there: BA, EasyJet and Ryanair all fly from various UK airports, direct to Marrakech. Flight time is about three and a half hours, not much longer than it takes to get to Malaga.