Marrakech is one of the world's most underrated destinations. With charming accommodation, unforgettable authentic experiences and a range of palaces, galleries and sites to see, Morocco's fourth largest cities has much to offer. Here are six amazing things to do during your time in the city.
1. Stay in a riad
To enjoy a truly authentic Moroccan experience you can stay in a riad. Riads are traditional townhouses usually based around a central courtyard. This is a far more sophisticated and relaxed way to experience the city than a few nights in a hotel. A good riad will feature all the modern conveniences you're looking for too, so you can have a stay in complete comfort while experiencing the real Marrakech.
2. Search the souks
No trip to Marrakech would be complete without wandering around the souks. The sights, sounds and smells of these charming markets give you a glimpse into the lifestyle and culture here. You'll have the chance to barter and haggle just as Moroccans do or you can simply look at the amazing variety of unique products on offer. Expect to see just about everything from cheap curios and souvenirs to amazing handcrafted furniture and fragrant whole spices. Shopkeepers might seem pestering, but they aren't nearly as aggressive or pushy as in many parts of the Middle East – Marrakech's souks are actually a very pleasant shopping experience.
3. Visit a hammam
The hammam is the Moroccan equivalent to a spa, although it differs from what you might expect from a western spa dramatically. Locals will go to a hammam to relax, socialise and enjoy a thorough cleansing session. Men, women and children of all ages visit and it's customary to stay for anything up to three hours. You might feel more comfortable visiting the more tourist-friendly hammams, as the ones that are more popular locals can be quite full on. Traditional hammams are strictly sex segregated, while some tourist ones will offers couples massages and the like. Either way you'll have an amazing experience.
4. Learn about leather tanning
There are a number of leather tanneries across Marrakech and while it's not necessarily a standard tourist activity, it can be very interesting to go in and have a look around. It's fascinating to learn about the leather tanning process and to see the centuries-old techniques still being used. The smell can be rather unpleasant but this is a truly authentic experience and a chance for some great photos. If you go on a tour of a tannery you will almost certainly be taken to a leather shop to look at the products. Generally you'll pay far more here than in the souks, so if you see something you like it's worth declining and shopping in one of the markets later.
5. Wander round Djemaa el Fna
To experience the hubbub of city life, there might be no better place than Djemaa el Fna. It is a popular square and market place found in Marrakech's medina quarter. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you'll see everything from snake charmers and dancers to delicious street food stalls. Locals and tourists alike congregate here, and the area really comes alive at night.
6. Explore the Atlas Mountains
There are many fantastic day trips that you can take from Marrakech, but if you're only doing one, the Atlas Mountains offer something truly special. They can be reached in around an hour and a half and there's a range of activities to enjoy while you are here. You can try anything from camel rides and quad biking to simple tours in the wilderness. This is also a fantastic opportunity to visit a Berber village as there are many in the region.