A weekend away in Marrakech

Marrakech holidays are fast becoming a hot weekend break destination, and with its mix of vibrant culture, fantastic cuisine and unusual atmosphere, it’s easy to see why. It’s easy to forget you’re at the bottom of the dramatic Atlas Mountains, as their serene snow-caps are a world away from the hustle, bustle and noise of the streets of Morocco’s ‘Red City’ below. A compact city, it’s easy to enjoy getting lost in the labyrinthine lanes of the Souks, or covered markets, and backstreets of hidden grand palaces and Riads.

If you really want to experience the Morrocan lifestyle then consider Riads as an alternative form of accommodation to hotels or B&Bs. Often hidden down winding alleys, riads are an old-fashioned, but charming way to rest after a busy day in Marrakech. Large stone buildings, with windowless walls, light rooms, pools and terraces thanks to the open ceilings and skylights. Staying in a Riad, you’ll be amazed by how distant the hustle and bustle of the city seems outside; meanwhile you can chill out on the rooftop or relax in the luxury of a traditional Hammam. The terraces provide secluded sunbathing for those who want to visit Marrakech for a quick-sun break. As well as providing unique accommodation – and offering a huge variety in price, there really is a Riad for most budgets, with top-end accommodation coming with all the luxury you would expect, but smaller budgets still finding rooms with exceptional value for money – tea houses and restaurants can be found in Riads which make the perfect afternoon getaway from the heat of the city.

However, Marrakech is a city with sights just waiting to be explored, and the best of them, unlike the hidden Riads, are fairly easy to stumble upon. Marrakech is possibly one of those rare holiday destinations – having just the right amount of activities and being the perfect size for a weekend getaway. The first sight you’ll notice, and indeed, spend a lot of your time around, is the Dejemaa-el Fna square. Here food-lovers and those looking for a true travelling experience will enjoy eating al fresco with the locals at the traditional food stores, while others will simply love soaking up the atmosphere of the street dancers and storytellers – all looking for a way to entertain the tourists and locals alike. Here, right in the middle of Marrakech life, the wise holidaymaker will take a ‘when in Rome’ attitude and haggle. The street vendors are used to haggling every sale, and it is even considered rude not to, so be brave, suggest a lower price at the market stalls and save yourself some extra money.

The Koutoubia Mosque is another of Marrakech’s highlights. Located right next to the Dejemaa-el Fna, even when you’re out of the city centre the Mosque is visible. Marrakech’s answer to Paris’s Eiffel Tower or New York’s Empire State Building, the Koutoubia Mosque’s towering Minaret can be seen all over the city and provides a peaceful spot to visit – just make sure you cover up if you want to visit.

El Bahia Palace is another of Marrakech’s sights which show how the rich lived in tranquility from the bustling normality of the city. This 19th century palace is beautiful, ornate and popular with tourist tours. However, it is well worth the entry fee to marvel at the spectacular décor and pretend to be a nobleman or one of his harem for a few hours!

Sometimes the usual European city break hotspots of Paris, Madrid and Rome can get a little…well, tired. But it is possible to fit in 48 hours of fun, food and new experience somewhere new, but equally close to home, as the European classics. Consider weekend breaks in Marrakech!

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