Wander around the Old Town alleyways, eat from steaming bowls amidst the mmlle of the Jemaa el Fna square or visit the opulent palaces and it's easy to see why so many visitors are enthralled by Marrakech.
The Moroccan city of Marrakech remains the most accessible entry point into Africa, with Menara Airport (RAK) under four hours' flight-time from the UK. The city's riotous jumble of Old Town and New Town shopping areas is famous the world over. You can visit souks brimming with kaftans and carpets, marketplaces fragrant with street foods, the UNESCO-protected labyrinth of the Medina or the Old City with its covered stalls and winding alleys.
Venture beyond the hubbub and serenity awaits in the Menara Gardens or in the Gueliz neighbourhood, where the French-Moroccan fusion of the Majorelle Gardens forms a tropical paradise that will amaze old and young visitors alike. Families staying here might want a few energetic days and there are plenty of activities which cater for children, such as go-karting and Marrakech's own bowling alley in the Palmeraie.
Marrakech truly is a melting pot of history and culture and even children will be fascinated by its many monuments and grand residences. Feast your eyes upon more Moroccan craftsmanship at the Dar Si Said Museum, or take a step into the Grand Vizier's vision at the splendid Bahia Palace. The El Badi Palace dates from the 16th century, as does the Koranic school of Ali ben Youssef Medersa, which is a visual treat with its mosaics and carved woodwork. In fact, Marrakech's past goes all the way back to the 1100s, with the Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret still a testament to enduring faith as well as a stunning example of Moorish architecture.
The city's close proximity to Europe make Marrakech holidays ideal for a short break and hotels here offer a surprising level of service for your money. There are traditional town riads with an open courtyard or New Town complexes with facilities such as swimming pools and spas. Those opting for a longer stay can take advantage of the deluxe out-of-town establishments, as well the chance to explore further afield and take in the Atlas Mountains or keep company with the native Berbers at one of the southern oasis villages such as Amtoudi.
The best season to take your holidays to Marrakech is usually between the months of November and February, when temperatures are pleasantly warm. It's always advisable to book early during this period, especially over the school holidays, as it is a popular time to go.
Marrakech takes pride in its festivities and events such as the Tafraoute in February have everyone celebrating the end of winter with dancing and music. There's a chamber music festival during April and the summer is defined by Moroccan Independence Day in June. If you go there in August, head for the Atlas Mountains to cool off and enjoy the Moussem carnival in the village of Setti Fatma. Alternatively, bring the year to a close in style by attending North Africa's premier film festival in Marrakech during December.
Marrakech's unique attractions have been a magnet for travellers for decades and whatever time of year you go, the culture, people and both natural and man-made treasures will inspire you.
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