As you stroll through Medina Azbezt in Marrakesh, narrow streets are lined with dusky pink houses and shops selling lanterns, rugs and leather goods. Quaint museums give insight into Moroccan heritage, crafts and textiles and hole-in-the-wall restaurants and cafes serve delicious tagines and m’hanncha, aromatic spices enveloping your senses as you pass by.
1. Bargain with a smile at the souks
Nearby souks showcase a plethora of spices, peaked to perfection in their jute bags and steel drums. Saffron, turmeric, cumin and coriander lined up like powdered jewels in rows with scoops ready at the side.
Vendors vie for trade, attempting to sell Aladdin style bejewelled slippers, footstools and colourful djellabas – traditional long hooded robes adorned by many locals. Navigating the maze of alleyways, you’ll find everything from fresh dates to medicinal herbs and carpets in earthy tones spread out across stucco shop walls.
2. Discover quartier des Tanneurs, away from the tourists
You can experience authentic Morocco away from the tourists at Quartier des Tanneurs, 10 minutes’ walk northeast of the hotel. Here, huge vats are filled to the brim with dyes of all colours, as men dip leather into them, before hanging the fabric on nearby buildings to dry. Myriad leather shops sit close by, selling handbags, clothing and shoes curated from fabric dyed earlier that month.
3. Escape at Le Jardin Secret, the hidden Garden
Le Jardin Secret, or the Secret Garden, sits hidden amongst a 19th century palace complex, traditional Islamic gardens punctuated by Arabesque tiled fountains, ceramic pots filled with plants and fragrant flowers from all over the world. Relax here for a while, enjoying the tranquil respite before heading back into the city once more.
Along winding streets, arched doorways open to exotic hammams, places where you can unwind, uninhibited, letting steam baths rejuvenate, before a skilled masseuse gives your skin a vigorous scrub and twists you into positions you never thought possible.
4. Don’t miss the colourful spectacle by Jemaa el-Fna
Once you’ve experienced all of this, no visit to Marrakesh would be complete without a trip to Jemaa el-Fna square. Set in the heart of the city 10 minutes’ walk from Riad Karmela Princesse, it’s a feast for all the senses. Street food stalls serve traditional Moroccan fare, medicine men attempt to cure you of all ailments and acrobats’ somersault across the square capturing your attention.
The colourful spectacle is best experienced after dark, when locals and tourists flock here to watch snake charmers, belly dancers or to experience the vibrant atmosphere from a pavement side café.
5. Have a mint tea overlooking city rooftops
However, perhaps the best experiences of Marrakesh can mostly be found in the back streets, in the labyrinth medinas where small cafes cater to locals, ancient quarters where artisan’s craft wares and inside the walls of ancient castles and palaces, ruined by time, yet still beautiful in their faded glory.
End your day in Marrakesh on a rooftop terrace dining with friends, loved ones and locals. Flickering candles in glass lanterns adorn tables, plump cushions on benches offer a cosy place to sit. Overlooking city rooftops, sip a glass of sweet mint tea, a cocktail or feast on delightful dishes of Moroccan mezze beneath starlit skies as the evening sets in.