Situated at the base of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and only a few hours away from the Sahara Desert, Marrakech’s location and temperament is naturally exotic and unique. Inhabited by Berbers since Neolithic times, this south central Moroccan city has helped shape the entire country for over 1,000 years. Acting as the capital city of the south, a visit to Marrakech is an interactive walk through its rich history and vibrant culture. Though there is so much to see and do in this world famous city, here is our top ten list of Marrakech’s most exotic attractions and activities:
10. Visiting the Souks:Marrakech and the rest of Morocco are both famous for their souks, or traditional open-air marketplaces. Though a bit hectic and chaotic to the first-time traveler, a tour of these famous markets is an unforgettable experience. Marrakech’s Old Medina and Jemaa el-Fna (central square) is home to a huge maze of traditional souks, selling everything from perfumes and spices to carpets and traditional Moroccan attire. With snake charmers, street performers, magicians, hawkers and other wandering traders filling the tight alleys, it is not unusual to have a surreal feeling of walking into another century.
9. The Tanneries: Alongside Marrakech’s markets, its tanneries are another wild attraction. With so many leather goods being sold in the streets and souks, it may make you wonder where all these products are coming from. Ask your Marrakech tour guide for a tour of the city’s traditional tanneries, where age-old practices turn animal skins into beautiful marketable items.
8. The Gardens: Despite Marrakech’s hot, arid climate, steamy surroundings and blistering summers, it is still very much an oasis compared to the nearby Saharan cities. Amongst Marrakech’s most appealing oasis-attractions are its gardens. Found all throughout the city, these exotic sanctuaries filled with pools, fruit trees, flowers and shrubbery are a much-needed retreat when the climes of summer get overwhelming.
7. A Belly Dance: If a regular night out on the town isn’t interesting enough for you, try visiting one of Marrakech’s traditional belly dancing restaurants. Live belly dancing performances are quite popular, many a times encouraging patrons to get up and join themselves!
6. Relaxing in a Hammam: Enjoy a day of relaxation, at one of the Moroccan city’s traditional hammams. A Hammam is a traditional public bathhouse where trained professionals massage and scrub its patrons into tranquility; an age-old favorite for Moroccans all over.
5. Staying in a Riad: Match your exotic Moroccan tours with equally alluring accommodation by staying in a riad. A traditional Moroccan house decorated with lavish interior gardens and courtyards, these domestic oases provide families and tourists much solace from the busy streets and oppressive weather patterns of Marrakech.
4. The Berber Experience: Berber farmers have inhabited the red city for thousands of years. Tours through Marrakech’s outlying regions traverse visitors through traditional Berber villages (Telouet being the most famous) where these “free men” still live primarily agrarian lives.
3. Exotic Cuisine: While Moroccan cuisine is quite exotic in itself, Marrakech offers visitors a whole new level of adventurous eating. If snail dishes and spicy tajines stewed for over 6 hours don’t feel exotic enough, try one of Marrakech’s “sheep head stalls”- that should do the trick!
2. Experience the Sahara: For an exotic adventure into the surrounding wilderness, Marrakech offers a number of day trips that crisscross travelers through the Atlas mountain region, Berber villages and out into the Sahara Desert … on camelback! An unforgettable experience for all tours of Marrakech.
1. See the City from the Skies: One of the most incredible things to do in Marrakech is take a hot air balloon ride. While not the cheapest adventure to embark on, this aerial sojourn provides some unbelievable views and incredible memories to take away from this grand Moroccan getaway.
From exotic cranial meals and sharing the streets with snake charmers to hammam treatments and tropical garden getaways, Marrakech is one of Morocco’s most unique and exotic visits. Filled with history, culture, adventure and surprise, a trip to this major Moroccan city will not be soon forgotten.
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