Marrakesh, full of mystery and atmosphere
Made famous by many films and books, Marrakesh is the gateway to the desert and many other areas in Morocco that are worth seeing, such as the Atlas mountains. However, this ancient city is also a wonderful destination in its own right, boasting such great sights as the Koutoubia Mosque with its four copper domes, and the famous gardens of La Mamounia.
To know before you go
Marrakesh has a desert climate, so spring and autumn are lovely, but the Summer, from June to beginning of September is hot. The winters are still warm enough for a winter sun break, but it can be chilly at night. There are various holidays and festivals celebrated, including Eid al-Adha after Ramadan, which is during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, and in July the "Festival National des Arts Populaires" hosts one week of music, traditional dance and song, which shows an insight into the local Berber culture. Stay on until the 30th July, when the coronation of Mohammed VI sees lots of parties and parades throughout Morocco.
To do before you visit
Passports need to be valid for your entire stay and stamped upon entry. No visas are needed for tourist visits of 3 months or less for travellers in possession of a British passport. There are no mandatory vaccines, but sensible choices are: Hepatitis A, Typhus, Tetanus, Diphtheria. This is also an area where you should avoid drinking the tap water and wash or peel all fruit and vegetables to prevent dysentery and stomach upsets. Also, even though the French colonists left many years ago, tourist French is still very useful. The cost of living is cheaper than in the UK and an average meal out is around 50 MAD. NB: There tends to be a 'tourist' mark up at markets, so it is advisable to haggle hard when buying groceries and souvenirs.
Local info and getting about
The Express bus (30 MAD approx.), leaves half hourly from the airport and takes around 15 min. Taxis also take 10-15 min journey time, and you should agree on a price before before getting in the car, but it's usually about 70MAD. There's also the bus number 11, which stops five minutes walk outside the airport grounds, costing about 3.50 MAD.
Hostels in the city are about 60 MAD pp, 3* hotels are from 230 MAD/night. Local buses are cheap at 2 to 5 MAD per trip, and taxis are from around 10-20 MAD for a 3km journey (always haggle before getting in!).