Marrakech defies mapping, logic and time. One minute you're immersed in Jemaa el Fna square's drum-thudding, monkey-juggling theatrics; the next you're slipping behind a numberless door to a riad where a fountain burbles and birds twitter in the pomegranate trees. The medieval din of the minaret-studded medina, the boho-chic clubs of Hivernage, the colonial glamour of boutique-lined Ville Nouvelle -- all roll into this one intense, colorful, gigantic puzzle of a city. Just when you think you've figured it out, it amazes and inspires you all over again.
Things to Do
The everyday enchants in Marrakech's derbs (alleys). Get lost in the mazy souks and rejuvenate with a steam clean and orange-flower oil massage in a domed hammam. Moroccan artistry excels in the geometric zellij (mosaics) and intricate cedarwood of former Koranic school Ben Youssef Medersa, while the Bahia Palace's sultanly splendor flashes back to an age of tittering concubines. Keep your cool in exotic Jardin Majorelle and over Atlas mountain views in the Menara Gardens.
Dodge the donkeys and brace yourself for haggling and mint tea in the labyrinthine souks. Souk Semmarine is full of brisk trading in carpets, babouches (pointy slippers) and olives. Sparks fly on Place des Ferblantiers where tinsmiths work filigree lanterns. Go to Kasbah's Spice Souk for saffron and Rahba Kedima for miracle cures and Berber whisky (mint tea). Image-conscious Marrakchis shop in boutiques and galleries in Ville Nouvelle and Mouassine, where celebrities adore La Maison du Kaftan Marocain's couture kaftans.
Nightlife and Entertainment
At dusk, your ringside seat for Jemaa el Fna square awaits. Before you can say "non, non," you'll have a cobra around your neck, a fortune teller reading your palm or Gnaoua drummers spinning into a trance -- for a tip. Kosybar's rooftop terrace is primetime sunset viewing as the medina lights up. In Ville Nouvelle, Hivernage and Guéliz, join the nouveau jet-set at decadent supper clubs, on Pacha's dance floor and in 1950s Casino de Marrakech.
Restaurants and Dining
Chefs at Jemma el Fna's smoky food stalls lure diners, and the daring tuck into snails and muttonheads. All fountains, petal-strewn tables and candlelight, dining in medina riad is an intimate affair. Bring an appetite for a diffa (feast) of sweet pastillas (pigeon pastries), meltingly tender lamb and olive-studded tagines. For glamour, dine on French cuisine in Ville Nouvelle's cafes, or enjoy belly dancing, Gnaoua beats and shisha at a glitzy Guéliz supper club like Le Comptoir Darna.