Marrakech is the gateway to Morocco. It is the perfect introduction to the country’s infinite charm and its intoxicating chaos. From the moment you arrive at one of the city’s riads, greeted in true Marrakshi style with a steaming cup of mint tea and a platter of honey nut biscuits, you will be enveloped by the sounds, smells and sights of Morocco. From the roof terrace of your riad, gaze out across a horizon punctuated by towering minarets and soak up the tranquillity of your surroundings as you overlook the hubbub of daily life below.
Marrakech’s famed souks are at the heart of the city. Navigate the labyrinth like alleyways, wander through the tangle of cubbyholes fit to bursting with hand cut tiles, brass lanterns and woven textiles before mastering the art of haggling as you root around in the alcoves of a craftsman’s atelier. All roads lead to Djemma el-Fna; a bustling square alive with the murmurs of storytelling, the calls to prayer of the Koutoubia, and the hullabaloo of astrologers, snake charmers and Gnawa acrobats all jostling to play their part in the spectacle of the Medina.
A trip to Marrakech is incomplete without parting with a few dirhams in return for a Berber rug, ornately carved pottery or a handful of fresh mint. However, beyond the souks, discovering the hidden gems of the city makes for an equally enchanting experience. Visit the famed Jardin Majorelle gifted to the city by Yves Saint Laurent, Bahia Palace with its intricate marquetry or hydrate desert scorched skin in a Hamman to round off a stay in the city.
Let the blue Fassi tiled Bab Boujoud gate welcome you to Fes. It’s the entrance to the impressive, bustling labyrinth of this historic city’s expanse of streets and alleyways. Being in Fes feels like you’re stepping into another world. It’s a sprawling city with no motor transportation, the only thing you’ll have to keep an eye out for are the donkey carts bustling around. Smaller than Marrakech, Fes is still offers a wealth of culture in Morocco. From gardens, Kasbahs, mosques and souks, to the vibrant blues of Chefchaouen, Fes and Northern Morocco are an excellent sampling of all this diverse country has to offer.
Perhaps one of the most unique places in all of Morocco, maybe the world, is Chefchaouen. It’s the perfect, serene escape from the chaos of Morocco’s larger cities. There are lots of different fascinating legends why the city is painted in bright shades of blue, but the most popular is that Jewish settlers tinted it blue as a reminder of sky and heaven, and to live a spiritual life. The “blue pearl” is also photographer’s dream, one thing you must do while in Chefchaouen is wake up early, just as day breaks, when the streets are calm and vacant. Walk around and take photos of the alleyways, staircases, and blue walls contrasted with the bright pastel flowerpots that line them. It’s an evocative and beautiful vantage point of the city. And probably the best introduction to Morocco you could have.