24 Hours in Marrakesh

marrakesh marketMarrakesh is home to enough attractions and curiosities to keep people occupied for several days, but if you only have 24 hours, here is one way to fill your day:

9:00 a.m.

Start your day with a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice while you watch the city begin its day. You can purchase a large glass for around 3 Dh in the Djemaa al-Fna. Next, get your bearings by sauntering over to the Koutoubia Mosque. This building has the tallest minaret in the city and is one of Marrakesh’s most iconic sites. While non-Muslims are not permitted entry to the mosque, everyone is welcome to roam around the gardens.

10:00 a.m.

Take a spin through the souks in the heart of the medina and start shopping for souvenirs. Shopkeepers traditionally gave a discount to the first customer of the day, although usually it’s worth checking out a few stalls before you buy anything. (more…)

Hot Air Ballooning Near Marrakesh

hot air balloon moroccoHot air balloon excursions from the outskirts of Marrakesh take passengers over the Western High Atlas Mountains, the Oueds Tinsift and the Al Hawuz Plain. Half-day trips start early, around 5:00 or 6:00 a.m., so the balloon can be launched before or around sunrise. The early morning hours offer the best light for enjoying the view.

Balloon rides don’t operate during the height of summer (mid-July through late August) due to southern Morocco’s extreme heat. When booking, make sure the company you plan to go with has certified pilots and utilizes trailing vehicles that follow the course of the balloon in case of an emergency. Ask whether transport to and from Marrakesh and any meals are included. Most half-day excursions include 4×4 transport, a camel ride and breakfast in a Berber tent.

Each hot air balloon can hold up to 10 passengers, including the pilot. The balloon’s basket is made up of four sections, and three passengers can stand in each section. Keep this in mind when booking; most companies also offer a pricier option of renting the entire balloon for a romantic couple’s flight. Reduced rates may be available for children, although be sure to check the minimum age requirement. (more…)

Cultural Activities in Marrakesh

cloth in a marrakesh morocco soukFilled with history and stories, the ancient city of Marrakesh has been called the “Red City” for some time. As a former capital and perennially thriving trading post, it also houses some of the finest artifacts in the country. And, as the city has always served as the symbolic and physical link between north and south, mountain and plain, it is one of the best places to experience the true mélange of Moroccan culture.

If you want to experience all that Marrakesh’s vibrant cultural scene has to offer, make sure not to miss these outstanding spots.

Jardin Majorelle and the Museum of Islamic Art – A botanical garden first built by French artist Jacques Majorelle in 1924, the grounds today host innumerable flowering plants and trees, more than 15 bird species and a series of fountains and walkways. The garden has been open to the public since 1947 and has been owned by Yves Saint Laurent since 1980. The garden is also home to the excellent Museum of Islamic Art, which houses traditional pottery, jewelry and metalwork, textiles and other art from Morocco and North Africa. (more…)