Marrakech has become the Moroccan tourism capital in the latest ten years, so it is quite usual to have tourists all over the year. Marrakech is known as the red city and is one of the most important former imperial cities in Moroccan history, with its alleys and minarets. It is inside the Medina that the life of the people who live there takes place and where the tourists enjoy to be. Outside the Medina there is the modern city. Thus, Marrakech turns out to be the perfect combination between the new and the old. You can leave Marrakech, but you will always remember it by its odors, its music and its people.
The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) akush, which means "Land of God." It is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat, and lies near the foothills of the snow capped Atlas Mountains and a few hours away from the Sahara Desert. Its location and contrasting landscape have made it an enviable destination in Morocco.
Marrakech-Menara Airport is an international airport with direct scheduled flights coming in from Cairo, London, Stockholm, Paris and Madrid and many charter flights arriving from all over Europe and Africa. If you are flying from the US, Canada, Asia or elsewhere, you’ll have to change planes in Casablanca.
Plenty of low-cost companies now fly to Marrakech. Some companies fly to Casablanca, where a plane change for the 45 min flight to Marrakech can be made.
The airport is located about 9km (6 miles) from the city. The best option, if you don’t have too much luggage, is by bus (line 19). Otherwise it’s easier to take a taxi which takes about 15 minutes to get to the center of the Medina.
The train station is in the recently developed Guéliz district at Avenue Hassan II. For train times and schedules, check out the Moroccan Railway website (www.oncf.ma).
Trains from Casablanca (2nd class 84 Dh/ 1st class 150Dh, 3 hours), Rabat and Tangier connect with most domestic rail destinations in the country, with Marrakech as the southernmost stop. Trains run regularly between Marrakech and Casablanca (including the International Airport). They arrive around every two hours and regularly from other destinations like Rabat. Every day there are 8 direct 7 hour trains to Fez via Casablanca Voyageurs station and another two direct connections to Tangier.
Djemaa el Fna is the most exciting place to be in Marrakech, the place where everything happens. It is the main square of the city, [and a place] where locals and tourists have fun together. As you arrive in Djemaa el Fna, if it is daylight there are the orange juice stalls, chained apes so you can photograph them, and sellers of almost everything such as handbags, shoes and food. The water sellers are a picturesque attraction of the square with their large hats and colorful clothes. There are also the snake charmers – you have to pay to photograph them. Everyone tries to sell you something and you have to bargain.
At night, the square wakes up for another life. There are more people seeing the dancers, the musicians, the story-tellers with Berber tales and peddlers. At night, part of the square is occupied by dozens of food-stalls that are like restaurants in the open air. Djemaa el Fna is Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, to protect their traditions and cultural diversity. Near Djemaa el Fna, you will also find the souks that are like shops to buy everything you want. Djemaa El-Fna is surrounded by labyrinths and alleys of souks covering all the Medina.
Outside the Medina you have a new city. With hotels and modern restaurants, bars and discos where tourists have fun. If you want, you can go on a tour in a caleche (a carriage with horses) and discover the inside of the Medina. You have to be careful so you don’t get lost inside the souks when you go shopping.