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The name Marrakech 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. It is a few hours from the foot of the Sahara Desert. Its location and contrasting landscape has made it an enviable destination in Morocco.
The city is divided into two distinct parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the new European modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle. The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.
Marrakech has an international airport with direct scheduled flights from London, Dublin, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Paris and Madrid and many charter flights arriving from all over Europe. If you are flying from the US, Canada, Asia or elsewhere, you'll have to change planes in Casablanca.
Airport to city
The airport is about 5km from the city. There is an air conditioned airport bus every 30 minutes that costs MAD30 one way, MAD50 return.
The taxi stand at the airport is run by an organized gang, and only totally dishonest drivers are found there. The price on the meter to the airport is MAD15.
The No 19 Airport express bus is MAD30 for a single trip or MAD50 for the round trip. It serves all the major hotels and is a great way to go from the airport to the hotels.
Once in the medina, everything can be seen on foot, though you'll be doing a lot of walking. GPS is invaluable if you do not want to constantly rely on the help of locals to find your way. For exploring more of the city, buses and petits taxis are plentiful.
What to see in Marrakech
There is much to see and do in Marrakech. An entire day can be dedicated to wandering around the souks, seeking out the best bargains. The city offers several historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums.
Visit the Palmeraie Palmeraie is the green lung of Marrakech. It is a real oasis on the outskirts of the city. It is the perfect place to take a nomadic space of a few hours during a camel ride.
The square of Djemaa El-Fna is the highlight of any Marrakech night. Musicians, dancers, and story tellers pack this square at the heart of the medina, filling it with a cacophony of drum beats and excited shouts.
The Souks, or markets of Marrakech, just adjacent to Place Djemaa El-Fna, are where you can buy almost anything. From spices to shoes, jellabas to kaftans, tea pots to tagines and much, much more.
Tanneries Visiting the Tanneries can be an interesting experience. Even if some people tell you the area is only for locals, it is possible to visit the Tanneries without paying a youngster. After finding a Tannery, ask one of the workers if you can visit it and take pictures.
Koutoubia Mosque, right besides Djemaa El-Fna, is named after the booksellers market that used to be here. It is said that the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque is to Marrakech as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.
El Bahia Palace is an ornate and beautiful palace, popular with guided tours and stray cats. The palace is well worth a visit and gives a great impression of what it must have been like to be a 19th century nobleman in Morocco.