From the moment you arrive in Marrakesh, you’ll get the distinct feeling you’ve left something behind, a toothbrush or socks, maybe? But no, what you’ll be missing in Marrakesh is predictability and all sense of direction. Never mind: you’re better off without them here. Start at action-packed Djemaa el-Fna and head north into Marrakesh’s maze of souqs, where Berber tribes once traded slaves, gold, ivory and leather, and where modern tourists scour people-packed alleys for carpet bargains and babouches. If you look carefully, you’ll also spot a number of creative new boutiques and galleries. They signify the evolving face of the medina as a new generation of craftsmen and artists try to connect the city’s hankering for modernity with its traditional craft heritage.
Beyond the souqs, the medina is an ideal place to explore private palaces and riad mansions, many of which now provide the city’s most atmospheric accommodation. But it’s worth leaving the old city occasionally for dinner, drinks and art galleries in the ville nouvelle (new town), mountain bike rides in the palmeraie (palm oasis) or horse-riding and weekend retreats in the Agafay Desert and Ouirgane.