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Discover Marrakech

Information and reservations

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Tel: + 212 524 371 645

Did you know?

• Although Marrakech was founded in the 11th century, Berbers had been living in the region since the Neolithic era. • The city was popularly known as Marrakush al-Hamra, meaning Marrakech the Red, inspired by the blushing sandstone used for the ancient walls. • Marrakech still uses an 11th century irrigation system to water the city’s gardens.

 

Travel to Marrakech

 

Flying to Marrakech

Airlines operating direct flights to Marrakech from the UK include Royal Air Maroc, easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways. Other airlines offering flights from mainland Europe includes Swiss, Air France and Iberia. Many airlines still fly via Casablanca, Morocco's main international hub.

Flight times: From London - 3 hours 30 minutes; New York - 7 hours; Los Angeles - 11 hours 40 minutes; Toronto - 7 hours 35 minutes; Sydney - 21 hours 30 minutes.

 

 

Travel by road

Major cities in Morocco are connected by a good network of relatively uncongested roads, but driving within Marrakech is not recommended due to almost constant traffic jams of trucks, cars, daredevil scooters, clueless pedestrians and stubborn donkeys. Many of the new roads in the Palmeraie (palm grove) outside Marrakech aren't yet paved, and a 4-wheel drive is recommended. Traffic drives on the right in Marrakech, and the minimum driving age is 18 years. The official speed limits are 100kph (62mph) outside towns and 40kph (25mph) in urban areas. There are frequent road blocks once you get outside Marrakech, so drivers should keep their papers accessible. The Moroccan authorities acknowledge most foreign driving licences, but an International Driving Permit is recommended.

Emergency breakdown service:

There is no general breakdown service - hire cars should have emergency breakdown details on board. For accidents, contact the police (tel: 19).

Routes:

Marrakech is linked to Casablanca by the P7, to Fes by the P24, to Ouarzazate by the P31, to Essaouira by the P10, and to Agadir via the P10 then P40.

Driving times:

From Casablanca - 3 hours; Agadir - 3 hours and 30 minutes; Fes - 7 hours; Essaouira - 2 hours 30 minutes; Atlas Mountains - 1 hour 8 minutes.

Coaches:

Most services between Morocco's major cities and towns are run by CTM (tel: 05244 47420; www.ctm.ma), the national coach company. CTM’s urban and intercity routes leave from Marrakech's Gare Routière (central bus station), on the northwestern edge of the old city. Bus tickets can be purchased in advance from the main bus station or at the Guéliz CTM office on Boulevard Mohammed Zerktouni. It is no cheaper but it will guarantee a seat, which is particularly advisable on routes that run a limited service.

Eurolines (tel: 0871 781 8181; www.eurolines.co.uk) runs services to Marrakech from destinations all over Europe, with many routes involving a change of coach in Paris. International buses arrive and in the Guéliz CTM office on Boulevard Mohammed Zerktouni. Supratours (tel: (05244 35525) provides comfortable, air-conditioned express bus services from Essaouira, Agadir and Laayoune. Buses depart and arrive from the Supratours station next door to the train station at Avenue Hassan II. You can purchase tickets in advance at the Supratours station or via your hotel or riad.

 

 

Travel by rail

Services:

The Moroccan rail system runs along two branches: from Casablanca on the west coast to Oujda in the northeast, and from Tangier in the north to Marrakech. There are two classes of seats: first has six seats per compartment, and second has eight per compartment. Second-class travel is quite comfortable for most journeys. In summer, note that first class ensures an air-conditioned carriage only on intercity TCR (Train Climatisé Rapide) trains.

Marrakech's railway station is located on Avenue Hassan II at the corner of Boulevard Mohammed VI in the new district of Guéliz. Tickets can be purchased directly at the train station or through your riad or hotel.

Operators:

The Moroccan state railway, Office National des Chemins de Fer, or ONCF (tel: 0890 203 040; www.oncf.ma), is a legacy from French colonial times, and although services are limited, they are reliable and inexpensive, and a good option for travel between Morocco's major cities. It's also a greener way to travel, reducing emissions that might otherwise harm southern Morocco's delicate desert ecosystems. Return tickets are good for up to seven days after your initial date of travel.

Journey times:

From Fes - 7 hours; Rabat - 4 hours; Tangier - 11 hours.

 

 

Marrakech travel guide

Exchange rate

£1 = Dh14.7MAD Moroccan Dirham

Weather in Marrakech

Sunny

25°C

Marrakech is an intoxicating city known for its souks, spices, snake charmers and hidden palaces, though these days it’s prized as much for its trendy art galleries, hip hotels and elegant hammams. Offering a tantalising taste of Africa within easy reach of Europe, it certainly lives up to the hype, and not only thanks to its fabled ancient medina.

It is to the medina, however, that most visitors will gravitate. The ageless city of blushing pink stone has waylaid desert caravans since the 11th century, with travellers succumbing to the charms of its bluesy Gnaoua music, calls to prayer and elaborate feasts. Its dark, narrow alleyways are full of artisan workshops, shrines and sprawling markets, and riads. These traditional courtyard guesthouses range from palatial oases to smaller, more intimate affairs.

Once you’ve had your fill of getting lost (not to mention the relentless street sellers and reckless mopeds), head to the open space of Jemaa el Fna. Thronging with locals each evening, the legendary central square hosts dozens of stalls serving up sheep's head soup from vast cauldrons, as well as grilled aubergines, ubiquitous mint tea and spicy cakes. Meanwhile, a mix of musicians, fortune-tellers, dancing cobras, storytellers and acrobats keep the crowds entertained until late. Towering over the scene is the stately minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, built in 12th century.

Beyond old Marrakech, a modern, 21st-century city is fast developing, particularly in the pulsating district known as Guéliz, and the wider Ville Nouvelle. Indeed, the city that lured hedonists and idealists in the 20th century now attracts fashionistas and trendy couples in search of luxury spas, chic bars and clubs. A flourishing arts and music scene is also firmly stamping Marrakech on the cultural map.

It’s this contrast that makes today’s Marrakech so interesting. With its maze of lanes and entrancing past, the medina will always have its appeal. But as you sip cocktails on a rooftop terrace watching the sun smoulder behind distant peaks, remember Marrakech’s legacy. This is the gateway to the immortal Atlas Mountains, and the vast Sahara beyond.

 

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