Souk shopping in Marrakech
Wander through the magical medina and find a treasure trove of brilliant buys
Exotic, chaotic, hypnotic and bursting with life and colour, the Moroccan city of Marrakech offers a unique shopping experience. Wander the ancient souks and haggle with the shopkeepers over a mint tea or two, and watch the craftsmen at work, carving, dyeing and weaving.
Explore at a leisurely pace to accustom yourself to the sights, sounds and smells in the magical Medina. Feast your eyes on the displays of glimmering silk slippers, glistening piles of olives, exquisite inlaid wooden boxes and beautifully woven shawls. Bartering is expected, so see it as a game and dont be shy.
Each souk has a speciality, from leather shoes and glittering jewellery to cooking pots and pretty, scented candles. To avoid being overwhelmed, make a wish-list and try to stick to it. While many vendors will ship goods, this can sometimes double the price. So, if youre really serious about your shopping, set off with space in your suitcase. Theres a lot of junk on offer, so you do need to be choosy.
For heavenly homemade organic soaps, heady with the scent of local flowers, visit LArt du Bain in Souk Lebbadine. For aromatic oils and fragrances, visit the traditional Herboriste Avicenne in Souk Laghzel. The chic Akbar Delights in Place Bab Fteuh is famous for its finely embroidered and beaded tops and skirts, priced from around £40. Aya's situated in the Mellah has stylish tunics and colourful kaftans in linen, cotton and silk, from £50. This mat sound pricey but you're getting handmade clothes that will last.
Allow plenty of time to browse the stalls in the bustling Place des Épices, where vendors offer richly patterned rugs, covetable china and woven baskets in many colours. You can also get traditional spices, piled high in tempting mounds. Theyll add flavour to your cooking at home and remind you of your trip to this atmospheric city.
Head for the Djeemaa el-Fna, the city's main square, which comes alive each evening with storytellers, snake charmers, acrobats, musicians and medicine men. The food stalls sell everything from herbal tea to stewed snails.
Dine at Al Fassia, a restaurant run by women, on Boulevard Zerktouni. The bolder among you should try the Pigeon pastilla, a delicious traditional pie. Dinner costs around £40 for two.
For a view of the marketplace, make for the vibrant Café Des Épices at Place Rahba Lakdima the perfect place to sit with a mint tea or a freshly squeezed orange juice.
Dont miss Yves Saint Laurents magnificent Majorelle Garden, with its gorgeous blue pavilion and Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, where you can find North African textiles from the designers own collection.
Fly to Marrakech with Easyjet for around £120 return. Visit www.easyjet.com for more information
Stay in an authentic riad, in the heart of the Medina. Owners Direct has an excellent selection from £50 per riad (which sleeps four), per night. To book, visit www.ownersdirect.co.uk
Visit www.visitmorocco.com for more information on Morocco