Marrakech

Marrakech: Why go

Founded nearly a thousand years ago, Marrakech is Morocco's most vibrant and exotic city, with its rose-coloured buildings, wealth of monuments and labyrinthine souks (markets) set against the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. A shopaholic could spend a lifetime here, browsing through the stalls of homeware, fabrics, spices, wooden crafts, lanterns and other trinkets, and equipping an imaginary (or real) second home.

The medina (old walled town) is a maze of unsigned pink alleys - getting lost is part of the experience, as is paying a child to take you back (not always successfully) to where you're staying. There are literally hundreds of riad-style hotels to choose from, ranging from backpacker haunts to 5-star luxury - and we have picked our very favourites in each price bracket.

The main hub, and the point where most alleys emerge, is the huge square of Djemaa el Fna (also spelled Jma el Fnaa and other variations), where open-air BBQ stalls, nut and date vendors, orange juicers, snake charmers, story tellers and assorted touts mix with a melee of bemused tourists.

But there's plenty more: opulent palaces, royal tombs, and - in the new town of Gueliz - colourful gardens including the popular Majorelle of Yves Saint Laurent fame. Further afield are the dense palm groves of the Palmeraie, dotted with upscale resorts and the occasional golf course - an alternative place to base yourself if you want a bit more breathing space and don't mind taking taxis in. Again, we've chosen our favourites among the smaller-scale hotels there.

All in all, Marrakech is definitely worth a few days, especially for the first-time visitor.

23:05 | GMT + 0 Hours