The markets in Marrakesh are some of the best places to discover new spices and find deals on souvenirs and other trinkets.

Situated in central Morocco is the beautiful city of Marrakesh. Divided into two sections, Marrakesh consists of Medina, the old city, and the new modernized part of the city, called Gueliz. Whether traipsing around mosques or making your way through the sultan’s palace, in Marrakech you will find that you always have one foot in the past and one foot in the future. The old days of the Saadian period sit side-by-side with the booming, industrial, European movement of the Ville Nouvelle. If your time in Marrakesh is limited, use our guide to get you to the 5 best spots in the city before you have to leave.

Mosques of Marrakesh

While many of the mosques in Marrakesh aren’t open to the public for tours (unless you are Muslim), the grounds that surround these beautiful buildings are fair game for exploration and enjoyment. You can head to the Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakesh for just such an experience. This mosque is said to be for Marrakesh what the Eiffel tower is for Paris, the symbol of the city. If one mosque isn’t enough for you, then head to the Mouassine Mosque and explore their grounds as well.

Sift through the Souks

Much like La Rambla in Barcelona, the souks, or tiny retail cubicles, create a maze in the old town of Medina. You can find colorful textiles, carpets, clothing, and even cooked snails if you’re looking for something a little more out of the ordinary. There are two different entry points into the heart of the shops and those in the know are aware that the rue Mouassine is the best way to get right in the pulsing center of the bazaar.

As you drift from shop to shop, you’ll hear the exotic music playing and you’ll find yourself entranced with the sights and sounds of the souks. Amid your wandering you are sure to bump into more than a couple street performers who jostle for space with the shopkeepers who are vying for your attention and business. Unlike other cities where the street performers are 'living statues' or trying to trick you into a card game where you lose your wallet, in Marrakesh, the performers are slightly more artistic and traditional—in face you may even see twirling acrobats and enchanting snake charmers while you are in Medina’s maze.

La Mamounia

This world-famous hotel has some of the most incredible gardens in all of Morocco and on top of the gardens, the level of luxury available in their accommodations is to die for. After a long day hustling around the city, the lush gardens of La Majorelle are a welcome respite. The startlingly green surroundings stand in sharp contrast to the tans, browns and reds that are more common outside the Gardens walls. While in the area, you will also stumble upon luxury shops like Yves Saint Laurent, the Berber jeweler, and a number of high-end cafes and restaurants. Beyond the grounds café, there’s also a poolside lunch buffet, afternoon tea at Le Menzeh, or cool off at the ice cream parlor.

Ancient Saadian Tombs

Dating to the time of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, the Ancient Saadian tombs are now a popular tourist attraction due to their truly mesmerizing beauty. They have been well preserved since their creation and when you look at the tombs, you will feel like you have stepped back in time. The mausoleum consists of members of the Saadi dynasty and if the smaller spaces here are too much for you, simply head outside, where you can peruse the gardens and graves of soldiers and servants.

Sultan’s Palace

Along with the Saadian tombs, the Sultans Palace is one of the premier monuments from that era. Though the Palace is now hardly more than a ruin, you can still imagine how tall and grand the building once stood. With a little history lesson around it and touch of imagine you can almost see the gold from Timbuktu covering its exterior and the now-sunken gardens overflowing with blooming flowers.

Leather Souq

Be one of the few to discover this secret spot in Morocco. In Fes, Leather Souq is the oldest leather tannery in the world. Take in the colours, textures and people of Leather Souq to truly experience the raw beauty of this amazing country. While not technically in Marrakesh, this beautiful spot is with the day trip.

Marrakesh is just one part of Morocco, but beyond this list of the five best places to see while in Marrakesh, a day’s wandering can show you parts of the city that you would never have known existed. A sense of adventure and a willingness to explore a new city are all you need to make the most of your time spent in Marrakesh. Take off on a road trip of your dreams through Morocco and see all this country has to offer. Don’t forget to cover your holiday for an added boost of protection in the off-chance you may need it.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Valdiney Pimenta