Marrakech in Morocco, just 3 and a half hours away from the UK, is the perfect destination for a short break easily done on a student budget.Situated near the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is truly a world away from our own.
The best time to go is between November and March, as it is less busy, cheaper and temperatures average 20oC instead of the sweltering summer norms of 40oC.
The exchange rate is 13 dirham to the pound and, as an example, Arabic flatbread costs just 1 dirham, meaning that eating out is cheap. Also a good and authentic tagine in the restaurants located in the main square, Djeema el-Fna, can be had for as little as £5. Street food, such as calamari, cous cous, barbequed meat and sweet pastries, is even cheaper and should definitely be sampled. Staying in a beautiful riad, a traditional Moroccan town-house often complete with plunge pool and rooftop terrace, won’t set you back either. Prices per person per night are around £15 with breakfast included. Cheaper accommodation can be found at basic hostels from £3 a night but these are not as comfortable. Excluding souk shopping, which can mount up, you can easily get by on £15-25 per day.
Quite simply, visiting Marrakech is an experience like no other. The atmosphere, people, culture, history, sights and smells make for a heady experience that you will fondly remember and heartily recommend.
We stayed at the friendly Riad Balkisse in the height of summer, just 2 minutes from the main square, without a reservation. Balkisse is the perfect place to stay and provides a great continental breakfast (www.riad-balkisse.com).
>Barter, barter, barter! I walked away with a beautiful hand-woven rug for less than half its original price.
>Spend the evenings sampling the street food, dancing and snake charming before relaxing at a roof-top bar or café.
>Get lost in the veritable Aladdin’s cave that is the souk. You’ll see the backstreets and for a 2 dirham tip you can ask a local to show you the way out.
>Visit ‘Les Jardins Majorelles’, a true oasis in the middle of a warm and often chaotic city. Owned by the late Yves Saint Laurent, the gardens are a must-see.