£61 African town four hours from Newcastle with labyrinthine streets and bustling markets

Summer is well underway, although this week, someone could have predicted the weather.

Rain, thunderstorms and grey skies are enough to get everyone planning a holiday. And some destinations offer warmth and sunshine outside the traditional holiday season for British tourists.

In October this year, Ryanair is launching a new flight from Newcastle Airport to the city of Marrakech in Morocco. For many British and European tourists, Marrakech is the first glimpse of Africa – a magnificent city full of palaces, gardens and mosques, all centred around the Djemaa El Fna square, a feast for the senses.

Ryanair offers flights to Marrakech from £59.99 one way. According to Skyscanner, the cheapest overall deal found by ChronicleLive to Marrakech runs from Sunday 10 November to Wednesday 13 November, with a basic return flight costing £121.

Here are five things to do in Marrakech, if you decide to go there.

Shopping and eating in the city’s souks

Djemaa el Fna is a huge square and market in the heart of the Marrakech medina. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the city’s top attractions and is home to barbecue stalls, snake charmers and street performers.

The city’s souks (markets) are within walking distance of the main square, including the antiques-rich Souk Semmarine, Souk Haddadine (Blacksmiths’ Alley) and Rahba Kedima (Spice Market).

Marrakech in Morocco – Credit: iStock Editorial/getty images

Stroll through the Majorelle Garden

The Jardin Majorelle is one of the most breathtaking sights in Marrakech. It is a botanical garden with a bright blue villa at its center. It was created by a French artist, Jacques Majorelle, over a period of forty years starting in 1923.

Famous French designer Yves Saint-Laurent loved the garden so much that he bought it in 1980. There is now a museum dedicated to YSL, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, next to the gardens, showcasing some of the designer’s most famous works.

Visit the city’s palaces

Marrakech is famous for its palaces, with the Bahia Palace being one of the first places on many visitors’ itineraries. The 19th-century building is decorated with stucco, paintings and mosaics set amidst a set of gardens and was intended to be the largest palace of its time.

At the other end of the scale is El Badi Palace, the ruins of the magnificent home of Sultan Ahmed al Mansour. Its towers, now inhabited by storks and their nests, dominate the city’s medina.

The Musée des Confluences is housed in another palace, while the Medera Ben Yousef is a stunning 14th-century religious school considered an architectural marvel and one of Marrakech’s most important monuments.

Hiking in the foothills of the Atlas

Those staying in Marrakech for a week or simply wanting to get away from the urban agglomeration can head to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Often organized as day trips, travelers can visit the Berber villages and waterfalls of the Ourika Valley, about 60 km from Marrakech.

Go to the desert

The Agafay Desert is a popular day trip from Marrakech. Tourists can enjoy camel trekking and quad biking here. However, note that the Agafay Desert is not part of the Sahara. Nevertheless, it is a unique experience for travelers in Europe and the UK.

It is possible to visit the Sahara Desert from Marrakech, but Merzouga and Erg Chebbi, considered the gateway to the Sahara, are more than eight hours away by road. If you have an extended stay in Morocco, it is possible to camp in the desert overnight.

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