If your Marrakech holiday is a quick escape and the priorities are a stunning setting, good food, relaxation and sun, you may prefer to stay away from the centre and just dip into the medina. Staying in rural Marrakech is a wonderful way to absorb the Moroccan culture and completely wind down. You can combine it with a few days in a riad or just use it as a single base from which to explore the city, the desert, the Atlas Mountains and even day trips to the coast. Below are a selection of our rural Marrakech holiday options around the city edge, from the super-smart Palmeraie to the lower key Ourika Valley – drop us an email or give us a call and we’ll make some recommendations.
The start and finish for most Morocco Holidays. Highlights are the souks in the old Medina, the main square in the evening, the Majorelle gardens and the historical sites. You should definitely stay in a Marrakech Riad for at least a few nights but also some beautiful villas and hotels on the edge of town in rural Marrakech. Click for suggested riadsMore
Essaouira is our favourite at all times of year. Probably the prettiest coastal town in Morocco and loads to see and do. Great camel trekking, horse-riding, surfing kite/windsurfing, cooking lessons, lovely medina (more relaxing shopping than Marrakech). Also great places to stay in town and in the village click below for suggestionsMore
High Atlas Mountains
Incredibly close to Marrakech but a world apart, the Atlas mountains are an essential visit. Go for a day trip (trekking or driving tour), or stay in one of the beautiful kasbahs perched on a hilltop to relax and soak up the viewsMore
The massive dunes of the Sahara should be on anyone's "bucket list" and it is easy to do a trip into the desert from Marrakech, Fes or the coast with a bit of planningMore
Ait Ben Haddou
One of the most famous sights in Morocco, Ait Ben Haddou is a rock fortress on the south side of the Atlas. Always a good stopping point on our desert tours and a must for the photo albumMore
The Todra and Dades Gorges maybe a little over-hyped but certainly worth a stop on the way to Mezourga - part of our Desert & Gorges TourMore
A pretty walled town within easy reach of Agadir (so a lot of day trippers from the package hotels) but also a great place for a night's stop between the desert and the coastMore
Having been re-built after and earthquake 50 years ago it doesn't have as much charm as other Moroccan cities but the beach and climate are lovelyMore
A small seaside town built up around a pretty estuary and lagoon. Home to La Sultana, the best coastal hotel in Morocco and can easily be combined with a visit to Marrakech and EssaouiraMore
Less well known as a tourist destination but with recently introduced direct flights from the UK it is an interesting city where you can see the modern Morocco alongside the rivermouth Kasbah and the medinaMore
The biggest city in Morocco and an industrial sprawl. We generally advise not stopping there and even if flying to Casablanca head North to Fes/Rabat or south to Marrakech/Essaouira. If you are passing through it is worth visiting the spectacular seafront mosque.
Fes makes for a fabulous long weekend or as part of our "Grand Tour". The highlight is the medina which most people prefer to Marrakech, partly as it is on a hill you are much more aware of the geography. Also, do a day trip to the Roman ruins at Volubilis and ask about a night or two in the village of BhalilMore
The second good dune area of Morocco is Erg Chebbi by Merzouga - easier to get to (no 4x4 needed) and whilst the dunes are stunning we prefer Erg Cheggaga for a proper desert experience.More
Not only is Morocco a country of great cultural riches, it is also geographically varied and therefore offers the independent traveller a huge variety of holiday experiences in a short space of time - you can easily see 3 totally different aspects of Morocco in a week's holiday - see the Itineraries section for some ideas.
The north of the country has a Mediterranean coastline and a strong European influence. Behind this coastline sits the Rif, a fertile region of high mountains, gorges and interesting rock formations. The west of Morocco is dominated by the Atlantic coast and there are many beautiful beaches and water sport activities on offer. Essaouira is situated in a prime location on this coastline. Inland are the impressive Atlas Mountains, home to the Berber people, and perfect for hiking, trekking and biking holidays. The south of Morocco is a vast region of deserts, mountains and oases, where nomads still travel around in a centuries old tradition. Marrakech stands at the foothills of the Atlas and is a perfect centre from which to explore the Atlas, Desert and Coastal area.
To explore the whole of Morocco could take a lifetime. We have focussed on the three main centres of Marrakech, Essaouira and Fes along with tours and trips to include the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. Please email us or phone us (0207 112 0019) for a chat about how to best use your time.
Got a question about holidays in Morocco? Call Alisdair, Barbara or Anna on (UK) 0207 112 0019, or email email@example.com
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Travel with your tastebuds
Travel the world, one meal at a time, with this collection of recipes gathered from our favourite destinations.
Weekend after weekend seems to disappear into a haze of creative lockdown activities. We’re making the most of extra time at home and whipping up dishes from our favourite destinations, filling homes with the smells of markets, street food stalls and family favourites…
Our team have shared the recipes that make them think of their travels, and hope they’ll inspire you to turn your hand to something new!
Sakizli Dondurma – Classic Chewy Ice Cream
What distinguishes Turkish ice cream from others is its stretchy, almost chewy texture which is derived from mastika, the gummy resin from the acacia tree. Another unique ingredient is salep, ground orchid root from Eastern Anatolia which give the ice cream a subtle flowery flavour. Ice cream sellers are renowned across Turkey for their elaborate shows when serving ice cream, teasing and cajoling buyers by pretending to pass over the cone just to snatch it back, it’s quite a performance!
We love this recipe, as although it requires some specialist ingredients you may need to hunt down, it’s very quick and easy and lots of fun for all the family to enjoy.
900ml full fat milk, 300ml double cream, 225g sugar, 3 tablespoons ground salep and 1 piece of mastika, crushed with a little sugar.
In a bowl, mix the salep with a little milk. Put the rest of the milk into a saucepan with the cream and sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, stir a few spoonfuls of the hot liquid into the salep and add it slowly to the pan, constantly stirring until smooth. Beat in the mastika and simmer gently for 10-15 mins.
Pour the liquid into a bowl and cover with a dry towel and leave to cool. Replace the towel and cover bowl with foil and place in the freezer to set, beating at intervals to disperse the ice crystals. Before serving, place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Brinjal Pahi (Aubergine curry)
One of our favourite boutique hotels in the Sri Lankan tea country has kindly shared this family recipe with us. It’s a bit more time consuming than some curry recipes, so perfect as a lockdown project and one that rewards you richly as it’s simply divine.
This curry would typically be served with lots of other dishes, including a fragrant rice, a meat based curry and some other side dishes made with lentils, vegetables and even fruit. But no need for that (perhaps save that treat for a visit to Rosyth Estate House and let the lovely chef take care of it!) – we love this with just the rice and perhaps some popadoms. It transports us straight back to Sri Lanka.
- 250g aubergine julienne cut – best made with the baby aubergines rather than large ones
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil for deep frying 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic finely sliced
- 1” cinnamon stick
- 3-4 cardamoms bruised
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons mango chutney
- 4 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon mustard (Dijon Smooth works well)
- 1 tablespoon chilli powder (reduce to taste)
- 2 tablespoons unroasted curry powder
- 1 sprig of curry leaves (if available)
- 1 tomato finely chopped
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Salt to taste
- 1. Add salt and turmeric to the aubergine and mix well .
- Deep fry the aubergines in small batches and set aside. Alternatively bake on a high oven until browned and soft – uses less oil
- Deep fry half the onion, garlic and curry leaves.
- Remove excess oil from the deep fried ingredients.
- Sauté the onions and whole spices.
- When onions are soft add sugar, vinegar, mango chutney, tomato sauce and coconut milk.
- Add the aubergine to the sauce.
- Garnish with the deep fried onion, tomato, garlic and curry leaves.
Anna says: The tagine is by far the most popular cooking item in Morocco. No matter where you are in the country, you will find one in the kitchen. The word “tagine” specifically refers to a clay pot with a cone-shaped lid that slowly cooks meats and vegetables until they are moist and oh so tender.
1 large red onion
1 potato or turnip
1 courgette or squash 1⁄2 a bell pepper
3 glugs of olive oil
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1⁄8 teaspoon ground saffron
3 garlic cloves
A small handful of chopped fresh parsley and coriander
Salt and pepper, to taste
Slice the red onion, tomato, carrots, bell pepper, and peeled potato/turnip. Quarter the courgette/squash. Arrange the red onion on the bottom of a medium-sized tagine, and top with the rest of the vegetables. Then, grab a glass and pour in 125 millilitres of water. Mince the garlic and add it to the water with the spices, parsley, coriander, and a few glugs of olive oil. Give it a good stir, then pour atop the tagine. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about an hour, or until the vegetables are cooked through. Garnish with a slice of lime and serve warm with khobz.
Eva says: Every time I am in Thailand, the first thing I want to do is eat! And most of the times a simple Pad Thai satisfies my Thai food cravings immediately: with its typically Thai flavour combinations and the street-food freshness kick.
Here is my favourite recipe for you to cook it at home. If you follow a vegan diet, there is a version without the fish sauce as well!
Marbree says: Like most Asian countries, rice is a staple in the Philippines and at breakfast, Sinangag is the savory base for starting the day.
With its crispy bits of fried garlic and the pungent flavour infused in the rice, my mouth waters just thinking about it It’s always the first thing I eat when I visit the Philippines, no matter what time of day it is.
Daphne says: What better way to reminisce past Kenya holidays then with some great food! One of my favourites is the Kenyan Pilau.
Smelling the spicy food it reminds me of the Kenyan plains and wildlife and makes me start planning new adventures for better days to come.
Alba says: Egyptians are very proud of their falafel but why? Don’t all falafel taste the same?
The answer is simple: no! Egyptian falafel is made out of fava beans (instead of chickpeas) which gives its special texture and flavour. For some it’s the best in the world! Check out the recipe and try for yourself…
Gosia says: Imagine dinner under the stars, where cooks dig up a pot of Bedouin Zaarb, which been gently cooking for hours. A delicious mix of meat and vegetables, cooked beneath the desert sand.
Finish your feast with hot, sweet & salty dessert – Knafeh. A sumptuous and filling pastry made with creamy sweet goat’s cheese and surrounded by buttery, shredded pastry, layered with melted cheese, covered with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pistachios… just perfect!
Marbree says: Choosing one recipe from Malaysia and calling it a favourite is impossible but lately I’m loving the fun of making Teh Tarik. Letting the taste transport me to the vibrant streets of Penang where I first saw the hot liquid fly from one mug to another.
Malaysian-grown black tea, a salt-soaked spoon for adding condensed milk, and the joy of “pulling” the tea so it foams and cools. It’s simple to make yet feels delightfully decadent and on a cold winter day, and there’s nothing like smelling the sweet, spicy aromas of southeast Asia.
Gosia says: Drinks, drinks, drinks… We would like to share a secret we discovered while travelling to Cuba – delicious Canchanchara. It is a drink made of rum, honey, lemon juice and ice, and the best place to taste it is a colonial town of Trinidad.
For coffee lovers we have a special recipe which includes: rum (of course!), honey and coffee. We found this amazing drink right on the slopes of Sierra del Escambray in the national park Topes de Collantes, near Trinidad. Come, taste it yourself and tell us which one is your favourite!
Alba says: Dumplings are the most eaten food in China during the Chinese new year celebration as it’s believed that it will bring prosperity and wealth.
Who doesn’t love Chinese dumplings? You can fill them up with your favourite veggies, meat, or both and through lockdown making these little parcels is the perfect afternoon family activity!
Thea says: Even with a whole week I wouldn’t be able to tell you all my favourite Greek recipes! If I had to choose one though, it would be the humble Gigantes Plaki – giant beans cooked in olive oil and a thick tomato sauce. I always add feta and dill, too.
This store-cupboard standby is big on flavour but small on effort. It reminds me of very early spring season sailing in Greece, when a steaming bowl of Gigantes and warm crusty bread is the perfect antidote to a chilly evening after a day’s sailing.
Daphne says: Zanzibar food tells much about the history of the country. n the national cuisine you can find a number of influences from many different places around the world.
In this beautiful country you can enjoy the diversity of cuisine, where spices, fruits, and sea foods are 100% fresh.
One of my favourite dishes is Mchuzi Wa Samaki. This is a wonderfully fragrant, spicy curried fish dish and fills the house with the scents of Zanzibar.
Gosia says: The star dish in Barbados has to be the national food Flying Fish with Cou Cou.
Although Flying fish is a tropical fish and you probably won’t find it in the UK, you can easily replace it with a different type of white, meaty fish.
Check out the quick video of this caribbean recipe in the link and whip up a Caribbean feast this weekend!
Alba says: Japanese cuisine is recognised as one of the most sophisticated in the world.
The quality of the ingredients, mix of textures and presentation makes it a full sensory experience.
Some of our favourites are included in this list, from the easier hot pots to more complex combinations of flavours in sushi and glazes. Spend a happy few hours and transport yourself to the exceptional world of Japanese cookery.
Daphne says: In these weird times, I am so happy that I bought an original South African cookbook on my last visit to Stellenbosch in the winelands!
One of my many favourites is the beef potjie, a great beef stew for colder days. Pap is the best side dish to make this dinner perfect.
Pour yourself a Wilderer Fynbos Gin & Tonic and if you close your eyes the smell of your stew cooking and the taste of the G&T will beam you back to South Africa
Late Morocco Offers
We still have some great Morocco Holidays available – check our offers page of give us a call
Fleewinter is Guardian Award Winner!
We are very proud of the holidays and service we provide our customers, and were over-the-moon to win the best Short Break Tour Operator 2014 award from the Guardian & Observer Newspaper. We also only missed best overall small tour operator by 0.8%! Many thanks for everyone who voted for us.
Return flights to Marrakech £33.82
Much as it pains me to help Ryanair with their advertising, return flights Luton to Marrakech in January for less than £34 per person are pretty gobsmacking. My tip would be book the flights today then wait for the new year to to get a late offer on riad and what a great 2015 escape…
Rod’s Medina Tips!
We especially liked the Majorelle Gardens which is only a short and cheap taxi ride away from the Medina. Very peaceful and relaxing inside with an interesting Berber museum and a small café which offers a nice lunch.
La Mamounia is a really luxurious and expensive hotel but a well worth a visit. Have a drink in the grounds and then wander around the gardens.
Of course the souks in the Medina are a must. Avoid the local guides who will come up to you and offer their services. Be polite and refuse them but if you do need a guide your riad will arrange one at a sensible price. We prefer to find our own way around and have some friendly banter with the stall owners many of whom speak English. We even found one character who spoke a little Welsh!
The Place Djemaa el Fna (The Square) is a great place after dark when the whole place comes alive with all sorts of activities and shows going on. We did not have any problems but I should imagine that it is a great place for pickpockets to operate in the crowds whilst watching the snake charmers etc. so don’t walk around wearing expensive watches or taking more than a few Dirhams for use in the evening. Our riad had a safe so all valuables could be left safely there whilst out and about.
We are very proud of our drivers!
I would just like to drop you an e mail to say what a wonderful holiday we have just had in Morocco – the Riad and Hotels were all first class and the whole tour worked like clockwork.
Your driver Mahjoub is worth his weight in gold – he was helpful in every way, and took us just where we wanted. His experience in the desert was a godsend as the camp at Chiggaga had been cut off for two days, but he managed to get us in and out with this local knowledge.
Many thanks and rest assured we will be recommending Fleewinter to our friends
Astonishing Flight Prices to Marrakech
Easyjet currently have flights to Marrakesh in December from only £50-70 per person return which is the lowest we have ever seen. Couple this with riad special offer and we reckon you could do a 3 night stay in a luxury riad including flights and transfer for less than £200 per person. You’d save that of your heating bill at home (well almost…)
Yoga in the Sahara Desert
Yoga instruction will be provided at the Luxury Camp of Erg Chigaga from 4 to 8 November.
It is NOT though a yoga retreat. It is an optional activity that guests can choose to participate in. Private lessons costs 50 euros.
It is therefore an enhancement to ones desert stay
‘Excellent well informed efficient service. Barbara listened to what we wanted and made excellent suggestions without ever pushing anything. She was very fast at checking availability and confirming bookings. I have recommended Fleewinter to everyone I know because the service was so exceptional.’
Les Alizes and the Photographic Museum
‘Restaurants we ate at Les Alizes In Essaouira and the food was exceptional – this was in the list of recommendations that you provided.
In Marrakesh we had lunch at the Photographic Museum which was also really excellent, their chicken tagine was amazing.’