Marrakech in February
At under four hours' flying time from London, Marrakech is arguably the most exotic place you can go on a shorthaul holiday. But it's also a family-friendly city, ideal for a short new year hop.
And February is the perfect time to visit, as the weather is still mild and there won't be too many crowds. Temperature-wise, there are potential highs of 20 °C during the day, although we'd hedge our bets that it'd be a more modest 15°C, offering a welcome break from the wintery UK.
In a nutshell
- Will suit: families, couples and groups of friends
- Flying time: 3.5 hours from London
- Time difference: GMT+1
- Average temperature: 14°C - 20°C
- Tourist information: Visit Morroco
How to get there
- Thanks to the boom in travel to Marrakech a few years ago, there are now plenty of options to get you there. You can take a package trip with the likes of Thomson, or book your own flights and accommodation and make your own plans.
- If you make your own way, then door-to-door airport transfers are best arranged through your guesthouse or hotel for £12-18. If you know the way and travel light, taxi hire from the airport costs £10 maximum. We wouldn't suggest hiring a car unless you're confident driving in quite a fast-paced, no-rules environment.
Where to stay
- When visiting Marrakech, your main accomodation options will be hotels or riads - a traditionally Moroccan house.
- Hotels are typically outside the old town walls and have all the facilities you would expect - swimming pools, restaurants and evening entertainment. Many hotels are located in the Palmeraie, a vast, dry palm grove about 10 minutes from the town's hustle and bustle.
- A good recommendation is the Riu Tikida Paleraire Resort, available exclusively through Thomson holidays. It's a 4-star hotel and part of Thomson's Platinum range, so standards are high. It is available on an all-inclusive basis, meaning you won't have to hunt for different meals to suit your family's varying tastes. Facilities include a kids club, indoor and outdoor pools and a Hamman, a traditional Moroccan bathhouse.
- If you're after a more authentic Moroccan experience, then plump for a riad. Located within the old town (Medina), a good starting point is hipmarrakech.com.
What to do
- Any visit to Marrakech must include a visit to the souks (markets), so don your comfy shoes and haggling hat and head out. The souks are vast; if you're nervous about getting lost, hire a guide from the tourist office for about £20 for a half-day. Some would argue that getting lost in the souks is what it's all about, but it's not ideal after a few hours with grumpy kids in tow.
- Visit Jemaa El Fna, the main square, at night and soak up the atmosphere of the food stalls (snails and some intestines anyone?), plus snake charmers, the aroma of horse manure, storytellers and musicians. Be warned, you'll see some performing monkeys on leads.
- Along the west side of Jemaa El Fna Square, fronting the entrance of Club Med, is a line of horse-drawn carriages or 'caleches' waiting for passengers to hop in for a tour of the city. Make sure you negotiate your price before you set off.
- Take an excursion out to the Atlas Mountains for a taste of traditional Berber life.
- Treat yourself to a Hamman spa experience and be prepared for a thorough scrub.
- If you're travelling with toddlers, think twice about staying in a riad. Plunge pools, steep steps and low plug sockets aren't child friendly.
- The call to prayer will be heard throughout the day and starts early. Pack some ear plugs if you're staying in the Medina and are a light sleeper.
- The best way to take in the hustle and bustle of the square, especially at night, is to enjoy a mint tea at one of the surrounding cafes with terraces overlooking the action.
- Outside of hotel restaurants, highchairs are few and far between. If you can, take a clip-on or over-chair style seat with you.
- If you're travelling with small kids, bring your own car seats as no one seems to have them in Marrakech.
- Always have some small change on you as tips are expected everywhere in Marrakech, even if you take pictures in front of stalls at the souk.
- Moroccans are generally very child-friendly, so be prepared for your kids to get a lot of kisses.
- The currency is Dirhams, and as a closed currency can only be bought and sold in Morocco. Currency convertors are located at the airport near baggage reclaim and should be available at your hotel.
What Mumsnetters say about holidays in Marrakech
- It's a lovely place. The food and the people are great. It's shopping heaven around Jemaa El Fna square, which is also a great place to have some food in the evening. DialMforMummy
- Basically, I would recommend doing exactly what you imagine yourself doing: shopping, staring, drinking mint tea etc, as that by itself is fantastic. notnowImreading
- If you want a really relaxed stay, a riad is a great place to stay as you'll experience more of the culture. Try one in the Kasbah, about a 10-15 minute walk from the main square. jumpingjackhash