The vast labyrinth of narrow streets and derbs at the center of the medina is the souk—Marrakesh's marketplace and a wonder of arts, crafts, and workshops. Every step brings you face-to-face with the colorful handicrafts and bazaars for which Marrakesh is famous. In the past, every craft had a special zone within the market—a souk within the souk. Today savvy vendors have pushed south to tap trading opportunities as early as possible, and few of the original sections remain. Look for incongruities born of the modern era. Beside handcrafted wooden pots for kohl eye makeup are modern perfume stores; where there is a world of hand-sewn djellabas at one turn, you'll find soccer jerseys after the next; fake Gucci caps sit beside handmade Berber carpets, their age-old tassels fluttering in the breeze.

As you wander through the souk, take note of landmarks so you can return to a particular bazaar without too much trouble. Once the bazaars' shutters are closed, they're often unrecognizable. The farther north you go the more the lanes twist, turn, and entwine. Should you have to retrace your steps, a compass comes in handy, as does a mental count of how many left or right turns you've taken since you left the main drag. But mostly you'll rely on people in the souk to point the way. If you ask a shopkeeper rather than a loitering local, you'll be less likely to be "guided."


Ready for a trip of a lifetime to Marrakesh?