Morocco’s premier tourist destination manages to retain its unique character in spite of budget airlines disgorging thousands of Europeans in search of sunny long weekends. Marrakech feels cleaner, safer and less stressful than even a decade ago, thanks to tourism police cracking down on unlicensed “guides” and hard-selling shopkeepers in the souks. First-time visitors are wise to engage the services of a guide to introduce them to this labyrinth, but after that, exploring on one’s own is great fun. Numerous historic riads (courtyard houses) are now plush guesthouses, and one of the most opulent hotels in the world is a short walk from the main square, the Djemaa el-Fna. There, snake charmers, musicians and dancers entertain tourists and locals alike, as they have for centuries.

"In the alleys of Marrakech, neither stylish Parisian travelers nor djellaba-clad men carrying chickens by the feet look out of place."

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