(CNN) -- While many visits to Marrakech revolve around the imposing Koutoubia mosque or Jemaa el Fna, the bustling central square filled with snake charmers and storytellers, there's plenty to do beyond these landmarks.
For those willing to delve deep into the narrow streets around the square or into the desert and mountains outside the city, Marrakech rewards with stunning scenery, unforgettable flavors and luxurious indulgences.
Here are some of the city's highlights.
1. Getting lost in the backstreets
Exploring the old medina can be pleasurable and expensive in equal measures thanks to the small boutiques selling almost everything.
Among classic local souvenirs are djellaba robes, spices, babouches (Moroccan slippers), old carpets and colorful ceramics.
Bargaining is part of the attraction here.
Taking time over a purchase will not only save money but generally prompt an enjoyable discussion with the vendor.
Recommended: La Porte d'Or -- an ancient two-level bazaar rammed with rugs and antiques.
La Porte d'Or115 Souk Semmarine, Marrakech; +212 24445454
2. Wandering through the Jardin Majorelle
Here, the simple joy of a peaceful garden meets the complicated world of high couture.
This 12-acre botanical creation was bequeathed to Marrakech by French painter Jacques Majorelle and later saved from development by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who bought it in the 1980s and, following his death, had his ashes scattered among its plants.
The garden, which blends Moorish and art deco features, is filled with rare flowers. A startling electric blue villa looks down upon the scene.
One of Marrakech's key attractions is that it lies within easy reach of the Atlas Mountains, meaning that cool retreats from the heat and dust of the city are close at hand.
The town of Lalla Takerkoust, 43 kilometers (27 miles) to the southwest, is chiefly known for its nearby dam and lake and is a great place for quad biking, camel riding or simply admiring view of the peaks.
Slow food: A Marrakech snail vendor.
The valley of Ourika, in the Atlas foothills 60 kilometers to the south of Marrakech, is a popular escape to see Berber villages surrounded by waterfalls and rivers.
The village of Armed, 64 kilometers due south, is the last stop before Toubkal, Morocco's highest mountain, the peak of which affords views over the Sahara.
It's a great base for hiking or for simply breathing pure air, contemplating nature or enjoying a lunch on the terrace at the Roches Hotel (+212 667 64 49 15)
8.Grabbing a bargain in Bab El Khemis
It's off the main tourist trail, but Bab el Khemis is worth a visit.
The souk here is open every day, but on Thursdays ("Khemis" translates as "Thursday") it becomes a truly Moroccan experience.
This is when it transforms into a crowded flea market selling secondhand goods and treasures such as vintage carpets, doors and more than a few things that customers probably don't know exist until they stumble across them here.
9. Hot air ballooning
When people visit the city and talk of getting high, it doesn't necessarily mean they're hunting for the Crosby, Stills and Nash "Marrakech Express" vibe of the 1960s hippie trail.
Over the past 20 years, the city has emerged as a destination for balloon trips -- clear Moroccan skies that rarely see clouds or rain are a huge plus.
Taking in what is undoubtedly the best view of the Atlas Mountains doesn't come cheap, but few deny it's money well spent.
Recommended: Ciel d'Afrique, an organzied and professional operation with decades of ballooning experience.