Cheap Tours and Activities in Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech, a former imperial city in western Morocco, is a major economic center whose heady sights and sounds are sure to enchant. Marrakech is full of sights and attractions such as the Bahia Palace and the Dar Si Said, with their tilework and intricate floral painted-wood ceilings, the Saadian Tombs, which are enriched by a bounty of marble, while the Musee de Mouassine and Musee de Marrakech are a showcase of swirling stucco and carved-wood design. Marrakech is a city steeped in ancient artistry that continues to thrive, kept alive by the modern craftspeople of the souks and the contemporary art and design scene of the ville nouvelle.
As an old imperial capital, Marrakech is home to some beautiful examples of Islamic architecture, most impressively the Ali ben Youssef Medersa and the Koutoubia minaret. The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating to the Berber Empire, with mazelike alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery and jewelry. Think of the medina's souks as a shopping mall, but laid out according to a labyrinthine medieval-era plan. The main artery into this mazy muddle is the vast square of Djemaa el-Fna, where it's carnival night every night. Stroll between snail-vendors, soothsayers, acrobats and conjurers, musicians and slapstick acting troupes to discover the old city's frenetic pulse. The party doesn't end until the lights go out. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Arab, Berber, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, African and French influences. The cooks refined Moroccan cuisine over the centuries and created the basis for what is known as Moroccan cuisine today, which is a big part of the culture and overall feels of the city. With so much to see, do, and taste, Marrakech is a great place to experience, and there are several options for exciting activities and tours in or near the area to help you make the most of your time here.
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Start your 3.5-hour tour with a hotel pickup or in central Marrakech. Then, set off to discover some of Marrakech's most notable palaces and monuments, as well as some lesser-known treasures. Head for the Koutoubia Mosque, Morocco's biggest mosque and one of the largest in the world. Take in the Hispano-Moorish, 12th-century exterior as your guide recounts its history, and admire the centerpiece - the 253-foot minaret, topped by a spire and orbs. Continue to the Bahia Palace, a 19th-century sultans' residence. Built to outshine all other palaces, this lovely complex comprises ornate pavilions, gardens and a harem. Stroll around the mosaic-coated halls and perfumed courtyards as your guide shares tales of the sultans who lived here. Next, visit the Saadian Tombs, a series of royal burial chambers dating from the 1500s. Admire the marble and cedar-domed chambers and learn how the tombs were unearthed in 1917. Finally, visit the Tiskiwin Museum, a double riad (traditional courtyard house) with an exhibition covering the ancient Saharan trade routes between Marrakech and Timbuktu. View the arts and crafts on show, including Berber clothing, jewelry and carpets, and then finish your tour at the original start point.
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Begin your experience with a pickup from your Marrakech hotel or a central meeting point. Then, travel to the Fantasia show venue, a palm grove with Berber-style tents and a sand arena. Head inside a tent and settle on the comfortable floor cushions. Then, savor a traditional feast of Moroccan dishes, such as roast lamb, couscous and mint tea accompanied by Berber music and belly-dancing displays. Next, take a seat around the outdoor arena and enjoy an electrifying folklore show featuring horse riders, dancers, magicians and other exotic acts. Watch a thunderous display of Moroccan horsemanship, with riders dressed in historical battle costume. Admire the speed of the pure Arab stallions as the riders act out battle scenes, performing stunts and blasting rifles into the air. Then, watch a host of colorful entertainments as skillful fire-eaters, acrobats and magicians take the stage. Keep your camera handy for the stunning finale when two performers climb aboard a magic carpet to 'fly' through the air. After the spectacular finish, your evening then ends with a drop-off at the original start point.
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After pickup from your central Marrakech hotel, travel by air-conditioned vehicle to the start point of your tour in old Marrakech. Along the way, hear about the souks crammed into Marrakech's medina, and listen as your guide gives you a taster of the wares sold at their stalls and workshops. On arrival, dive into the souks on foot with your knowledgeable guide leading the way. Meander through the bustling lanes, passing stands peddling fresh foods, spices, hand-painted ceramics, leather, rugs and other goodies. Peruse the wares, and with tips from your guide, polish your haggling skills to secure the best bargains. Your guide will show you the way around the best souks, point out interesting stalls and give you pointers about the products for sale. Next, spill out into Djemaa El-Fna, Marrakech's central square. Wander around the stalls and drink in the vibrant street theater played out before you by the acrobats, snake charmers, musicians and other artistes. Break from your retail roving with a visit to Medersa ben Youssef, a nearby medieval Islamic college whose roots go back to the 14th century. Admire the richly decorated buildings and courtyard as you hear about the college's history, and then finish at a nearby traditional herbalist shop. View the shelves of rainbow-colored oils and concoctions; watch a presentation on the plants used in the remedies; and perhaps sample and buy some of the wares as mementos. Your 3.5-hour tour then ends with a hotel drop-off.
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The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur akush, which means "Land of God." It is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat, and lies near the foothills of the snowcapped Atlas Mountains.
The city is divided into two distinct parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the new European modern district called Gueliz or "Ville Nouvelle". The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.
There is much to see and do in Marrakech. An entire day can be dedicated to wandering around all the different souks, seeking out the best bargains. The city also offers several historical and architectural sites as well as some interesting museums. This tour allows you to see and experience a little of everything that Marrakech has to offer. On this private tour you'll see the monuments and palaces of Marrakech, enjoy the city's historical gardens and the artists and entertainers at Djemaa el-Fna square, and experience the exotic atmosphere of the medinas and souks, all with an experienced and knowledgeable guide.
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