The highlight of Marrakech for adults and kids alike is undoubtedly the medina (old city). Stepping into the medina is like landing on another planet — one where the same traditions have been in place for hundreds of years.
The medina is comprised of a network of souks — open-air markets — where anything and everything is on display. Many of the handicrafts are produced within the market and you can watch artisans at work. This is the only shopping experience we’ve encountered thus far in our travels that our 8-year-old Devon has enjoyed. Shopping in the souk engages every sense — it’s colorful, loud, filled with smells (pleasant and otherwise), and little hands can touch almost everything.
We toured the medina with a guide arranged by Boutique Souk, a luxury concierge service who organizes everything from boutique hotel stays to weddings in Morocco. When you use their service to book a hotel, you get their travel planning services for free. We stayed at one of their recommended hotels, the Beldi Hotel, at the end of our trip. More on that later in my Morocco with kids series …
Our guide was ideal for this kind of tour. He made sure we hit many of the different specialty areas of the souk. We stopped to browse when we felt compelled, otherwise he led us through an incredible labyrinth of streets and alleys.
The first stop was through the food market with enormous quantities of food on display.
Bartering is essential and expected throughout the market.
The live reptiles on sale were a hit. Devon wanted to bring this baby chameleon home. Wouldn’t Swiss customs like that!
The amount of “stuff” for sale is nothing short of insane. This seller was offering a bit of everything from a Minnie Mouse phone to old cameras. It begs many questions including where these goods are from and who buys them …
The main event for our family, however, was the man who carved wood with his toes. Don’t try this at home kids!
Of course, part of the fun is buying souvenirs. In our case, hard bargaining still left us feeling robbed. I know, that’s not the spirit! We laughed in the end and know it’s all part of the experience.
You could spend hours and hours in the medina and never get bored. A guide who can lead you through the maze is a must — really, don’t even think of going on your own for the very first visit or you may never come out. Finding a kid-friendly guide who knows the shopkeepers who are most likely to engage children is a plus. Be sure and stress the age of your kids when you book the tour.
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