Average costs in Marrakech
Stay – Marrakech is incredibly touristy, which means there are a lot of places to stay. This wide availability is good for your wallet! Youth Hostels can already be found for €5 ($6) per night! Budget accommodations with a private room for two already start at €15 ($16,5).
Try to stay in a riad for one night. This is a kind of Moroccan B&B. You’ll find the cheapest riads for €20 ($22), but for just a few euros extra you’ll be overwhelmed with swimming pools, delicious breakfasts and unprecedented luxury. €30 ($33) to €40 ($45) for a luxurious riad is still not that expensive! Three and four star hotels start at about the same amount.
Five star hotels start at €70 ($78), but can of course cost a lot more.
Compare prices through Booking and Agoda. This way I always find the most possibilities and the lowest prices.
Eat – I immediately noticed how much more expensive Marrakech is compared to other cities when you go out for dinner. If you don’t mind walking around for a bit, there are definitely some cheaper places with good food.
For a wrap you don’t pay much more than 40 dirhams. A drink costs between 15 and 25 dirham.
If you prefer to save something special, like a tajine or couscous, you’ll pay 100 dirham or more. On average, you will find food for 120 to 150 dirham (€12 to €16 – $13 to $17,5) per person in Marrakech.
Be sure to read this blog post, talking about some great restaurants in Marrakech.
Transport – Marrakech is very big, but you don’t really need a vehicle that much. The most beautiful and interesting sights are in the medina, and this is car-free anyway.
You can take a taxi from the central station of Marrakech to the medina. The ride only takes five to ten minutes, but (for Moroccan standards) you pay a rather steep price: 50 dirham (€5 – €6).
Would you like to visit other cities too? The most comfortable way is to take the train, or book one of the CTM buses. For example, you can travel to Essaouira by bus for only 70 dirham.
An excursion to the Sahara is best done by an organized paid excursion.
Saving money in Marrakech
In the evening, eat at the Jmaa el Fna square – In the evening the Jamaa el Fna square of Marrakech is coming alive! Dozens of pop-up restaurants appear there day after day, and they serve a lot of Moroccan delicacies (and also less appetizing-looking dishes). The food is tasty and much cheaper than in the many restaurants of Marrakech.
Take note: The pop-up restaurant owners can be quite aggressive to reel you in as a customer. Is it getting uncomfortable? Ignore them and just walk away.
Don’t agree too soon – Marrakech has thousands of small shops, markets and souks. And they all sell their stuff to the many tourists. Don’t agree too soon with a suggested price, because you can always get a big discount. A girl from my youth hostel bought a bracelet for 20 dirham, and the seller first wanted 150 dirham for it… I bought a souvenir for my mother; a wallet. From 150 dirham, the price easily went down to 60 dirham …
Buy souvenirs and gifts elsewhere – If you are visiting other cities in Morocco, I recommend purchasing souvenirs there. Wallets, caps, shoes, bags, key chains, jewelry, … You’ll find them anywhere in Morocco! Only in Marrakesh they cost a lot more!
Don’t drink alcohol – Morocco is a Muslim country. As a result, almost no alcohol is consumed. For the tourists, an exception is made, but it also will cost you much more money… In the old town, a fresh pint will cost you 50 dirham, a cocktail about 80 to 100 dirham. Also, don’t forget that the beers are served in a strange size; 250 ml.
Outside the medina there are many more restaurants and cafés where alcohol is served. A small beer there costs 30 dirham.
Things to do in Marrakech
Wandering in the medina – The medina or old town is the most impressive part of Marrakech. The narrow, dusty streets are the decor of thousands of vendors, restaurants and street cats. Try to find your way through the maze to the streets, and look out to the annoying mopeds and scooters who zigzag dangerously between the crowds. You can easily walk around here for a few hours, because every time you’ll see something new that will amaze you.
Go to Jemaa el Fna in the weekend – Are you in Marrakech during the weekend? Perfect timing! The main square truly comes alive in weekends! Thousands of people meet at the Jemaa El Fna square to set off their end of the week. Dozens of street performers and musicians provide an incredibly nice atmosphere, and the incredible hassle is, to say the least, impressive.
Try to see this phenomenon from the sky too. From the café de France for example.
Le jardin secret – Behind the narrow façades in the medina you’ll find some hidden treasures, but le jardin secret is one that you must definitely see! Two beautiful Moroccan gardens make sure you can escape from the crowds of the medina. The abundance of greenery and tranquility are great, and you can easily spend a while here.
Le Jardin Majorelle – Another garden you must see in Marrakech is the Jardin Majorelle. The blue walls are overgrown by tropical plants, and here and there a waterway with croaking frogs runs through all this natural beauty. It can get very busy here, but you can’t expect such a nice garden to be left alone for long.
Ben Youssef Madrasa – A madrasa is an Islamic school of learning. Until the twentieth century, scholars were trained in these beautiful buildings. This Madrasa is beautifully decorated with beautiful mosaics and fine handicrafts. This Koran school was even the most popular of all of Africa. There were more than 900 students at one point in time.
Saadian tombs – In 1917 these royal tombs were rediscovered, and since then they became a big tourist attraction of Marrakech. More than 60 members of the Saadi dynasty are buried here in graves where us ordinary mortals only can dream of.
Bahia Palace – The Bahia Palace is a giant complex right in the center of Marrakech. Beautiful gardens are alternated with gorgeous rooms which have the most beautiful decorated interiors. The entire palace is way too big to ever see it all. So you can lose a lot of time doing sightseeing here!
El Badi Palace – Another famous Palace of Marrakech is the El Badi Palace. Less impressive, but that’s just because it was robbed by jealous rulers. In the past this sandy castle must’ve looked really beautiful and opulent. With a little imagination you might see the richness also!
Day trip to Essaouira – Essaouira is a small port city about two and a half hours to three hours away from Marrakech. It’s a world of difference compared to this busy city! Cozy fishermen’s markets, a peaceful medina, a gentle breeze and an authentic atmosphere. Essaouira is a day trip you shouldn’t miss! You can travel from Marrakech to this port city by bus, taxi or as a day excursion. More info and nice pictures can be found in my blog post about Essaouira.
Day trip to the Ouzoud waterfalls – Morocco has a lot of beautiful nature! Close to Marrakech are the Ouzoud waterfalls. Once the melting water falls from the high rocks, they become even more spectacular. Unfortunately, there is no direct public transport to the falls, so you must take a day trip from Marrakech. You can also get there by buses and taxis, but it’s quite inconvenient…
Excursion to the Sahara – If you are so close to the largest desert in the world you should of course visit it! The Sahara is a few hundred kilometers further from Marrakech, but through the winding paths it takes a while before you finally set foot on the sandy dunes. Fortunately, there are many other attractions along the way, such as Aït Ben Haddou. I recommend to stay here for at least three days. You can take a trip, or you can arrange it yourself. Read more about my experience in the Sahara here.
Avoid in Marrakech
Always believe what they are saying – The inhabitants of Marrakech often tell you a lie to get you as their own customer… A restaurant is closed. A street no longer exists. A hotel that nobody knows off… Helpful men will then take you to another, ‘much better’ place. Don’t fall for it! With a little perseverance you’ll find it.
Immediately accept offers – Did you find a nice souvenir? Do you think the price for the taxi is OK? Wait a second! The price can always be lower! Especially when you buy stuff. Don’t forget that every shop sells the same things… You can always find a cheaper price elsewhere.
Taking pictures of everything – There is a lot to see in Marrakech. Certainly in busy places like the Jemaa El Fna! Cobras, monkeys, Maroccan musicians, … Of course you want a picture of that! I suggest buying a good zoom lens, because otherwise they will definitely see that you’re making pictures. And of course they want money for that!
Locals don’t like having their picture taken often, so if they don’t want it leave them alone. Everyone likes their privacy.