You’re likely to fall deepily in and out of love with Marrakech over and over again and there’s a myriad of ways to describe the city. During our first afternoon, I was completely overwhelmed by the vast amounts of chaos crammed into narrow streets but in those quieter pink-toned streets, the sense of content to be exploring such a vibrant city was tangible.
While I’d like to explore many other parts of Morocco on my next visit, Marrakech is a great option to dip your toe in. It’s even been reported that Marrakech is one of us Brits’ favourite destinations to visit in May, thanks to the warm climate, short journey time and cheap flights! But how much does it actually cost to visit? I’m pleased to say that you can have a great all-round city break without a huge bank balance so during this article, I’m going to break down exactly how much you should budget for a city break in Marrakech.
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The exchange rate at our time of travel was roughly 12 Moroccan Dirhams to £1. The Moroccan Dirham is also a closed currency meaning that it’s pretty difficult to get any money in advance of your trip. I withdrew cash at home and exchanged it into Dirhams when we arrived in Marrakech as, while you can find a number of ATMs around Jemaa el Fna square, they can be hard to find in the rest of the medina.
Flight and accommodation = £150
When it comes to booking city breaks, I usually spend hours scouring the web to find the perfect hotel (FYI, it’s usually affordable and pretty with a sustainable ethos) but this time was a little different. My friends and I came across a great city break to Marrakech on LoveHolidays, threw caution to the wind and booked it that very evening! With return Ryanair flights at decent times and four nights at 4* Ryad Amiran, we felt like it was a great deal and honestly, our experience couldn’t have been smoother.
After reading a few reviews on TripAdvisor that weren’t exactly glowing, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the riad but I’m pleased to say that we had an excellent stay. Located just inside the medina walls, it was close enough to walk to Jemaa el Fna square each day, the room was a good size with a large, clean bathroom (and hot shower!) and it had a beautiful roof terrace to relax on in peace after a day of exploring the hectic city streets.
After getting to know the city a bit better, I concluded that I’d probably stay on the other side of Jemaa el Fna on another trip to Marrakech. The easiest way to get there from Ryad Amiran was to walk through the souks and unfortunately on our way home after the stalls had closed, our sense of direction completely failed us! Virtually all landmarks disappear when the souks close up and it feels like you’re walking through an otherworldly film set, complete with stray cats and the odd motorbike roar cutting through the silence. We ended up taking a different route home every night – usually having to ignore locals trying to direct us back to the square or telling us that the road ahead was ‘closed’ or ‘forbidden’ – so thank god for offline Google maps is all I have to say about that!
Transport = 474 Dirhams or £39.50
We definitely spent more than we needed to but on a short break, convenience is everything. Here’s a breakdown of our transport costs:
Return airport transfer: 147 Dirhams or £12.25 (3 way split)
City tour: 308 Dirhams or £25.70 including tip
Taxi: 33 Dirhams or £2.75 (3 way split)
There’s no getting away from it: we booked our airport transfer and city tour through our riad who charged offputtingly-hefty prices for extras. However, we had early morning flights so having an airport pick up pre-booked was much smoother than haggling for a taxi on three hours sleep.
After spending a day in the medina, we knew that it would take us forever to see all the attractions on our list if we relied on our terrible navigation skills to guide us around. On a short break like this, a driver can be really helpful in getting from A to B (and C, D, E…) and we were really glad that we splashed out in the end. We definitely got ripped off for our taxi ride at 100 Dirhams between us – advice online says cab journeys in the media shouldn’t cost more than 40 Dirhams – but it was late, the drivers weren’t budging and it was a small price to pay to avoid getting lost post-midnight.
Food = 1,037 Dirhams or £86.42
As a group of friends who’s social events always involve an abundance of food, it was little surprise that we spent a lot of time in restaurants and cafes during our trip. Whether it was a refreshing orange juice while we cooled off in the shade or a three course dinner after a day of sightseeing, we really enjoyed discovering beautifully decorated cafes and great vegetarian food in particular.
Initially, we were expecting food prices to be cheaper but we generally ate near the tourist areas so I’m sure that you could seek out budget restaurants if you put in a bit more effort than us! On our last evening, we booked a meal and show at Dar Essalam. The intricately decorated rooms were once a 17th century palace, had been frequented by Winston Churchill and were even used during filming for Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. It was the most expensive meal of our trip at 200 Dirhams (£16.66) and it’s super touristy but it was a fun way to round off the holiday for sure!
Other restaurants where we had great food were the beautifully decorated Koulchi Zine (photos below – you won’t miss the Beates mural outside), Naranj for great Lebanese food and Earth Cafe. You can find all but one of these places on Rue Riad Zitoun el Kdim, as well as some great shopping!
Activities = 774 Dirhams or £64.50
You can have an amazing time in Marrakech without having to fork out for any pricey activities: the majority of tourist sightseeing spots only have small entrance fees and people watching is a must-do around the main square. That’s not to say it’s all going to be a bargain – if you’ve got the budget, you can go super high-end with luxury spa treatments and pool passes to some of the finest hotels in the country. While this is the dream one day (La Mamounia, yes please), we generally had to err more on the budget side so I’ve broken down our costs for you here:
Saadian Tombs: 10 Dirhams
Bahia Palace: 10 Dirhams
Jardin Majorelle: 70 Dirhams
Menera Gardens: Free!
Devastatingly the place at the top of my list, Ben Youssef Madrasa, closed for a two year refurbishment in March 2018 so I’ll just have to go back another time…
Henna: 100 Dirhams
Hammam 200 Dirhams
Sunset camel ride: 384 Dirhams or £32
I was a bit iffy about the ethics of camel riding but after a lot of research, decided to go ahead and give it a try. However, I wanted to ensure that the camels were well looked after so we booked this Viatour option with great reviews in advance. It was a really smooth experience but honestly, I’m not sure whether I’ll be participating in many animal tourism activities like this any more. I struggle to form my thoughts about it articuluately so I might try to cover this in depth at some point in the future, although you can read about my experience of visiting an elephant sanctuary if you’re like to know a bit more.
I’ve already written about our experience of Riad Nesma’s Moroccan hammam and what to expect so check it out if you’ve never heard of the traditional baths before. If we’d have had time, we’d have definitely switched out the camel ride for the chance to spend a night in the Sahara Desert but as it’s so far from the city, this is one for longer breaks only unfortunately.
Shopping = 300 Dirhams or £25
If you’re planning to visit Marrakech then consider this fair warning; the shopping is insane. I’m not one for buying tons of souvenirs but if I had my own home, I’d have been coming back with an extra suitcase stuffed full of ceramics, lanterns and textiles. Basically, if you’re into Anthropologie homewares and this summer’s woven bag trend , you’ll be in heaven. So, let’s get onto my (very restrained) purchases:
3 x mini bowls: 30 Dirhams
Arcylic painting: 150 Dirhams
Pashmina: 120 Dirhams
Honestly, I wanted to bring back an entire set of homeware but had to restrain myself to these tiny bowls. Two of them, I’ve had earmarked as gifts and I’m keeping one as a ring holder because it’s just so darn cute. Emily and I went into shops next door to each other for our paintings and she came out the haggling winner at 120 Dirhams so let the lesson here be to shop around and don’t be afraid to walk away.
By our last night, I was clean out of money but very happy from a city break well done. So, how much did I spend?
Spend during trip = 2,585 Dirhams or £215
Overall spend = £365
So, breaking down our spending money without flights and acommodation, this works out around 650 Dirhams or £50 per day as a benchmark budget for a city break in Marrakech. If you want to splash out in the souks, be prepared for this to rise but you could definitely come in under this budget if you’re backpacking or a little more restrained in the food department than us!
Where do you splash out and where do you save on holiday?
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