With its location in North Africa, Morocca makes a great off-season escape if you want to get away from the European winter weather. It’s got sunny days, some beautiful places to stay, delicious food and great shopping – all without being too pricey. Marrakech is the country’s biggest and buzziest city, but if you fancy a more laid-back Moroccan break head to the seaside town of Essaouira. Or you can easily combine the two in one trip. But how much does it cost to visit Morocco? Here I share my budget breakdown for six nights in Marrakech and Essaouira.
Note: these costs are based on my travel style – mid-range with a touch of affordable luxury – so I keep costs down where I can to can splash out on special experiences. There’s usually a mixture of hotels and apartment rentals, cooking and eating out, free activities and paid excursions.
Read more: Surviving the souks in Marrakech
Budget breakdown for 6 days in Morocco
Morocco is famous for its riads – a traditional building design with rooms set around a central courtyard, often with a pool or fountain in the middle, which makes a great spot to hide out from the heat, and a roof terrace where you can soak up the views. There are thousands of riads to choose from in Marrakech, covering all price levels from five-star to budget backpacker.
The plan was for this to be a relaxing trip – with somewhere peaceful we could escape the craziness of the medina – so I looked for places with plenty of space and a few special touches. We started our trip in Essaouira at the beautiful Riad Dar Maya, which had been rebuilt from scratch to combine traditional riad style and more modern touches. It was located right in the medina with a rooftop pool and terrace, hamman, library and lounge. Four nights cost 5060 MAD/£420/$540 (£105/$135 a night or £52.50/$67.50 per person per night).
For the final two nights we moved on to Riad Capaldi in Marrakech. The riad is right inside the medina, close to the Maison de la Photographie museum and 10 minutes’ walk from the Djemma El-Fna. It’s more of a traditional riad, with a dip pool in the couryard, big roof terrace and a lounge library which has an open fire for cooler winter nights. Two nights cost 2258 MAD/£187/$242 (£93.50/$121 a night or £47/$60.50 per person per night).
Total accommodation cost: £607/$782 or £304/$391 per person – £51/$65 a day each on average.
Read full reviews of Riad Dar Maya and Riad Capaldi
Although Essaouira does have an airport, flights are limited to most travellers end up flying into Marrakech and transferring to Essaouira overland. There is a bus service between the two which takes around 2.5 hours and departs from the bus terminal close to Marrakech’s train station.
We decided to make things easy, so booked a private taxi transfer from Marrakech Airport to Essaouira on the way out and from Essaouira to our hotel in the Marrakech medina on the way back, which cost 1000 MAD/£83/$107 each way. We also took a taxi to the airport in Marrakech for our flight home for 220 MAD/£18/$23. Other than that, both cities are very walkable (if you don’t mind getting lost a few times…) so we travelled around on foot.
Total transport cost (excluding flights): £92/$119 per person – £15/$20 a day each on average.
A big part of the attraction of visiting Morocco is just wandering around, soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of the medina, and we did plenty of that, but we did do a few activities too. We spent half a day learning to cook Moroccan-style at the L’Atelier Madada cookery school in Essaouira for 450 MAD/£37/$48 per person, and had a relaxing two-hour hamman steam, scrub and massage at Riad Dar Maya, which cost 500 MAD/£42/$53 per person.
Everything else – wandering the medina, roof terrace sunsets and entry to Marrakech’s Photography Museum – was free. I managed to resist the temptation to blow the budget on shopping in the souks, but did buy some tagine spices and argan oil products, costing 370 MAD/£31/$40 in total. If you are planning on doing a lot of shopping, one thing I’d recommend is taking a guided tour of the souks to find the best producers and help you bag a bargain.
Total activities cost: £94.50/$121 per person – £16/$21 a day each on average.
Food and drink
Breakfast was included at both of the riads we stayed at, and was usually pretty substantial with eggs, pancakes, pastries, fruit and of course plenty of Moroccan mint tea. So we didn’t need much for lunch, eating out on two days, at our cookery class on one day and had lunch at the airport before flying home (a total of 655 MAD/£54/$70). The rest of the time we grabbed snacks while we were out, and also bought soft drinks and water, at a total of 300 MAD/£25/$32.
For dinner, both riads offered a dine-in option where their chefs would cook a private dinner for you, so we did that twice and ate out on the other three evenings. Food was reasonable, with meals at a nice restaurant costing around £40/$51 for two including a glass of wine, coming in at a total of 2145 MAD/£178/$229. We also went out for drinks a couple of times – including sunset cocktails at a rooftop bar in Marrakech – spending a total of 480 MAD/£40/$51.
Total food and drink cost: £297/$382 or £148.50/$191 per person – £25/$32 a day each on average.
The grand total
When you add it all up, the total cost for my six days in Morocco came to £639/$822 per person, excluding flights, for two of us travelling together. This works out at around £107/$137 each per day. Although Morocco can be a fairly cheap destination it doesn’t cost a lot more to give your trip a luxurious feel with extras like private transfers and spa treatments.
Lower budget? If you want to keep costs down, you could save money by staying in less-expensive riad accommodation and taking the bus between Marrakech and Essaouira, which costs 75 MAD/£6/$8 each way. You can also save on food and drink by eating at street food stalls and avoiding alcohol, which is generally only available in high-end bars and restaurants.
Higher budget? If you’re looking for more luxury, there are some amazing luxury riads, and you can even book a whole place to yourself. You could also add in more spa treatments, private dining or guided tours to the Atlas Mountains or out into the Sahara Desert.
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