There are a ton of budget things to do in Marrakesh. Markets that go for miles, veiled women and hooded men, scooters racing past pedestrians in a maze of alleys and streets, cafes and tea, prayer calls, monkeys, snakes and snake charmers. The sensory overload of this Moroccan city can make a Westerner dizzy.
The most obvious budget things to do in Marrakesh is to get lost! The maze of streets in the old walled city, or the medina, are so fun to explore. We got lost more than once — despite Tedly’s keen sense of direction. (Laughing politely…)
Yet, there are three other budget things to do that really stood out as memorable, and may give you a good introduction to this special city.
Sunset dinner overlooking Jemaa el Fna
Everyone does this – and there are many good and great restaurants on the main square, Jemaa el Fna. We went to the restaurant called Taj’in Darna. I enjoyed it for the food, the service, and its location. It’s right on the square so you have great views of all the action, and it’s also right next to the Mosque Kharbouche. We went for a meal just before sunset – the perfect spot to record a video of the sunset prayer call. All mosques give the prayer calls, but this speaker is right by the upper dining area of Taj’in Darna.
Here’s that video:
I had a vegetarian special: Moroccan soup (excellent and a huge bowl), couscous with vegetables, sweet mint tea. Tedly had a chef’s salad, similar to what you’d find in the U.S. with what must have been an entire avocado (or two). Our meal came with a basket of Moroccan bread and a bowlful of olives. The service was excellent – the waiter was pleasant and attentive. The whole shebang cost us about $18 USD, including a nice tip.
The Taj’in Darna website is here.
We enjoyed the “hop on, hop off” bus tour as one of our favorite budget things to do in Marrakesh.
I learned a lot about Marrakesh and Morocco on this bus tour, although it was shorter than most other cities where we have done this. Even though it was a bit pricey at about $19 each, I’d recommend this. Passes are good for 48 hours, and it’s easy transportation around to the sites you want to see around and outside the historic section.
We’ve taken a lot of bus tours around the world, and out of all countries and cities —
this one was our favorite.
Many times, these hop on, hop off tours have ‘dead air’ while you’re driving down the road. But in Marrakesh, the audio was always saying something interesting about the city – specific sites, the culture, the history — whatever. Also, the buses were clean, and the WiFi was great.
There are two routes – red and green. The red line lasts about 90 minutes, depending on traffic. This is the main line that runs through the more modern parts of the city.
The red line shows you a business district, major mall (with children’s play area and a tiny ice rink on the top floor!), a special large garden with a reservoir that is filled from mountain water, as well as the outskirts of the old walled city. A popular stop on the red line is the Starbucks (yes, even we went there because we craved good, strong, brewed coffee).
The green line goes about an hour and it goes to the outskirts of the city.
See a real oasis!
Because it’s a ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tour, there is a spot where you can jump off if you feel the need to ride a camel on the green line, or take a stroll through an olive garden with stunning views of the mountains on the red line, or hit the mall to see how modern Morocco shops.
Tip: try to go earlier in the day. Rush hour traffic in the late afternoon outside the old section can be a bummer.
The tour company’s website is here.
If you like history and photography, go here. Of the many Trip Advisor reviews of museums, Tedly wanted to try this one. “The House of Photography” was a good pick for one of our budget things to do in Marrakech.
To see the city at the turn of the century was interesting. There also are images of other Moroccan cities taken by photographers who were called to the country’s valleys and mountains and deserts. There are even some glass negatives that are amazing to see, and the first color photographs taken in the country.
I loved the documentary by Daniel Chicault from 1957 shown on the third floor during our visit in January 2018. “The Berbers of the High Atlas Mountains” is shot in 16mm color, and it’s actually three short pieces played back-to-back. The film documents his voyage across the Atlas Mountains with the Berber people – the first of its kind.
Admission was about $4 each, and if you want a snack, there is a roof cafe. The roof happens to have great views of the medina.
The museum’s website is here.
Other budget things to do in Marrakesh
There are other budget-friendly activities, of course. In addition to walking around and getting lost: haggling at markets if you’re into that kind of thing, talking with locals who want to practice English, and taking pictures. Everywhere you look in Marrakesh it’s an explosion of color and texture.
We really enjoyed this historic city in a predominantly Muslim country, and would like to go back!
- A public bus ride into a working-class Marrakesh neighborhood
- Cultural crossroads in Marrakesh
- Sahara dreams: Why we chose Erg Chigaga, and why we’re so glad we did