Backpacking Morocco on a Budget

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Morocco on a Budget

Fes Tannery

Morocco offers quite possibly more variety in stunning terrain than any other small country we’ve travelled to in the world. Blessed with multiple mountain ranges offering some of the highest peaks in North Africa, a beautiful sprawling coastline along the Atlantic, mammoth sand dunes in the world’s largest desert, and some of the finest medieval cities in the world; Morocco really does have it all in such a compact size.

Budget airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir operating inexpensive flights from Europe to cities like Marrakech, Casablanca and Fes, entice long weekend tourists who shop a little and then head back. A shame because the country offers a great return on investment to the traveller willing to spend a little more time to dig deeper.

Trekking North Africa’s best paths in the Atlas Mountains, time travelling inside of Fes’ medina, marvelling at Marrakech’s infamous Jemaa el-Fnaa square and trekking through the Sahara on the back of a camel are just a few of the wondrous adventurous that await.

We created this guide to help other travellers stretch their dollar and travel longer and smarter. Morocco on a budget is definitely possible and we are confident that after you read through this guide that you’ll be ready to begin your own great North African adventure!

The following expense category breakdown provides you with “Our Best Tips” on how to stay within a backpacker’s budget  and first hand experiences on what you can “Expect to Pay”.

AccommodationsChefchaouen Morocco

We start with accommodation because this one tends to be the highest daily expense.

In Morocco most of the budget guesthouses are quite nice comfortable in comparison to the rest of Africa. Most include breakfast and have wifi, hot showers and perhaps most importantly, they are usually clean. You’ll find that the prices for guesthouses in Casablanca, especially in the old medina are quite expensive when compared to the cheap deals you can find outside the medina in Marrakech.

Expect to Pay:

  • Budget Guesthouses: $9-$30 USD for a private room.

Our Best Tips:

  • CouchsurfingWhile we didn’t couchsurf in Morocco, there are tons of couches in the big cities. We love couchsurfing, and believe its a great way to get a proper introduction and meaningful understanding of a country & make awesome friends!
  • Air BNB: Airbnb is fantastic, especially in countries where the accommodations are a little more expensive. It allows us to save money not just on accommodations but when we have a kitchen, we save money on food as well. Plus, the owners are often wealth of information on the city and country and may even show you around. Check out this link and you’ll receive $35 USD off your first Airbnb booking!
  • Be Aware of City Taxes: Some cities such as Meknes will tack on an extra 5 Euro (or more) as a “City Tax” on every night you stay. This usually won’t be explained until you receive your bill at the end of your stay.
  • Book First Night Ahead of Time if Arriving Late: If you are arriving late into a city, such as Fes, Meknes or Marrakech with their labyrinth medinas, we highly recommend pre-booking your first night. This will save you time and is also the safest thing to do as the medinas in the day are difficult to navigate let alone when its pitch black. Renegotiate the following morning with your guesthouse less the online booking premium.
  • Splurge for a Traditional Riad: While staying in Fes, Marrakech or Meknes, spend a little more for a night or two in a riad. A riad is an atmospheric traditional home with multiple levels surrounding a small open-air courtyard. Its also a great place to escape when the frenzy of the medina has your nerves fried. Just like staying in a Ryokan in Japan, it is a cultural experience worth opening your wallet for.
  • Negotiate Your Stay Face-to-Face: By far one of the best ways to save money on accommodation is to negotiate directly with guesthouses when you arrive instead of pre-booking online where you’ll certainly pay a premium. There are a wealth of unadvertised local options out there, and their prices are usually very competitive.
  • Look for Homestay Opportunities: Some of the most memorable experiences we’ve had while travelling the world have come from home stays where locals have invited us to live with their families, some we paid for others not. Keep your ears and eyes open to possibilities around the country. Don’t be afraid to ask if you meet a local you like.
  • Book Ahead of Time: If you are somebody who prefers to have some or all of your accommodations pre-booked ahead of time so you can breathe easy, then Booking.com is your best bet. There are no booking fees and often free cancellation on hotel bookings.

Transport

Camels Morocco

Getting around Morocco is actually quite easy and comfortable. They have an extensive bus and train networks that will get you around efficiently.

Expect to Pay:

  • City Buses: Very cheap, usually only no more than $0.50 USD to get around the cities.
  • Long Distance Bus: Known prices:
    • Fes to Chefchaouen:          $7 USD
    • Chefchaouen to Meknes:   $10.50 USD
    • Meknes to Moulay Idriss:  $2 USD
    • Meknes to Merzouga:        $16 USD
    • Merzouga to Ouarzazate:   $15 USD
    • Telouet to Marrakech:        $5 USD
    • Marrakech to Essaouira:    $7.50 USD
    • Essaouira to Casablanca:  $20 USD (Bus & Train)
  • Trains: Known prices:
    • Casablanca to Fes:             $10 USD
    • Essaouira to Casablanca:  $20 USD (Bus & Train)
  • Taxi: Expect to pay about $3-$5 USD for most short haul rides within the cities
  • Flying: Variable

Our Best Tips:

  • Bus: Cheapest and best way to get around the major cities. They will be hot and sticky but are cheap and provide a you with a great opportunity to mingle with locals.
  • Long Distance Bus: Easy to buy tickets at the different companies offices. Make sure to always buy from the office and not from guys on the street. We liked CTM, you can check out their schedules online.
  • Taxi: Try and avoid taxis if possible. Always demand they use their meter as the taxi drivers will try to charge you ridiculous prices especially outside of airports and train terminals. If possible, walk past the taxi drivers at the train stations and into the city and wave down a taxi passing by.
  • Train: Be wary of touts who get onto the trains as you get close to Fes and Marrakech and try and talk to you about where you are staying.

Food

Moroccan Salad

Moroccan food is world renowned for a reason. Simmering tangines, flavourful couscous and straight out of the ocean fresh seafood are just a few of the phenomenal options available to travellers around the country.

While the food prices in Morocco are relatively cheap, eating at local shops is still one of the easiest ways to whittle down your overall budget. If you’re really on a budget, you can easily find delicious street food options like harira (bean soup) for less than $1 USD for breakfast and lunch.

Sitting around enjoying a mint tea and watching the world go by may be as Moroccan an experience as it gets. You will get countless invitations to join the locals, make sure you take them up on it at least a few times!

Expect to Pay:

  • Typical Cheap Meal: $3.50-$5 USD
  • Typical Mid-Range Meal: $5 USD – $12 USD
  • Street Food: $0.50-$2 USD
  •  Alcohol:
    • Beer from Market: $2 USD
    • Beer from Restaurant: $3 USD
  • Water: 
    • Market pricing: $0.60 USD for a 1.5 L
  • Mint Tea:
    • Less than a $1 USD for a glass

Our Best Tips:

  • Bread & Tea Often Included: Bread is almost certainly included with your meal and mint tea after the meal is offered by many restaurants for free.
  • Local Markets: Local markets are the best place to find cheap produce, snacks and drinks. Bargaining is all part of the fun!
  • Street Food: Along major walking routes and inside of the main squares in Meknes and Marrakech you can easily find cheap delicious street food for as low as $1 USD. If you are feeling adventurous, try the snails in Meknes and the goats head stew in Marrakech.

Entertainment

Camel trekking Morocco

Most of your expenses under the entertainment section in Morocco will probably come from hiring guides or going on organized activities like camel trekking in the Sahara. Some of our favourite sights were the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, the merdersas and baths inside the medinas of Fes and Marrakech and the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis (just outside of Moulay Idriss).

For an in-depth look at our experiences camel trekking through the Sahara including pricing and tips, make sure to check out our post here.

Expect to Pay:

  • Camel Trekking: Expect to pay approximately $50 USD per person per day
  • Hasan II Mosque:  $11.50 USD entrance fee
  • Medersas: Expect to pay $1 USD for entrance throughout Morocco
  • Volubilis: $2 USD for entrance fee
  • Tombs: Expect to pay $1 USD for entrance throughout Morocco
  • Fes Tanneries: Expect to pay about $1-$2 USD as a tip to whichever leather shop allows you entrance to see the tanneries from their rooftop. If you buy something from the shop, no tip required.
  • Ait Benhaddou (movie shooting location): $3.50 USD entrance fee

Our Best Tips:

  • Camel Trekking: You shouldn’t be paying anymore than $50 USD per day, negotiate hard for the best rate. Tour organizers are plentiful and very competitive. For more tips read our post on our 3 Nights in the Sahara.
  • Free Activities: Get lost in the medieval medinas of Fes and Marrakech.
  • Game of Thrones & Movie Shooting Locations: Morocco continues to be used as a shooting location for many movies and TV shows such as Game of Thrones, Gladiator and Inception. Some sights like Ait Benhaddou will charge an entrance fee while others can be explored for free.

Miscellaneous

Hasan II Mosque

Here are our some important miscellaneous tips for backpacking Morocco on a budget.

Expect to Pay:

  • WiFi:
    • Most guesthouses have free wifi.
  • Tips:
    • If someone guides you to your guesthouse in one of the countries medinas they will probably expect a small tip (less than 15 dirham should be sufficient).

Our Best Tips:

  • Carpet Shops: Do your research as carpet shop scams are possibly the most notorious in all of Africa.
  • WiFi: Easy to find in guesthouses and restaurants around the country.
  • ATMs: Almost every ATM around the country will accept foreign debit cards.
  • Pharmacies/Chemists: Most chemists will sell you contraceptives and antibiotics over-the-counter.

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Our Numbers and Overall Recommendations

We spent 22 nights in Morocco and spent on average $29 USD per person per day. 

During our three weeks in the country we stayed only in private rooms in inexpensive guesthouses while staying one night in a traditional riad in Meknes. We travelled long distances mostly by bus and train. We ate as locally as possible, usually at inexpensive restaurants and at street food stalls.

We were cautious with our entertainment spending but still had a lot of fun. We enjoyed 3 nights camel trekking through the Sahara desert, visited many mosques, tombs and merdersas around the country.

We hope you’ve found this guide to backpacking Morocco on a budget useful and  feel confident that you can enjoy all the country’s splendour on a tight budget.

If you found this guide useful, please like and share to show your support!

Cheers friends,

Ross & AlyseUs in Chefchaouen


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Ross

Lover of travel, photography, nature, movies, and nachos. If you love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings we'll probably become best friends.
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