Marrakech can be cheap for smart tourists. These two must see in Marrakech, Djemaa el-Fna and Souks, are free. Thrifty even if you can’t resist shopping.
The landmark I am orienting to is the tower of the Koutoubia mosque. The highest in the city, it can be seen anywhere near Medina, the old city.
In Djemaa el-Fna there are risers with food
From the tower of the Koutoubia Mosque, Djemaa el-Fna is just a few steps north.
During the day, this square is filled with dancing monkeys, carts of orange juice (2 Dirham – about $ 0.54 – for a glass of orange juice – note: the usual “trick” for tourists is to charge extra if you don’t want ice, remember be this is a hot country with a little portable cooling system, ice is on the allocation of many oranges) and other entertainers.
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But the real action begins at sunset. Food carts are coming out, as well as offers. Published prices are usually for locals, expect to be charged a higher price if you don’t speak the language, especially if you don’t want to be bullied. Still, you can get a bowl of the famous harari chicken-based pea soup for 2.5 Dirhams (approximately $ 0.69). The round bread that is usually eaten with this soup can be purchased for 1 dirham ($ 0.27).
Souks is a maze of small shops located right next to Djemaa el-Fna. These booths can be confusing and enterprising locals will insist that paid guides are needed. Unless you are looking for a specific barn, they are not. If you get lost, simply walk in one direction until you get out.
Souks are one of the best places to buy souvenirs, including fabrics, leather shoes and secrets (a cone like clay dishes used to prepare local cuisine). For spices, the grocery store is a better offer. For the best deals, whine. Store owners are waiting for them.
You may be tempted to visit Menara, another free site. We saved on taxi transportation and traveled outside on foot. We are disapointed. It consisted mainly of a giant pool of standing water with one small shell of the building. The building charges a ticket.
Unless you have a burning desire to see olive groves or the usual teenage socializing or you don’t have too much time on your hands, spend your energy exploring other more interesting areas of the city.
Marrakech is a wonderful, enchanting city full of exotic sights and smells and tastes. And with proper planning, you don’t have to ruin your travel budget.