Backpacking in Fez and Marrakech on a Budget

Marrakech Morrocco
Picture: Trey Ratcliff

Morocco is a popular backpacking destination and has attracted travellers to its shores for centuries. Situated on the North African coast, Morocco is a wonderfully diverse country full of Mediterranean beaches, souks, dunes and ancient cities untouched by modernity.

Budget hostels and guest houses are widely available in Fez and Marrakech. Making them a perfect place to start your imperial tour of ancient Morocco.

Morrocco Souk

Morocco’s currency, the Dirham, is far weaker than the Euro, Sterling and US Dollar so this makes it a highly economical holiday destination. Indeed the country is ideal for backpackers – everything from food to budget hostels in this part of North Africa is incredibly cheap.

Expect to haggle if you want a cheap carpet for Mum’s birthday, as there is no set price in Morocco and everything from jewellery, food and toilet roll is up for negotiation!

Fez Morocco
Picture: Christina Ammon

Backpackers are advised to do an ‘Imperial City’ tour of Fez and Marrakech to get an intimate understanding of the country’s past. Travelling through peach brown fields and nomadic men on donkeys, the journey towards the imperial city of Fez is a magnificent one.

The city has two souls – the French-built ville nouvelle that was originally built in the early half of the twentieth-century and represents the modern core of the city.

Fes el-Bali Medina
Picture: just_a_cheeseburger @Flickr

What has inspired travellers for centuries is the ancient Medina of Fes el-Bali, the great city of high Islamic civilization, which hosts 800,000 inhabitants inside its crumbling stone walls.

Inside this labyrinth of spices, leather and metal works, Fez feels like a throwback to biblical times, where apart from electricity and hot water, there is little connection with the Western world.

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Fez is renowned amongst worldly travellers for its Tanneries – a surreal formation of hand crafted limestone rock pools. Tourists are always like to pick up a friendly guide, who will usually escort them (for a fee) through the sandy dirt tracks to see how locals turn animal hides into exotic slippers.

Where to stay in Fez

  • Riad El Ghalia is a historic guest house only a few minutes walk from nearby taxis, cafes and restaurants. It’s situated right next to Oued Zehool. Rooms are available from €10.00.
  • Riad Ouassim is a charming guest house located in the heart of Fez Medina, Morocco’s former imperial capital and the world’s largest medieval medina. Rooms are available from €12.80.
  • Riad Fes Yamanda is a luxury guest house and former palace. The property is situated in the heart of the medina close to El Batha near the Palace Tazi, where the evenings Soufis of the sacred musics of Fez take place. Rooms are available from €30.00.

Marrakech

While Fez is arguably the most unique city in Morocco, the most popular tourist attraction in the country has always been Marrakech.

Marrakech is many things – raw, dirty and wildly exhilarating in some places, but it is certainly never dull. The cultural heartbeat of Morocco has always been the iconic market square, Djemma el Fna, and it comes alive with snake charmers, acrobats, musicians and storytellers every night of the week.

Djemma el Fna

Perfect for backpackers looking to pick up some vibes for next to nothing, the Djemma el Fna is swarming with street food, music and visitors from across the world. These colourful features provide a visual feast for all travellers arriving in Marakech.

Providing backpackers with perfect snap to upload on Twitter and broadcast their thoughts – there is nowhere better to go on a budget holiday than Morocco. Brimming with culture, souks and deserts, your money goes far in these golden lands and makes for a unique holiday experience you’re never likely to forget.

 Where to stay Marrakech

  • Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge is a friendly backpackers hostel located only a couple of minutes from D’Jeema el Fna. The hostel offers clean and comfortable private rooms and mixed dormitories at very low prices. Rooms are available from €7.00
  • Dar Choumissa is a colourful Moroccan guest house with a superb central location. Rooms are available from €24.50
  • Purple Camel Hostel is fully furnished, high-end, affordable hostel in the centre of Marrakech. Rooms are available from €7.58.