For the vast majority of Europeans, winter conjures images of cold, gloomy days, dark nights, cold rain and, in some cases, quite a lot of snow as well. And there aren’t few of them who would rather be in a warmer place at least for couple of days (ideally, for the duration of winter, but that’s day dreaming, unfortunately).
One of the cheap winter destinations for Europeans is Marrakech. The Moroccan city is blessed with subtropical weather which means the temperatures stay at a balmy 21C all winter long. The beautiful city is an excellent choice for those who want to stay in a warm place, close to home, and which won’t break the budget either.
There are plenty of things to do and see in Marrakech and you are guaranteed not to get bored. Djemaa El-Fna is the center of the night life (but not in the terms you know it in other parts of the world). The square is packed with dancers, musicians and stalls selling a wide variety of goods. The souks (or the markets) are located just by the side of Djemaa El-Fna. You can buy anything and everything here (so be careful if you are an impulsive shopper!). And since you’ve just discovered the Medina, you might want to stay in a Riad, a Moroccan house with an internal courtyard. Many traditional houses have been turned into hotels which welcome tourists.
Planning the budget
Morocco is a popular winter vacation destination especially among Brits, so it’s not hard to find family vacation packages . However, they are geared toward the resorts located by the sea and there aren’t many chances to find packages focusing on Marrakech.
So, there is nothing wrong with planning the vacation on your own, although it might require a bit of patience. Finding flights to Morocco is easy and there are plenty of them departing from big European hubs. You should remember that the airport in Marrakech is not the largest in the country (Casablanca is). However, many European carriers offer affordable flights to Marrakech.
Most cheap hotels in Marrakech are located in the old part of the city, which makes for a unique experience. Look for the word “Riad” which, as mentioned earlier, indicates that a traditional house has been converted in a hotel. Do remember that some are better maintained than the other and you need to be prepared for pretty much anything. There are, however, many budget places in the city which surely pleases all types of travelers.
Things to do in Marrakech
The Medina is a lively place every day of the year but if you are looking for something special, you are pretty much out of luck during this time of the year. There are many festivals going on throughout the year, but in December you don’t have too many choices.
The Olive Festival takes place in Rafai (Fez) in mid-December. You get the chance to witness traditional olive-picking techniques.
Where to stay
There are many budget places to choose from and if you are looking for an authentic experience, then the Riads should be your first choice. Just like in the case of traditional hotels, Riads range from very affordable to downright expensive. Obviously, the budget dictates where you’ll be staying.
Amour de Riad is located 3 minutes from the main square in Medina. There are 5 rooms available for the guests, all with private bathrooms. Breakfast is included in the room price and there is wi-fi within the property. Room rates start at €15 per person per night in a standard double room.
Riad Elixir is located in the Medina and is, indeed, a traditional place reconditioned to keep all the Moroccan elements alive. It offers 5 bedrooms and 2 lounges. Each room has ensuite bathroom and AC (or heating, depending on the time of the year). Room rates range from €50 to €120 per night, depending on the type of the room and time of the year. The entire guesthouse can be rented for €250-€380 per night (10-14 persons). The rates include breakfast.
Riad Ma’ab is located in the Medina and offers a casual and comfortable home to return to after the fun you have in the exotic old city. The souks are just 5 to 10 minute walk away. The room rates start at €60 per night (opening special rates). The high season runs from mid-December to early January.
Riad Orangeraie is located in the Medina, in an ancient Moroccan residence which was transformed to be a charming hotel. It offers 7 bedrooms and two patios (a garden patio and a pool patio). Room rates start at €130 per night.
Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge is located in the heart of Medina, just few minutes from Place D’Jeema El Fna and the famous souks. There are 10 bedrooms for the guests to use. The breakfast and linen are included in the room price. The guests can ask to learn how to cook traditional Moroccan food. Bed prices start at €9 per night per person.