By Bus, Marrakesh
The airport is served between 8 am and 9 pm every half an hour by bus no. 19. A ticket on this line is 30 Dirham, return 50 Dirham (2015) which makes it around ten times more expensive than a ticket on any other bus line. Still, it is cheaper than a taxi (around 60 Dirham one way, depending if the meter is working or on your haggling skills) or a hotel shuttle (usually between 120 and 200 Dirham, if not included in your hotel stay). Bus number 19 stops at the train station, in the new town (Avenue Mohammed V), the coach station and Djama el Fnaa (South of Foucault Square).
Bus 11 and 18 are often recommended as a cheaper alternative to number 19. They stop in Bouakkaz, a 10 minute walk away from the terminal building. If you are that tight on budget, you may consider a walk into the city centre which is around 50 minutes away.
Marrakech is a city to be walked. You need to fell lost in the Medina to feel the authentic character of the city. But unlike any other touristic buses around the world, here they are a good option to know the off the beaten path from a tourist point of view. They're quite useful to have a quick (or slow) glance at the complete Moroccan way of life. The service is managed by the Spanish bus company Alsa.
They propose two lines, both of them with its first stop in Ville Nouvelle (Guéliz) and it works in the typical 24 / 48 hours for hop on and hop off along its trail. There is the "Tour historique", near the Medina, Koutoubia, Royal Palace, Train Station, Menara Gardens... And the other one is the "Tour Oasis", heading for the Palmeraie and Majorelle Gardens
At first glance the hop-on hop-off bus service in Marrakech might seem the ideal way of introducing yourself to the city. Unfortunately Marrakech is a bit different to most cities. Much of what is interesting in Marrakech lies inside the ancient walls of the Medina, and there's not much of that part of the city that a bus can visit. For the Medina you will really need to get down on the ground and walk.
That said, there are a few places worth visiting outside the Medina, and they are quite spaced out, so if you want to combine them with a couple of other stops, like Marrakech Plaza and central Gueliz for the tourist office, it might prove a convenient, if a little expensive, transport option. However, if you are capable of haggling taxi rides down to 20-30 dirhams, then you would probably be better off shuttling between these sights by taxi instead.
Buses are the most popular way to get around Morocco, and the system caters for everything from broken down mini-buses to super luxurious air-conditioned expresses. For most tourists the two companies to use are CTM and Supratours. CTM are an independent company with a very good reputation, Supratours are an extension of Moroccan Railways, to take passengers to places the trains can't. Both have comfortable, clean, safe air-conditioned buses, although Supratours offer a luxury bus for about 30% more. These buses have much more space (three seats across instead of four) and other comforts.
I used Supratours for the trip to Essaouira and back. They were excellent, although there timetables are completely off. The bus was 30 minutes late leaving Marrakech, and yet still managed to arrive early at Essaouria. On the way back the bus arrived in Marrakech over an hour early. Maybe they make allowances for traffic and breakdowns. Timetables for Supratour buses can be discovered through the ONCF railways webpage.
One recommendation: Buy your ticket at least a day before you travel, especially on popular routes like Marrakech-Essaouria. The bus was full both legs. Although a few people were lucky enough to get on at the last minute without a ticket, some people were left behind. Booking online is not possible for Supratours. CTM do offer online booking, but it doesn't seem to accept credit cards from outside Morocco.
One last tip: Because Supratours are run by the railway company, they don't tend to run from the main city bus stations (Gare Routiere). This can be a convenience in many cases, as in Essaouria where the Supratours stop is right next to the Medina. In Marrakech the main bus stop is on Boulevard 11 Janvier, just outside the city walls to the north at the Bab Doukkala city gate. Supratours run from a stop attached to the train station. Just walk down the main street to the left of the train station as you approach it, and Supratours is about 500m past it after the Ibis hotel.
The local bus system in Marrakech is cheap, safe, friendly and totally confusing. It also tends to be very crowded. The problems start with the map, which you can helpfully access on the Internet. It doesn't match up to anything, at least no map I found. The coloured lines obscure the map, the names of the terminals (no stops are detailed) are missing or refer to something no other map of Marrakech mentions, the lines themselves are spaghetti and the map doesn't even seem to be to scale. I'm pretty sure most of the buses stop near Djemaa el Fna, one of the most obvious sights in Marrakech, but neither that nor the Koutoubia mosque nearby are mentioned.
The only thing I can help with is that I know that Bab Doukkala is the main bus terminal just outside the Medina walls on the north-west side. This is the start of the number 1 bus, and you can see the big number 1 next to Bab Doukkala. I'm also pretty sure that the cluster of bus numbers south of Bab Doukkala is either Djemaa el Fna, or somewhere very close.
It might feel a bit daunting getting on the bus after looking at the map, but it's not a problem. In fact the friendliness of the passengers and driver (they'll probably be surprised to see a tourist) helps alleviate some of the problems. Both times the driver told us where to get off. In fact the second time we knew where to get off, at Majorelle Gardens, but decided to stay on until the end of the line. We wondered why the bus was waiting so long at the gardens, until a young guy came up to us, smiling, and said in his best, slightly bashful, English, that "the driver has instructed me to tell you that this is your stop."
It was incredible! Despite the fact that it was rush hour, despite the fact that the bus was packed, and despite the fact the bus driver was so obviously running late that he was hurrying people to get on, he made time to find an English speaker among the passengers, and wait there while he came to find us. Even though we didn't actually want to get off at that stop now, we felt obliged to surrender to their generosity and find another way to our destination.
Tickets can be bought from the driver when you tell him your destination. They are 4 dirhams for most rides. Try to have some change rather than big notes.
Well I guess with the Government iniative to push tourism and the drive to increase the number of tourists up into the multi millions mark comes with the increase in commercialism (not just the freeing up of airspace and thus the end of the Government monopoly on airlines and prices) - so the Hop on Hop off bus around the sights of Marrakech had to happen eventually!
As with most cities I would usually recommend a Hop on Hop off bus as part of getting orientated to a place and its sights especially if you need to take it a little easy after all the effort and energy involved in arriving at the destination. A good way to see the lay out of a city and hear useful facts and historical information while the looking at the relevant sight and get a feel for the city.
The bus route wont enable you to see into the medina but you can get at a stop very close by - that has a few banks, ATMs and Western Union offices just there, also where you can pick up a horse and carriage ride from if you want to have a more romantic ride around the city walls or out to Majorelle gardens.
APRIL 2013 - saw the hop on hop off buses still in action when driving out from Marrakech airport...
It is a reasonable price for a choice of 24 hours (150 dhm) and 48 hours (195 dirham) as it includes the Majorelle gardens and the Palmoraie - but you might like to take the opportunity of a trip out to these places by romantic caleche - ie horse and buggy instead
- and here is the very helpful website:
We opted to jump on the Hop on/ Hop off bus since we didn't want to be haggling every time we wanted to go somewhere .... and we're so glad we did ..... we paid 140 dirhams about $15 US for a 2 day pass and we didn't have to worry about anything after that ....
The bus has 2 routes .... the red line takes you to all the major sites within Marrakesh and the green line to takes you the the nice resorts north of town ..... The busses run from 9:00 to 18:00 on the red line and from 9:00 am to 17:00 on the green line ....
the green line tour takes a little bit over 45 minutes and the red line takes about 90 minutes ....If you don't want to haggle with annoying taxi's then this is the way to go !!!!!
Once on board the bus, you are given a cheap pair of ear plugs which you connect to the side of your seat ..... you can choose from 8 different languages !!!! The actual audio is pretty informative and helpful !!!!
A great way to see the city if you are short on time is by jumping on the hop on/hop off Bus Touristique. You can purchase two types of tickets: 24h and 48h and are good for a full 24 and 48 hours from the exact time of purchase. Ticket prices as of Sept 2011 are 80/150 (child/adult)Dirhams for 24h and 100/200 Dirhams (child/adult) for 48h. Headphones are included in the price and you can plug in at each seat. Audio Tour is provided in English, Moroccan, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese and Portugese.
There are two different routes. Tour Historique which stops at all the famous spots such as: La Koutoubia, Place Jemaa El Fna, Palais La Bahia, La Menara and the Palais Badii (and others) and Tour Oasis which stops at a number of Palmeraie's as well as the Jardin Majorelle.
During the summer, peak hours Tour Historique buses run every 20 to 30 minutes from 9:00 to 18:30h. Duration of the loop is 1h30min. Tour Oasis buses run every 1h10min from 12:00h to 17:30h
The most convenient way to travel from Marrakech to Ouarzazate is by CTM bus. Tickets cost 80 dirham (also for children) and can be purchased at the busstation or in advance. We bought our bustickets at an internetcafe at Rue Bab Agnaou street.
The bus will make a stop from 30 minutes halfway in the Atlas mountain village of Taddert.
The busstation is somewhat out of town, in the Menara (close to the airport), so you probably have to take a petit taxi.
Luggage is chequed in, and sometimes you have to pay 5 ot 10 dirhams for the baggage.
We wanted to go to Ait Ben Haddou, which is not a busstop.
We asked the busdriver to drop us at the roadjunction about 25 km before Ouarzazate.
From there you can take a grand taxi to Ait Ben Haddou.
We boarded a hop on/hop off bus at JEF to get a feel for the city. The entire route took about 90 minutes and we went around both the old city and the new city. If you plan on doing/seeing anything outside the old city it's a good idea to use this bus for transportation (Menara Gardens, Le Meridien hotel, McDonalds!). The distance can be a little far.
There are two routes - one is the monumental route that stops at the main sights (palaces, msoque). Sorry didn't take the other route so not sure where it goes.
Your pass is good for 24 hours and costs less than $20. The buses run between 9:30 and 7 p.m.
The No. 19 bus DOES run on the hour and half hour from the airport.
Quarter past and quarter to each hour to the airport from roughly stance 8, next to the gardens at the 'bottom' of Jamaa El Fna, across the road from Kentucky Fried Chicken. This is just round the corner from the long line of horse drawn 'caleches' outside club Med. Sorry if this sounds like a long winded explanation but NO ONE wants to tell you where you get the bus from the town for the airport! I hope the map will reproduce big enough for you to see that the bus covers quite a bit of the new town on its way back to the airport on its circular route.
Before going to Morocco I tried to find information about bus timetables. It was not easy at all.
When I was there, I took some photos of CTM bus timetables (different from online) from Marrakesh to other places. You can see them below (as of 28th Nov 2010).
Dakhla 5:15; 14:30
Boujdour 5:15; 14:30
Laayoune 5:15; 14:30; 16:30; 18:30; 19:30
Tan tan 5:15; 14:30; 15:30; 16:30; 18:00; 19:30
Goulmime 5:15; 14:30; 15:30; 16:30; 18:00; 19:30; 23:45
Tiznit 2:15; 10:45; 15:30; 16:30; 18:00; 19:30; 23:45
Agadir 5:15; 8:00; 10:45; 12:00; 15:30; 16:30; 18:00; 19:30; 23:45
Ouarzazate 2:45; 7:00; 12:15; 16:30; 23:45
Agdez (Agdz?) 12:15; 23:45
Zagora 12:15; 23:45
Lamhamid (MHamid, M'Hamid) 12:15
Casablanca 1:30; 6:00; 10:15; 12:00; 15:30; 16:30
Rabat 1:30; 2:15; 6:00; 12:00; 15:30
Tanger (Tangier) 2:15; 6:00; 12:00; 16:30
Tetouane 2:15; 6:00; 16:30
Mekness (Meknes) 1:30; 6:00; 12:00
Nador 12:00; 15:30
Al Hoceima 15:30
Tinghir (Tinerhir?) 7:00
Fes (Fez) 7:00; 12:00; 15:30; 23:30
Ifrane 7:00; 23:30
Azrou 7:00; 23:30
Mrirt 7:00; 23:30
Khenifra 7:00; 23:30
Z.Echeikh 7:00; 23:30
K.Tadla (Kasba Tadla?) 7:00
B.Mellal (Beni Mellal) 7:00; 23:30
K.Sraghna (Kasba Sraghna?) 7:00; 23:30
Essaouira: Aller 8:00; 12:00; Retour 12:30; 17:00
We took bus 12:15 to Ouarzazate. Ticket cost 90MAD per person. The cashier charged us 10MAD per backpack, however, as we noticed later, only gave us 1 ticket for all bags for 5MAD (or probably 10). But I also read in some smallprint on their wall that all bags > size xyz, where one of them was 10cm are charged 5 (or 10)Dh
Bus was good. It stopped once before crossing Atlas mountains, but it didn't stop near Tizzi'n'Tichka as we expected.
There's also a good bus called Ahlan Wa Sahlan. It leaves Marrakesh every 2nd day normally and goes through Ouarzazate to M'Hamid. We took it on 30th November from Ouarzazate, tickets cost 80MAD/person +5Dh/bag
There are three types of inter-city buses to and from Marrakech. Firstly, at the bus station, opposite Bab Doukkala, there are the private bus companies, which operate to all major cities, including many every day to Tangier, Agadir, Essaouira, Goulimine and Casablanca. The buses look fine, but they don't use airconditioning and they stop frequently to pick up passengers and sometimes just to do a bit of shopping in local markets. Only use these buses, if there is no alternative. The passengers who use them are more than 95% locals.
Then there are the Supra Tours buses, which are run by the state rail company. They are fast, direct and use their airconditioning. More than 90% of their passengers are foreign tourists, but usually these buses are full. So, it is essential that you go to the Supra Tours office, next to the train station, and book your ticket the day before you plan to travel. They run to Agadir, Essaouira, Smara and Goulimine
Thirdly, there is the state-run CTM company, which operates from an office in the centre of Gueliz. The passengers on these are about a 70/30 split between locals and foreigners. They are fast, direct and use their airconditioning and, in my opinion, they are even better than Supra Tours. They run buses to many destinations, including Agadir, Casablanca, Fes, Rabat, Taroudannt, Ouarzazate, Zagora and Goulimine.
To give you some idea of times and prices, a CTM bus to Ouarzazate cost DH70 and took more than 4 hours; a Supra Tours bus to Essaouira cost DH65 and took just under 4 hours. On all of these buses, you will have to pay at least DH5 extra for each piece of heavy baggage.
Now that the new airport is up and running the bus from the airport into the city has been able to run from just outside the terminal doors into the city from a clearly visible and signposted bus stop.
Its a bit of a dream ride into the city! Nice new buses with plenty of room to place travellers luggage and the seats are clean and comfortable (well they are still new buses!).
For only 20 dirham and without the hassle of having to haggle the price down from exorbitant ripoff taxi drivers these buses leave half hourly and go straight into the city in about 20 minutes.
Not long returned from another trip to Marrakech and used the bus again - this time had to get to the Gueliz/new town - and interesting to note that the bus goes from the main square up to the main bus station and on through the new town - and the drivers have been so helpful and caring about where you want or need to get off.
If theres more than 3 of you then I would recommend you do find a taxi - still with a bit of a haggle involved but should be cheaper than 3 of you on the bus and quicker.
When we arrived at Menara Airport at Marrakech we wanted to take a taxi to downtown. As indicated in the Lonely Planet, and also on signs at the airport, it should cost no more than 60 dirham during daytime.
Well......forget about that !
There was no taxidriver that was even thinking about taking us to downtown Marrakech for that amount. Prices started at 150 dirham and up.
There was also something new; the airport shuttle.
It goes every 30 minutes and takes you from Menara Airport to Djemnaa el Fna square for the flat amount of 20 dirham.
It's also possible to buy a return ticket for 30 dirham, but it's only valid for 2 weeks. This way you can save some money if you stay less than 2 weeks.
This airport shuttle is a comfortable bus, that does the 6 kilometres in about 15 minutes.
The busstop is located just outside the Menara airport