A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Istanbul vs. Marrakech for Attractions, Food, Old Town, and Couples

Should you visit Istanbul or Marrakech?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Istanbul or Marrakech, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Istanbul

Istanbul is a diverse, beautiful, and high-energy city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the food, shopping, and museums.

Marrakech

Marrakech is a ancient, cultural, and high-energy city. It's a large city with plenty of activites for visitors as well. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for nightlife, food, and shopping.

Istanbul and Marrakech: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Blue Mosque
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Jemaa el-Fnaa Square
Things to Consider
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Istanbul or Marrakech?

You'll generally find more things to do in Istanbul than Marrakech. Istanbul is bigger than Marrakech, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Istanbul is better known for its museums, food, nightlife, and big city activities, while Marrakech is more popular for its shopping. Istanbul is well known for its world class historical sights, stunning mosques, and dynamic energy. Also, Istanbul is famous for The Blue Mosque. Marrakech is well known for its colorful medina, festive night market, and beautiful palaces.

How is Istanbul different from Marrakech?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Marrakech and Istanbul. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Istanbul or Marrakech?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Istanbul is an unbeatable place for its museums and history. Also, Marrakech is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

With plenty of landmarks, attractions, and museums, Istanbul has many famous sights for visitors. With such a long and diverse religious and political history, it has many museums, mosques, churches, and archeological sites that you can visit. Some of the most famous sights include the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Sarayi, and the Blue Mosque.

Many visitors head to Marrakech specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. While wandering the medina is an attraction in and of itself, there are also several sights that you should specifically check out. The iconic Djemaa el-Fnaa, or the city's main square, is best visited as the sun goes down. Other notable landmarks include Koutoubia Mosque, Majorelle Gardens, and Medersa Ben Youssef.


Is the Food Better in Istanbul or Marrakech? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Istanbul is an unbeatable place for its restaurants. Also, Marrakech is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

For foodies, Istanbul is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. From Turkish classics to sweet desserts, the city has it all. Popular dishes include Turkish style pizza, kebabs, and doner, which you'll find everywhere for affordable prices. You'll also find many tourist-centered restaurants in the touristy areas but if you get away from the main sights, you'll find more local options that let you sample high quality food for affordable prices.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Marrakech makes for a great culinary experience. Moroccan food is amazing and you'll enjoy grilled meats, tagines, couscous, and more. The city is more touristy than some parts of Morocco so you'll find the quality of the food can vary a bit, but it's still a culinary delight. Marrakesh is also a great city for taking a cooking class.

Is Istanbul or Marrakech Better for Nightlife?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Istanbul is an excellent place to visit for its evening party scene. Also, Marrakech is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for nightlife.

Istanbul has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. Dancing, dining, and partying have all become part of Istanbul's culture. Top nightclubs in the city include Reina, Sortie, and Supperclub. If you're looking for dance clubs and alcohol, your best bet is to head to the Beyoglu district.

Marrakech has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. Although alcohol is hard to come by, you'll find it in most western style restaurants and high end hotel chains. The city has more bars and nightclubs than you'd expect. There's also a great nighttime energy with many locals heading outside in the evening. Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square, comes to life with street vendors, performers, and people during the nighttime hours.

Is Istanbul or Marrakech Better for its Old Town?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Istanbul and Marrakech both have fantastic historical old towns that attract visitors.

Istanbul offers visitors a world-class historical old town to explore. The Old City in Istanbul is the most historic part of the city. It's where you'll find most of the city's historic sights. The area around Sultanahmet Square is the most popular tourist area to explore.

Marrakech has a world-famous historical area. The historic medina is filled with spices, antiques, art, and pottery. The culture and experience of wandering the medina will have you feeling like you stepped back in time.


Is the Shopping Better in Istanbul or Marrakech?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Marrakech is an amazing city to visit for shopping. Also, Istanbul is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping opportunities.

Marrakech is a famous shopping destination with plenty of stores. Shop your way through the street stalls and sample perfumes, spices, produce, and more. You'll find everything from souvenir trinkets to local items and authentic antiques.

Istanbul is well-known for its shopping. It is the capital of culture and fashion in Turkey, and there are many shopping areas that carry all kinds of brands. For a more traditional, but touristy experience head to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. For modern brands, Istiklal Caddesi is the most popular area for shopping.

Is Istanbul or Marrakech Better for Families?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Istanbul and Marrakech are both very good destinations for the whole family.

Istanbul is a very family-friendly place to visit. The city has several kid-friendly museums, a couple of aquariums, and fun theme parks. If the kids need a break from the city, you can spend a day at Vialand Theme Park or LEGOLAND Discovery Center Istanbul. Food in Istanbul is also very kid-friendly with many affordable dishes that young ones will enjoy.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Marrakech is very family-friendly. Kids will enjoy exploring a new culture and wandering through the medina. The food is very kid-friendly and during the evening the main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, comes to life with street performers, vendors, and entertainment. Families can also take cooking classes or head into the desert for a camel trek.

Is Istanbul or Marrakech Better for Couples?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Marrakech is an amazing city to visit for romance. Also, Istanbul is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its romantic activities.

Marrakech has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. There are many wonderful restaurants and fascinating places for couples to explores. Wandering the medina or visiting the gardens make for a romantic and adventurous getaway.

Istanbul makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples who enjoy history, culture, and vibrant neighborhoods will enjoy a romantic stay here. The city lights up at night and there are many rooftop dessert cafes where you can take in the view. The waterfront setting is the perfect place to watch the sunset and there are many places to walk and soak up the atmosphere.


Is Istanbul or Marrakech Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Both Istanbul and Marrakech are fantastic destinations for backpackers.

Istanbul is a mecca for backpackers and budget travelers. There are plenty of hostels and budget accommodation options, and there's also plenty of ways to meet other travelers. You'll find plenty of hostels concentrated in the Sultanahmet area.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Marrakech is extremely popular for backpackers. The city is very affordable and there are countless riads that are budget-friendly. There are enough backpackers around town that it's not hard to meet fellow travelers.

Is Istanbul or Marrakech Better for Students?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Istanbul is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Marrakech is not popular with students.

Istanbul is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. Students appreciate the city's vibrant neighborhoods, constant activity, and diverse population.

Marrakech is not popular with students.

Is Istanbul or Marrakech Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Istanbul is an unbeatable place for times when you don't have a car. However, Marrakech is lacking in options for its public transit.

Visitors in Istanbul can get around quickly with the extensive public transit system. It has a comprehensive and diverse public transit system that includes buses, trams, minibuses, ferries, funicular, and more.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Marrakech. While there are local buses, most people take taxis around town when they can't walk. Taxis are affordable and convenient.


Is Istanbul or Marrakech a more walkable city?

Istanbul
Marrakech

Istanbul and Marrakech both are very good when exploring on foot.

Istanbul is very walkable. Although it is huge, most of the neighborhoods that tourists visit are incredibly walkable and pedestrian-friendly.

Marrakech is a very walkable city. The medina is the best area to walk around but it's very easy to get lost. Outside of the medina you'll want to keep your eyes open for motorbikes and the occasional donkey.

For even more information, also check out Is Istanbul Worth Visiting? and Is Marrakech Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Marrakech or Istanbul?

How long in Istanbul or Marrakech?

Both Istanbul and Marrakech have a number of activities to choose from. In our opinion, Istanbul has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Istanbul than Marrakech. However, 3-7 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Istanbul than Marrakech. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Istanbul, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Marrakech than Istanbul. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Marrakech that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Istanbul than Marrakech if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Istanbul.


  • How many days in Istanbul or Marrakech? Ideal Length of Stay
    Istanbul 3-7 
    Marrakech 3-7

One day in Istanbul or Marrakech?

People visit Istanbul because there is so much to do. Visiting the old town is also a must. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

The beautiful city of Marrakech offers food and shopping. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Istanbul or Marrakech?

People visit Istanbul because there is so much to do. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Marrakech is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Istanbul or Marrakech?

People visit Istanbul because there is so much to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this city makes for a great vacation. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer.

Marrakech is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. It's no surprise that shopping is why people visit. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Marrakech, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Istanbul or Marrakech?

Istanbul is a popular choice for travelers. One week here is typical. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Istanbul, one week is sufficent for most. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Marrakech is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that shopping is why people visit. It is common to spend one week here. Visiting the old town is also a must. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Marrakech has to offer. This city offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Budget Tours to Turkey, The Best Tours for Seniors to Turkey, The Best 10-Day Tours in Morocco, and The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Morocco.


Which place is cheaper, Marrakech or Istanbul?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Istanbul is $126, while the average daily cost in Marrakech is $69. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Istanbul and Marrakech in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Istanbul $47
    Marrakech $46
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Istanbul $94
    Marrakech $92
Compare Hotels in Istanbul and Marrakech

Looking for a hotel in Istanbul or Marrakech? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Istanbul


Hotels in Marrakech


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Istanbul Hotel Prices and Marrakech Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Istanbul $55
    Marrakech $6.30
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Ferry
    $0.09
  • Local Bus
    $0.09

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Istanbul

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Istanbul:

  • İstanbul Vip Airport Transfer : $50
  • İstanbul Private Arrival Transfer : $56
  • İstanbul Private Airport Transfer: $140
  • İstanbul Airport Transfer(Airport to Hotel,Hotel to Airport): $42
  • İstanbul Airport Transfer : Your reliable & Stress-Free ride: $54
  • İstanbul Airport Private Transfer: $76
  • istanbul airport transfer: $27
  • VIP Transfer from Hotel to Airport in Istanbul: $27
  • Two Ways Istanbul Airport VIP Transfer: $98
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in Istanbul HTL-APT (IST): $43
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in Istanbul APT-HTL (IST): $43
  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in Istanbul HTL-APT (SAW): $52

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Marrakech

Also for Marrakech, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Marrakech Airport Transfer: $5.01
  • Transfer from Al Madina Airport: $5.79
  • Marrakech Airport transfer ( ONE WAY pick-up OR/OU ONE WAY drop-off): $6.50
  • Private transfer from or to the airport: $6.93
  • Marrakech : Transfer privé vers ou depuis l'aéroport de Rak: $6.94
  • Marrakech Airport Transfer ( ONE WAY pick-up OR/OU ONE WAY drop-off): $7.05
  • Marrakesh: 1-Way Private Transfer to Menara Airport: $7.46
  • Private Transfers to Marrakech from Ménara Airport: $7.59
  • Private Transfer: from Marrakech Airport to your hotel: $8.10
  • Marrakech : Private Transfer to/from RAK Airport: $8.10
  • Marrakech Airport Transfer : $8.13
  • Marrakech Travel Services: Airport Transfers & Hotel Shuttles : $8.66

Is it cheaper to fly into Istanbul or Marrakech?

Prices for flights to both Marrakech and Istanbul change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Istanbul $31
    Marrakech $13
Typical Food Prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of dining costs in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Juice
    $0.06
  • Turkish Delight
    $0.02
  • Dessert
    $0.26
  • Pastries
    $0.05

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Istanbul

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Istanbul.

  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Turkish Night Show from Istanbul: $16
  • Dinner Cruise and Entertainment with Private Table: $17
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise & Show with Private Table: $17
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise Tour With Turkish Night Show: $21
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise , Unlimited Drinks, & Show: $21
  • Bosphorus Luxury Catamaran Cruise with Dinner Show: $25
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise and Turkish Night Show: $26
  • Bosphorus Boat Cruise with Dinner & Entertainment: $27
  • Istanbul Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Unlimited Drinks and Shows: $28
  • Istanbul Bosphorus Dinner Cruise: $28
  • Istanbul Bosphorus Dinner Cruise and Turkish Night Show: $28
  • 3 Hour Ottoman Dinner Cruise in Istanbul : $29

Typical Food Prices in Marrakech

For Marrakech, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Orange Juice on the Square
    $0.30
  • Breakfast
    $1.20
  • Dates
    $0.60
  • Olives
    $0.90
  • Sandwich
    $1.29
  • Souvenir Spices
    $6.18

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Marrakech

For Marrakech, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Online Moroccan Cooking Class: $17
  • Cooking Lesson at the Ouirgane Ecolodge with Lunch: $18
  • Magical dinner in agafay desert with camel ride: $19
  • Marrakech desert: Agafay Desert Sunset Dinner Show: $20
  • Restaurant Dinner Experience with Hotel Pickup: $21
  • Sunset in Agafay: Dinner, Camel, Quad-Book Adventure with Viator: $22
  • Desert Dinner, Camel Ride, Sunset & Show: $23
  • Dinner in Desert Marrakech and Camel ride at Sunset: $23
  • Moroccan Cooking Class with a Local Chef: $24
  • From Agafay Desert Sunset Dinner with Live Show: $25
  • Dinner Magic in Agafay desert with transport from Marrakech: $26
  • Desert Agafay Dinner at Nomad Camp and Camel Ride: $26

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Istanbul $79
    Marrakech $7.01
Typical Entertainment Prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Bosphurus Boat (for 2)
    $0.62
  • Yerebatan Cistern for Two
    $0.62
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts for Two
    $0.31
  • Hagia Sofia entrance
    $0.93

Tours and Activities in Istanbul

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Istanbul are as follows:

  • 4 Hours Private Highlights Tour Of Istanbul: $272
  • All in One Day Istanbul - Historical Tour of Istanbul with Bosphorus Cruise: $163
  • Dolmabace Palace, Bosphorus Boat Tour , Eyüp Sultan Mosque Tour: $150
  • Full Day Private Guided Istanbul Tour: $42
  • Istanbul Customized Daily Tour: $200
  • City Highlights Tour w/Hagia Sophia & Blue Mosque: $35
  • Must - See Istanbul Stops 1: Half Day Morning Tour: $138
  • 1 Day Private Istanbul Guided Tour: $68
  • 1 Tour: Istanbul Highlights Street Food & Hidden Pearls: $201
  • 1-Day Best of Istanbul Private Tour with the Best Local Guides: $250
  • 1-Day Private Istanbul Layover Tour : $220
  • 2 Continents Tour incl. Beylerbeyi Palace [full-day]: $218

Typical Entertainment Prices in Marrakech

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Marrakech's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Palace Tickets
    $1.99
  • Golf at Atlas Golf
    $56

Tours and Activities in Marrakech

For Marrakech, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 3-Hour Colorful Souks Tour: $5.00
  • 3-Hour Colorful Souks Tour experience: $5.00
  • 3-Hour Colorful Souks Tour with Tour guide: $5.00
  • Marrakesh: Cactus Thiemann Entry Ticket: $8.20
  • Ourika Valley, Atlas Mountain and Waterfalls Tour from Marrakech: $10
  • Camel ride experience at the palm grove of Marrakech: $12
  • 1/2 day Guided Medina Walking Tour & Souks : $13
  • Marrakech:Quad Tour in Palmeraie: $14
  • Historical Marrakech Walking Tour: $15
  • Full Day Hiking Tour to Atlas Mountains from Marrakech: $15
  • Marrakech activities: Camel ride tour Marrakech: $15
  • Marrakech Sightseeing Tour: $15

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Istanbul $15
    Marrakech $15

Sample the Local Flavors in Istanbul

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Istanbul:

  • Istanbul Pub Crawl Big Nightout . Rooftop parties,party Bus & Nightlife: $22
  • Istanbul 7-Hour Pub Crawl: Big Night Out: $27
  • Party Pub Crawl with Party Bus: $29
  • Wine Tasting Experience in Istanbul : $45
  • Istanbul Wine Tasting at Home with Local Family: $83
  • 2-Day Wine Tasting Tour along the Thracian Wine Route: $180
  • Istanbul Private Wine Tasting Tour Through 3 City Wineries : $245
  • Istanbul Private and Guided, Food and Wine Tasting Tour: $430
  • Luxury Wine Tasting on a Private Yacht: $841

Sample the Local Flavors in Marrakech

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Marrakech:

  • Bar Crawl with Local Guide: $28
  • Moroccan wine tasting workshop in Marrakech: $70


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Istanbul and Marrakech, we can see that Istanbul is more expensive. And not only is Marrakech much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. Since Istanbul is in Europe and Marrakech is in Africa, this is one of the main reasons why the costs are so different, as different regions of the world tend to have overall different travel costs. So, traveling to Marrakech would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Marrakech and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Istanbul would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Istanbul than you might in Marrakech.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Istanbul Expensive? and Is Marrakech Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Istanbul or Marrakech?

Istanbul has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Marrakech. When comparing the sizes of Istanbul and Marrakech, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.