Top 9 Rated Day Trips from Marrakesh
Top 9 Rated Day Trips from Marrakesh
As well as being Morocco’s most popular tourist destination, full of the color and chaos of the souks, yet home to sophisticated accommodation and dining, Marrakesh is also one of the best places to visit and use as a base to experience plenty more of what the country has to offer.
The city lies on the edge of the arid plains, with the rural vistas and mighty mountains of the Atlas region just on its doorstep, but still near enough to the Atlantic coast, so there are plenty of things to do and tourist attractions within day-trip reach.
Marrakesh offers bundles of great excursions for when the crush of the medina starts to wear you down.
Start planning your adventures with our list of the best day trips from Marrakesh.
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1. Have a Taste of the High Atlas in the Ourika Valley
About 77 kilometers from Marrakesh, the mountain valley villages of the Ourika Valley are one of the most popular things to do outside the city.
The little villages and towns, surrounded by lush orchards and fields, are a welcome escape from the city heat and provide a quick snapshot of typical Moroccan rural life.
If you plan a trip for Monday, don’t miss the weekly market held in the village of Tnine which is full of the bustle and color of local life.
At the end of the road, you reach the pretty village of Setti Fatma with its cascades (the Ourika Valley’s most famous tourist attraction) up on the hill above town. The hike up to the cascades is the main activity here for day trippers.
2. Enjoy a Seaside Break in Essaouira
A lovely seaside side trip from Marrakesh’s labyrinthine medina, Essaouira, 184 kilometers away, has much more than fresh sea breezes to offer.
Snug on the seafront, the medina area is the major point of interest for visitors, with its well-preserved fortified walls and ramparts that date from the 18th century.
Walking along the walls is a wonderful way to soak up the seaside vistas and Essaouira’s fishing harbor, full of colorful, bobbing boats.
Inside the ramparts, the old town is a meandering squiggle of narrow streets that are made to get lost in. Here, you’ll find the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah Museum, with a well-curated ethnological collection of costumes, textiles, photography, and musical instruments in a restored riad (traditional Moroccan mansion house).
There are plenty of guided trips and group tours offered to Essaouira by Marrakesh tour companies. The Essaouira Day Trip from Marrakesh offers round-trip transportation, a one-hour tour of Essaouira’s medina, and plenty of free time to explore by yourself making this a good option for independently minded day-trippers.
3. Experience Desert Life in Agafay
If you don’t have time to make the long trip out east to the Sahara dunes of Erg Chebbi or Erg Chigaga, the Agafay Desert, 35 kilometers southwest from the city, offers a taste of desert life.
Most people head here for an overnight trip for a peaceful time-out from city life and to experience the star-studded night skies at one of the luxury lodges and camps here. If you’re short on time, though, a day trip is also possible.
This arid, stone-pitted hill country, backgrounded by the peaks of the High Atlas, is a barren moonscape where 4WD-tours, camel treks, quad biking, and mountain biking are the main activities.
4. Road Trip the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass to Ait Ben Heddou
Rimmed by majestic mountain scenery, the road between Marrakesh and Ouarzazate traverses the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass, about 120 kilometers from Marrakesh, and is one of Morocco’s greatest road trips.
For many travelers, this is the doorway to further adventures in the High Atlas and the Sahara to the east, but for those only with time for a day trip from Marrakesh, you can experience a couple of the region’s important historic attractions, as well as some superb mountain panoramas on a day out on this route.
Telouet, with its Glaoui era kasbah, is a good stop-off along the way, while the majestic rammed-earth ksar (fortified village) of Ait Ben Haddou (175 kilometers southeast from Marrakesh) makes for a dramatic place to aim for before turning around and driving back towards the city.
Simply driving this road is a great way to take in the changing scenery of the orchards and farms of the lowlands up to the heights of the Atlas Mountains.
5. Explore the Scenery of Toubkal National Park
Central Morocco is home to North Africa’s highest mountain. Jebel Toubkal towers 4,167 meters above the landscape and lies at the center of Toubkal National Park, one of the country’s most popular trekking destinations, about 70 kilometers from Marrakesh.
If you’re just here for a day trip, there won’t be time to bag the summit for yourself (the ascent is a two-day climb best tackled in summer and early autumn) or to set out on the famous Toubkal Circuit trek, which takes seven to 10 days, but the landscape is a fascinating place to spend a day out from Marrakesh.
The village of Imlil is Toubkal National Park’s main base, and if you only have time for a taster of the rural vistas, there’s a great return hike from Imlil along local dirt tracks to Aroumd village, which offers up incredible mountain vistas and only takes an afternoon.
Another easy walk (along roads rather than walking trails) is the final section of the Toubkal Circuit multi-day trek, to the village of Ait Souka.
The Atlas Mountains & Three Valleys Private Day Trip takes a scenic drive into the valleys of Toubkal National Park, with stops for a camel ride and a visit to an Argan oil cooperative.
The tour also includes a walk, mule ride, or drive to Ait Souka to soak up the scenery along the way; a visit to a traditional Berber house in the village, with a tagine lunch; and a drive to the scenic village of Moulay Brahim. A guide is included, as is all transport, including pickup and drop off from your Marrakesh hotel.
6. See the Ouzoud Waterfall
Hugely popular with both local Marrakshis and foreign visitors wishing to take a break from the city heat, this series of cascades lies about 150 kilometers north of Marrakesh within the Oued el-Abid Canyon.
The water here plummets over three terraces, dropping a total of 110 meters to the bottom of the canyon. There are numerous viewing platforms where you can take in the thundering water on the way down to the canyon’s base, and along the footpath, there is a good chance you’ll see Barbary apes.
The best months to come are between March and June, when the winter melt produces the most water.
The Ouzoud Falls Day Trip is a good choice if you want to experience these famous cascades without staying overnight. A local, expert guide shows you all the best viewing points on a one-hour walk to the bottom. Free time is provided for those who want to hike farther, or head into the water on a boat. Transport is included, with pickup and drop-off from Marrakesh hotels.
7. Drive to the Dadès Gorge
Highly dramatic and stunningly beautiful, the deep, verdant valleys sandwiched between the rust-colored walls of the Dadès Gorge are prime walking territory, with excellent day hiking available, as well as longer overnight treks between the Dadès Gorge and Todra Gorge.
About 309 kilometers from Marrakesh, the valley here is home to pretty villages and fertile fruit orchards, as well as weird and wacky rock formations hewn into their shape by a millennia of wind action.
The mighty mud-brick-walled Kasbah of Ait Youl, built by the Glaoui dynasty, with a lofty position overlooking the mountains, is only a few kilometers into the gorge area and is definitely worth a stop before you venture farther into the gorge for more sightseeing.
The fantastic, and mildly terrifying, twisty-turny switchback road you have to traverse to enter the valley is one of the highlights of a visit here.
8. Ski at Oukaimeden
For Moroccan ski fans, Oukaimeden is the main winter haunt. This is the country’s prime ski resort, set within stunning alpine scenery about 78 kilometers south of Marrakesh.
The ski season lasts from around December to February, but even when it’s not snowing, a road trip here is worthwhile.
The route to Oukaimeden takes you past hills scythed into a tumble of terraced fields and snoozy villages hugged by the foothills as you traverse up into the barren, rippling mountains.
Oukaimeden’s accommodation scene is pretty bleak and overpriced, which makes it even more worthwhile to treat a skiing (or in summer, sightseeing-trip here) as a day trip from Marrakesh.
10. Explore the Ahansal and Ait Bougomez Valleys
About 160 kilometers from Marrakesh, the Ahansal and Ait Bougomez Valleys of the High Atlas are often combined together as a day trip for visitors who want to experience some of Morocco’s most iconic High Atlas mudbrick village vistas, snug between terraced hillside fields.
A typical itinerary to this area would combine visits to the petroglyphs of the Tizi n’Tirghist Pass and a visit to the Cathedrale des Rochers near the Tamga Nature Reserve, as well as plenty of stops along the way to appreciate the tiny villages tumbling down hillslopes.
If you come on Sunday, don’t miss the chaotic and colorful weekly market at Tabant.