Glamping in the desert, chasing waterfalls, and trekking through snow-capped mountains are just some of the best day trips from Marrakech. Read on to discover 11 unmissable excursions from Marrakech!
Morocco is such an exotic and exciting destinations, and it’s much more than just the big cities such as Marrakech and Fez. Sure, you have to spend time in Marrakech as it’s so unique, but a few day trips from Marrakech should also be part of your Morocco itinerary.
And when it comes to day trips, here there are options for everyone and every budget. You can join a tour, take public transportation, or rent a car in Marrakech.
Fancy the beach, or prefer some incredible mountain landscapes? What about fortified citadels or glamping in the desert? Check out our favorite 11 weekend & day tours from Marrakech!
Essaouira: Blue Boats, Seaside, and a Chill Town
Forget the hustle and bustle of the big cities. The medina of Essaouira has nothing to do with the chaos of Fez or Marrakech, and it’s the perfect place to escape for some seaside and peace.
Essaouira is a lovely and picturesque town by the Atlantic, with sand-colored walls lined with souvenir vendors, artisans, and eateries. By the way, if you want to buy some souvenirs, Essaouira is the place to do it. You can look around without anyone aggressively trying to sell you anything. It was one of my favorite places in Morocco, and always tell people they should definitely include it in their Morocco itinerary.
Essaouira’s name actually means ‘little picture,’ which is very fitting since this is a dreamy picture-perfect town. Head to the port to check out the famous blue boats of Essaouira, and stop by for lunch at one of the basic restaurants by the port that offer yummy, super fresh fish for very little money.
From the main square of Place Moulay to the little aromatic souks in alleyways, Essaouira is absolutely worthy of a visit. Come for a day or stay longer if you have time. We stayed for 4 nights as we needed some chill time after the city, and we didn’t regret it one bit.
Distance from Marrakech: around 200 km, it’s a 2,5-3-hour drive.
• Take a Day trip to Essaouira from Marrakech
⇒ If you would like to visit this pretty little town and arrange transportation from Marrakech in advance, check out the Day Trip to Essaouira from Marrakech tour, that makes things easier in terms of organization but still gives you time to explore Essaouira on your own (you really don’t need a fully guided tour here). ⇒ BOOK HERE
• How to Spend 2 Days in Essaouira
⇒ Want to spend more time in town? If you want to learn or already enjoy surfing, I recommend the Overnight Surf Trip to Essaouira and Sidi Kaouki, that includes a night accommodation in a Riad, surf lessons and a visit to the neighboring towns. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
⇒ You can also obviously organize the trip on your own by renting a car or by taking public transport to Essaouira and sleep in a riad (that’s what we did).
There are both buses and vans that go to Essaouira, but I recommend taking a bus from Supratours as they are the most comfortable. At the time of writing there are 8 buses a day from Marrakech to Essaouira, from 7.45 am to 7 pm. Book your ticket at least one day in advance because they get full, and we saw many people arriving on the same day and being turned down because the bus was fully booked.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Essaouira, these are my favorite choices in town:
Luxury: Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa
Mid-range: Riad Al Zahia
Budget: Dar Karam
The High Atlas of Morocco: Imlil & Kasbah du Toubkal
If you love the mountains and waking up to unbelievable view of snow-capped peaks, you can’t miss a trip to the High Atlas.
Imlil is the village situated high in the Atlas Mountains near Marrakech where most people get based in when spending the night, and where most treks depart from. If you’re well fit, you can choose to climb Mount Toubkal (Northern Africa’s highest summit at at 4,167 meters), but there are plenty of other treks available for all levels of difficulty.
However, you don’t need to enjoy hiking to love Imlil. Just the stunning views make a trip here worth it.
Distance from Marrakech: 90 kilometers, about 2-hour drive.
• Take a Day trip to Imlil from Marrakech
If you have to prioritize which day trip to choose, I would say you really shouldn’t miss the Atlas mountains, such gorgeous scenery! There are tons of tours to Imlil and the High Atlas, but these two are the best ones in my opinion.
⇒ Imlil Day Trip & Lunch in Kasbah du Toubkal – one of the most complete day trips from Marrakech to Atlas Mountains. Start your day in Marrakech, go for a short hike in the High Atlas, get to know more about the Berber way of life and enjoy a traditional lunch at Kasbah du Toubkal, the place where Seven Years in Tibet was filmed. Yes, you read right – it was filmed here in Morocco, not in Tibet! ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
⇒ Atlas Mountains Day Trip with Camel Ride – on this tour you’ll get the chance to go on a hike through beautiful valleys and three Berber villages. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
• Spend 2 Days in Imlil at Kasbah du Toubkal
Four years ago I visited the Kasbah in the summer and loved it. So much that when Fran and I decided to spend a few weeks in Morocco, I immediately told him he needed to see this place. And believe it or not, this time around I loved it even more.
Kasbah du Toubkal is a traditional citadel that was restored in the 90’s by a British businessman, and has some of the most incredible views a hotel can have, about a 15-minute walk from the town of Imlil. No real road gets here, so you’re completely surrounded by nature but trust me, you won’t miss the hustle and bustle.
One of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, Kasbah du Toubkal is a boutique hotel where luxury and traditional Berber style come together.
There’s a sense of warmth all around the place, and it’s funny to feel that when it’s 2 degrees outside (who said Morocco is always warm?). I’ve been to few places where I was able to truly disconnect, feel relaxed, and be one with nature like here at Kasbah du Toubkal.
We stayed in the beautiful, two-storey Apartment Suite. Downstairs is the bedroom and the bathroom with a bathtub that I really enjoyed since it was so cold outside.
Upstairs, though, was my favorite part. This open-air space comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, a fully-stocked complimentary minibar and a wonderful living room area with a fireplace that we truly enjoyed. We spent hours playing chess in front of it, and it was magnificent to forget about our phones and laptops for once. But the best part is the view. Look at it!
Everyone at the Kasbah is incredibly nice, you get welcomed with dates soaked in milk, and are able to enjoy candle-lit, traditional Moroccan meals. The Kasbah also organizes treks and activities for the guests, and we truly enjoyed our guided, easy 2-hour trek through valley and mountain villages in such a beautiful ecotourism destination.But the best part of this unique lodge is its owners’ commitment to sustainability, both in an ecological and social meaning. I love how the Kasbah, among other projects, funds a program fro the education of girls in rurla Morocco, girls that without this funding wouldn’t go to school.
If you have time, I can’t recommend enough a stay here. Together with our trip to Merzouga, it was an highlight of our 3 weeks in Morocco.
Check out RATES & AVAILABILITY for Kasbah du Toubkal
Once in a Lifetime Experience in Merzouga: Sahara Tour from Marrakech
Merzouga is a dream come true. If you’ve ever dreamt to camp (in luxury) under a million stars, and witness the sun rising over those giant, golden sand dunes of the Sahara desert, then you need to get to Merzouga.
Forget a day trip to Merzouga – it’s simply not possible, neither from Marrakech or Fez. If you’re really low on time, it might be possible to find a tour that does it in 2 days, although I don’t recommend it either. It takes 10-12 hours from Marrakech to your desert camp in Merzouga (they say 8 but trust me, it’s not true), so 3 days are necessary to really enjoy your adventure in the desert.
I will have to write a whole post about my experience cause it was a once in a lifetime, bucket list adventure that I’m still raving about. There was a lot of driving involved, but the views, the luxury tents, and the whole experience made me feel like a kid again. It was pure joy, and I’d love to do it all over again.
⇒ During our 3-day trip with Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp we experienced camel riding at sunset, a 4WD off-roading through the desert, we had tea with a Berber family and plenty of free time to just enjoy the silence of the desert at our own pace. Waking up at sunrise was totally worth it, as well staying out at night to look at the stars. I had never seen so many stars!
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A trip with Merzouga Luxury Desert Camps doesn’t come cheap, but the tents are pure luxury, with everything you need and more, as well as the hospitality and the wonderful food and activities. Truly one of those Marrakech excursions you can’t miss.
Check out RATES & AVAILABILITY for Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp
⇒ For a more budget-friendly option, check out the Marrakech to Merzouga 3-Day Desert Safari where you also get the chance to play in the Erg Chebbi dunes, enjoy the sunset and the night sky in the middle of the desert and get close to the Berber culture.
Keep in mind that the service and the accommodation will be much more basic that the option I went on, which is understandable due to the difference in price. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Marrakech: 560 kilometers, around 12 hours of driving.
UNESCO Sites + Movie Sets at Ait Benhaddou & Ouarzazate
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, or you’ve watched Lawrence of Arabia or The Gladiator, then you definitely know Ait Benhaddou, even if you’ve never heard of it.
Ait Ben Haddou is one of the most unique spots in the region, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a fortified city which has maintained its authentic look for centuries. It might appear to be old and abandoned, but there are, in fact, quite a few families that still live there.
It was constructed using old earthen techniques, which is why it looks so magnificent and unique. Once you see it, it’s easy to understand why this old fortress has been the set for many movies and shows.
Distance of Ait Benhaddou from Marrakech: 184 km, about 4-hour drive.
Considered to be the gateway to the Sahara Desert, Ouarzazate is one of the most scenic Moroccan cities. In fact, the city is still used by filmmakers to showcase Morocco in movies and TV shows, and it’s known as the “Hollywood of Africa”.
Its name comes from the old Berber language that means ‘quiet place’, and this name is absolutely fitting since there is a certain sense of calmness around town. Its unique fort-like buildings and amazing architecture, mixed with some of the most gorgeous surroundings in Morocco, are what attract visitors to go on a day trip from Marrakech to Ouarzazate.
Distance of Ouarzazate from Marrakech: 195 km, about 4-hour drive.
• Take a Day trip to Ait Benhaddou & Ouarzazate from Marrakech
• To make things easy, you might want to consider a day tour from Marrakech that will bring you to both Ait Benhaddou and Ouarzazate in an air-conditioned van (trust me, you’ll need it!). Check out this Ait Benhaddou day trip from Marrakech ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
• If you’re just interested in visiting Ouarzazate, the “Hollywood of Africa”, you can instead check out THIS TOUR.
• Spend 2 Days in Ait Benhaddou & Ouarzazate
• If you’re on a road trip (you can rent a car in Marrakech here), there are few places more magical than Ait Benhaddou to spend the night. This fortified town is also the perfect place to stop for the night if you’re trying to break the long journey to Merzouga and the desert. Here are my two favorite choices for hotels in Ait Benhaddou.
Luxury: Kasbah Titrit & Spa
Mid-range: Paradise of Silence
To get here, you will have to either rent a car in Marrakech or organize one car with a driver for the two days (you’ll have to organize it directly in Marrakech at some local travel agency – remember to haggle on the price!).
• If you prefer to opt for a guided 2-day tour, this one includes a visit to Ait Benhaddou & Ouarzazate, accommodation in the 3-star Ait Benhaddou hotel, and a drive through some incredible landscapes in the mountains.
Visit the Impressive Ouzoud Waterfalls
The waterfalls near the village of Ouzoud are arguably the most beautiful waterfalls in Northern Africa, and oone of the most popular Marrakech day excursions. Cascades d’Ouzoud, as they’re locally known, are actually several falls, each with their own size and scope, with the highest of them being around 110 meters.
They’re quite unique compared to other waterfalls as they’re one of the few ones in the world that don’t fall from wide to narrow, but instead fall down from different heights into a sort of a natural amphitheater of rock cliffs. It’s not unusual to witness beautiful rainbows on the water!
Distance from Marrakech: around 160 kilometers, about 2h 30m drive.
⇒ How does visiting the Ouzoud Falls, exploring traditional Berber villages, learning from the local flora and fauna and swiming in Al Abid, all in one day sound? If you’re just as excited as I am about the Ouzoud Waterfalls Full-Day Tour from Marrakech, BOOK IT HERE.
Be One with Nature at the Agafay Desert near Marrakech
Unlike the Sahara, which is a whole-day drive away, the Agafay Desert is just outside Marrakech, and it’s a popular one day trip from Marrakech. It’s not a sand-sloping dune desert as it’s a stone desert, but it’s one of the most beautiful spots outside of Marrakech. It might not be the sandy desert you’ve always seen pictures of, but if you have limited time this is a great alternative to a Sahara tour and an experience you won’t easily forget.
Here you’ll be able to go on an unforgettable camel ride, opt for horseback riding, or for an exciting quad bike ride, and for course you can disconnect and just be one with nature.
Distance from Marrakech: around 30 km, 50 minutes drive
• Take a Day trip to the Agafay Desert
⇒ If you have limited time, this Quad Biking Tour in Agafay Desert from Marrakech is the perfect solution. You’ll head to the desert for some exciting quad bike riding, and you’ll have mint tea in a local village. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
• Spend 2 Days in the Agafay Desert
If you have some more time, spending the night in the desert is the experience of a lifetime.
⇒ The easiest and most comfortable way to spend 2 days in the Agafay Desert is joining a small group tour that will take care of your luxury accommodation in the desert + transportation and all the cool activities so you can fully enjoy the experience. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
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⇒ Prefer doing things on your own? Then I definitely recommend spending the night at Terre des Etoiles Ecolodge. Here you’ll experience glamping in its most luxurious meaning. You’ll sleep in design, beautiful tents with all the comforts and private bathrooms, start the day with an incredible breakfast and even refresh in the swimming pool in the middle of the desert. You can also participate in activities such as a camel ride at sunset. ⇒ Check out rates and availability here.
⇒ Another place that looks incredible if you want to try out glamping in the desert is the Agafay Luxury Camp. The desert views from each luxury tent are unbelievable!
⇒ Check out rates and availability here.
Day trip to Ourika Valley: The Foothills of the Atlas Mountains
Located on the first foothills of the Atlas Mountains, this valley is the perfect escape from Marrakech’s summer heat. It’s also one of the most preserved valleys in the region where you’ll find blooming cherry and almond orchards from February to April, and let’s not talk about the beautiful views of the High Atlas!
In this picturesque, lush valley you can also find fascinating prehistoric rock carvings, and hiking and off-roading are some of the favorite activities in the area.
Distance from Marrakech: around 40-50 kilometers, about 1 hour drive.
⇒ Prefer to go on a guided tour? Chek out the Ourika Valley & Atlas Mountains Day Tour. On this Atlas Mountains day trip from Marrakech, visit a local village, discover a waterfall and enjoy the stunning views of picture-perfect Ourika Valley.
⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Sea, Sun & Surf at Agadir
Also named the Miami of Morocco, it’s easy to understand why Agadir is considered Morocco’s premier coastal resort town. It’s the country’s best and most popular beach destination, and it spots over 300 sunny days per year.
Agadir was almost entirely rebuilt in the 1960s following a devastating earthquake, and it now offers hundreds of boutiques, fun pubs, restaurants, and some of the finest beaches on the west coast of Africa (10 kilometers of golden beaches). Its palm-lined beachfront promenade is perfect to walk up and down, and at the beach you can either relax or choose to try out one of the many available water sports.
Distance from Marrakech: 258 km, about 3 hour drive.
• Take a Day Trip to Agadir or Spend 2 Days in Agadir
The most affordable way to get from Marrakech to Agadir is by public transport. There are two good bus options, CTM and Supratours, with multiple departures a day. You can also rent a car in Marrakech if you prefer to drive yourself.
You really don’t need a guided tour around Agadir, but if you’re in a group, then a private transfer might make sense (book it here).
• You can take a day trip to Agadir, although due to the distance I’d suggest going for 2 days. If you prefer to relax and explore Agadir on your own by spending a weekend or a few days in town, these are 3 excellent accommodation options:
Luxury: Hotel Boutique & SPA Khalij Agadir
Mid-range: Villa du Souss Eco-Lodge
Budget: Nomad Surf House
• Into surfing? Then you might enjoy the Overnight Surf Trip to Agadir-Taghazout-Paradise Valley ⇒ CHECK IT OUT HERE
Go Down the Slopes at Oukaimeden
There are very few nations in Africa that have snow at all and Morocco is one of them. Oukaimeden is a mountain village high in the Atlas Mountains; at 2600 meters high (reaching up to 3200 meters in some points), it’s one of the finest skiing destinations in Africa with six ski lifts, and one of the most unusual tours from Marrakech.
There’s a unique sense of adventure to be found there since skiing in Africa is far different than the rest of the world. The runs might not be marked the best and the snowing season can be unreliable, but if you’re a ski lover, how cool would it be to say you’ve skied in Morocco?
If you happen to visit Morocco in the spring, Oukaimeden is also worth a visit if you’re into hiking. The area is just beautiful and wildflowers are all around.
Distance from Marrakech: around 80 kilometers, about 1h 45 minutes drive.
⇒ Feeling like hitting the slopes? You can book a day trip ski tour from Marrakech HERE.
Another Desert Experience in Zagora
Another desert, you say? Yes! From Marrakech, there are 3 options to see the desert, depending on your time and budget: Merzouga in the Sahara desert, the Agafay Desert right next to Marrakech, and finally Zagora!
We could say that Zagora is the middle between the other two desert experiences – it’s not close to Marrakech like Agafay, but it’s also not as far as Merzouga. It’s too far to be visited in a day trip, but most tours are 2-day tours, so if you’re strapped for time but want to see the sand desert, this might be better than Merzouga. However, if you have 3 days at your disposal, I still recommend Merzouga, because that’s where you’ll find the giant sand dunes that you associate with the Sahara.
Distance from Marrakech: 350 km, about 6 h 30 minutes drive.
⇒ Check out the 2-Day Zagora Sahara Desert Tour. For less than $100 per person, this tour with great reviews will bring you to Zagora, with stops in Draa Valley and Ait Ben Haddou. You’ll spend the night at a desert campsite and will experience both sunset and sunrise from a camel ride in the dunes.
⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Spend the Day at Lalla Takerkoust Lake
The Lalla Takerkoust Lake is a fascinating man-made lake that supplies the surrounding region with refreshing, if a bit cold, mountain water. It’s located very close to the town of Lalla Takerkoust, and it’s considered to be one of the finest spots to go for a casual stroll or picnic.
It’s a local favorite, but it also sees quite a few visitors from abroad, as it’s the perfect place to spend the day in the nature with friends and families, and it’s one of the shortest Morocco day trips from Marrakech. The area around the lake is beautiful as well, with trails that are perfect for horse riding, hiking, and have a blast with quads.
Distance from Marrakech: 38 km, about 45 minutes drive.
⇒ Check out the Lalla Takerkoust Quad Bike Experience: after a pleasant drive, you’ll drive your quad through the stunning scenery of the Atlas valleys. ⇒ BOOK IT HERE
There you go! I hope this posts was useful to organize your Marrakech day trips. Enjoy!
I was hosted at Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp as part of the Trablin conference, and I received a complimentary stay at Kasbah du Toubkal. Both experiences were absolutely incredible, and I can’t recommend them enough, no matter who footed the bill.
The Atlas and Kasbah du Toubkal, there where time stops
Friday 31st of March 2023
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Saturday 9th of July 2022
[…] If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, or you’ve watched Lawrence of Arabia or The Gladiator, then you definitely know Ait Benhaddou. This is a fortified city that has maintained the look for centuries, and it’s another World Heritage Site. After a stop here, go back a little to Ouarzazate. Known as the Hollywood of Africa, this is a very scenic city and you can spend the night here. I’ve written more about these destinations in this post about the best day trips from Marrakech. […]
Tuesday 19th of January 2021
Thanks so much for the post