With an exotic culture, fascinating history, great cuisine and year-round good weather, Marrakech is Morocco’s most popular tourist destination.
And it’s a fantastic place to visit!
But while it’s a vibrant, colorful and exciting city, it can also be somewhat chaotic and frenetic.
Heading out on a day trip from Marrakech is the perfect way to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while, especially since you can use it as a base to explore surrounding areas.
From stunning waterfalls and magnificent mountains to fabulous beaches and traditional Berber villages, there’s plenty to see and experience in this wonderful country.
All of these destinations aren’t that far either (3-4 hours from the Red City), which means you’ll have a wide variety of trips to choose from.
But before you go ahead and select a tour…
There are a few points worth considering.
3 Crucial Tips To Keep in Mind Before Going Off On Marrakech Day Tours
First off, when planning your trip to the red city, I recommend staying for around 3 days here and leaving around 4 days for a few day excursions from Marrakech.
Secondly, keep in mind that traveling to places like Chefchaouan and the Sahara Desert cannot be done in a day because they’re too far.
Lots of people want to know if it’s possible to make the trip, but again, the distance is too far and you’d be better off sticking to locations that are much closer in comparison.
When it comes to choosing the best Marrakech day trips, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions:
- What’s your budget like?
- Do you like traveling in private or in a group?
- Do you prefer an adventure outing or a more relaxing trip?
- Do you want a guide or do you want to explore on your own?
Taking these questions into consideration will enable you to have a better experience for you and your partner/family.
With that said…
Here’s The Ultimate List Of Best Day Trips From Marrakech (Including Some Fantastic Little Known Destinations)
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- 1) Amizmiz
If you’re interested in immersing yourself in the real life of a local village nestled in spectacular surroundings and away from hordes of tourists, this is one of the best day trips from Marrakech you can take.
Located at the foothills of the towering Atlas mountains, this area (pronounced Amz-meez) has managed to retain its wonderful character and authenticity, thanks to its resistance to modernization and the fact that it’s fairly unknown.
And while there aren’t any major landmarks to visit in this village, there are quite a few outdoor activities you can enjoy including hiking and horseback riding.
Also, the scenery in Amizmiz is breathtakingly beautiful (think gently rolling hills, unbroken plains and majestic mountains), so photographers and Instagrammers are going to love it here.
Apart from this, the weekly market that takes place every Tuesday is a fantastic sight to see and experience, as it’s very different to the souks in Marrakesh.
At this bazaar-style market, vendors arrive from the big city to sell items that are unavailable to people living in the remote mountainous areas.
The locals on the other hand, bring their freshly grown fruits, veggies and other handcrafted merchandise to sell to customers.
By the way, if you want to avoid the usual touristy trinkets you find in the city and prefer to pick up some colorful handcrafted rugs or pottery, this is a good place to do so.
- 2) Ouirgane
Situated in a wonderful alley surrounded by rolling hills full of olive trees and the magnificent Atlas mountains towering in the background, this is one of the best places to visit in Morocco if you’re interested in getting a glimpse into how the natives live their life.
You’ll find many Berber houses on the mountainside and as you’d expect, the atmosphere here is nice and relaxed – worlds away from the hectic pace at Marrakech.
Every Saturday, people from the surrounding villages gather at Asni for the weekly market where you can purchase everything from household items and clothing to meat, fruits and vegetables.
Definitely drop by, if only to observe how the local population go about their business!
What else can you see here?
Well, you can check out the Tinmel Mosque.
A UNESCO world heritage site, it’s one of only 2 mosques in the country that non-Muslims can enter and view. By the way, the largest mosque in Marrakech (Koutoubia) is modeled after this 11th century place of worship.
Also, if you’re visiting the area during the spring or summer, you’ll be able to spot the many fully functional salt mines where salt is harvested from naturally saline water.
- 3) Oukaimeden
A beautiful year-round destination where you can enjoy some fantastic hiking sessions amid the wildflower dotted valleys in the spring and go downhill skiing or snowboarding during the winter months.
Apart from this, there isn’t much to do in this sleepy village perched high in the majestic Atlas mountains.
Still, it’s only a couple hours drive and is one of the best day trips and tours from Marrakech you can take to escape from the sun, heat and noise in the city.
- 4) Agafay Desert
Time required: 40-60 mins
When planning a trip to Marrakech, most folks dream of spending a night or two in the Sahara Desert.
And while it’s an incredible experience, it’s a long way from the city (it takes at least 8-10 hours to get there) and even a whistle stop tour will require a minimum of 3 days to visit this place. (Yes, people have managed to do it in a couple days, but trust me, it’s exhausting and you won’t be able to properly enjoy your trip).
The good news is there’s a great alternative!
If you’re not staying for long in the country, but are keen on taking a desert trip from Marrakech that can easily be completed in a day, Agafay Desert is the perfect solution.
You won’t have to go far and can still go on camel rides, cruise around on quad bikes and sleep in a tent!
This area also has a man-made lake that’s been designed for swimming activities and various other water sports. There are a number of little villages as well, so you can grab a satisfying lunch and even do some light shopping at the local markets.
- 5) Ouzoud Waterfalls
Time required: 2.5-3 hrs
Who doesn’t like the spectacle of a grand waterfall?
Ouzoud is pretty far from Marrakech (a 3 hour drive), so you’ll be in the tour bus or minivan for longer (although you do stop for toilet breaks and refreshments). But once you reach your destination, the sight of these magnificent falls will take your breath away.
It’s one of the biggest in Morocco and you’ll need around an hour and a half to hike all the way to the bottom. The views on the way down are spectacular though and you’ll find yourself frequently stopping to take photos.
It’s also possible to take a ferry ride for some fantastic close-up views of the waterfalls. (We did this and it was awesome!)
Additionally, there are plenty of restaurants nearby where you can have a delicious lunch while enjoying the stunning scenery around you.
- 6) Essaouira
Time required: 2.5 hrs
A favorite seaside destination among locals and tourists alike, the best time to take an Essaouira day trip from Marrakech is during the spring, summer and fall when the weather is just perfect – sunshine with a gentle cool breeze blowing across.
Originally named Mogador, the current name translates to ‘The little rampart.’
Apt really, because part of the village is still surrounded by fortification walls.
The atmosphere in Essaouira is in total contrast to the red city – the people are more laid back and life here is fairly relaxed and easygoing.
There’s little to no pressure at souks and the food is delightful!
Apart from exploring the old fort, sampling fresh seafood and doing some shopping in the medina, you can also try your hand at kitesurfing or windsurfing or go horse riding along the sandy beach.
- 7) Ourika Valley
Time required: 45-60 mins
A hugely popular option when it comes to Marrakech day trips, Ourika Valley is where the locals go to escape from the sweltering heat in the summer.
Not only is the drive to this location very scenic, the valley itself is a beautiful place to visit – situated in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, it contains cascading waterfalls, lush terraced fields and forested hillsides along with several traditional Berber villages.
Btw, do make it a point to drop by for lunch at one of the many roadside or riverside stalls and order either a vegetable or lamb tagine. It’s totally yummy!
Instead of cooking this dish in a pressure cooker (which is what most restaurants do), it’s cooked for hours in actual tagine pots over hot charcoal. And once you tuck in, you’re sure to notice the difference – it’s just loads better this way.
Also, be sure to be dressed in comfortable clothing and shoes.
Hiking up the mountain (and passing all 7 waterfalls along the way) isn’t easy and you’ve got to be fairly fit to pull it off.
Having said that, it’s totally worth putting in the effort because once you reach the top, the views are simply spectacular.
For the adventurous, there are also plenty of rope bridges that can be crossed. A great opportunity for some daring photos!
One thing to watch out for though is fake jewelry.
At numerous stops on the road, there’ll be vendors selling all kinds of little trinkets. Just keep in mind that most of the amethyst being sold is totally fake.
All in all, heading to Ourika Valley is one of the best day trips from Marrakech that you can take especially since it’s just under an hour’s drive.
- 8) Ait Benhadou and Ouarzazate
Time required: 3.5-4 hrs
Although this is the furthest drive from the city, it’s also one of the most sought after Marrakech tours available.
Many tourists tend to stop here on the way to the Sahara desert, but if you don’t have time for the dunes, this trip is an excellent option.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Ait ben Haddou is a fantastic fortified village that looks like a giant sand castle. It really does!
It used to be on a caravan route between Marrakech and Sudan and some of the buildings date back to the 17th century.
Another thing that’s impressive are the homes that have been built into the foothills of the mountains. An amazing sight indeed.
Inside the wall, you’ll find around half a dozen kasbahs and other individual dwellings, all of which are a great examples of earthen clay architecture in Morocco.
Btw, while you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Telout Kasbah too – another imposing structure.
The desert scenery here is wonderful so don’t forget to take loads of pics!
And for all the tv show and movie buffs out there, scenes from a Game of Thrones, the Gladiator, The Message, Kingdom of Heaven, The Mummy and Prince of Persia were all filmed in this location.
- 9) Atlas Mountains Day Trip From Marrakech (also includes Imlil, Tahanaout + Amzmiz)
Time required: 1.5 hrs
One of the best day trips from Marrakech that you can take is to the High Atlas – the spectacular mountainous area that attracts hordes of visitors every month.
Apart from immersing yourself in the outstanding natural beauty of this region and enjoying the many hiking opportunities available, you can also visit several small Berber villages and experience local life.
Surrounding these villages are lush orchards and green fields and you’ll notice that the people here are largely self-sufficient.
Of course, another benefit of visiting this area is the cooler temperature, making it ideal for a Marrakech day trip, especially during the warmer months in the city.
- 10) Quad Biking In Marrakech (Palm Grove)
Time required: Less than 60 mins
Referred to as the Palmeraie, this dense area with over 100,000 palm trees is a strangely beautiful sight to behold.
Although grown in the desert, the trees here are able to survive and thrive thanks to the ancient irrigation system that’s been in place for centuries.
In fact, this region still remains a good source of income for the city because the palm trees are heavily used for dates and wood.
This place is also a popular option for those that want to do some quad biking in Marrakech – it’s definitely a great way to see and experience this surreal location.
- 11) Hot Air Balloon Ride Marrakech
Time required: Less than 60 mins
Enjoy breathtaking views and get a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous Atlas mountains by going in a hot air balloon – a very popular choice among the best day trips from Marrakech.
Before launch, you’ll usually be given tea and some snacks, so you don’t feel hungry during the ride.
The journey itself lasts around 5 hours or so and is a completely amazing experience!
Oh and once you land, you get to relax in a tent, before tucking into a traditional Berber breakfast spread that’s both filling and delicious.
Also, when you sign up for this tour (because left’s face it, hopping in a hot air balloon isn’t usually something we can pull off on our own!), you’ll get a bonus camel ride through the desert.
Just be sure to book this early in your trip, ok?
Because sometimes, if the wind is too strong on the morning of your tour, you’ll be offered another date.
And if your holiday in Marrakech is drawing to a close, you’ll be left with no choice but to cancel the entire thing, which would be pretty disappointing, right?
So to make sure this doesn’t happen, I’d suggest fitting this in at the start of your vacation.
Final Thoughts On Tours From Marrakech
There are tons of awesome areas to check out in Morocco and the red city provides the perfect base for exploring all of these places.
The best part is there’s something for everyone.
So if you’re interested in taking a desert trip from Marrakech, but are short on time, Agafay desert would be the ideal location.
If you’re into hiking and adventure, opt for day trips from Marrakech to Atlas mountains.
Or you could head over to either Ourika valley or Ouzoud waterfalls.
Or even take to the skies in a hot air balloon ride.
If you’re seeking sand and sea, Essaouira is a wonderful location.
On the other hand, if you’re keen on learning about the life of locals and are looking for a more relaxing tour, Amizmiz and Ouirgane are both terrific destinations.
With that said…
I hope this guide is helpful for those of you that might be wondering what trips from Marrakech you can do.
While it’s a wonderful city in itself and there’s plenty to see and do, there are other great destinations that are waiting to be explored and the fact that they’re not that far is great news.
In any case, this list on the best day trips from Marrakech should keep you pretty busy!