For most people thinking about a trip to Morocco, Marrakesh is the city that comes to mind first. The Red City is one of Morocco’s four ancient Imperial Cities, and is the top destination for tourists coming to holiday in the country. Marrakech is a once in a lifetime experience in itself, and there are a huge variety of things to do here!
If you fly into the Marrakech Menara Airport, the exotic red skyline is breath-taking to behold as the plane descends onto the runway. There are the iconic cultural and historic sites to visit there such as the Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia Palace, the Saadian Toombes and the Jardin Majorelle.
Of course, most tourists are both entranced and over-whelmed by the famous souks in the city. The covered market stalls, which are over one thousand years old, are a maze of tiny walk-ways where you can find everything from pottery, jewelry, spices, leather goods, traditional carpets, and so much more!
Marrkesh is a bustling, chaotic (at times!), lively, fast-paced place to be. While it is wonderful, sometimes a trip away from the heat and the energy can be a welcome change. Here are some suggestions for 5 top-rated day trip destinations from Marrakech:
A day trip from Marrakesh to the coastal city of Essaouira will bring a bit of relief from the heat of the Red City and the hectic pace of life there. It’s about a 3 hour drive to this Portuguese Port town and, although it is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike, it feels much more relaxed here with a bit of a chilled and ‘beachy’ vibe!
There are souks to stroll around- however, they are calmer and less intense than the ones in Marrakech. Essaouira boasts some fantastic sea-food, and there are many quaint restaurants and cafes along the sea-front that will give you the opportunity to savour some Atlantic Ocean delights!
A visit to the working port is a must, followed by a stroll along the fortified walls of the Skala where you will have the most amazing views of the crashing Atlantic waves. Why not finish your day trip here with a drink on the beach, and a sunset camel ride? A day trip to Essaouira is definitely a worth-while off the beaten track adventure from Marrakech!
About Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou…
A different kind of day trip out of Marrakesh will take you in the other direction, towards the High Atlas Mountains with their glorious peaks and valleys. This tour will allow you to explore the famous Tizi n Tichka Pass, twisting roads on the edge of the mountains. The small, Berber villages you drive by will transport you back in time to the Morocco of days gone by.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Ben Haddou is an ancient Kasbah perched atop one of the peaks in the High Atlas range. This famous historical site was used as the back drop for many film productions such as The Mummy and Gladiator, and also was used to portray the city of Yunkai in Game Of Thrones.
Continuing with the film theme, this day trip will take you on to the city of Ouarzazate which is also known as the Gateway to the Sahara Desert. There are many cinema and studio museums here, which you’ll have the time to wander through and explore on this top-rated day trip from Marrakech!
About The Ourika Valley…
Another very popular day trip from Marrakesh with tourists also takes you into the High Atlas Mountains to explore the pristine Ourika Valley, with its clear river waters and seven waterfalls. A break from the heat of the city to this cool oasis location will allow you to see Morocco from a different perspective, and enjoy some of the natural wonders that it has to offer.
Using a private tour company for this day trip can be beneficial, as some will allow you the opportunity on the way to stop in one of the Berber villages to experience a traditional mint tea ceremony and typical breakfast with a local family. You might also get lucky and be treated to a camel ride in the mountains!
The small village of Setti-Fatma is the last stop in the valley, and from here you can set off to explore the foothills and the seven waterfalls and cascades hidden among them. Don’t forget to take your hiking boots with you on this day trip! At really only a relatively short distance from Marrakech, this nicely preserved valley is a great idea for a day trip for friends or family groups.
About The Ouzoude Falls…
A day trip from Marrakech to the Ouzoude Falls will take you inland again, this time north east to the Middle Atlas Mountains. It’s about 3 hours each way from Marrakech, so an early start is advised, as is bringing comfortable walking/hiking gear, sun screen, a hat and perhaps even a swimming costume!
The Ouzoude Falls are tall, vertical cascades that are striking in what is generally quite a dry, arid region. There are some pools of water spread out around the base of the falls and, while the water might be a bit reddish in the rainy, winter season (from the clay that makes up the surrounding landscape), they are usually cool and clear.
You will find many people taking a dip in the water here- although during the winter the water is probably a little cold! It is also possible to take a hike around the top of the falls, feed the famous Ouzoude monkeys, and take a boat trip around the foot of the cascades. This is another popular day trip from Marrakesh for tourists and locals alike.
About The Agafay Desert…
This stony desert is located about 30 km south of Marrakesh, and is a great idea for a desert day trip if your holiday does not allow time for the much longer trek to the Sahara. The Agafay Desert does not have the rolling, golden sand dunes of the Sahara but it still feels very remote and is very much a change of pace and scenery from the Red City.
Spending time in a nomadic Berber camp, lunching with traditional delicacies and mint tea, and cooling off with a swim in an incredible infinity pool are just some of the activities that you can do in this relaxing location. It is also possible to book a camel ride and get lost among the rocky dunes.
Other activities that it is possible to do here are drives and walks in the desert (exploring the foothills of Imlil, you might find some turtles and other small creatures in the rock-pools!), quad biking and buggy riding. This can be a great day trip from Marrakech for the more adventurous, and the activities are perfect for family groups!
Marrakech is an amazing city to visit, and a definite ‘must see’ on any holiday in Morocco! However it can be hot and hectic, especially during the summer months. Any one of these 5 Best Day Trips from Marrakesh will give you a welcome breather, and will give you the opportunity to see more of wild and wonderful aspects this exotic country has to offer!