What are the best day trips from Marrakesh Morocco? - journal of nomads

What are the best day trips from Marrakesh?

 

This article is a small compilation of all the best day trips and fun things to do from Marrakesh in one day and how to reach each location.

 

the best day trips from Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

There is no doubt that Marrakesh is the most popular destination in all of Morocco. People come from all over the world to discover this exotic city.

 

It’s a city that is much more traditional and cultural than Tangier, Rabat, or even Casablanca.

 

Koutoubia mosque Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

The Koutoubia mosque in Marrakesh…

 

The city of Marrakesh stimulates the imagination with its many souks and open-air markets where one can find thousands of spices and beautiful hand-made crafts. It’s definitely a very vibrant and colorful place to visit.

 

markets of the old city Marrakesh - Morocco - journal of nomads

The small alleys of giant open-air markets feel very traditional and authentic …

 

It’s the starting point of many trips to the Sahara desert and it’s the first city most people visit when they arrive in Morocco.

 

The city is full of culture and interesting history. It’s also a great place to taste Moroccan cuisine and learn Moroccan Arabic.

 

Although this city can be sometimes very overwhelming (the constant noise kept Cynthia awake at night), it’s a destination that is definitely worth visiting.

 

crowd Marrakesh Ramadan iftar - journal of nomads

The crowds of Marrakesh are very noisy even in the middle of the night. The city never sleeps…

 

What makes this city ideal as a starting base to discover Morocco is the fact that it’s close to so many other interesting destinations.

 

Directly from Marrakesh, one can visit a beautiful port town, gigantic waterfalls, the highest mountain in north-Africa and an old mud city called Ait Ben Haddou. It’s possible to do so many day trips from Marrakesh!

 

refuge du toubkal - refuge les mouflons - mountain refuge near toubkal - toubkla mountain refuge morocco - journal of nomads

These beautiful mountains are just two hours away from Marrakesh…

 

To help you make the best of your time in Morocco, I wrote this guide to the best day trips around Marrakesh. I’ll explain how to reach each destination by public transport and with your own car from Marrakesh and what you can visit there.

 

small streets old medina Marrakesh - motorcycle Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

 

 

1. Ourika Valley

 

This pristine valley stands at the base of the Atlas mountains. It’s a very lovely destination during spring when all the apple and cherry trees that fill the valley are blossoming.

 

It’s also the best place to escape the incredibly high temperatures that strike Marrakesh during the summer.

 

mosque jemna el-fenaa square Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

Marrakesh becomes unbearably hot during the summer…

 

It’s a great place to enjoy nature, to delight yourself in the sound of the river that flows at the bottom of the valley and to see some Barbary monkeys. There are also many beautiful hiking paths that will lead you to a series of waterfalls.

 

Snow covered mountains overlook the whole area and give a cooling shade during the warmer months of the year.

 

beautiful silver lamps Marrakesh - journal of nomads

 

There is a small village at the base of the valley called Setti-Fatma. The area around it is filled with almond trees and mud-brick Berber villages.

 

This is where visitors usually start their trek to see the Ourika Valley waterfalls. It’s very easy to find an English speaking guide in this town that will show you around the valley for a modest fee.

 

gate small streets Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

How to reach the Ourika valley from Marrakesh by public transport

There are a few different options to reach the Ourika valley. It’s possible to take a bus to the beginning of the valley and then a shared taxi all the way to the town of Setti-Fatma.

 

Another option is to take a shared taxi directly from Marrakesh to Setti-Fatma. Because there aren’t many people traveling there during the low season, you might have to pay for the whole taxi.

 

busy market Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

Reaching the Ourika valley by bus and shared taxi from Marrakesh

Buses to Ourika leave at the Alsa bus stop in Marrakesh. This is the location of this bus stop.

 

 

You can also take the bus L25 from the Bab Rab bus stop to reach the beginning of the valley.

 

 

There are a few shared taxis at the bottom of the valley where these buses will drop you off. From there you can take a shared taxi to Setti-Fatma (around 10 MAD per person).

 

Reaching the Ourika valley by shared taxi directly from Marrakesh

Another way to reach Setti-Fatma directly from Marrakesh is to take a shared taxi to the small town. Taxis take about one hour and a half to reach the mountain village.

 

They depart daily from a terminal 3km outside the Bab er Rob medina gate in the south of the medina.

 

gates of Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

Because there is very little traffic from Marrakesh to Setti-Fatma, I would recommend getting a private taxi for the whole day to bring you there and back. The rate should be around 500 to 600 MAD for a day.

 

It’s always better to pay at the end of the day, not at the beginning and agree upfront on the final price.

 

Here is the location of Bab er robb in Marrakesh:

 

 

How to reach the Ourika valley from Marrakesh with your own car

If you have your own car or if you are renting one, nothing will be easier than driving from Marrakesh to Setti-Fatma. Getting there takes around one hour and a half. You’ll have to follow the highway P2017 towards the south-east until you reach Ourika. From there take highway P2030 and you’ll quickly reach Setti-Fatma.

 

How to reach the Ourika valley from Marrakesh with an organized tour

being part of a tour group is becoming a very popular way to reach the Ourika valley from Marrakesh. A lot of different companies near Jemaa el Fena square in Marrakesh offer tours to the valleys.

 

Their prices for the day trip vary but it’s generally around 200 to 250 MAD per person.

 

fruit juice stands Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

This includes the ride to the valley and back in a comfortable minivan and a visit to a Berber market but it doesn’t include the price of the local guide or food in the restaurants near the river. You can book such a tour in restaurants and cafes all around Jemaa el Fna.

 

If you would like to book your tour ahead of time, you could book it online through Get your guide. If you reserve it through this link, we’ll receive a small commission at no extra costs for you. This way you’re helping us writing more informative and awesome guides like this.

 

Want to save money on your trip to Morocco?

Read: Morocco on a budget

 

2. Imlil and Toubkal

 

Cynthia and I are mountain lovers. After spending a year living in Kyrgyzstan and trekking in the mountains of central Asia, it was time to discover the mountains of Morocco. The small village of Imlil located just an hour and a half of Marrakesh sits at the base of the highest mountain peak in the country. I couldn’t resist climbing to the summit and it was an experience I’ll never forget!

 

This peak is called Toubkal and it’s sometimes called one of the easiest peak above 4000 meters.

 

hiking mount Toubkal - Trekking jbel Toubkal - Toubkal the highest peak in Morocco - journal of nomads

Reaching the peak of Mount Toubkal is not as easy as they say…

 

I had the chance to spend time in the village of Imlil and climbed Toubkal last spring. Even though this trek is considered an easy one, reaching the summit of this mountain was actually harder than I expected.

 

The mountain is known as Jebel Toubkal in Moroccan Arabic and its summit is at an altitude of 4167 meters. The air becomes thinner and thinner as you approach the top.

 

the snow on mount Toubkal - mountains near Imlil Morocco - journal of nomads

It’s possible to leave Marrakesh and reach the summit of Toubkal in the same day…

 

Because of their proximity to Marrakesh and their year-round accessibility, Imlil and Toubkal are great day trips from the busy city.

 

I wrote a complete guide on how to reach Imlil and hike to Toubkal. In this guide, I also talk about where you could eat and stay in the town of Imlil to enjoy your trip to the maximum.

 

blossoming trees near Imlil and toubkal - nature near toubkal - imlil morocco - journal of nomads

Imlil is the perfect place to visit from Marrakesh during Spring…

 

Are you planning to travel in Ramadan?

Read: How is it to travel to Morocco during Ramadan?

 

3. Agafay desert

 

What attracts most people to Morocco are the beautiful images of the Sahara and more specifically all the beautiful desert expeditions that can be done in Merzouga. As appealing as this may look, this small desert town is located relatively far from Marrakesh and it’s impossible to visit for people that are just in Morocco for a short trip.

 

How to plan a desert trip to Merzouga and other fun things to do in the Sahara, Morocco. - Journal of Nomads - How to get to Marzouga

When people hear about the desert in Morocco, this is usually what they imagine…

 

The Agafay desert is the next best thing and the best part is that it’s super close to Marrakesh. This desert doesn’t have the sand dunes that are so typical in M’hamid and Merzouga but it’s a rocky, barren and lifeless environment that will fill you with awe.

 

You may be able to witness some of the local villages by quad if you go there with a tour from Marrakesh. The visit of this place is a fascinating experience. It made me wonder how people had managed to survive in this harsh environment for thousands of years.

 

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There is even a manmade lake on the edge of the Agafay Desert that was built to provide the city of Marrakech with electricity. You can swim at one of the beaches alongside the lake or you can rent jet skis or pedal boats and explore the waters.

 

There are also many hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails in the hills above the lake.

 

How to reach the Agafay desert by public transport from Marrakesh

There are no shared taxis or buses going to the Agafay desert from Marrakesh as far as I know. It can be reached if you have your own private car or if you book a small day trip there with a travel company from Marrakesh.

 

How to reach the Agafay desert with your own car from Marrakesh

If you have your own car or if you are renting one, you should try to reach the Lalla Takerkoust reservoir. This is the man-made lake that stands in the middle of the Agafay desert. Getting there takes about 47 minutes from the city-center of Marrakesh. You’ll have to follow highway P2009 towards the south-west until you reach the desert and the lake.

 

 

How to reach the Agafay desert with an organized tour from Marrakesh

There are many travel companies offering tours to the Agafay desert. What we propose is to book a quad tour there. The duration of this tour is about 9 hours and you will be picked up from your hotel or riad in the center of Marrakech or at the closest spot accessible by car.

 

During this tour, you’ll head to Lalla Takerkoust Lake and the surprising Agafay Desert for a day-long quad adventure near the Atlas Mountains. Your route will take you to arid hills, oases, and rivers. You’ll also enjoy a delicious lunch in a traditional Berber house. You can book this tour here.

 

 

 

4. Ouzoud waterfalls

 

This is a great day trip from Marrakesh if you have your own car or if you are renting one. The road from Marrakesh to the Ouzoud waterfalls is quite scenic and there are many beautiful photo stops along the way.

 

The Ouzoud waterfalls are a series of very tall and very impressive waterfalls that plunge from high cliffs in a huge pool of water. These cascades are 110 meters high and they are surrounded by lush vegetation all around.

 

ouzoud waterfalls - Morocco - ouzoud cascades in morocco - Journal of nomads

 

During summer it’s possible to go for a refreshing swim in the water at the bottom of the pools. There are even some boats that can bring you closer to the falls for a modest fee (20 MAD)

 

bottom of the ouzoud waterfalls - people swimming at the ouzoud waterfalls - boat rides at the ouzoud waterfalls - Journal of nomads

 

The area around the falls is famous for its olive trees and for the presence of Barbary monkeys. It’s a place where one can enjoy nature but in spring and summer, it tends to get very crowded.

 

The Ouzoud water Falls is the second tallest waterfall in Africa. It’s a huge touristic destination and one of the most visited and photographed natural sites in Morocco.

 

the Ouzoud waterfalls - the cliffs that overlook the Ouzoud waterfalls - the ouzoud cascades - Journal of Nomads

 

In this guide, I explain how to reach the Ouzoud waterfalls independently and as part of a tour group from Marrakesh.

 

 

5. Marrakesh Palm Grove

 

This beautiful Palmeraie is less than an hour outside of Marrakesh so it’s the ideal day trip to escape the busy city. La Palmeraie covers 13,000 ha and has about 150,000 palm trees providing shade where camels can escape the heat of the desert.

 

As you walk around this grove, you’ll find an ancient irrigation system that has been used there for centuries

 

Backpacking in Morocco - Journal of Nomads

 

There are many date sellers and growers that hang out in this beautiful oasis so be ready for a unique cultural experience.

 

How to reach the Palm Grove near Marrakesh by public transport

There aren’t many shared taxis or public buses reaching the palmeraie from the city center but a great alternative is to reach this oasis with the Hop on hop off Marrakesh city tour bus. This bus has an open upper deck where you will enjoy the best panoramic views of the city in the most comfortable way possible.

 

This bus also offers a special Palm grove tour route with which you’ll discover the northern part of the city and the Marrakech Palm Grove. There you will be able to enjoy different activities such as a camel or a quad ride. The route is made of 13 stops and approximately lasts 1 hour.

 

Book an organized tour to the Palm Grove of Marrakesh

I highly this guided tour to the Palm Grove of Marrakesh. It includes a camel ride through the palm trees in the Palmeraie, then an amazing off-road adventure on quad bikes, and finishes with a very relaxing hammam spa treatment.

 

 

6. Essaouira

 

Essaouira is one of our favorite cities in Morocco. It’s a charming port town where everything is much calmer and quieter than in Marrakesh. It’s a place that mixes the Moroccan culture and the Portuguese architecture in a very interesting way.

 

The fortress tower of Bastion Nord - Things to see and do in Essaouira – The complete guide to Morocco's windy city - Essouira port - Journal of Nomads

 

The city attracts a young crowd of surfers and backpackers throughout the year. People go there for the great waves and beaches nearby but also for the small streets filled with the beautiful handicraft of local artisans.

 

Things to see and do in Essaouira – The complete guide to Morocco's windy city - streets of Essouira - art in Essaouira- Journal of Nomads

Essaouira has a lot of small markets where you can buy wooden crafts…

 

Essaouira has its own fortified old Medina, amazing cuisine and a fun and hip energy that is very distinct from other Moroccan cities. The city is located very close to Marrakesh and also easily accessible from nearby coastal cities such as Casablanca and Rabat.

 

We loved this small town so much that what was supposed to be a short day trip from Marrakesh became a two weeks stay. The vibe of this place was amazing and we really bonded with all the travelers we met there.

 

Things to see and do in Essaouira – The complete guide to Morocco's windy city -market in Essaouira- Journal of Nomads

 

The small town is located two hours and a half west of Marrakesh and is easily reached by bus or by shared taxi. I give all the details about getting there and more information on this gorgeous coastal town here.

 

 

 

7. Casablanca

 

Let’s face it, Casablanca is a very busy city and probably nowhere as quiet and romantic as Essaouira. If you would have just a few weeks to spend in Morocco, it’s not necessarily a city I would recommend.

 

If you’re in Morocco for a while, however, it could definitely be worth spending some time in this city and then heading back to Marrakesh or continuing north towards Rabat or Tangier.

 

leather lamps - skin lamps - Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

Casablanca is a city that has been featured in many movies and it has a fascinating history. It’s a great place to see how modern Morocco mixes with centuries of traditions and architecture.

 

The city also has one of the most beautiful mosques in the country, the mosque Hassan II

 

How to reach Casablanca from Marrakesh by public transport

There are a few different ways to reach Casablanca from Marrakesh. Because the coastal city is such a popular destination, getting there is not very complicated. The cheapest mode of transport to get there is the bus and it costs from 90 to 130 MAD.

 

snake charmers - Jemnaa el-fenaa - Mrrakesh - journal of nomads

 

How to reach Casablanca from Marrakesh by bus

Because Casablanca is a bit farther from Marrakesh than the other destinations mentioned in this guide, I would only recommend taking the most comfortable buses in Morocco to get there. The most comfortable buses in the country are owned and operated by two companies; CTM and Supratours.

 

The CTM bus stop and the Supratours station are located both very close to each other in an area called Gueliz in the suburbs of Marrakesh. It will require a taxi to get there from Jemaa el Fenaa.

 

streets of Marrakesh Morocco - busy streets Marrakesh - journal of nomads

 

Here is the location of the CTM bus station in Marrakesh:

 

 

And this is where you will find the Supratours station:

 

 

These buses are much more comfortable than the ones owned by less reputable companies but they also tend to be a bit more expensive.

 

How to reach Casablanca from Marrakesh by train

The trains in Morocco are very comfortable and they are the best way to see the Moroccan landscapes while moving from city to city. There is a train that leaves Marrakesh towards Casablanca every two hours. It takes about two hours and a half to get there and the ticket costs around 110 MAD.

 

Here is where you’ll find the train station in Marrakesh:

 

 

How to reach Casablanca from Marrakesh by shared taxi

There are different taxis going from Marrakesh to Casablanca. Shared ones and private ones. The shared taxis are usually old Mercedez Benz in which up to six people are squeezed together.

 

They are not the most comfortable option but they are definitely cheap. The price per person in a shared taxi should be around 110 MAD.

 

This is where the shared taxi station is in Marrakesh:

 

 

Because this is quite a long distance, I wouldn’t advise taking a shared taxi if you’re traveling with someone else or a group of people and you have luggage.

 

Paying for a private taxi for your group would be a much better option. The price for a private taxi from Marrakesh to Casablanca is around 1000 MAD.

 

man selling sweets Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

How to reach Casablanca from Marrakesh with your own car

If you have your own car, the fastest way to get to Casablanca from Marrakesh is by following the highways A7 and N11. From Marrakesh, you will have to drive north for almost three hours before reaching the coastal city.

 

 

 

 

8. Ait Ben Haddou

 

Ait Ben Haddou is an ancient fortified mud-brick village located between the Sahara and Marrakech. It’s a place known as a Ksar- the North African term for “Berber castle”. This village is one of Morocco’s World Heritage Sites and was used as a set in the TV-series Game of Thrones to portray the slaving city of Yunkai that Daenerys Targaryen laid siege to.

 

It’s a three-hour dusty drive to reach Ait Ben Haddou but it’s totally worth it! This old fortified village is located just 30 km north of Ouarzazate so it’s ideal to visit both locations when coming from Marrakesh.

 

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How to reach Ait Ben Haddou from Marrakesh by public transport

The best way to reach Ait Ben Haddou by public transport is to take a CTM bus from the central bus station in Marrakesh towards Ouarzazate. A bus ticket between the two cities will cost around 80 MAD and then you might have to pay an additional 10 MAD for your luggage.

 

Here is the location of the bus station in Marrakesh:

 

 

As soon as you get on the bus, ask your driver to stop at the crossroads in Taborah. From there, you’ll only be16 km away from Ait Ben Haddou. There will be a few taxis around waiting for passengers at the crossroad in Taborah.

 

A shared taxi from there to the mud city should cost around 10 MAD if it fills up before leaving.

 

How to reach Ait Ben Haddou from Marrakesh with your own car

If you have your own car or if you are renting one, it will be even easier to reach the mud village. Although you won’t have to waste time looking for a taxi or a bus, you’ll still have to drive a bit slower than usual. The road between Marrakesh and Ait Ben Haddou is quite winding and there are a few treacherous curves along the way so I would advise driving there with caution.

 

Ait Ben Haddou is located 184 km from Marrakesh. Driving there should take about 3 hours and a half. To get there, simply follow highway N9 towards the south.

 

Here is a map to help you reach the fortified mud-brick village:

 

 

How to reach Ait Ben Haddou from Marrakesh with an organized tour

This is the most popular way for people to do a quick day trip Ait Ben Haddou from Marrakesh. There are many different travel companies based in Marrakesh that offer tours to the mud village thus the prices for that trip vary greatly.

 

The base price for that trip is around 300 MAD per person (around 30 Euros). Some companies will also combine this tour with a visit to Ouarzazate, raising the prices around 700 MAD per person. There are travel companies based around Jemaa el Fena square in Marrakesh that offer tours to Ait Ben Haddou.

 

Ait Ben Haddou - Places to visit near the Todra Gorges - Journal of Nomads

 

Before booking your trip, make sure you understand what is included in the package.

 

You can expect a smooth ride in a very comfortable air-conditioned minibus and a few stops for refreshments along the way. They usually leave the city around 8:30 AM and do a few stops along the way to the old fortified city.

 

The pick-up will be directly at your hostel or hotel in Marrakesh or at the Jemaa el Fna square in the morning. Most tours will provide you with an English or French-speaking driver. Some tours will include a local guide at Ait Ben Haddou in their price while others won’t.

 

You should discuss this beforehand with your tour operator. The tours do not include lunch so you should either bring snacks or have money for the restaurants near the old city.

 

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Backpacking in Morocco - Ait Ben Haddou - Journal of Nomads

 

Although the paths are very easy to walk on, we suggest bringing a good pair of walking shoes or some sandals. Also, bring some sunscreen and don’t forget your camera.

 

If you would like to book your tour ahead of time, you could book it online through Get your guide. If you reserve it through this link, we’ll receive a small commission at no extra costs for you. This way you’re helping us writing more informative and awesome guides like this.

 

 

9. Oukaimeden

 

Oukaimeden is a beautiful ski resort about 80 kilometers from Marrakesh and not too far from Toubkal. Before visiting Morocco and more particularly, the Atlas mountains, I had no idea I would find so much snow in a north-African country.

 

Oukaimeden has some amazing ski slopes and plenty of snow for winter sports enthusiasts.

 

snow on toubkal - cold mount toubkal during winter - winter on toubkal morocco - journal of nomads

The mountains of Morocco receive much more snow than I was expecting…

 

This resort has six ski lifts and there are plenty of hotels and ski rental facilities nearby. What makes this resort so amazing is that you can literally spend the day skiing in sub-zero temperatures before heading back to the warmer climate of Marrakesh for the night.

 

A lift pass costs around 30 MAD for half a day and 50 MAD for a full day. The ski equipment costs 70 to 80 MAD per day. There are also a few ski instructors at Oukaimeden, charging 150 MAD for a half day and 250 MAD for a complete day of classes.

 

market of Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

You can ski and visit the markets of Marrakesh in the same day…

How to reach Oukaimeden from Marrakesh by public transport

There are no buses that travel between Marrakesh and Oukaimeden as the road to get there is very winding and in some parts not wide enough for a bus. Shared taxis from the grand taxi station in Marrakesh will typically cost 300-400 MAD for the 75 km to the mountain ski station(each way).

 

How to reach Oukaimeden from Marrakesh with your own car

To reach Oukaimeden with your car, you will have to go towards the same direction as you would for Setti-Fatma (see above) Drive south on road P2017 and you will find the Oukaimeden exit near Aghbalou.

 

It takes about one hour and a half to get from Marrakesh to Oukaimeden.

 

 

How to visit Oukaimeden with an organized trip from Marrakesh

If you want to escape from the city life in Marrakech and experience some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Africa with a group of fun people, we suggest this full-day trip to Oukaimeden.

 

You will be picked up from your accommodation in Marrakesh around 8 AM. and you will be transported from Marrakesh to Oukaimeden is a comfortable minibus.

 

Your guide will offer local knowledge and opportunities to stop along the way. On arrival, he will arrange all the ski or snowboard equipment you need.

 

Then get set to hit the slopes. After a break for lunch, you will be free to hit the slopes again for the rest of the afternoon. The return to Marrakesh will depart around 4 PM.

 

men in the market old city Marrakesh Morocco - journal of nomads

 

 

We hope you have an awesome time exploring all these destinations around Marrakesh. If you have visited some of those already, tell us which one was your favorite in the comments below or send us an email.

 

*This article contains some affiliate links. If you book a tour through our website, we’ll receive a small commission at no extra costs for you. This way you’re helping us writing more informative and awesome guides like this. Thank you!

 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO – MOROCCO TRAVEL TIPS:

  • A few travel tips for Morocco:

      23 Travel Tips for Morocco – Everything You Need to Know Before You Go

 

  • Planning to travel to Morocco during Ramadan? Read this first:

      How is it to travel to Morocco during Ramadan?

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOROCCO TRAVEL RESOURCES:

 

 

 

Follow Niko - Journal of Nomads:
I'm a vagabond and a lover of wild untouched nature. I travel around the world in pursuit of beautiful inspiring landscapes and fascinating cultures. I'm always trying to learn and master the languages of the places I visit.I've been bitten by the travel bug eleven years ago and haven't stopped traveling since.

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