Whether you’re looking for day trips or longer Marrakech excursions, here are nine ideas to keep on your radar when planning your itinerary!
When I was planning our Morocco itinerary, I just knew I didn’t want to spend long in Marrakech. One of the full days we had, I actually started looking up day trips option because I didn’t particularly want to go shopping or spend time dealing with another hectic medina. As I was researching, I realized our itinerary actually included a lot of popular Marrakech excursions, though we were bouncing around the country rather than basing ourselves from one city.
Hence this guide was born. I know a lot of you guys would much rather stay in one city for longer than follow the hectic itinerary we did. If you’re planning on using Marrakech as a base and want some time away, here are my picks for the best day trips and longer excursions!
6 Day Trips from Marrakech
First up some easy day trips from Marrakech! Obviously, you could extend these to weekend trips or even longer, but they’re still very easy to book a tour for the day and come back to your Marrakech accommodation at night. I ordered them from closest to Marrakech to furthest away.
1. Hot Air Balloon Ride
- 1 hour away
- How to See: Book a tour
This is, of course, one of the Marrakech excursions I haven’t done, but it looks quite fun! I enjoyed my hot air balloon ride in Kissimmee, so I can’t imagine what it would be like over the Moroccan landscapes. The whole experience is about 6 hours in total, including pick up and drop off. The most basic package, like this tour, includes a light breakfast, about an hour in the hot air balloon, a bigger breakfast, and a small camel ride.
If you want something more luxurious, book this private ride. You’ll have breakfast on your hot air balloon, which sounds quite romantic. You could also do this private ride, where you’ll do a lighter breakfast of pastries and juice and then go to a local Berber home for mint tea and fresh bread.
2. Ourika Valley
- 1 hour away
- How to See: Book a tour
I didn’t hear about Ourika Valley until after my trip, so it’s definitely somewhere I’d like to visit should I go back to Marrakech. Apparently it’s really gorgeous in the late winter, early spring when all these flowers come into bloom!
They valley, of course, sits all along Ourika River within the High Atlas Range. You can easily see many of the waterfalls in the valley and take in some gorgeous views. Most tours will also take you to a Berber home so you can learn more about this traditional way of life.
Here are some tour options you may like:
- Ourika Valley Day Trip
- Private Ourika Valley Trip
- Ourika Valley Hike
- Day Trip to Ourika Valley & Camel Ride
Other Atlas Mountain Excursions
The Atlas Mountains are huge, so there are a lot of ways to see different areas. They’re 1,600mi/2,500km long and go through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia if you want an idea of just how massive they are.
I do recommend doing a tour unless you’re with local friends who know their way around. This is mostly for safety and ease of travel.
There are a lot of really nice tours that go into the Atlas Mountains, and you should be quite safe, especially if you’re just there on a day trip. Marrakech Food Tours, who we did our evening food tour with, have two day trip options. One is to Ijoukak Valley and the other is to Imlil.
Other tours you could do include these:
- Atlas Mountains Day Trip with Camel Ride
- Atlas Mountains & 4 Valleys Day Trip
- Aït Benhaddou and Atlas Mountains Day Trip
3. Scarabeo Camp & Agafay Desert
- An hour away
- How to See: Book a stay
Given how much of a hassle it is to get out to the normal desert camps near Merzouga or in Zagora, the Scarabeo Camp is a nice compromise. My friend had done this when she was in Marrakech, though she only went for the day instead of staying overnight.
It’s kind of funny because I asked Autumn if she’d want to do this, she wasn’t into the glamping/Instagramness of it all. But then we finally did our Sahara desert camping, it was still glamping and felt a little touristy. Ad in the 2 days of misery in Merzouga, dealing with rabies shots, and longgggg bus rides from Fes and to Ouarzazate, we were like, “We should’ve just gone here.” LOL
Anyway, the camp has a lot of fun activities you can add on. Choose from quad/dune buggy tours, massages, camel or donkey rides, horse riding, mountain excursions, stargazing, and even yoga. And while Agafay Desert doesn’t have the rolling orange sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, the landscapes are still quite gorgeous.
- 2 Hours Away
- How to See: Supratours Bus or Book this Tour
Really if you want to properly enjoy Essaouira, I recommend spending a weekend or so. However, if you’re on a tight schedule and you really just want to see one of the cities where they filmed “Game of Thrones,” then a day trip is quite feasible!
Essaouira is a nice, breezy port city on the Atlantic coast. Even though it’s 2-hours away, it feels like an entirely different world than Marrakech. Think a spacious medina, minimal harassment, and over all a more relaxed vibe. I wrote all about the best things to do in Essaouira for a relaxing trip, so check that out if you want to know more of what to see, do, and, most importantly, eat!
Getting to Essaouira is also incredibly smooth and easy to do on your own. Just take a Supratours bus. The station is within walking distance of the medina and port. We actually found the two hour ride to be one of the smoothest of our whole trip!
However, if you do want to book a tour, try these:
- Day Trip to Essaouira
- Essaouira & Atlantic Coast Excursion
- Day Tour to Essaouira
- Private Essaouira Day Trip
5. Ouzoud Waterfalls
- 2-3 Hours Away
- How to See: Book this Tour
This is the day trip I picked for myself! Autumn had to finish up some work for grad school, so I joined a tour to these beautiful falls on my own. Luckily I met some lovely people on the trip! The falls are absolutely gorgeous. They’re 33 ft (110m) high with 3 different drops and sit in the Moyen Atlas portion of the Atlas Mountain range.
I wrote more about my Ouzoud Falls day trip here if you want to go. Basically prepare for a bit of an outdoorsy day with some hiking, swimming, and checking out some cheeky monkeys!
6. Aït Benhaddou & Ouarzazate
- 3 1/2 to 4 hours away
- How to See: Take a bus to Ouarzazate or Book this tour
We did not expect to love Ouarzazate as much as we did, but looking back it was easily one of our favorite cities in Morocco. The city is known as something of a mini Hollywood because so many big productions have filmed scenes here. I’m not talking crappy, no name movies either, but actually ones you’ve probably seen. Think Gladiator, “Game of Thrones,” and the Mummy to name a few!
Aït Benhaddou is about 30 minutes outside of Ouarzazate. It’s an ancient village that goes back to the 1600s and is made of earthen clay buildings. This all makes it feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you arrive.
Keep in mind that the only way this makes sense as a day trip is if you rent a car from Marrakech and drive or book a tour. By bus, it’s more like 6+ hours to get to Ouarzazate, and even then you’d need to figure out how to either find a grand taxi to take you to Aït Benhaddou or rent a car there.
If you do want to spend longer than a day (which I recommend anyway), then check out my post on all the cool things to do in Ouarzazate which includes tips on how to rent your car, where to stay, and more! However, if you still want to try to make this only a day trip from Marrakech, look into booking this tour or you could also book a private tour.
4 Longer Marrakech Excursions
- 7 Hours Away
- Recommended: 2 days minimum
Chefchaouen is easily one of most famous little cities in the country given its very picturesque blue buildings. It was originally founded back in 1471 and after the Spanish Inquisition, many Morisos and Sefardíes fled here. This is why you’ll have better luck speaking Spanish over French!
Frankly speaking, the blue city of Chefchaouen doesn’t make the most sense as a Marrakech excursions since it’s a solid 7 1/2 hours away by car. Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, and Tangier are all closer. If you take a bus, I’m honestly not sure there’s a direct line from Marrakech to Chefchaouen; you may have to get off in one of the aforementioned cities and switch anyway.
We actually went from Tangier and then bused to Fes. However, some of my California friends think 7 1/2 hours in a car is fine for a weekend trip, so I guess it’s all about perspective.
If you insist on going from Marrakech, I highly recommend going up for at least a weekend to make that drive worth it. Check out my guide on Chefchaouen for tips on where to stay, where to go, and where to eat!
2. Toubkal National Park
- 3 hours away
- Recommended: 2 days minimum
While you can visit one part of Toubkal in a day, I feel like you’d really be missing out on enjoy the park and the mountains.
The whole park actually includes multiple mountains including Toubkal, Ouanoukrim, Tazarhart, L’Aksoual, Ineghmar, Bou Iguenouane, Le Tichki, and Azrou Tamadout. The tallest at 13,671ft/4,167m of all of these is, of course, Jebel Toubkal, which is the second tallest peak in Africa after Kilimanjaro.
Most excursions to Toubkal take place over at least two days, and that’s if you’re doing an express trek. Most last 3 to 4. I do recommend doing this with a tour group rather than on your own or with friends given the recent safety issues. You can try this 3 day trek or this 4 day trek.
3. Zagora/Erg Chigaga
- 6+ hours away
- Recommended: 2 days minimum
Erg Chigaga is in the Northern Sahara Steppe and Woodlands ecoregion of the Sahara Desert. Most tours are a minimum of two days. They begin with a drive through the High Atlas Mountains with a stop at Ouarzazate and through Draa Valley. THe first day ends in Zagora, where you’ll then switch for an hour camel ride to your camp in Erg Chigaga.
The second day you’ll have a sunrise an breakfast before taking your camel back to Zagora and then drive back to Marrakech with a stop at Ait Ben Haddou.
4. Merzouga/Erg Chebbi
- 9+ hours away
- Minimum: 3 Days
This is where we did our Sahara Desert camping experience. Funny enough, it’s not technically in the Sahara but in the Pre-Saharan Steppes. The sand dunes can go up to nearly 500 feet/150 meters, and you can choose from glamping or more budget friendly camp.
We did ours a bit differently in that we came from Fes, stayed in Merzouga, and then went to Ouarzazate. It’s not bad path, but the more common one is to do a multi day excursion from Marrakech, like this one.
And there you have it! Ten fun Marrakech excursions, ranging from half a day to a few days, to add to your itinerary. Let me know if you have even more to add!
general morocco tips
For more tips check out my guide on how to get around Morocco as well as all the foods and drinks to try! If you’re trying figure out what to wear, check out my Morocco packing list for more tips and outfit examples! In addition to the places I listed above, we also spent time in Tangier and Fes.