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Apr 2, 2024

Best Day Trips from Marrakech

Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Several films have been shot there

Should you take a day trip from Marrakech? It is one of the great cities of the world, packed with colorful riads, exciting music, fun shopping, fascinating historic and religious sites and more. It would be easy to fly here and never venture out to the rest of Morocco, but you’d be missing out. There are so many fun day trips from Marrakech that are worth an afternoon, an entire day, or even a weekend.

Hikes in the mountains. Quad racing through the desert. Swimming in the ocean. Touring famous film sets. Within a few hours of Marrakech there is adventure waiting for every age and budget. These day trips are easily accessed by organized tours that often include meals and a guide. If you prefer not to travel with a group, ask your hotel or host to arrange a private driver, which is quite affordable in Morocco and makes for an easy getaway.

Here are six of the Best Day Trips from Marrakech.

Ouzoud Waterfalls

A scenic two-and-a-half hour drive from Marrakech brings you to the Atlas Mountains and waterfalls 100m high—the largest in North Africa.

You can hike down to a swimming area, jump off cliffs into the water, take a small boat to the bottom of the falls, feed the local monkeys, and of course enjoy the views. Entrance to the park is free, but you can hire a guide at the entrance to show you around. Organized tours to Ouzoud waterfalls from Marrakech sometimes include lunch.

A picturesque panorama of Ouzoud waterfalls in Morocco

Agafay Desert

To visit the famous Sahara Desert from Marrakech you really need three days. But in less than an hour you can be zipping around the Agafay Desert on quad bikes.

This rocky white landscape is home to desert camps and stunning mountain views. If you want to ride a camel in Morocco this is a much better place than Marrakech. Come in the evening for dinner and Instagram-worthy sunset photos.

Off-road vehicle driving through Agafay desert, Morocco, Atlas Mountains vanishing in haze

Atlas Studios and Ait Benhaddou

Film buffs can visit preserved sets from films and TV shows like Gladiator, Game of Thrones, The Mummy and more on a guided tour of the massive Atlas Studios.

This day trip from Marrakech can also stop at Ait Benhaddou, a fortified village nearby whose unique architecture and historic kasbah have also been used in Hollywood films going back to the 1960s classic Lawrence of Arabia.  

Ouarzazate Atlas Film Studios in Morocco. Moroccan Atlas Studios is one of the largest movie studios in the world.

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Casablanca

No, the famous movie Casablanca wasn’t actually filmed in Morocco. But a day trip to Casablanca from Marrakech is still worth it.

Come to see the Hassan II Mosque, the second largest mosque in Africa with a minaret 210 meters high. Completed in 1993, it’s a stunning example of modern building with Islamic and Moorish architecture, and its location right beside the Atlantic Ocean is picture perfect. It’s also the only mosque open to non-Muslims, by guided tour, so you can appreciate the intricate design of the interior up close, and perhaps witness the retractable roof in action. While in Casablanca, take a waterfront stroll, perhaps to the El Hank lighthouse or the local fish market, where you can enjoy the catch of the day at cheap and cheerful food stalls.

Colonial center in Casablanca, Morocco

Oualidia

An off-the-beaten-path destination for those with a car and time for at least one overnight, this laid-back village overlooking a coastal lagoon about three and a half hours from Marrakech is a spot to get away from the tourist trail. Known as the oyster capital of Morocco, Oualidia offers many outdoor activities like birdwatching (migrating flamingos can be seen here in the fall) and surfing. The nearby Sultana Oualidia resort is great place to treat yourself on spa treatments like a traditional Moroccan hammam.

A spectacular view of Oualidia in Morocco with blue skies in the background

Atlas Mountain Hiking

When you’re ready for a hike, a day trip to the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech is calling.

Tour operators offer hikes for many different abilities, from easy walks around small mountain villages to trekking all day. Mount Toubkal, about two hours south of Marrakech, is the highest peak in North Africa and a popular two-day adventure that rewards hikers with jaw-dropping views. Whichever one you choose, this is an excellent way to encounter Morocco’s nomadic Berber culture, where there will always be time for tea.

Young tourist couple watching spectacular mountain scenery of Jebel Toubkal range in High Atlas mountains Morocco, Africa

Essaouira

If Morocco is the California of Africa (as some say), Essaouira is the Venice Beach of Morocco.

The laidback, bohemian vibes of this fortified city by the sea make it an easy place to hang out and do nothing. It’s also easy to get to without a car or taking a guided tour, as public transportation from Marrakech to Essaouira by bus or taxi is easy and affordable.

You can easily fill a whole day with a leisurely stroll or horseback ride along the sandy beach where you might see windsurfers or kite surfers. Shopping is less hectic here than in Marrakech, so head to the car-free medina (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to pick up local crafts and souvenirs. Watching fishing boats is best from a perch along the ramparts—another Game of Thrones filming site—and fresh seafood is everywhere. You could visit Essaouira on a day trip from Marrakech but you’ll probably wish you planned a whole weekend. It’s the kind of romantic place visitors come for the day and never leave. Essaouira sunsets especially are not-to-be-missed.  

Does this list of the Best Day Trips from Marrakech make you want to plan a trip to Morocco? PLAY’s low-cost flights to Marrakech start October 2024!

Moroccan handmade crafts, carpets and bags hanging in the narrow street of Essaouira in Morocco

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