The city of Marrakech is a fantastic destination that has been gaining popularity in recent years- whether it’s the Instagrammers flocking to taking pictures in the souks or the riads or interior designers looking for inspiration- Marrakech has become a hub for design and culture. It’s been hailed as the Paris of Morocco, and quite frankly, it’s not surprising why. From its terra cotta colored streets, old and glorious history, and absolutely stunning attractions, every visit to this amazing Moroccan city can be filled with wonder and excitement. The city itself, while completely stunning, can also serve as a gateway to all sorts of adventures that can be had in its surrounding areas and day trips from Marrakech are always splendid affairs.
In fact, the scenic beauty that surrounds the city is downright gorgeous, with places like lush valleys, the coast of the Atlantic, or the Sahara desert. There’s a wide variety of choices to choose from, and as always, you can find tours from Marrakech to guide you if needed. In any case, such day trips from Marrakech are an excellent way to recharge your batteries after spending a lot of time exploring those wonderful terracotta colored streets.
THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM MARRAKECH
The perfect experience for those that seek to travel off the beaten path, Ourika Valley is an experience like no other. A very remote region, one that’s without all the hustle and bustle of modern civilization, perfect for an escapade that requires exploration. It’s one of those Marrakech excursions that will take you through a deep valley whose pristine nature is barely touched by man, a place where the streams are completely natural and hiking is the best way to get anywhere.
There are signs of civilization, of course, it’s not completely uninhabited – in fact, there are more than several roadside cafes where you can stop for a refreshment, and plenty of hamlets and little villages.
Berber villages are a sight to behold, as well. They’re very traditional places, where you can see houses built directly into the mountain, with warm locals living a hardened life and unburdened by modern technologies. The nature is breathtaking, with palm and fruit trees dotting the deep valley, anywhere you look is a full treat for the eyes.
High Atlas Toubkal
Toubkal is the second tallest peak in Africa, and the tallest in Northern Africa and by extension, Morocco, it’s situated in the Toubkal National Park. A fully stunning destination, one filled with rustic charm that’s fully unique to the region, it’s a place where hiking and mountaineering are the main attractions.
There are several Berber villages scattered all throughout this part of the High Atlas Mountains, which are the ideal stop for some rest and relaxation. A full excursion will take you a whole day, but it’s a day well-spent.
If you manage to find one of the Marrakech tours that you think will suit you, then it’s a no-brainer, because Toubkal as a region is a must-see. The views themselves are stunning, let alone a peek into a culture that’s been largely uninfluenced by the modern world, or all those unforgettable hiking opportunities.
Everything surrounding Toubkal is amazing, as it can be one of those tours from Marrakesh that you’ll never forget.
Cascades D’Ouzoud Waterfalls
Now this is one of those locations that everybody loves. The charming atmosphere, the welcoming aura that persists in the air, and the fresh air around the falls – it all just feels perfect and flawless. The waterfalls themselves are breathtakingly beautiful, and visiting them is one of those Marrakech excursions that will stick around in your memory for a long time. Either the paddleboat rides, or the relaxing dip in the refreshing waters below, or having a freshly squeezed orange juice in on the adjacent cafes, whatever you do you’re bound to have a delightful time.
This spot is a fan favorite, especially in the spring and summer months, and if you decide that you want to spend more time in this heavenly valley, you can easily arrange for an overnight stay in a Berber guest house and spend some time with the wonderful locals, and enjoy their unique cuisine and special brand of hospitality.
A lot of people are surprised that skiing is something that’s easily available in Morocco. For such a warm place it feels strange that a very fine ski resort is one of the best attractions near Marrakech. Lugging winter equipment isn’t something most people would think of when doing day trips from Marrakech. But actually, Oukaimeden is a fantastic, and a little eccentric, ski resort that’s quite affordable, and very near Marrakech.
It’s perched high atop the tall mountain, from where you can take a ski lift that will take you all the way to the peak – Jebel Attar. The resort itself is very modern and it feels like a prime European ski resort, with a distinctly Moroccan feel. You can expect competitive service there, of course, with people offering to help you down the mountain – for a price.
But once you’re on one of those five dizzying tracks, it’s when it all starts feeling amazing. But if you’re not for skiing, then there are other things you can do. There’s a museum in the village of Oukaimeden, one that’s specialized in prehistoric rock carvings, and if you’re on one of the Marrakech tours, then you’ll have extra assistance when it comes to learning more about these old, fascinating carvings, and their importance in the surrounding region.
The Atlantic Ocean is quite near Marrakech, much nearer than most people would assume. And just a short three-hour ride from the city, you can find an old Portuguese fishing village – and now port town – Essaouira. With a fascinating blend of cultures and architecture, this port town is an excellent place to lay low for a while and enjoy art and culture without feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of Marrakech. In fact, Essaouira is the perfect place to experience the local cuisine, because due to its location and history, the town, in a way, caters to foodies and people that just enjoy the food.
With many chic restaurants and a relaxed atmosphere, this is just the place to unwind after a fast and exhausting few days in Marrakech.
But that’s not all, near the city you can find local wineries where you can sample their fine wines, and once you’re done exploring you can take a relaxing dip in the Atlantic Ocean. A lot of people use Essaouira like a Marrakech beach getaway spot, and that’s because there are several resorts where you can unwind and relax for as long as you need.
When visiting Morocco, and Marrakech in general, a lot of people want to see the Sahara Desert, but don’t realize that it’s an affair that will take at least three days to do properly and not really meant to be a day tour from Marrakech. So if you don’t have all that time to spare, but do want to experience the desert in all its glory, Agafay desert is a location that’s not quite as famous as the Sahara, but is just as good. It’s also very near Marrakech, and will not tax you as much to reach it, but once you’re there you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
It’s not a desert filled with sandy dunes, however, but is instead a stone desert, but that shouldn’t change much, because one of the quintessential experiences that everybody should enjoy at least once is camel riding. Agafay desert offers that in spades, as there are plenty of camps that cater to visitors, and you can also rent a quad bike, or even a horse, so that you can explore the desert. It’s also a spot for relaxation, and often some of the locals will join you for a meal around the fireplace – yes, there are people living in this part of Morocco. And once you’re done for the day, just sit back and enjoy the stars – it’s a fantastic place to look at the night sky, even if some of Marrakech’s lights will still be visible behind you.
Casablanca isn’t the only popular place in Morocco that’s become a film haven. Ait Benhaddou is a Kasbah that’s situated very near Marrakech and is the place that’s used for plenty of popular films for their location of filming. Film fans will immediately recognize it as the location for popular movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, and Jesus of Nazareth, as it’s an old desert castle that’s been slightly retouched. But other than a very slight facelift, Ait Benhaddou feels like a still image frozen in time in the 11th century when it was originally built.
The village around the Ksar – which is a local Berber term for castle – is still populated to this day, and its locals are used to people visiting this famous location. Other than that, there is another Kasbah in the vicinity, one that hasn’t been as retouched as the main one, and has been abandoned for a long time now, and is now inhabited by birds and critters of all kinds. It still feels very unique to see it up close as it offers a very interesting contrast to the Kasbah in Ait Benhaddou.
Regardless of what your interest is, there is a day trip from Marrakech for you. It’s no wonder we’ve been back to Marrakech 8 times in the last 5 years.