Marrakech is the most famous tourist destination in Morocco.
The name evokes spices, souks, deserts and riads. Bustling markets, old walled streets and ramshackle houses are exotic.
This is an exciting, vibrant and colourful place; a place where you can be frustrated at times, or fascinated, but every moment is different, life is unique, noisy, watching Seems chaotic.
The city is full of history, culture and top-notch Moroccan cuisine, and every turn you turn opens up a world of new shocks and surprises that will keep you engrossed for days.
In addition to Marrakech’s historic walls, this city at the foot of the high Atlas Mountains is the perfect starting point for access to the surrounding area.
From deserts and waterfalls to Berber villages and rocky valleys, Marrakech has many day trips to choose from.
1. Uzu Falls
Ouzoud Falls are an incredibly impressive group of waterfalls that plunge from towering cliffs into a huge basin.
Cascading from a height of up to 110 meters, the multi-tiered waterfall is a veritable oasis in the desert in an otherwise arid landscape, with lush green vegetation found within the rocky confines of this canyon.
The area is famous for its olive trees. After hiking to the falls, you can relax in the shade of these trees while feeling the cool breeze pouring down from the falls, filling the air with fresh water.
If it’s too hot, you can even swim in the Abid River where the waterfall falls.
This is a glorious day trip from Marrakech not to be missed.
Recommended Tour: Ouzou Falls Full-Day Tour from Marrakech
2. Marrakech Palm Grove
The palm grove in Marrakech, called Palmeraie, is a lush land entirely devoted to the cultivation of palm trees.
This is an exceptionally beautiful place; palm trees grow in the desert and have survived for centuries in this harsh climate entirely dependent on an ancient irrigation network.
The area is about 50 square miles and palm trees are used to harvest dates, so you can find plenty of local growers and sellers to try here.
Many people choose to go on an adventurous quad bike tour, riding around the desert and Palmeraie, a unique way to experience this beautiful and surreal landscape.
Suggested Itinerary: Marrakech Desert and Palm Grove Quad Bike Tour
3. Sahara Desert
Marrakech is surrounded by desert, however, the truly brutal and almost unbelievable landscape of the famous Sahara Desert doesn’t really begin until you’re at least a few hours’ drive from the city itself.
The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world.
This is an extreme place, where there is almost no water and sand dunes tower over the horizon.
It’s an almost mystical place – especially locally – and even a trip to the edge of the Sahara is an enlightening experience.
Many people choose to go on a multi-day desert expedition led by a local; however, if you are pressed for time, you can still head to the start of the Sahara Desert for the harsh natural beauty before returning to Marrakech for the night.
Multi-Day Tour: From Marrakech: 2-Day Zagora Sahara Desert Tour
4. Agafi Desert
If you want to live closer to Marrakech and experience the desert closer to where you live, then the Agafay Desert – although not as famous or sandy as the Sahara – is close to the city very close.
Located between the Atlas Mountains and Marrakech, Agafay is a great day trip.
You won’t find the unique dunes you imagined here, but you’ll find a rocky, barren, and seemingly lifeless terrain that’s hard to fully understand in its sparseness.
It’s a place to visit – you might be able to visit some of the local villages and marvel at how people have managed to thrive here for thousands of years.
Recommended Itinerary: Agafi Desert Quad Bike Tour
Essaouira is a vibrant port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coastline.
A great escape from the desert and the dry climate of Marrakech, a trip here is a long but rewarding day trip.
Enjoy the beautiful sea breeze along the coast, as well as the city’s colorful culture and architecture.
The medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site worth exploring, while the labyrinth of narrow alleys and souks is the quintessential Moroccan look you can get.
Recommended Tour: Essaouira Day Trip from Marrakech
Agadir is another Moroccan coastal city 3 hours from Marrakech.
The city has a reputation in the travel world as a sun-drenched, wind-swept, and relaxing destination.
More and more resorts are taking advantage of beautiful beaches and coastlines, and the city itself is an interesting example of modern Moroccan culture and life – it’s big enough to easily escape the tourist routes and discover new things.
Casablanca is the only city that can rival Marrakech in terms of international popularity.
Because of the film and the romantic connotations associated with it, the name Casablanca has gone down in history.
The reality may be very different from what you expect, and it’s good to only take a day trip in the city – it’s a huge city cluster.
Worth a visit to see what this famous place is all about, to walk through old and new streets and experience the inseparable Moroccan history.
8. Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains make up a huge, towering mountain range that rises sharply near Marrakech.
The mountains span three countries, with the highest peak reaching more than 4,000 meters.
The Atlas Mountains are not only an integral part of the local geography, but also of the local Berber history and culture.
Marrakech is a great place to get into the mountains. Many valleys and villages can be reached on a day trip from the city.
Recommended Tour: Berber Village and 3 Valley Atlas Mountains Day Trip
9. Ourika Valley
The beautiful Ourica Valley lies 50 kilometers south of Marrakech, in the cool shadow of the Atlas Mountains.
The valley is dotted with small local villages that have stood here for centuries, and the cool climate makes it a lush place to explore, especially during Marrakech’s hot summer months.
There are waterfalls, mountain backdrops and epic scenery wherever you go.
Available Tours: Ourika Valley and Atlas Mountains Full-Day Tour
Imlil is a local Berber village high in the Atlas Mountains.
It is located at an altitude of 1800 meters in a beautiful setting.
Many tourists will use Imril as a base to go further into the mountains on multi-day hikes, including the summit of Mount Toubkal, the mountain’s highest peak.
But it’s perfectly fine to simply explore for a day here – see how the Berbers live here and adapt it to the mountains, and even do a few small hikes in the surrounding area.
When you get here from Marrakech, Asni is lower than Imli, but probably easier to reach, and is the gateway to the Atlas Mountains.
It’s a quaint place with mud brick buildings and dusty streets where you can see the local life happening on the streets.
12. Ait Ben Haddou
Ait Benhaddou is a wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the outskirts of the Sahara Desert.
It is an ancient and fortified town that has guarded trade routes across the desert for centuries.
Today, the town is known for the large number of movies filmed here.
You’ll likely recognize walls, towers, and streets from at least one movie you’ve seen.
Despite its now touristy, star-studded reputation, the town remains an incredibly unique example of Moroccan architecture and history, well worth the dusty three-hour drive from Marrakech.
Suggested Tour: Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou Day Trip
Further down the road, south of Ait Benhaddou, you will find the fortified town of Ouarzazate.
Like its neighbors, Ouarzazate has been used as a filming location by many studios and has appeared in countless historical epics and desert films.
This is also the true start of the Sahara Desert – the sand dunes of the desert really start after the plateau where the town is located disappears southwards.
Suggested Tour: Ouarzazate Full-Day Tour from Marrakech with Lunch
14. Amiz Miz
Nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, just an hour’s drive from Marrakech, Amizmiz is a great example of a Moroccan Berber town that is relatively unspoiled.
Life here is slow.
The town is colourful, but there’s little to see except on Tuesdays, where a weekly market arrives where villagers from the mountains and surrounding areas come to Amizmiz to buy and sell their produce.
This is an incredible testimony.
Oukaïmeden is an extremely high-altitude resort in the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains.
At the right time of year, it provides an incredible contrast to the Lowlands and Marrakech.
No more sun, heat and desert, now snow, wind and cold.
This is the country’s famous ski resort, just a two-hour drive from Marrakech, where you can ski during the day and return to the warmer parts of the city for the night.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Marrakech, Morocco
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