The Best Marrakech Day Tours – Full Guide

Last Updated on June 25, 2024 by Safaa (founder of moroccanzest)

The Best Marrakech Day Tours – Full Guide

There are plenty of Marrakech day tours when visiting Morocco’s red city. I always recommend these day tours to my clients when they are short on time, but who would still like to get a sneak peek of what the region of Marrakech offers. They often come back inspired and grounded, thankful to have embarked on this adventure. 

When planning a trip to Marrakech, I usually suggest spending three or four days exploring the city and one or two days having – at least – exploring the region.

If you have more time, I highly recommend going on a more extended tour instead, which will include more beautiful desert spots and picturesque villages in the Atlas mountains. If that’s your case, this four-day Marrakech desert tour offers one of the most complete overviews of the desert region and Atlas mountains.

If you’re short on time and looking for a day tour from Marrakech, there are many beautiful options, which we will explore below, along with the considerations to take into account.

The Best Marrakech Day Tour For You Will Depend On Several Factors

There are many possible destinations for your Marrakech day tour, and it can be hard to decide when you don’t know their differences. Here are a few questions to ask yourself: 

Are you looking for a tranquil retreat or an action-packed adventure?

Is it more appealing to you to be alone throughout your experience or to have others around? Do you prefer to go alone, or would you like a guide?

How much time do you prefer to spend in a car?

What’s your budget? 

Thinking about the answers to these questions can help you choose an adventure that’s perfect for your family.

Here’s a selection of the best Marrakech day trips that I recommend to anyone visiting Marrakech. Some are harder to get to, and you might need to hire a guide or driver if you’re unfamiliar with the region. I’ll share more details below.

Marrakech Day Tour 1: The Ourika Valley

One of my favorite day trips from Marrakech is the Ourika Valley. It is conveniently located within a short 1.5-hour drive and can be done in one day. On your way to this beautiful spot, you’ll see the majestic Atlas Mountains, then, as you make your way through lovely mountain villages, winding roads, and lush vegetation until you reach Siti Fatima, your destination.

ourika valley morocco panoramic view of atlas mountains

The famous seven waterfalls are within reach if you wear the right shoes and love a little hike. I usually go with my family, so I can’t go on complex trails, so I could only make it to one waterfall. The rest are farther up the trail and slightly harder to reach. 

The trails are easy to navigate as you’ll most likely just follow locals who will be hiking as well. You won’t get lost if you stick to the main trail and avoid going off-road. I have seen people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors, attempting the climb and getting help from a family member, a friendly stranger, or a guide.

Countless boys and men will be splashing around in the water over the summer, and you are welcome to join them. If you’re a woman, you can join if you dress conservatively and bathe in a way that doesn’t show too much skin. If you can cover your hips with a scarf or skirt, that would be very respectful to the local community.

ourika valley waterfall

You can drive to Ourika yourself, although I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re familiar with the region. The roads in the mountains are pretty narrow, and some taxi drivers can pressure you to drive faster. It’s better to hire a driver or go with a guide who will arrange an excellent plan for your trip.

If you go with a tour guide, you’ll probably have several stops in the High Atlas Mountains to cover more ground than only the Ourika Valley. You will stop for tea breaks and lunch breaks in beautiful spots; you may go hiking and see the beautiful waterfalls; you can eat at a local house in one of the Berber villages on your way, and much more. Your day trip from Marrakech will be inspiring and enriching.

If you are interested in doing that while in Marrakech, then I highly recommend checking Omar’s day trip from Marrakech. He is a local guide I always recommend to my family, friends, and clients whenever they visit the region.

Marrakech Day Trip 2: Lake Lalla Takerkoust

During the French protectorate in the 1920s, this lake and dam were artificially built to provide hydroelectric power to Marrakech. The lake is now a favorite destination for locals looking for a day of water fun and relaxation, especially during the hotter months.

For a day trip from Marrakech, you can bring your picnic blanket, Moroccan pastries, side salads, juices, and fruits and enjoy a day of swimming, eating, and playing together. You can also have lunch at a restaurant overseeing the lake. 

Lake Lalla Takerkoust marrakech morocco

Other available activities include quad biking and horseback riding, and if water levels allow it, you can go paddle boarding or power boating on the water. 

If you’d like to stay more days in the area, you can book a room in one of the resorts that line the lake and enjoy their pools, hammams, and restaurants.

Day Trip 3: The Agafay Desert

Getting to the Sahara desert from Marrakech will take more than a one-day trip. Traveling from Marrakech to the Sahara Desert takes at least three days and eight to ten hours. The most loved destination in the Moroccan desert is the Merzouga desert.

Caravan in the desert, Merzouga, Morocco

Caravan in the desert, Merzouga, Morocco

If you want to experience a wholesome desert tour with camel riding, stargazing, and a magical night in a desert tent, as well as the landscapes and beautiful villages along the way, Ouarzazate, Ait Ben Haddou, and more. In that case, I highly recommend going on a tour that takes at least three or four days, like this four-day Merzouga desert tour. 

merzouga camp star gazing morocco desert

The Milky Way over Merzouga

If you are limited in time and four days for a desert tour are too much, or if you don’t like long car distances, there is a lovely option close to Marrakech, the Agafay Desert.

While some people manage to go to the Agafay desert in two days, I find it overly stressful and tiring, and I would never recommend it!

The landscapes in the Agayaf desert are very different from those in the Merzouga desert. While the Merzouga desert is a sand desert, Agafay is an arid stone desert. You can go for the day, ride a camel, take a cooking class, or have lunch at a local’s tent, or you can spend the night – which I would highly recommend – as you’ll get to experience a beautiful night star gazing, dancing to drums and eating by the fire. With Omar’s two-day trip to the Agafay desert, you’ll return to Marrakech the next day. 

Beautiful desert camp in agafay desert morocco at sunset.

Beautiful desert camp at the Agafay desert with seats and carpets to chill at sunset.

Day Trip 4: Atlas Mountains Day Trip from Marrakech

In the High Atlas, close to Marrakech, there are a plethora of little Berber (Amazigh) villages, like Imlil, Amzmiz, and Tahanaout. Locals in these communities are tucked away in valleys and slopes and rarely leave their villages, living rural lives that are refreshing to witness. Locals take care of most of their food needs and sell what they don’t use in Marrakech and other cities.

In these villages, traditional clay constructions coexist with more contemporary house designs. Fields and orchards are common sights in the areas surrounding these towns. 

You can go there alone, but a local guide is always a good idea, as the roads are hard to navigate. A guide will also be beneficial for touring the villages and helping you immerse yourself in local life, as most locals only speak Amazigh—not even the Moroccan dialect. Most of the tours I linked above will take you to at least one of these villages.

Imlil mountain landscape morocco

The beautiful village of Imlil

Marrakech Day Tour 5: Ouzoud Waterfalls 

Traveling to the Ouzoud waterfalls will take at least three hours from Marrakech, so I recommend this trip to those who have already visited the desert (either Agafay or Merzouga) and the Ourika Valley, all mentioned above.

You should head north instead of south for a day trip to the Ouzoud waterfall in the Middle Atlas Mountains. You can have supper at one of the many charming restaurants overlooking the falls or pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery while you eat.

In addition to the Barbary macaques that call this area home, several hiking routes will take your outdoor adventure to the next level.

Ouzoud waterfalls Grand Atlas in Morocco

Ouzoud waterfalls, Grand Atlas in Morocco

Marrakech Day Tour 6: Oukaimden

You have two options here that are both reachable via Oukaimden: either visit the Ouzoud waterfalls seen above, or get to Toubkal, one of Morocco’s highest peak mountains, which is approximately two hours’ drive from Marrakech. Along the way to both, you’ll see stunning countryside landscapes that are typical of Morocco.

toubkal national park landscape

Toubkal National Park landscape

Both trips can be done from Marrakech in one day. If you like hiking and adventure, and if the weather and snow conditions allow it, you can join the hordes of people who want to reach the peak of the Toubkal. Climbing Mount Toubkal in the winter calls for much more experience and skill. Two or three days is the typical time required to reach the top.

During the winter, you can also rent skis and enjoy a thrilling day of skiing down the slopes. Furthermore, sledding is a fun activity for beginners and smaller children who are just learning to ski. Having said that, if you have less skii skills or don’t enjoy the snow and cold, then you should probably skip this destination.

Marrakech Tour 7: Essaouira

Although Essaouria can be visited in one day if you depart from Marrakech, you’ll probably have to start your trip early in the morning to get to Essaouira early enough to enjoy what the city has to offer.

Essaouira is most enjoyable during fall, spring, and summer. You’ll be able to explore its beautiful beaches and restaurants overlooking the sea, its large souk where you can shop Moroccan souvenirs and handicrafts, the Jewish quarter, the delicious food, the chill life of locals, and so much more. If you love fish, then you’ll be thrilled, as most fish dishes served in restaurants are ultra-fresh, made with fish straight out of the sea.

View of the Essaouira medina in Morocco. Seagulls over the old city against the blue sky.

View of the Essaouira medina in Morocco

You can rent a car, drive to Essaouira, or take the Supratour bus from Marrakech.

Although you can visit Essaouira in one day and return to Marrakech the same day, it’ll probably be tiring or stressful. Ideally, I recommend spending at least one night in the city to enjoy it comfortably.

Marrakech Trip 8: Marrakech to Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou

Another possible day trip from Marrakech is visiting Ouarzazate or Ksar Ait Benhaddou. Travelers are primarily drawn to the area to see the spectacular Ait Ben Haddou fortified hamlet. In addition, the surrounding area is home to breathtaking desert vistas and a plethora of additional kasbahs to discover. The Telout Kasbah is a must-see on any trip to the area.

ait benhaddou landscape sunset

Beautiful sunset at Ait Ben Haddou morocco

Both destinations require approximately a four-hour drive from Marrakech, so this is not the most relaxed day tour from Marrakech. However, you can still do it if you are limited in time and can start your trip early in the morning. 

The other option is a Marrakech tour with stops at Ouarzazate or Ait Benhaddou – these tours are generally at least three or four days long. Your trip will be much more enjoyable, and you’ll have enough time to visit both Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou.

 

 

 

 

Safaa, founder of moroccanzest

From design and decor to food and travel, moroccanzest is the space where I share what I loved growing up in Morocco, and more. It’s your destination for everything beautiful, artistic, and made the Moroccan way with love. Learn more about me here.