With cheap flights, year-round good weather and thrilling culture, Marrakech is fast becoming a top tourist attraction, especially for those looking for a long-weekend away from the UK.
And whilst time constraints may mean that travelling around a lot of Morocco is not a possibility, that doesn't mean that you have to be confined to the pink city for the duration of your stay. In fact, there are several excellent day trips you can make from Marrakech that will show you a completely different side of Morocco - and give you the chance to get out and about in its spectacular countryside and mountains!
Here are our pick of the best day trips from Marrakech.
If the hectic nature of Marrakech is getting to you, consider a day trip to Essaouira, Morocco's windy city. Not only is it stunningly beautiful and culturally quite different, it offers the chance to hit the beach, cool down in the summer months, and indulge your inner Game of Thrones fan! Find out much more about our favourite things to do in Essaouira in this post.
Do it independently | There are multiple bus departures every day (with CTM and Supratours) between Marrakech and Essaouira, with a journey time of around 3 hours. Buses are quite modern and comfortable. This post has more information on how to get from Marrakech to Essaouira with public transport.
Take a tour | If you're short on time, then this Day Trip to Essaouira from Marrakech tour, which includes a visit to an Argan oil co-operative and a stop to see the 'goats in the trees', is your best option.
Located in the Toubkal National Park, Imlil is the starting point for those off to climb Mount Toukbal , the highest peak in North Africa. That said, this isn't a spot only for adventurous types and even if you're not up for a challenging trek, this small village provides a wonderful insight into Berber culture.
This is a place that was on our Moroccan itinerary for so long, but needed ditching at the last minute when we fell head over heels for Essaouira - but we really hope to make it there one day!
Do it independently | There is no direct bus to Imlil. Instead you will need to take a bus from the Gare Routiere de Marrakech to Asni. From Asni, you can take a minibus or a taxi the rest of the way. Alternatively, you can take a shared or private taxi all the way. This post has some excellent information for those wanting to hike Toukbal.
Take a tour | This Atlas Mountains Day Trip tour, where the guides are noted as excellent, takes you on an easy hike through the local countryside, finishing at a traditional Berber village.
The Ouzoud falls, located high in the Atlas Mountains, are probably one of the most popular destinations for day-trippers from Marrakech, and whilst we wouldn't personally recommend visiting on the weekend (it gets crazy busy), they're a spectacular site in the week. Begin your walk overlooking the falls then follow the path down toward the base for an easy hike with spectacular views. It's also possible to take a boat ride for some up-close action.
Do it independently | We visited Ouzoud Falls on our own 10-day Morocco road trip itinerary. A tour is recommended from Marrakech, but please let us know if you have done the route on your own with public transport and we will update the guide.
Take a tour | Consider the Ouzoud Waterfalls full-day tour from Marrakech, which gives you a decent amount of time at the falls.
Many people visit Morocco with dreams of spending a night in a Sahara Desert Camp. However, with even the most whistle-stop tour requiring at least three days out of your itinerary, it's not always a possibility.
Thankfully however, there is a more realistic alternative - the Agafay Desert.
Do it independently | As much as we love a good independent trip, for this particular destination we're think you're best off taking a tour.
Take a tour | You have a couple of options here - either an all-day desert trip which includes time on the dunes as well as village visits or, for the more intrepid, a there's highly-rated quad adventure through the desert. Half-day quad tours also available).
Aït Benhaddou and Ouarzazate
Crossing the Tizi n' Tichka mountain pass, the drive from Marrakech to Ouarzazate is nothing short of spectacular, and well worth escaping Marrakech for the day - ending at Ait Benhaddou (famous for Gladiator and Game of Thrones) is the icing on the cake, especially if you can be there at sunset.
Do it independently | As a day trip, your only option to do this independently is with private taxi hire or car rental (buses take too long and are too infrequent). If you do go on your own, then make sure you read our guide to Ouarzazate.
Take a tour | This tour ticks all the boxes for a day trip including scenic drive, stop-off for photos, Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou. It comes highly recommended.
Wonder where the locals go to cool off in the height of summer? That would be the Ourika Valley. Home to Siti Fatma, a bustling village with riverside restaurants and spectacular views, it has become increasingly popular over the last few years with tourists keen for some respite from the sweltering summer heat of Morocco.
And at just under an hour from Marrakech, it's the perfect day trip, especially if you take the time to hike to Setti Fatma (the seven waterfalls) which is an easy hike from the centre of the village.
Do it independently | Either hire a car from Marrakech (we only book and rent via AutoEurope) and drive to Siti Fatima, or take one of the collectivos from Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Young boys may insist that you require a guide, but you can hike to the waterfalls independently - just ask where the path starts. If you are considering renting a car in Morocco, read this guide first with tips and advice.
Take a tour | Ourika Valley & Atlas Mountain Full-Day Tour. This includes a visit to see traditional Berber homes, a women’s argan oil co-operative, time at the waterfalls, and a stop at roadside souks.