Morocco

The 9 best day trips from Marrakech

Do you want to leave the busy Marrakech for a while? Or would you like to see something more of the country than the busy medine life? Fortunately, Marrakech is surrounded by so many great places to visit. Many can be visited as a day trip, but if you want to be able to take your time or to combine some places into a bigger trip, we advise you to stick one or two nights to it. These are the best places to visit from Marrakech!

Day trips from Marrakech: 9 great things to do

#1 Skoura

Our absolute favorite is the palm tree oasis of Skoura. While you can hardly escape the street vendors and tourist spots in Marrakech, you can completely relax here in Skoura far from all the hustle and bustle. As you walk through Skoura, you will be overwhelmed by the silence and the enormous amount of palm trees. This palmeraie is not just the home of small fields where the local population grows vegetables, the narrow irrigation channels and the small houses of the farmers. But especially of many large kasbahs, imposing and castle-like buildings! Many of them have fallen apart, but a number have been saved from destruction and are being used as a hotel.

We advise you to explore Skoura by bike, so you can absorb as much of the special atmosphere here as possible and see many of the beautiful Kasbahs. As Skoura is not crowded with tourists who are exploring the narrow roads by bike, many locals were greeting us enthusiastically and children would run after us while waving. Quite a different experience after all street vendors in the cities!

The most beautiful castle in Skoura is Kasbah Amridil, whose entrance gate was on the old 50 dirham note. The kasbah is open to visitors, but beware: it consists of two parts and both parts claim to be the original kasbah and charge an entrance fee. The right kasbah is actually the oldest part.

How to get there?

Skoura can be reached by public transport from Marrakech by taking the bus to Ouarzazate first. From there you take a private or shared taxi for a short ride – the second is obviously cheaper, but you’ll have to wait until the taxi is full – to the oasis of Skoura. We think that driving up here with your own transport is much more pleasant, as you can then take a detour through the Atlas Mountains and have plenty of time for photo stops.

Do you want to spend the night in Skoura?

You really should! We slept in the old kasbah Dar Es Salam with a beautiful garden with swimming pool and relax areas. The kasbah has mountain bikes for you to use, so you can easily explore the palm trees from your hotel by bike.

#2 Imi n’Ifri

In Imi n’Ifri a natural bridge over a gorge has formed over the centuries. According to local legends, the bridge is actually two petrified lovers holding hands, but it is more likely that the water under the bridge has formed it. Standing on top the bridge is nice, but the view from below is much better. So descend into the gorge and climb through the valley below the huge bridge. Bats, stalagmites and large rocks give the place a magical atmosphere. A beautiful sight! If you are willing to pay a big tip, a local guide will help you through tunnels to the best viewpoints of the gorge. The path down and through the gorge is well marked, but you will not easily find the tunnels where a local will lead you through.

How to get there?

Unlike Skoura, Imi n’Ifri is not a full-day destination, but a great place to make a shorter stop! It is near the town Demnate, where you drive from Marrakech in one and a half hour. You can also take the bus from Marrakech to Demnate and then a private taxi up to Imi n’Ifri.

#3 Cascades d’Ouzoud

The waterfalls of Ouzoud are one of the most popular day trips for locals, so expect a lot of Moroccans on this spot during the holidays and the summer months. The small town has many hotels, restaurants and (paid) parking spaces for these Maroccan tourist. Skip this touristy part and walk straight to the waterfalls – no guide needed, though the locals will tell you otherwise to impose themselves on you as your guide – where you have to descend down to the base of the waterfall to enjoy the most impressive view of the more than 100 meters high Cascades.

How do you get there?

The falls are not easy to reach without your own transport, so you will have to pay up for a taxi or a group tour. We visited the falls on our mini road trip from Marrakech through the Atlas Mountains. The drive is only a little bit more than 150 kilometers and can easily be combined with other destinations in this list!

Imi n’Ifri is for example on the route from Marrakech and – highly recommended – from there you can make a beautiful detour on a brand new mountain road through the mountains. To do so, follow the R302 from Imi n’Ifri in the direction of the small village of Iouaridene. Tip: the new mountain road is well marked on maps.me, so use this app to navigate your way to Ouzoud. We read before that this road would be impassable in the winter and that a 4WD would be needed, but that was perhaps before the road was renewed. The perfect asphalt road was easily accessible in winter.

Do you want to spend the night at Ouzoud?

We stayed at the friendly Dar Kaltom, highly recommended! The rooms are very large and even have their own seating area. There are also family rooms with several bedrooms available, perfect for families or a group. As it was not busy at all in low season, we were upgraded to one of these family palaces without even asking for it. Dinner and breakfast is served on a beautiful terrace with mountain view. That was a bit cold in the winter however. We were enjoying our breakfast at a temperature of less than 5 C.

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#4 Aït Ben Haddou

This picturesque village has been visited by many film crews and is therefore very popular with visitors. The town is built against a hill, so the best way to see the town is from the top. You visit the town by parking your car on the main road and walking over the bridge or the stones in the water to the other side. From there, you can walk through the streets with street vendors and souvenir shops to the top of the hill. The Atlas Mountains, palmeraie and wide landscape are a beautiful sight. But do you visit the town with a 4WD? Then you can also choose to drive across the river to the other side. So cool!

If you want to see a less well-preserved town after the touristy Aït Ben Haddou? Then just drive a few kilometers to the north to Tamdaght, where you’ll find an old kasbah ruin.

How to get there?

Aït Ben Haddou is located just north of the larger city of Ouarzazate, which can easily be reached by bus from Marrakech. From Ouarzazate you can take a private or shared taxi to the old village, but driving with a rental is of course quicker and easier.

Do you want to spend the night in Aït Ben Haddou?

Then we also recommend you to head a bit further to small village Tamdaght. We stayed there in the beautiful Kasbah du Peintre. As the name suggests, the owner likes to paint and almost every piece of the walls is covered with his paintings. The view from the balconies was beautiful, but the hospitality of the owner and his family are the reason why we think back to our stay at the kasbah with such warm feeling. The night we stayed there, our dinner was accompanied by a warm fire – we were there in the cold January month, so the warmth was really welcome – and live music by the family. After our dinner we were invited to join the family and learned the difference between a Berber and an African drum rhythm. We absolutely loved it!

#5 Todra Gorge

A beautiful mountain hike and an impressive 300 meter deep canyon are the main reasons to visit the Todra Gorge. The best time to visit the gorge is early in the morning, when the tourist buses have not yet arrived and you have the gorge for yourself. Pay particular attention to the water, because the Todra Gorge is also the place where a river originates. If you look closely, you will see lots of air bubbles in the water. That is the place where water comes up from the ground. You will not find any cleaner water around the area than this, so do not forget to fill your water bottle here.

The gorge is not only impressive to walk through, but also a popular place to climb the rocks. There are several rock trails up, so both beginners and advanced can go up the rocks here!

We chose to skip the rocks and enjoy a mountain walk. A clearly visible path rises at the end of the Todra Gorge. This is where the mountain hike of more than 3 hours begins. Though the path is very well visible at the beginning, it will not stay like that. Soon you’ll have to follow the – also quite easy to notice – donkey trail up. But when you start the descent, it will be more difficult to find the path. Tip: the locals have marked the path with stone stacks! The hike is sometimes a bit tough, but the views and atmosphere of the mountains are definitely worth the climb! The hike leads you back to the village at the beginning of the Todra Gorge. At hotel and restaurant Les Jardins de Gorges to be exact, so you can immediately sit down here for a snack or drink.

How do you get here?

Todra Gorge is located near the town of Tenehir, where you can easily travel to by bus, private or shared taxi or private transport. There are also many multi-day tours from Marrakech that shortly visit the Todra Gorge. The gorge can therefore be quite busy in the afternoon with tourist buses who stop here for a few minutes.

Do you want to spend the night at the Todra Gorge?

Several hotels can be found in the small town at the beginning of the gorge. We slept in the hotel and restaurant Les Jardins de Gorges that I mentioned earlier. Not fancy, not luxurious and not even very comfortable, but the location was perfect for the hike and the breakfast was delicious. Also, someone from the hotel – without expecting any payment – walked with us to the gorge to show us the way and tell us about the gorge and the village.

#6 Spend the night in a desert camp

Through endless sand dunes on a camel. A sunset and sunrise that makes you quiet. An overnight stay in a nomad camp in the desert. Yes, a trip to Morocco is not complete without an overnight stay in one of the desert camps! We traveled through Morocco in the winter and experienced how quickly the desert heath can turn into an ice-cold night. There was even a tiny layer of ice on the tents when we got up and the water pipes of the shower were frozen! But don’t worry about the temperature in the sleeping tents. All camps at Erg Chebbi are very luxurious with well-insulated private tents, where large beds with lots of thick blankets will give you a comfortable night. We opted for a desert experience at Erg Chebbi, near the town of Merzouga, but another option is one of the nomad camps at Erg Chigaga in the south.

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How do you get here?

This is not a trip from Marrakech that you make in a single day, as you would want to spend the night in the desert. We advise you to take a few days for your ride to Merzouga, so that you can also visit some of the other beautiful places on this list along the way! Not that much time? Then you can leave early in the morning from Marrakech, so you can head into the desert on your camel that afternoon straight away.

No car? Then the easiest way is to book an organized trip from Marrakech. You will also visit some of the destinations between Marrakech and Merzouga, so you can enjoy the highlights of this region this way as well. Merzouga can also be reached by bus, but please note that the only bus from Merzouga leaves early in the morning and you will not be back from the nomad camp by then. We arrived in Merzouga by bus, but therefore chose to travel to our next destination from Merzouga by private taxi. A rental car would of course our have been much easier.

Dagtrips vanuit Marrakech | Marokko | The Orange Backpack

#7 Telouet and the Kasbah Glaoui

The town of Telouet was not so long ago the hometown of the powerful Moroccan family Glaoui. The traces of this are still visible in the shape of a beautiful castle ruin and make this place worth a visit. We did not know what to expect from the Kasbah Glaoui, so we were not prepared for the beautiful architecture of the palace at all. We walked past the ruins and tried to imagine how impressive the castle must had been a few decades ago. And how quickly the Kasbah had fallen apart since the 1950s!

And then we discovered there was much more than juist a ruin. At one point we arrived at an entrance, where you can actually enter the castle for a small fee. From there the kasbah was much more than just a ruin, as part of the castle is beautifully restored. It is not big at all, but very impressive with the typical Moroccan mosaic, carvings and detailed ceilings. A small window offers a good view of the hilly landscape around the kasbah. If you find the palaces in Marrakech beautiful, but too crowded, a visit to this kasbah is a must. Although it is a lot smaller, the architecture equals that of the splendor in Marrakech.

How do you get there?

Telouet is located on the old trade route from Marrakech to Ouarzazate (the P1506), but this route has been replaced by a faster and better road (the N9). So to get to Telouet, you have to make small detour from the N9. After your visit, you can return to the N9 or continue along the P1506 the popular Aït Ben Haddou to still arrive at Ouarzazate. We have visited Telouet ourselves with a rental car, but read in our travel guide that there is also bus from Marrakech to Telouet. A private or shared taxi from Marrakech or Ouarzazate is also an option.

#8 Ourika Vallei

Just south of Marrakech you will find this valley, a popular weekend trip for many locals from the city. The landscape is beautiful with its snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains in the background. Specifically beautiful is the scenery at the small town of Setti Fatma, where you can hike to seven waterfalls. The town itself is crowded with Moroccan tourists and plastic touristy restaurants – even in the winter months – so skip that part very quickly and hike to the waterfalls. Beware when driving up to the town: do not be fooled by the many men on the road telling you that they manage the last parking space on this road and that you can not drive any further. They only want to get you in their paid parking space. Rely on your navigation to see where the hiking trails to the waterfalls start – maps.me shows this fairly precisely – and park your car at one of the parking places over there.

There are two paths leading up. They both start between the restaurants on the banks of the river, but one leads you quite quickly away into the mountains towards the second waterfall and the other leads you between all sorts of touristy stalls with plastic chairs to the first waterfall
for a while. After the first waterfall, the two routes come together again and a climb to the other waterfalls follows. As the path from here is slightly more difficult than the path up to the first waterfall, you will have fewer other tourists here and you can enjoy the beautiful mountain views without the crowds. Tip: go as early as possible to enjoy the place with as few people as possible. When we came down again at noon, we saw huge groups standing at the first waterfall. Including a music band. For real.

How do you get here?

As Ourika and Setti Fatma are a popular destinations from Marrakech, you will easily find transport in the city. We visited the place with a rental car, so we could add an overnight stay in the Ourika Valley and a to our trip.

Are you looking for a place to sleep?

We stayed at Latifa House, a beautiful riad with swimming pool, terrace and mountain view!

#9 A drive through the Atlas Mountains

We would like to conclude this list with one of our big favourites: rent a car in Marrakech and drive through the Atlas Mountains! We visited a number of places from this list with public transport, but also combined a number them in our road trip. Prepare yourself for spectacular mountain views, endless mountain roads and views of snow-capped peaks!

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