Nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is a lively city bursting with vendors, locals and tourists. One of the great things about staying in Marrakech is the ease of getting to other destinations within Morocco. Marrakech has an abundance of accommodation options and dining choices to suite all budgets making it a great home base for your exploration. It’s easy to stay within the city and venture out to experience more of Morocco each day. But where to go? Below I share our family friendly day trips from Marrakech.
We took two private full-day tours during our visit to Marrakech. The first was to the port city of Essaouira and another was to the Atlas Mountains. I highly recommend both tours, but I would change up the Atlas Mountains trip to see the famous Ouzoud waterfalls.
First time in Marrakech? Read 20 things to know before visiting to be prepared for your visit.
Our day trip to Essaouira was fantastic and would be a great place to spend a few nights if you love the sea. Even in chilly January, there were windsurfers and surfers out enjoying the waves. If you want to shop, we found Essaouira to have slightly better prices than Marrakech with less hassle. The drive from Marrakech took approximately 2.5 hours. It was interesting to see the changing landscapes – rocky flatlands, vineyards, dry plantations and argan trees.
Along the way to Essaouira we stopped to purchase argan oil from a woman’s cooperative learning about the production of argan oil as well as other products. The highlight for the kids was seeing the goats in the argan trees. How do they get up there and not fall out?! Where we stopped for photos, men brought their goats in to stand in the trees and had a baby goat available to pose for photos. There was a small fee, but the goats were treated well. Our driver told us you would naturally see the goats in the trees further from the road, and we did actually spot some in the trees as we drove along.
The beautiful, long beach in Essaouira was a great places for the kids to run. We had lunch at X, gazing out at the Atlantic and dining on tagine. After lunch we saw the old port where fishing boats has finished hauling in the days catch, wandered through the fortress walls that still enclose part of the city, and explored the medina and souks. Essaouira was a nice change from the hustle of Marrakech and gave us a glimpse of traditional Morocco.
The trip was booked through our riad for 160€ or around $200 plus tip (about $50 per person.) The price per person decreased based on the total number of people in the group. The price for only 2 people would have been 130€. The private tour lasted about 9 hours and included the guide and transportation. Our additional fees for the day were a bathroom break, goat photos, lunch and shopping.
Our day trip to the Atlas Mountains included tea at a Berber home, admiring the Kik plateau and valleys of Asni and Ourika, and hiking to see the waterfalls of Ourika. The drive from Marrakech was lovely. Seeing the Berber villages and learning about Berber life from a Berber man was a real treat. We toured a traditional Berber home made of adobe and stone even seeing where everyone slept (the beds looks like a bunch of couches), watched a women make bread by the fire, and enjoyed mint tea, homemade bread and olives on a porch overlooking the valley.
We were even offered tea at the home of our guide after the tour which was the highlight of our trip. It was fascinating to sit in the garden of his family home, drinking tea, eating pastries and learning about his family and their life.
There was an additional cost to hire a guide for the 2 hour hike to see the waterfalls of Ourika. The hike was a bit scary at times and I don’t recommend it with young children. The waterfalls weren’t even impressive. The famous Ouzoud waterfalls are said to be the most striking and are the largest waterfalls in North Africa. We opted for the 3 valley’s tour over the Ouzoud waterfalls tour because friends of ours said it was a precarious hike with kids. Since our hike was already tricky in some areas, we should have opted for the Ouzoud waterfalls.
The trip was again booked through our riad for 160€ or around $200. A small change from our other daytrip, the price for 2 people would have been 120€. The private tour lasted about 9 hours and included the guide and transportation. The English speaking guide to take us to the waterfalls was negotiated down to 280MAD (I think) or around $31.
We also booked a camel ride that took place about a 20 minute drive from the Marrakech Medina. The kids enjoyed riding camels for the first time, but I was a bit disappointed. While I new it was impossible, I had visions of a more desert landscape ride. The camel ride actually took place in a neighborhood, so it wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned. We rode through palm groves making for a nice backdrop for photos even though the camels walked by several luxury homes to get to the small flat area.
The cost was 30€ per person for a group of 4+. The price included transporting and the approximately 1 hour camel ride.
If I was planning the trip again, I would add in a few nights to visit the Sahara Desert. From speaking with our tour guide, we learned you should plan 4 days, 3 nights to make the most out of a trip from Marrakech. He said a minimum of 2 nights should be spent on the trip.
Escape the bustling city of Marrakech to explore more of Morocco. Head to the Atlantic coast to roam the beautiful beaches of Essaouira stopping to see the argan trees and goats along the way. Visit the Altas Mountains and admire the snow covered peaks as you wander a Berber village. Seeing more than the city of Marrakech and speaking to our tour guides gave us a greater understanding of Moroccan and Berber culture. It was a great experience for the kids to see a different way of life, so different from the way we live in the United States and Europe.
Are there other day trips from Marrakech you can recommend?