When the heat of Marrakech gets to be too much, locals tend to head to the Ourika Valley where temperatures are cooler and lunch by the river awaits. Climb up to the Setti Fatma waterfalls to enjoy some of the cooler air (young men and boys may try to guide you, but just insist that you know the way) before finding a rock to perch on and enjoy the views and sounds of the rushing waterfalls.
Located in Toubkal National Park, this is the starting point for trekkers climbing Mount Toubkal. While there is not a lot to see or do in the village itself – with the exception of some roadside cafes and tourist shops – Imlil is a great place to start a short walk up to one of the villages. Grab a local guide to not only show you the way, but to explain more about Berber culture, then head off to one of the many valleys before having lunch with the locals.
This delightful valley feels slightly off the tourist path with its gentle rolling hills dotted with olive trees and the nearby Atlas Mountains towering over in the background. The pace here is slow, with Berber villages dotting the mountainside. On Saturdays, stop at the weekly market in Asni en route, where locals gather from the surrounding villages to purchase everything from fruits and vegetables, meats, household goods, clothing and more.
This whitewashed, laidback town on the Atlantic Coast is a perfect escape when the pace of Marrakech gets too much. Wander through the souks and pick up some Moroccan goodies. Enjoy a coffee on the famous Place Moulay Hassan or the iconic Patisserie Driss. Stroll along the beach as the sun sets, and feast on fresh seafood sold at the bustling fish market as the numerous fishing boats return to shore.
Nestled in the High Atlas Mountains, Ouzoud Waterfalls never fail to impress. Start your walk at the top of the waterfalls, where you can peer over the edge and view the many sources that make up these spectacular falls. Then follow the path down for views of the powerful waterfalls until you reach the basin below, where the scenery is both refreshing and breathtaking. Get even closer to the waterfalls by taking a boat trip around the pool.
Located on the edge of the Sahara Desert, Aït Benhaddou is a fortified kasbah made famous as it provided the set for blockbusters including Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia and many more. Cross the river to wander through the village, where locals are slowly starting to return to their mud-brick homes. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the stunning views of the palm groves and sandcastle-like kasbahs as you climb to the top.
Known as a stone desert, geologically speaking the Agafay Desert just 40 minutes from Marrakech is a must-see. With nothing to see but stones for miles, suddenly the landscape changes to include valleys and oases, palm trees and the High Atlas Mountains the background. A day trip here is a perfect option for those who don’t have time to head to the Sahara Desert.