Cities to Visit Outside of Marrakesh

It’s impossible to see every city in Morocco in the span of eight days, but Busabout does a pretty stellar job of visiting many of them on the 8 day Marrakesh and Sahara Tour.

Had I been in Morocco for a month or two, I definitely would have planned stops in Chefchaouen, Casablanca and Essaouira. But, I’ll save those for my next trip.

In the mean time, here are a list of cities, towns and locations, outside of Marrakesh, that are not to be missed:

Gorge Du Dades

Carved over the centuries by the Dades River, the Dades Gorge is well worth the winding and somewhat terrifying drive that it takes to get there.

You feel about the size of an ant walking through a towering dark red eroded volcanic rock hallway, and will walk away with no less than a minor neck-ache from craning to see the narrow blue sky above.

While the hot north African sun is beating down on the roof of the gorge, it is usually quite chilly down at the bottom. I stayed at a hotel right inside the gorge and it was very cold in the night and early morning.


Tinghir & Todra Gorge

The great thing about Tinghir is that it is situated on a large oasis. The city is divided by lush greens and a hydrated system of agriculture right in the middle of a mountainous desert.

The city is old and rich in history. Each building is older than the last, with crumbling architecture out-dating most dwellings on the North American continent.

Tinghir is also the city leading into Todra Gorge; a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains. Todra Gorge is about 40km in length, but narrows to an impressive 33ft wide at the base of Tinghir.

I enjoyed a relaxing late afternoon by the river while the rest of my group went rock climbing on the cliffs above.



Merzouga is known as the gateway to the Sahara Desert, and it’s not hard to see why. It is the final town on the road leading to the desert, and the last chance for water, gas, and anything else you may need to stock up on.

The town is scattered with small, but lavish hotels catering to travellers passing through to experience the beautiful red dunes like Erg Chebbi.

I didn’t spend the night at any of these hotels (I slept in the desert), but I did use one to shower and relax after my adventure.



Ouarzazate is a city of old meets new. The Medina and souks live timelessly in the secluded city, while countless new hotels, studios and film museums are built each year.

The Ouarzazate area is a noted film-making location, with Morocco’s biggest studios inviting many international companies to work here.

I really enjoyed my time in the city, especially hanging out by the refreshing hotel pool.


Kalaat M’Gouna

The Roses Valley isn’t a popular destination to stop, but almost everyone travelling through Morocco drives through it. It is the famous palm tree-lined road.

I was expecting to see roads lined in rose-bushes, as Morocco is so well known for their rose-scented perfumes and products, but it was off-season and there was not a rose in sight.


Ait Benhaddou

Aït Benhaddou is a beautiful fortified city along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. It rises high in the air above its surroundings and provides the perfect look-out location for miles around.

I ended up being sick on my day in the city, so didn’t get a chance to do much walking around, but I was immediately impressed by what I did see.

Have you been to any of these cities?


This Marrakesh & Sahara trip was made possible by Busabout.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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9 Responses to “Cities to Visit Outside of Marrakesh”

  1. kami
    January 14, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    That all looks stunning! I’m heading to Morocco exactly in 2 weeks and so far I haven’t plan anything yet so I have to google these places and hopefully squeeze one or two into my itinerary!

    • Seattle
      January 14, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

      Ooh, how exciting for you! Are you taking a tour or anything? I think it’s totally worth it in Morocco, there’s so much to see and it’s great to have a guide that knows just where to do :]

      • kami
        January 15, 2013 at 3:00 am #

        I was about to go with two friends but it turns out I’ll go on my own. I’m fine with that but I guess I’ll write to couple of CouchSurfing people and ask to show me around – that will be much more exciting and just what you said, it’s better to be with the local person who knows where to go and what to do. If you have any other “must visits” there let me know! 🙂 Thanks!
        kami recently issues

        • Seattle
          January 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

          Sounds like a great plan! The Sahara Desert is definitely my first “must visit” in Morocco. Do a camel trek and spend the night if you can.

          Also, if you get a chance to visit the cities I listed at the top (that I didn’t go to), you’ll have to let me know how they were!

          And hey, I’ll be in Africa at the same time, so I’ll give a wave as I fly over :p

          • kami
            February 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

            so how is Africa treating you this time 🙂 ? it’s my first time here and I love it 😉 I’m currently in Ouarzazate, arrived this afternoon from Merzouga – what an amazing place this was!!
            Anyway, I spent the day in Essaouira and I must say it was a lovely place, such a relaxed getaway from the busy Marrakech. You definitely should include it in your next trip to Morocco!

  2. Ewelina
    February 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    went to all of them, spent over one month in Morocco traveling from Agadir all the way to Dakhla – Morocco so heartbreakingly beautiful, it definitely deserves much more than just one week. BTW Chefchaouen is my favorite place in Morocco, you should spend at least 2 days there.
    Ewelina recently posted..Shitty Christmas

    • Seattle
      February 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      I would love to spend a month in Morocco–next time, and I’ll definitely head to Chefchaouen.

  3. karl
    January 24, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    hello seattle – I am heading to Marrakech in a few days and driving for a few days out of the city where would you recommend?

    Always looking for untouched places away from the tourist traps as I am a guide myself so always looking for an adventure
    thank you

  4. Bridget @ GreenGlobalTravel
    February 20, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    Great article! I’ve also been to a few of these cities- Merzouga was my absolute favorite. Thanks for sharing!

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