Marrakech, Quick Desert Tour & Essaouira – 8 Days

This 8-day Morocco tour & itinerary starts in Marrakech and combines culture, adventure and relaxation. Stroll through the souks and hot pots of Marrakech, explore the gorgeous mosques and religious schools, and experience the lively Jemaa el-Fna Square. Travel through the High Atlas Mountains and spend a few days exploring the Moroccan desert, full of fortified villages and ancient caravan routes through hidden oasis, before ending your stay in the seaside town of Essaouira.


  • See dancers, henna artists and acrobats in the animation Jemaa el-Fna

  • Explore the ancient fortified castles and desert oasis that appeared in your favorite movies

  • Enjoy traditional Berber music by the Sahara campfire

  • Relax by the sea in Essaouira, enjoy the sunset and freshly caught seafood

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Days 1-2 Exploring the Red City of Marrakech Marrakech
Day 3 Over the High Atlas to Ouarzazate Ouarzazate
Day 4 Zagora and camping in the Sahara Zagora
Day 5 Zagora to Aït Benhaddou Ait Benhaddou
Day 6 Return to Marrakech Marrakech
Day 7 Marrakech to Essaouira Essaouira
Day 8 Return to Marrakech; Departure

Day 1: Arrival and the Medina of Marrakech

Welcome to Marrakech! Marrakech is nicknamed the “Red City” because of its 1,000-year-old red sandstone walls and buildings, and is a major economic center. Marrakech has Berber roots rather than Arab origins, and was once an important trading capital for the tribes of the Atlas Mountains. Head to the bustling Jemaa al-Fna Square in Marrakech: to the north is the souk (market), to the west is the Koutoubia mosque and gardens, the Kasbah (fortress or fortifications) area has the Saadi dynasty mausoleum and Bahia Palace and Badi Palace are in the south. In the new city, you will find Majorelle Gardens.

To visit the Medina (Old Town) in a unique way, board the calèche (French for the carriage) and start adapting to your surroundings. Please pay attention to fondouks-medieval hotels that provide accommodation and supplies for merchants and travelers. Today, some have been transformed into residences or large shopping areas and studios that you can explore. Find the way to the Koutoubia Mosque and escape the heat in the garden between the fountain and palm trees. Although non-Muslims cannot enter the mosque, its 12th century foundation and minaret are worth seeing.

As night fell, Jemaa el-Fna became active with musicians and storytellers, acrobats and dancers, and even snake charmers. Stroll through rows of food stalls, serving all kinds of food from dinners to juice drinks, dried dates and small snacks. For a bite, or for a more relaxing experience, please look for one of the many cafes above the square and enjoy the food while watching the show below.

Day 2: Marrakech: Palaces & Souks

Join your guide for a half-day tour to explore the exquisite details of Ben Youssef Islamic School and experience the 16th-century architecture. Admire the traditional handicrafts of Morocco: cedar carvings, plaster carvings, arabesques, Islamic calligraphy and colorful zellij (mosaic tiles). Stroll through the old dormitory where 800 students once lived, and visit the prayer hall.

Take time to explore the Dar Di Said Museum (also known as the Moroccan Art Museum) and admire exhibits of clothing, antiques, jewelry, and beautifully carved Spanish Moorish ornaments. Afterwards, enjoy your senses as you explore the complex labyrinth of open-air markets hidden behind ordinary restaurants and shops. Check out Souk el Attarin, Souk Chouari and Souk Smata for various spices, wood products and babouche . Visit the Souk des Teinturiers (dyeers’ open-air market) and see for yourself how leather and cloth are dyed.

Day 3 Over the High Atlas to Ouarzazate

Leaving the busy city, head east to the desert and climb the High Atlas Mountains. See if you can find Mount Toubkal, the highest peak at 13,671 feet (4,167 m) above sea level. Along the way, you will pass many Berber villages-made up of traditional mud brick buildings. Enjoy lunch in Taddert and visit the local argan oil cooperative to learn how local women extract precious oil from argan for use in the health, food and cosmetic industries. Follow the winding road to Tizi n’Tichka pass and stop for a panoramic view.

Continue east to the popular desert center and the filming location of Ouarzazate. Due to the growing popularity of the film industry, you can choose to visit one of the two film studios and imagine how the nearby area appears in many movies. Some popular film works include Gladiator, Black Hawk down Fall, Prometheus, American Sniper, and Game of Thrones. To learn more about the history of the area and the filmmaking process, head to the Musée du Cinema.

Day 4 Zagora and camping in the Sahara

Today you will meet up with your driver and continue east to the small but magnificent city of Zagora. Cross the Tizi n’Tiniffifft mountain pass and cross the Jebel Sarghro mountain range. Along the way, you will pass the busy service center Agdz, and then continue on to the Draa Valley. The Draa River produces fertile soil that can be intensively cultivated. Pay attention to the prolific date palm trees and stop for a road trip snack at one of the many stalls. Continue south along the Dera Valley through dense palm trees until you reach Zagora.

Zagora’s wealth, obtained from the successful cultivation of date trees, is evident in the wide central avenue and the quality of many buildings. Explore Zagora before heading to your accommodation outside the city. You can choose to shift gears and trek into the desert and campsites on a private camel, walking between the dunes parallel to the High Rockies. Enjoy the sunset and dinner, then sit around the campfire and listen to traditional drumming and singing. Go back to your Bedouin tent and sleep under the stars.

Day 5 Zagora to Aït Benhaddou

Wake up early to experience the sunrise in the desert, and then ride a camel to greet you. Stop at nearby Tamegroute. An inconspicuous city on the edge of the desert. Its houses are the same color as sand and are worth exploring. Explore the Islamic library. The library houses nearly 50,000 books from all over the world, and was once considered the richest library in North Africa. For a unique course on pottery, visit one of the oldest family-run pottery workshops to learn why Tamegroute’s pottery is green.

Return to Ouarzazate and drive north to nearby Aït Benhaddou Kasbah. Aït Benhaddou is a UNESCO-protected site and is the most famous castle in Morocco. It once occupied an important position on the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate and the southern desert. After the daytime crowds leave, spend the night in the old town and stroll through the empty alleys. Pay a nominal fee to enter some castles, then climb up to the roof to enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding ksours (personal castles) and the Ouarzazate valley.

Day 6 Return to Marrakech

Before the crowds flood into the old castle, explore the narrow passages and alleys to truly feel the 11th century fortified city. Leaving Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou, back to Marrakech and crossing the High Atlas Mountains and Tizi n’Tichka Pass. As you descend along the northern slopes of the High Atlas Mountains, you will notice dramatic changes in the climate and landscape. After experiencing all the tranquility of the mountains and desert, you will soon come to lively Marrakech.

You may want to enjoy the rest of the afternoon at a slower step. Visit Jemaa el-Fna and have a bite at one of the many food stalls. Take a walk at night, walk a short distance, admire the floodlit Koutoubia Mosque, and then return to your accommodation.

Day 7 Marrakech to Essaouira

After breakfast, head west to the Atlantic coast and the charming seaside town of Essaouira. The route will take you all the way through vast plains and unique Moroccan argan forests. If you’re lucky, you may see goats eating the argan on the tree, a sight to be seen when pastures are limited or unavailable. Along the way, you can choose to stop at an argan oil cooperative to learn how the precious and expensive oil is extracted from the nuts.

Arrive in the quiet coastal town of Essaouira, in stark contrast to the bustling city of Marrakesh, and enjoy the rest of the day you choose. Take a stroll along the Skala de la Kasbah (18th century coastal town wall). Designed by European engineers, antique brass cannons line the walls to provide a view of the Atlantic Ocean. Before you head to the windswept beach, explore the UNESCO-protected city. Fans of Jimi Hendrix may want to take a taxi to Diabate at the end of Essaouira Beach, because he is said to have been there for a while. Return to Essaouira and enjoy a fresh seafood meal.

Day 8 Return to Marrakech

Essaouira is known as the “City of the Wind” because of its powerful trade wind which blows over its crescent beaches and is a popular destination for kitesurfing. Spend a morning watching windsurfers and kiteboarders, or take a more adventurous course, then say goodbye and head back to Marrakech.

Depending on your flight time and details, you may wish to discover the kasbah area south of Jemaa el-Fna square. Visit the tomb of the Saadien dynasty and learn about the 500-year-old craftsmanship in its construction. As you stroll through the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) and the 19th century Bahia Palace, you can visit the gardens below the 17th century El Badi Palace. Visit the only surviving Almoravid monument, the 12th-century Almoravid Koubba, then spend time at the Marrakech Museum in the 19th-century Dar Mnebbi Palace and admire modern and traditional Berber and Moroccan art.



  • include Private tour
  • Daily breakfast Hotel accommodation and all transportation in Marrakech
  • Airport Full transportation with air-conditioning,
  • gas and driver English speaking guide and driver Overnight in Marrakech, zagora, Ouarzazate, Essaouira & Ait Benhaddou
  • Tour Guide in Marrakech
  • including breakfast 
  • Daily including breakfast, free time to explore scenic spots, take photos, etc.
  • Customized and flexible stops


  • Lunch
  • Travel insurance
  • Entrance tickets to monuments
  • Tips

NOTE : At Traveling Morocco Agency we offer Luxury & Standard accommodations Tour from Marrakech to Marrakech via Ouarzazate, zagora, Essaouira, Ait Benhaddou, Sahara Desert & Marrakech .
So please feel free to contact-us

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