Ait-Ben-Haddou is one of those places that just blows you away and it easily ranks as one of the best places I have seen in the world. I’m certainly not writing this to tell you to avoid this amazing and exotic destination.
I instead want to encourage you to consider other options for visiting that will allow you to fully appreciate and enjoy this world class destination. It is absolutely one of the best places to visit in Morocco and deserves a spot on everyone’s itinerary!
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Why You Shouldn’t Day Trip From Marrakech to Ait-Ben-Haddou
A day trip from Marrakech to Ait-Ben-Haddou involves crossing the Atlas Mountains twice, which makes for a rather long and uncomfortable journey of at least 4 hours each way.
You will essentially spend an entire day on a bus just to jump out for a couple of hours in the heat of day, along with many other buses full of tourists!
Luckily for you there are a number of other options to extend your visit; this will allow you not only to avoid the crowds, but also to take advantage of the simply breath-taking sunrises and sunsets at this picture perfect desert fortress.
A day trip from Marrakech to Ait-Ben-Haddou is tempting due to the convenience and beautiful pictures in the brochures. You need to ask yourself however, would you prefer convenience at the risk of disappointment, or a guaranteed once in a lifetime experience?
There are several amazing guest-houses on site with great views of Ait-Ben-Haddou and which also offer an excellent retreat from the relentless bustle of Marrakech. You can bask in the peace of the desert before waking up to surreal views like below! You will find our top picks for accommodation at the bottom of the article.
Check out the following options for some ideas of how you can see Ait-Ben-Haddou without booking a day trip from Marrakech.
4 Alternative Ways to Visit Ait-Ben-Haddou From Marrakech
Option One: Self Drive
This is the option we chose as it allowed us to easily include several other desert stops on our 10-day Morocco itinerary. I’m not going to lie, I had some apprehensions about driving in Marrakech, however we chose a rental place near a main road exiting the city and the drive was far easier than expected. We always use this search tool to book our car rental in Marrakech as it is an easy and hassle-free experience.
Having a car also made crossing the mountains an amazing experience as we were able to stop for photos wherever we wanted. No day trip from Marrakech will offer that kind of flexibility!
If you’re not keen on crossing the mountains twice (like us) then you can drive one way and drop the car off in Ouarzazate.
Ouarzazate actually has an international airport servicing many different countries and housing several rental car companies drop off points.
If you have the time then you can also visit the beautiful dunes of Merzouga, the impressive gorges of Dades or Todra or you can continue on through the desert to Fes or Agadir.
Option Two: Bus
Morocco has a number of private bus companies that offer comfortable and quality journeys all over the country. We found that the easiest one for tourists to access was CTM, however Supratours is also a good option.
You can book either one way or return tickets at the office in Marrakech. This saves you the hassle of renting a car and driving whilst still giving you the choice of how long you wish to spend at Ait-Ben-Haddou. It’s also a significantly cheaper option than a day trip from Marrakech.
The bus will drop you off and pick you up right in the middle of town and it’s only a few minutes’ walk to all of the main guest houses. Both the Supratours and CTM offices are just a 15 minute walk from the northern end of the medina in Marrakech or a short 5min taxi ride.
Enter ‘CTM babdokala’ or ‘Supratours S.A.R.L’. into google maps to locate the respective ticket offices. You unfortunately aren’t able to book tickets in advance online without a Moroccan bank card but if you really want them arranged in advance there are a couple of options.
Many guest houses will book tickets on your behalf if you are spending a few days with them or for an extra fee there are websites that offer the same service. It is honestly quite simple to book them when you arrive however and you can then avoid the premium attached.
Option Three: Fly into Ouarzazate
I honestly didn’t realize this was an option until we were looking for the cheapest airfare back to England and Ouarzazate airport came up!
This city is only about a 20 minute drive from Ait-Ben-Haddou and you should be able to negotiate a fairly cheap taxi fare or a pickup by your accommodation host.
You can get return flights from Marrakech or other cities in Morocco for reasonable prices. Alternatively you can look to start or end your trip here, meaning you only have to cross the mountains once and can spend a couple of days taking it in.
Ouarzazate is also a great jumping off point for explorations further afield into the desert if that takes your fancy. I’ve always found that the best sites to see in countries tend to be outside of the popular cities.
Option Four: Book a tour with an overnight stop
From Marrakech: 2-Day Trek to Ait-Ben-Haddou and Ouarzazate
If tours are your thing or you don’t fancy tackling the Atlas Mountains alone then check out this option. Visiting Ait-Ben-Haddou on a tour doesn’t have to be limited to a day trip from Marrakech, this tour offers an overnight stay in town so you get to enjoy at least one sunset and sunrise.
On this 2-day tour from Marrakech you will also visit two other amazing Kasbahs and experience a little of the Berber way of life. We unfortunately didn’t make it there but the film studio located at Taourirt Kasbah looks especially cool!
The Best Day Trip
Unfortunately holiday time is often limited. If the choice is between a day trip and not seeing this amazing site then you should definitely go ahead and book one.
If you are limited to a day trip to Ait-Ben-Haddou then this is the one you want to book. After pickup from your accommodation in Marrakech you will head into the Atlas Mountains.
There is a stop for admiring the views at the highest mountain pass. After descending the other side you will visit the Atlas Film Studios which have many sets you will recognise from various films and TV shows.
The next stop is for lunch which unfortunately is not included however it is in a great restaurant. The stunning fortress is next on the list. You will have time to walk through the fortress and take in the views before returning to Marrakech.
Where to Stay in Ait-Ben-Haddou
Our top pick is where we stayed while on our epic 10-day adventure through Morocco. This was purely chosen based on its location on google maps which suggested great views of the fortress. As you can see from the photos above we lucked out and had an amazing stay!
The rooms themselves are fairly basic but the views more than make up for anything they might lack. Be aware that there are only a couple of rooms offering the views above. Make sure you select the room with a view.
They have a restaurant onsite which offers a three course menu each night for a fixed and very reasonable price. Breakfast is also included and can be enjoyed on the roof along with the amazing scenery.
If you want a little more luxury or hotels are more your thing then the options below are also in a good location offering views and easy access to the fortress.
This place is almost next-door to Chez Brahim and also has some great views from certain rooms and from the rooftop. They offer a pool to cool down after that solid hike up to the top of the fortress!
As above, a free breakfast is included as well as a great Berber style dining room where you can have dinner.
Whilst not really a traditional hotel in the western sense of the term, this place does offer air-conditioned rooms and private bathrooms. The rooms are still fairly basic but are housed in a really cool looking building with great decorations on the inside.
You can take your meals here and there is a large swimming pool with great views that you could easily spend a day lounging beside!
Planning your trip to Morocco? Check out more of our detailed Morocco guides below!
- 10 Epic Desert Tours from Marrakech
- How to Spend One Perfect Week In Morocco
- The Best 3 Day Tour from Marrakech to Fes
- 18 Best Places to Visit in Morocco
- The Ultimate 10 Day Morocco Itinerary
- Top 10 Things to do in Chefchaouen – The Blue Pearl of Morocco
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