10 Places in Morocco off beaten path

morocco off beaten path

Morocco is a very popular tourist destination. And if you don’t quite like crowded places just like me, then allow me to introduce to you 10 places in Morocco off beaten path. Places where you can enjoy yourself, and have great peace of mind away from the inflated prices and the tourist traps.

A vaste country like Morocco has many interesting places to visit. And often when you ask people what do they know about it, the same answers seem to always come up. Trendy destinations like Marrakech, Fez and the Sahara desert are always well promoted by Tour companies. But to be honest, these places always seem to have endless waves of crowds, and it can be overwhelming and spoil the travel experience altogether, preventing visitors from spending an enjoyable time.

Morocco off beaten path #1 : Al Hoceima

Al Hoceima is a city on the Mediterranean Coast. Surrounded by The Rif mountains and the Hoceima National Park, this city is perfect for all kinds of travel related activities. Although the city itself is small and lack any urban attractions, the beauty of its natural vicinity is absolutely breathtaking.

Al Hoceima has multiple attractive beaches like Cala Iris, Calabonita, Quemado, Bades and many more. The coastline of the region has what is considered by many, as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. Enjoying a swim in the blue and very clear water and scuba-diving are popular activities to try.

AlHoceima Morocco off beaten path

Al Hoceima Corniche Image Source

If you’re not very fond of beaches, AlHoceima has got your back. A hike in the Hoceima National Park and discovering its wide range of fauna and flora can be a memorable experience. The hiking trails stretch through a variety of rugged terrains and constantly changing landscapes, from green forests to wide reddish lands.

The Park has many rural homes that welcome visitors, and are a perfect way to experience the rural life of Rif People. it is also home to many endangered species that are rarely found elsewhere. The Park can feel a bit remote and isolated but this fact adds to the charm of the place, as it has many unspoiled scenes.

Cala Iris Beach Hoceima Morocco off beaten path

Cala Iris Beach, Hoceima National Park

Morocco off beaten path #2 : Oujda

Oujda is a millennial city and it’s history dates back to many centuries. It is mostly famous for its abundance of Mosques, making it one of the cities with most mosques in the Islamic World. Few foreign visitors come to the city that used to be a main crossroad for commerce back when the Arabs first conquered these lands.

Oujda is mostly relaxed and hassle free, and is well connected by road, by train and recently its airport traffic have improved and many internationals flights are now coming in from Europe.

Main attractions in Oujda and its vicinity include touring the old city and discovering its architecture, Hiking and trekking in the nearby region of Tafoughalet. Or even a day trip to the nearby resort town of Saidia 30 km to the north, home of some of the country’s best beaches.

Oujda Morocco Off beaten path

Overview of Oujda

Morocco off beaten path #3 : Ifrane

Many cities in Morocco are very similar, of course each city has its monuments, its history but still all of them have a large number of things in common. The same can’t be said about Ifrane. Located in the Atlas moutains, this town is the least Moroccan city in the country. Nicknamed as “Moroccan Switzerland”, Ifrane has Swiss and French style architecture, and multiple parks that give the city a calm feel. Ifrane is considered the cleanest city in Morocco.

Ifrane Morocco off beaten path

Ifrane City Image Source

The city wears a white coat in winter as it receives snowy precipitations. The nearby Ski Station of Michlifen is perfect for a fun day trip. There are also many places worth visiting not far from the city, like a mineral water source called Ain Vittel, the beautiful Lake Aoua, The Cedar forest of Azrou and the town of Imouzzer Kander. The region is very rich in stunning natural landscapes with ever changing scenery throughout the seasons.

Ifrane Snow morocco off beaten path

Snowy Winter In Ifrane

Morocco off beaten path #4 : Meknes

Meknes is among Morocco’s many Imperial cities. It was once the kingdom’s capital under the ruler Moulay Ismail. Even though it has a rich history, it is often skipped and overshadowed by the nearby and well renown Fez. It can be a great stop to explore a rich architecture, a less crowded Medina and enjoy a place with absolutely  no scams or hassle. Meknes has lots to offer, you can read all about my weekend in the city.

Meknes Morocco off beaten path

Walls of Old Medina, Meknes

Meknes deserves at least two days to see its essentials. The Medina, its Many decorated gates, Islamic schools and many more interesting sights in this place listed on the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Another interesting trip from Meknes can be to the close Roman Ruins of Volubilis and to Moulay Idriss Zerhoun.

Bab Mansour Morocco off beaten path

Bab Mansour, Meknes

Morocco off beaten path #5 : Ait Bouguemez

In the heart of the Atlas Mountains, near the town of Azilal, is situated the gorgeous region of Ait Bouguemez. Often nicknamed as “The Happy valley”, this area has one of the most stunning views in Morocco. Ait Bouguemez is an unspoiled spot in the country, mainly because of the hard access and bumpy roads.

The valley is overlooked by the second highest summit in Morocco: Mgoun Mountain. These lands still preserve the authenticity of Moroccan berber life, and as you go through the many berber villages, you can see that the people are still maintaining the same life style of their ancestors.

Ait Bouguemez Morocco off beaten path

Mountain view of Ait Bouguemez.

Ait Bouguemez is one of Morocco’s best kept secrets, and few travelers make it here. A landscape where the true face of Morocco can be discovered. The berber people of the Valley are the friendliest and most welcoming. They mainly live in very picturesque Mud Houses reflecting the simplicity and sometimes, the harshness of life in these secluded lands.

Hiking is the main activity in this mountainous region, and mingling with locals is the best thing you can experience along with delicious mint tea and berber cuisine. The area contains many rural houses that can arrange hiking tours. The valley is at its best during the spring and summer seasons, mainly because of the thick snow that covers most of it during winter, starts to melt away. This valley is definitely the place to be for a calm, peaceful and yet adventurous getaway.

Ait Bouguemez Morocco off beaten path

Fields of Ait Bouguemez.

Morocco off beaten path #6 : Bin El Ouidane – Ouzoud

Bin El Ouidane is a huge water dam located South of Beni Mellal and to the North From Azilal. It is surrounded by stunning views combining Mountains, Water and green bushes. The region is a real treat to both the eye and the soul. This is a perfect place for a getaway from the stress of life. Here one can enjoy nature in all its forms. The area contains many hotels ranging from 5 star resorts to medium range accommodations and camping. Bin el Ouidane also has no shortage of activities, from swimming to fishing, kayaking or simply hanging out in the wilderness enjoying the breathtaking beauty.

Bin El Ouidane Morocco off beaten path

View of Bin El Ouidane

Not very far from Bin El Ouidane, exactly 50 km away, are the waterfalls of Ouzoud. Did i say waterfalls ? Yes, i did. Ouzoud are Morocco’s highest and most beautiful waterfalls. As unexpected as it may seem, the country has a wide range of landscapes and it holds many surprises.  A trip to this awesome place is a must if you’re in the Area. It can be visited as a Day trip from Marrakech as many tours operators offer this trip.

Ouzoud is a place to enjoy Waterfalls, Rainbows and another surprise : Monkeys. There is a large group of these funny creatures living near the waterfalls. You can befriend them while eating at the many restaurants in the area. A dip in the water or a boat ride is a must in Ouzoud especially during the summer where locals escape to Ouzoud to freshen up.

Ouzoud Waterfalls Morocco off beaten path

Ouzoud Waterfalls

Morocco off beaten path #7 : Mirleft

The South of Morocco is still mostly new ground to tourists or travelers alike. It has many hidden spots only familiar to local people who enjoy their charm and preserve their authenticity. One of these places is the Town of Mirleft. This cozy town located on the Atlantic ocean, just few kilometers from Tiznit and South from the infamous Agadir, provides to its visitors a calm and friendly atmosphere, beautiful beaches and great food.

Mirleft can be described as a calm town, where you can find people ranging from the few tourists who decide to stop by, to hippie youngsters who fled bustling cities and set up camp near the beach, not to mention the many surf enthusiasts who spend their daytime catching waves at one of the best surf spots in Morocco. The town only started attracting visitors from Northern parts of Morocco in the last few years, but it is definitely one of the highlights of the Atlantic coast of Morocco.

Mirleft morocco off beaten path

Legzira Beach Image Source

Morocco off beaten path #8 : Tinghir

Tinghir is a small city in the High Atlas mountains, located few kilometers from Ouarzazate. This small town is famous for its beautiful palm trees oases. Being located near the Todra and Dades Valleys, Tinghir is a perfect base for visitors fond of hiking and climbing and even rafting. The Valleys have immense Canyons offering some stunning landscapes worthy of visiting.

The region has a variety of Ksours and Kasbas that reflect the unique style of architecture in this part of Morocco. These houses were once home to both native Berber people and an important number of Jewish people, making it a place with rich heritage and a witness of the blend of cultures, languages and religions that lived in harmony together.

Tinghir morocco off beaten path

Morocco off beaten path #9 : Taza

Located in the Rif mountains, Taza is a city worthy of a stop for a few days, to explore it and get to know its history. Considered as an important outpost, on the main trading route in Morocco back in the middle ages, Taza was briefly the capital of Morocco due to its strategic location.

Taza morocco off beaten path

View From Taza, Image by Lotfi42 CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

While in Taza, you can see the Old Medina, with its variety of buildings and markets offering different products, from spices to local crafts. The city is very close to the Tazekka National park. So a day trip full of hiking and trekking can also be an excellent idea. Not to mention the highlight of the Park, which is a huge underground cave. The biggest in North Africa. The Friouato cave can be explored for a day and is a great option for those adventurous spirits looking to try new things.

Friouato morocco off beaten path

Fiouato Cave, Image By Wimmiden CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Morocco off beaten path #10 : El Jadida-Oualidia

El Jadida, Mazagan, Mazagão are all names for this coastal UNESCO World Heritage city. Once a Portuguese stronghold, the city was one of the first Portuguese settlement on the route to India. The Portuguese built a huge fortress in the city to preserve their presence in Morocco. Sights in the city include the Old Portuguese town which is a bit different from Moorish style Medinas, the local markets and the Portuguese Cistern in which you can admire the architecture and take reflection photos, due to the thin layer of water on its floor.

Mazagan morocco off beaten path

El Jadida Fortress, Image By M. Rais CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

El Jadida is also renown for its extensive beaches both in the city and its vicinity. The best ones are City beach, El Haouzia Beach and Sidi Bouzid. Another spot near El Jadida is the small town of Oualidia known for its resorts, beautiful beaches and lagoon. A must do in this small town is trying the local cuisine based mainly on delicious and affordable sea food.

Oualidia morocco off beaten path

Seafood at Oualidia

Do You Know these off the beaten path places ? Are you planning on visiting any of them ? Do you know any other unknown destinations in Morocco ? Share your thoughts.

 

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Imad NOHAD

an employee 8 hours a day and travel obsessive all day. Through this blog, i document my travels and share my experiences with people who love to explore.

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