Off the Beaten Path in Morocco

The bustling souks of Marrakech, the leather tanneries of Fez, and the unending sandy dunes of the Sahara: these are the images that come to mind when thinking of Morocco.

However, this adventurous country is full of destinations that are lesser known, but equally worthwhile to visit. While the typical sights of Morocco are a must for your travel itinerary, why not add a little more flavour to your trip by visiting some of Morocco’s hidden gems?


Travel to: Morocco


Hidden-Gem spots in Morocco

El Jadida

  • Location: 90 kilometres south of Casablanca, or about a 1-hour bus ride.
  • What to see and do: Explore the Portuguese fortress of Mazagan.

The coastal city of El Jadida was one of the first settlements of Portuguese explorers on their way to India. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a rich blend of European and Moroccan cultures, as demonstrated in the architecture.

You can still see the clear footprint that Portuguese settlers left behind in the beautiful fortress of Mazagan. Its towering walls stop right at the sea, and provide pristine views of the Atlantic. If you’re brave enough, walk down to the ancient cistern below the fortress, built with beautiful gothic-style arches.

Ifrane

  • Location: In the Middle Atlas mountains, about 45 minutes by bus from Fez.
  • What to see and do: Play in the snow (yes, snow).

Surprised to hear there’s snow in Morocco? This mountain village stands at about 1600 metres above sea level, and while it enjoys beautiful weather in summer, it can quickly turn into a true winter wonderland.

You may forget you’re in Morocco while trekking through the Cedre Gouraud Forest, or sledding down the Michlifen ski hill. But you’ll get a sweet reminder while wandering through the local souk.  

Asilah

  • Location: About 35 kilometres south of Tangier.
  • What to see and do: Enjoy the beautiful beaches and colourful street art.

This whitewashed beach town can be explored in a day, but you’ll be amazed at all the wonders there are to discover in such a small place.

When visiting in spring and fall the town is sleepy, resting from the heavy traffic it gets in summer from Moroccan holiday-goers.

The fortifications and ramparts that guard the city were built by the Portuguese, but the architecture of the houses and the prevalence of Spanish foods in the restaurants shows the influence that Spain had when they ruled this area.

Its yearly art festival gives new life to the walls every year, with colourful and expressive murals.

A man on a cliff in Asilah, Morocco
Experience nature’s power in Asilah, Morocco | © Aziz Acharki/Unsplash

Sources Oum Rabia

  • Location: 3 -hour drive from Fez.
  • What to see and do: Explore the waterfalls and riverside village.

This beautiful river nestled in the harsh, desert landscape is a welcome relief and an interesting spot to explore.

With water gushing down the hills, it’s surprising to find small houses with straw roofs built right on the banks of the river. Take in the sights and relax to the sound of rushing water from your seat inside a local restaurant.

Then, get your hiking boots on to discover Sources Oum Rabia’s main waterfall. Cascading from the jagged red rocks of these harsh hillsides, the water here may seem more like some strange mirage of a desert wanderer than a true river.

Tamri

  • Location: About a 4-hour drive from Marrakesh, or 2 hours from Essaouira.
  • What to See and Do: Get in a great day of surfing.

Arid desert landscapes that could be taken from a John Wayne movie end suddenly at the Atlantic. This provides a stunning contrast between the deep blue of the ocean and the rich reds of the earth.

If you’re a surfer who is looking for consistent waves in a place with fewer surfing enthusiasts, Tamri is the place to go. Even if you’re not a surfer, the untouched beaches here are full of hidden coves and natural arches that are great to explore on a sunny day.

The lush estuary is also home to wildlife like flamingos and camels. A bit more inland, you’ll discover the comical scene of Morocco’s tree goats climbing Argania trees in June to eat the ripened Argan fruit.

The sea in Morocco
Incredible views in Tamri | © Louis Hansel/Unsplash

Lake Bin El Ouidane

  • Location: 3-hour drive from Marrakech or Casablanca, in the Atlas Mountains.
  • What to See and Do: Discover the great outdoors.

Do you jump at any chance to sleep under the stars? Then Lake Bin El Ouidane is the perfect place for you to get outside and enjoy the peace and relaxation that the great outdoors provides.

Sitting at over 800 metres above sea level, the lake is surrounded by mountains tinged with the reddish earth that Morocco is so famous for.

Here on the lake, head out for a day of fishing for Carp, Black Bass, Tench, and Pike. Then later, set up camp and sleep under the stars.

Morocco is a largely unexplored country for tourists, and these are just a few of the many places where you can get off the beaten path in Morocco. Add these destinations to your travel itinerary and you’ll be sure to get the true flavour of the country on your trip.