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Top Things To Do In Ouarzazate – Morocco’s Little Hollywood


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Alexine Studer



Welcome to Ouarzazate, the mesmerizing city tucked away in the heart of Morocco. Known as the “Little Hollywood” of the country, Ouarzazate is a hidden gem that offers visitors an extraordinary blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Nestled at the foothills of the mighty Atlas Mountains, this enchanting city has been a popular filming location for numerous movies and TV shows, including “Gladiator” and “Game of Thrones.”


Ouarzazate’s rich history dates back centuries, and traces of the past can be found in its magnificent kasbahs, ancient buildings, and traditional Moroccan architecture. The city serves as a gateway to the stunning Sahara Desert, making it a perfect destination for adventurers and nature enthusiasts. From exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aït Benhaddou to soaking in the breathtaking views of the Atlas Mountains, there is no shortage of remarkable experiences awaiting you in Ouarzazate.


This article will guide you through the top things to do in Ouarzazate, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this captivating city. Whether you’re a history buff, an avid photographer, or simply seeking an unforgettable cultural experience, Ouarzazate has something for everyone. So, let’s dive into the enchanting world of Ouarzazate and discover the hidden treasures that lie within.


Explore the Aït Benhaddou

One of the most iconic and well-preserved kasbahs in Morocco, Aït Benhaddou is a must-visit attraction in Ouarzazate. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient fortified city is perched on a hilltop overlooking the lush greenery of the Ounila Valley. As you approach Aït Benhaddou, you’ll be awe-struck by its majestic mud-brick towers and intricately designed buildings that perfectly showcase traditional Moroccan architecture.


As you stroll through the narrow winding alleys of Aït Benhaddou, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The kasbah is home to numerous well-preserved structures, including houses, granaries, and local shops, giving visitors a fascinating glimpse into the rich history and cultural heritage of the region. It’s no wonder that Aït Benhaddou has become a popular filming location for many major Hollywood productions.


Don’t miss the chance to climb to the top of the kasbah, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The picturesque view of the Atlas Mountains and the stunning sunset over the valley make for an unforgettable experience.


Pro tip: If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll be thrilled to know that Aït Benhaddou was used as a filming location for the city of Yunkai in the series. So, channel your inner Khaleesi as you explore the intricate details of this fascinating kasbah.


Aït Benhaddou offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Morocco, making it a must-visit destination in Ouarzazate. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate architectural marvels, exploring the Aït Benhaddou is an experience that should not be missed.


Visit the Atlas Film Studios

As the nickname “Little Hollywood” suggests, a visit to Ouarzazate would not be complete without exploring the famous Atlas Film Studios. These studios have played a significant role in the Moroccan film industry and have been the backdrop for countless renowned movies and TV shows.


Walking through the Atlas Film Studios is like entering a magical world where reality and imagination blend seamlessly. You’ll have the opportunity to step onto the sets of beloved films such as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Mummy,” and “Prince of Persia.” The studios offer fascinating guided tours, where you can learn about the behind-the-scenes secrets of these productions and get a glimpse of the intricate props and sets used in famous scenes.


But the Atlas Film Studios are not just about movie magic. They also serve as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and artistic prowess of Morocco. The studios feature replicas of historic Moroccan cities, palaces, and villages, showcasing the country’s diverse architectural styles and artistry. You can wander through the streets of a traditional medina or admire the grandeur of a royal palace, all within the confines of the studios.


For film enthusiasts and curious travelers alike, a visit to the Atlas Film Studios offers a unique blend of entertainment and cultural immersion. Whether you’re a fan of classic cinema or simply appreciate the artistry behind filmmaking, exploring the studios is a fascinating experience that allows you to see Morocco through the lens of Hollywood.


Pro tip: If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of ongoing film productions during your visit. The studios are still actively used for both national and international movie projects, adding an extra touch of excitement to your visit.


So, take a behind-the-scenes journey into the world of cinema and visit the Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate. Get ready to be captivated by the magic that unfolds within these walls and learn firsthand about the fascinating art of filmmaking.


Discover the Taourirt Kasbah

No visit to Ouarzazate is complete without exploring the captivating Taourirt Kasbah. Located in the heart of the city, this remarkable architectural masterpiece takes you on a journey back in time, showcasing the traditional Moroccan lifestyle and rich history of the region.


The Taourirt Kasbah was once the residence of the Glaoui family, one of Morocco’s most powerful and influential families during the 19th and 20th centuries. This sprawling fortress reflects the wealth and status of the Glaoui rulers, with its grand entrance, beautiful courtyards, intricate carvings, and stunning interior decorations.


As you wander through the labyrinthine corridors of the kasbah, you’ll discover a maze of rooms, including lavish reception halls, private quarters, and traditional Moroccan hammams. The intricate details, such as ornate arches, hand-painted ceilings, and colorful tiles, are a testament to the skilled craftsmanship of Moroccan artisans.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the on-site museum, which provides fascinating insights into the history of the kasbah and the Glaoui dynasty. You’ll have the chance to see artifacts, historical photographs, and traditional Moroccan costumes, further immersing yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the region.


One of the highlights of the Taourirt Kasbah is the stunning panoramic view from the rooftop terrace. Bask in the breathtaking vistas of the surrounding cityscape and the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains in the distance. It’s the perfect spot to capture memorable photos and appreciate the beauty of Ouarzazate.


Pro tip: For a more immersive experience, consider joining a guided tour of the kasbah. Knowledgeable guides can provide you with fascinating historical anecdotes and hidden gems that you may have otherwise overlooked.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Morocco, a visit to the Taourirt Kasbah is a must. Explore this architectural gem, soak in its rich history, and be transported to a bygone era in the heart of Ouarzazate.


Take a trip to the Draa Valley

A journey to Ouarzazate wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the breathtaking Draa Valley. Located on the ancient caravan route between the Sahara Desert and Marrakech, the Draa Valley is a hidden oasis of palm groves, lush greenery, and picturesque villages.


Embarking on a scenic drive through the Draa Valley is an immersive experience that allows you to witness the natural beauty and tranquility of Morocco’s countryside. As you meander along the winding road, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking vistas of date palm plantations, mud-brick villages, and the majestic Atlas Mountains in the distance. It’s a mesmerizing blend of colors and textures that will leave you in awe.


The Draa Valley is known for its charming traditional Kasbahs that dot the landscape. These ancient fortified buildings served as residences and defense fortresses for local communities. Many of them have been beautifully preserved and can be explored, providing a glimpse into the rich history and architectural heritage of the region.


For a truly authentic experience, consider spending a night in one of the traditional guesthouses or riads in the Draa Valley. Immerse yourself in the local culture, savor delicious Moroccan cuisine, and enjoy the warm hospitality of the local inhabitants. It’s a chance to disconnect from the bustle of city life and embrace the serenity and tranquility of the countryside.


Pro tip: Visit the Draa Valley during the spring when the date palms are in full bloom, painting the landscape with vibrant shades of green. You’ll be treated to a visual feast and a truly refreshing experience.


Whether you choose to explore the Draa Valley on a day trip or opt for a more immersive experience, this enchanting oasis is sure to leave a lasting impression. Soak in the beauty of the palm groves, visit the ancient kasbahs, and connect with the serene nature of the Draa Valley.


Experience the magical Ouarzazate Solar Power Station

Ouarzazate is not only a place of awe-inspiring natural beauty and rich history but also an innovation hub for renewable energy. One of the most remarkable attractions in the city is the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station, a groundbreaking project that harnesses the power of the sun to generate clean and sustainable electricity.


Spanning over thousands of acres, the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station is one of the largest solar power plants in the world. It consists of several separate facilities, including Noor I, Noor II, and Noor III, each utilizing different solar technologies to capture the abundant sunlight that graces the region.


Visiting the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station provides a unique opportunity to witness the incredible engineering and ingenuity behind this renewable energy project. The sight of rows upon rows of glistening solar panels, gleaming under the Moroccan sun, is truly a sight to behold.


As part of the visitor experience, you can take guided tours that provide insight into the inner workings of the power station. Learn about the innovative solar technologies employed and the environmental benefits of solar energy. It’s an educational experience that highlights Morocco’s commitment to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.


Aside from its environmental significance, the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station also offers stunning panoramic views. Stand on the observation decks and marvel at the vastness of the solar field, framed by the majestic Atlas Mountains. It’s a sight that underscores the power and majesty of nature, contrasted with the innovative steps taken to harness its energy.


Pro tip: Plan your visit during sunrise or sunset for a truly magical experience. The play of light and shadows against the solar panels creates a breathtaking spectacle that words cannot do justice. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture these unforgettable moments.


Visiting the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station not only educates and inspires but also highlights the important role Morocco plays in the global transition to renewable energy. It is an experience that showcases the harmonious coexistence of nature, technology, and sustainability.


Admire the Beauty of the Atlas Mountains

When visiting Ouarzazate, one cannot help but be captivated by the majestic beauty of the Atlas Mountains. This towering mountain range serves as a breathtaking backdrop to the city, offering visitors a stunning natural landscape that is both awe-inspiring and serene.


The Atlas Mountains are divided into three main ranges: the High Atlas, Middle Atlas, and Anti-Atlas. The High Atlas, which stretches across Morocco, boasts peaks that reach over 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) in elevation. The jagged cliffs, deep valleys, and snow-capped peaks create a dramatic and picturesque setting.


For outdoor enthusiasts, the Atlas Mountains offer a plethora of activities and adventures. Hiking enthusiasts can embark on challenging treks, exploring hidden trails that wind through the mountains. Marvel at the panoramic views, observe the rich flora and fauna, and immerse yourself in the serenity of nature.


One of the most popular destinations in the Atlas Mountains near Ouarzazate is the Toubkal National Park. Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, is a magnet for avid climbers and mountaineers. Ascend to its summit and be rewarded with sweeping vistas that extend far beyond the mountain range.


For a more leisurely experience, take a scenic drive along the winding roads that traverse the Atlas Mountains. The journey will take you through charming Berber villages, where you can learn about their unique way of life and perhaps even indulge in traditional Berber cuisine.


Pro tip: If you visit during the winter months, consider taking a day trip to nearby ski resorts such as Oukaimeden or Michlifen. Enjoy exhilarating ski runs amidst stunning alpine scenery, and warm up with a cup of traditional Moroccan mint tea at the lodge.


Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or simply someone who appreciates breathtaking landscapes, the Atlas Mountains near Ouarzazate offer an experience like no other. Soak in the tranquility, relish in the untouched beauty, and let the magnificence of the mountains leave an indelible mark on your soul.


Explore the Skoura Oasis

Immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of the Skoura Oasis, a lush palm grove located just outside of Ouarzazate. Known as the “Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs,” this verdant oasis is a true haven of tranquility and natural splendor.


With its abundant palm trees, fragrant orange groves, and flourishing gardens, the Skoura Oasis offers a serene escape from the bustling city. As you wander through the labyrinthine paths, you’ll encounter a symphony of colors and fragrances, with vibrant blooms and the sweet scent of blossoming flowers filling the air.


One of the highlights of the Skoura Oasis is the remarkable collection of Kasbahs that dot the landscape. These ancient fortified dwellings, built with adobe bricks, stand as a testament to the rich history and architectural heritage of the region. Explore the labyrinthine corridors, marvel at the intricately designed structures, and imagine the stories that these ancient buildings hold.


Skoura is also known for its traditional irrigation system, which utilizes a network of channels and wells to distribute water and sustain the lush greenery. As you stroll through the oasis, you’ll witness this intricate system at work, an impressive feat of engineering that has supported the agricultural livelihood of the local communities for centuries.


For a unique experience, consider spending a night in one of the traditional guesthouses or Kasbahs in Skoura. Immerse yourself in Berber hospitality, sample delicious Moroccan cuisine, and indulge in the serenity of the oasis under a blanket of stars.


Pro tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Amridil Kasbah, one of the most well-preserved Kasbahs in Skoura. Dating back to the 17th century, this architectural gem gives visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the prominent Glaoui family and offers panoramic views of the surrounding oasis.


Exploring the Skoura Oasis is a soul-soothing experience that allows you to reconnect with nature, history, and the traditional way of life in Morocco. So, take a leisurely stroll amidst the palm groves, breathe in the fresh air, and let the tranquility of the oasis rejuvenate your senses.


Visit the Fint Oasis

Hidden away in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, the Fint Oasis is a hidden gem that offers visitors a serene and captivating experience. With its lush greenery, glistening river, and picturesque surroundings, this oasis is a breath of fresh air and a true sanctuary of tranquility.


Nestled within a deep gorge, the Fint Oasis is often referred to as an “oasis within an oasis”. As you enter the oasis, you’ll be greeted by the sight of flourishing palm trees, vibrant gardens, and traditional Berber villages that seem untouched by time.


One of the highlights of visiting the Fint Oasis is exploring the traditional Berber villages. Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow alleyways and interact with the friendly locals, who have preserved their traditional way of life for centuries. Admire the unique architecture of the mud-brick houses, adorned with intricate carvings and vibrant colors.


The Fint Oasis is also home to a mesmerizing river, which flows through the gorge, adding to the serene ambience of the area. Take a relaxing walk along the riverbanks, dip your feet in the cool waters, or simply find a peaceful spot to sit and contemplate the natural beauty that surrounds you.


For a more adventurous experience, consider embarking on a guided hike or camel ride through the rugged terrain surrounding the oasis. As you venture deeper into the mountains, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views, hidden waterfalls, and a sense of exhilaration and connection with nature.


Pro tip: Visit the Fint Oasis during sunset for a truly magical experience. The golden hues of the fading sunlight, combined with the picturesque landscapes, create a captivating scene that will leave you in awe.


The Fint Oasis offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to reconnect with nature, immerse yourself in Berber culture, and find a sense of peace and serenity. So, venture off the beaten path and discover the hidden beauty of the Fint Oasis in Ouarzazate.


Discover the Charm of the Ksar of Tamnougalt

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the charm of the Ksar of Tamnougalt, a fortified village located near Ouarzazate. This historic site provides a fascinating glimpse into the traditional way of life in Morocco, with its well-preserved architecture and rich cultural heritage.


The Ksar of Tamnougalt dates back to the 16th century and was once a thriving trading post along the ancient caravan route. As you enter the village, you’ll be greeted by a maze of narrow alleys, tall mud-brick walls, and ornate doorways. The intricate designs and carvings on the buildings reflect the skill and craftsmanship of Moroccan artisans of yesteryears.


Wandering through the Ksar, you’ll encounter traditional dwellings, communal areas, and communal granaries. Take a moment to explore the interior of some of the houses, where you’ll find beautifully decorated rooms, inner courtyards, and rooftop terraces offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.


The Ksar of Tamnougalt is not just a historic site; it is also a living village where locals continue to reside. As you navigate the narrow streets, you may come across friendly villagers going about their daily routines. Engage in conversation, learn about their way of life, and perhaps even have a cup of mint tea with the locals.


For a deeper understanding of the history and significance of the Ksar, consider hiring a local guide who can share stories and anecdotes about the village’s past. They can offer insights into the importance of the caravan trade, the traditional Berber culture, and the architectural marvels that make the Ksar of Tamnougalt a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Pro tip: Visit during the annual Festival of Traditional Music and Dance held in Tamnougalt. This vibrant celebration showcases the rich cultural heritage of the region and offers visitors a chance to witness traditional performances and festivities.


Discovering the Ksar of Tamnougalt is like stepping into a living museum, where every building tells a story and every corner reveals a piece of Morocco’s intricate past. Explore its narrow alleys, interact with the locals, and let the ancient atmosphere transport you to a bygone era.


Enjoy a Traditional Moroccan Meal

No visit to Ouarzazate would be complete without indulging in a traditional Moroccan meal. Known for its flavorful spices, aromatic herbs, and rich culinary traditions, Moroccan cuisine is a feast for the senses that will leave you craving for more.


Head to one of the local restaurants or riads in Ouarzazate to savor the authentic flavors of Morocco. Start your meal with a bowl of steaming harira soup, a hearty tomato-based soup filled with lentils, chickpeas, and aromatic herbs. Let the flavors warm your soul as you prepare for the delightful culinary journey ahead.


For your main course, treat yourself to a fragrant tagine. These slow-cooked stews are named after the traditional earthenware pot in which they are cooked. Choose from a variety of tagine options, such as tender lamb with prunes, aromatic chicken with preserved lemons, or a flavorful vegetable tagine. Each bite is a burst of complex flavors that will transport you straight to the heart of Moroccan cuisine.


Be sure to accompany your meal with a side of fluffy couscous, a staple of Moroccan cuisine. This semolina-based dish is typically served with a variety of vegetables, tender meat, and a flavorful sauce. The light and delicate texture of couscous perfectly complements the rich and bold flavors of the tagine.


To round off your meal, indulge your sweet tooth with a selection of Moroccan pastries or a plate of fresh seasonal fruits. From the sticky-sweet honey-soaked pastilla to the crispy fried chebakia, each pastry offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors to satisfy your cravings.


Pro tip: Complete your Moroccan dining experience with a cup of traditional mint tea. Served in ornate teapots and poured from a height, this sweet and refreshing tea is a symbol of Moroccan hospitality. Allow the fragrant aroma of mint and the delicate sweetness to tantalize your taste buds.


A traditional Moroccan meal is not just about the food; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and warm hospitality of the country. It’s a time to savor the flavors, share stories, and connect with friends and family around a table filled with delicious dishes.


So, prepare your taste buds for a culinary adventure and let the traditional Moroccan cuisine in Ouarzazate take you on a remarkable journey of flavors and sensory delights you’ll never forget.