Visiting Moulay Idriss Zerhoun In Morocco

by capetocasa

Are you looking for an amazing travel destination in Morocco that offers culture, history, and breathtaking scenery? If so, then you should consider visiting Moulay Idriss Zerhoun in Morocco.

Moulay Idriss Zerhoun is an incredible town located in the foothills of the Rif Mountains and is home to some of the most interesting pilgrimage site in Morocco. Moulay Zerhoun is often considered an overlooked gem in Morocco, but those who do make the effort to visit are truly rewarded.

When visiting Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, you will have the opportunity to explore the many historical and natural cultural sites that are located throughout the town. Also, the fact that non-muslim visitors were not allowed to enter this Moroccan holly town until recently helped to preserve the authenticity and charm of this place.

moulay driss zerhoun medina

Walking around the town you will see many mausoleums and zawiyas, small mosques used as religious schools and many other fascinating and undistorted Moroccan sights.

If you are looking for an amazing travel destination that offers culture, history, and breathtaking scenery, then you should consider visiting Moulay Idriss in Morocco.

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Where is Moulay Idriss located

Moulay Idriss town also known as Moulay Zerhoun is located near Meknes, in the Zerhoun Mountains of Morocco overlooking the ruins of Volubilis a few kilometers away. The town is also about an hour and a half drive from Fes, making it a great day trip option if you are staying in Fes.

How to get to Moulay Idriss Zerhoun

The best way to get to Moulay Idriss Zerhoun is by car. If you are driving from Fes, it will take you about an hour and a half to reach Moulay Idriss and about 45 minutes from Meknes.

There are also buses and taxis that run from Fes and Meknes to Moulay Idriss. They are however infrequent and the journey takes much longer than by car.

You may however find difficulty parking your car in the town as it is very small and the streets are very narrow. It is best to find your hotel and then ask them for recommendations on where to park your car.

Things to do & See in Moulay Idris Zerhoun

Here are some of the best things to see and do in Moulay Idriss Zerhoun:

Stroll around the mausoleum of Moulay Idriss I

Given the name of the town, it should come as no surprise that one of the top things to do in Moulay Idriss Zerhoun is to visit the mausoleum of Moulay Idriss I. Moulay Idriss I was a major Islamic ruler that formed the first Moroccan dynasty known as Idrisid dynasty that ruled most of present-day Morocco from 788 to 974.

moulay idriss zerhoun zawia
mausoleum moulay idriss from the inside

The mausoleum of Moulay Idriss I is the burial site of Idris I and is an important pilgrimage site for Moroccans with many people making the journey each year during Moussem (festival) every August to pay their respects.

Unfortunately, Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the mausoleum, but it is still worth seeing from the outside as it is a beautiful building. I have also added a picture to give you an idea of how the mausoleum looks like from the inside.

Visit the ruins of Volubilis

Volubilis is an excavated Berber-Roman city located just a few kilometers away from the town of Moulay Idriss. It is believed that Volubilis (Oualili) was the first settlement of Idriss I when he fled from Abbasid-controlled territory then he moved on to found Moulay Idriss town in the mountains about 5 km away from Volubilis.

Volubilis morocco
Volubilis mosaic floor morocco

The ruins of Volubilis are incredibly well preserved and are a great example of Roman architecture. Volubilis is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Morocco.

Photograph Idriss Madressa Minaret

Idriss Medersa is a beautiful 17th-century Quranic school (religious school) that is located in Moulay Idriss. The Minaret of the Madressa is absolutely incredible and is one of the best examples of Moroccan-Islamic architecture fusion that you will see. The cylindrical Minaret is coated with green mosaic tiles and decorated with white Islamic Arabic inscriptions.

moulay idriss madrassa menaret
moulay idriss menaret

Idriss Madrassa is one of the important highlights of the town. While you are walking the narrow Medina alleys look up and you will probably see it green Minaret poking out from above the rooftops.

Climb up Mount Zerhoun

For those looking for an amazing view, you can head to the top of Mount Zerhoun. The hike to the top takes around two hours, but it is well worth it for the stunning views of the countryside that you will be rewarded with.

mount zerhoun morocco

If you are not up for the hike, you can also drive to the top of Mount Zerhoun where there is a small café with an outdoor terrace that has incredible views.

Attend Moulay Idriss Moussem

If you are visiting Moulay Idriss Zerhoun in August, then you will have the chance to see Moussem of Moulay Idriss I. This religious festival is held in honor of Moulay Idriss I and sees pilgrims from all over Morocco come to pay their respects. Keep in mind that during this time the accommodation in Moulay Idriss Zerhoun will be fully booked so make sure to book in advance if you want to stay in the town during moussem.

Explore the old Medina

moulay idriss medina alleys

The Medina of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best-preserved Medinas in Morocco. The Medina is small, but with many interesting things to see such as the narrow alleys and corners, zawiyas (small mosques used as religious schools.

moulay zerhoun streets

There are also a number of small shops selling traditional Moroccan souvenirs such as rugs, handmade jewelry, and more.

Immerse in the Moroccan culture

One of the unique things about Moulay Idriss town is that it is one of the few places in Morocco where you can still see a traditional way of life. Many of the residents still wear traditional clothing and live in houses that have been passed down from generation to generation.

moroccan khobz bread sold in the street

As a visitor to Moulay Idriss, you will have the opportunity to see a way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries. It is a truly fascinating experience and one that you will not find in many other places.

Ride a donkey from Moulay Idriss to Volubilis

A fun experience that you can have when visiting the holy town of Moulay Zerhoun is to ride a donkey from the town to the ruins of Volubilis. It is a great way to see the countryside and get a taste of what life was like in the past. The donkey ride takes around 45 minutes and costs around 100 dirhams.

transport donkeys in moulay idriss medina

Unwind in the tradition Hammam (Moroccan bathhouse )

If you want to discover Morocco’s ancient beauty secrets you can take an hour and experience the traditional Moroccan bathhouse (Hammam) located not far from the main square of the town. Moulay Idriss Zerhoun Hammam is one of the oldest and most well-preserved Hammams in Morocco.

Related: How To Enjoy A Moroccan Hammam Experience?

Where to stay in Moulay Idriss

Not until 2015 when non-muslim visitors were allowed to stay overnight in Moulay Idriss, before that the only option was to stay in nearby town of Moulay Ali Cherif.

Nowadays there are a few small family-run guesthouses (Riads) that have opened up in the town offering simple but comfortable accommodation to everyone visiting Moulay Zerhoun.

Kasabah Senhaji

Kasabah Senhaji hotel

Located just a few minutes from the main square, Kasbah Senhaji is one of the best places to stay in Moulay Idriss. The owners of the guesthouse Riad will certainly go out of their way to make sure that you have a comfortable stay.

The breakfast is absolutely delicious with fresh Moroccan pastries made every morning. And you have to try one of their cooked Moroccan taglines for dinner, it is mouthwateringly good!

Dar Zerhoune

riad zerhoun hotel

One of our absoultely favorite places to stay in Moulay Idriss is Dar Zerhoune. The guesthouse is set in a beautiful traditional Moroccan house with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The rooms are beautifully decorated in a Moroccan style and the food is absolutely amazing! The Riad is perfectly placed in the town, just a few minutes walk from the moussem square and the main Medina. The staff will make you feel like part of the family and are always on hand to help with anything you need.

La Colombe Blanche

La Colombe Blanche hotel

This lovely guesthouse is run by a Moroccan family who are extremely welcoming and helpful. The accommodation offers a terrace with a panoramic sunset view. Mohamed the Riad owner is always ready to share his knowledge of the area and help you plan your activities in the city.

Booking.com

Day trips to Moulay Idriss

If you are not looking to spend a night or two in this lush town , there are plenty of organized day trips from Fes or Meknes that you can do. Here are a few we recommend:

From Fes: Meknes, Volubilis & Moulay Idriss Day Trip (Get You Guide)

From Fes: Small-Group Full-Day Meknes, Volubilis and Moulay Idriss Zerhoun Tour (Viator)

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moulay idriss morocco

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