Top Things To Do & See In Ouarzazate Morocco

by capetocasa

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Morocco, Ouarzazate is a great option. This small town in Morocco offers plenty of things to do, from exploring the surrounding Sahara desert landscapes to checking out its awe-inspiring fortresses and historical landmarks.

From my personal experience I highly recommend adding Ouarzazate to your Morocco itinerary.

The first time I visited Ouarzazate in 2016, I was absolutely blown away by its natural beauty. Ouarzazate is located in a stunning setting at the edge of the Atlas Mountains offering visitors incredible mountain and lush views.

The city is usually referred to as the gateway to the Sahara Desert, as it’s located just a few hours drive from Morocco’s famous Sahara Destination Erg Chebbi.

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Top Things to do & See in Ouarzazate, Morocco

Watch the Sunrise at Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah

Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah is where Khaleesi from Games of Thrones tasted a cup of Moroccan mint tea. A scene in Season 3 of the popular HBO series was shot in this fascinating Kasbah.

Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah

This ancient Kasbah in Ouarzazate is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most well preserved old structures in Morocco. This picturesque place was used to film many other international movies such as Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and many more.

You can get to Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah from the center of Ouarzazate in a big beige taxi called “Grand Taxi”. The price is around 200 Dirhams (Approx $20) roundtrip.

ouarzazate morocco Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah
Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah

The taxi driver will take you to the village and wait for you for a few hours to visit the Kasbah and the surroundings, then take you back to the taxi station in the city. The payment is done when you get back to Ouarzazate.

The best time to visit Ait Ben Haddou is sunrise time. No words can describe the views.

Visit Telouet Kasbah

Telouet Kasbah is another fascinating ancient structure to visit in Ouarzazate. Located about 45 minutes away from the city, in a small Berber village of Télouet. The location is reachable using a taxi from the city.

Telouet Kasbah recently became one of the historical buildings in Ouarzazate to attract local and international tourism interest.

ouarzazate morocco Telouet Kasbah
Telouet Kasbah

This amazing attraction in Morocco was once home to the El Glaoui family, a wealthy Moroccan family. Back in the time, Telouet was located in a strategic location, a busy passage of merchant caravans, and the proximity of salt mines which contributed to the excessive wealth of its owners, El Glaoui family.

Telouet Kasbah is now open to the public and can be visited at low entry fees, from 10 to 20 Dirhams (Approx $1 to $2).

Take a tour of one of Ouarzazate’s Movie Studios

Morocco, notably Ouarzazate has long been a favorite location for many international movie producers. The interesting thing about Ouarzazate is being a home for two film studios Atlas Studios, and CLA Studios where many international movies were produced.

ouarzazate morocco Atlas Movie Studio
Atlas Movie Studio

Visiting both Studios isn’t really a must unless you are a movie buff. If you can go to only one of them, choose CLA Studios. It’s much bigger and has more interesting things to see than the other studio.

Like most famous attractions in Ourazazate, the movie studio is located outside the city center and you will need a ride to get there. The entrance fee is 80 Dirhams (Approx $8).

Spend a night in the Saraha Desert

Most travelers who come to Ouarzazate are drawn to the city because of its proximity to the Sahara Desert. Erg Chebbi is one of the most popular places to visit in Morocco and it’s located just a 5 hours hours drive from Ouarzazate.

ouarzazate morocco sahara desert
Luxury Desert Camp in Merzouga| Credit: Bella from Passport & Pixels

Five hours isn’t really a short time to go and drive back in one day, but it’s definitely doable if you want to get a taste of the Sahara. But I recommend staying the night in a Sahara desert camp or hotel.

ouarzazate morocco sahara desert

On our trip to Ouarzazate, we decided that a day trip isn’t enough to experience the Sahara Desert, so we booked a Sahara desert tour that includes staying a night desert camp in Erg Chebbi. It was the best decision ever!

And I have to say, the Sahara Desert is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. The sea of sand dunes is simply incredible and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Spend an Afternoon in Fint Oasis

Fint Oasis in Ouarzazate is a great place to have lunch or an evening break. There are palm trees everywhere, water streams, and mountains. You can relax and chill under the trees or walk around the oasis to see a glimpse of the wandering Mountain-Berber lifestyle in Morocco.

Fint Oasis morocco ouarzazate
Fint Oasis

Fint Oasis is located approximately an hour outside the city of Ouarzazate. The ideal scenario is to stop by this place for a few hours before heading to Ouarzazate and if you feel like spending more time there, you can spend the night.

If you decide to spend a night in Fint Oasis, La Terrasse Des Delices is a great place to stay for an authentic experience. They also have a restaurant if you just want to stay for lunch.

In case you are driving to Fint Oasis, be careful. The roads are tricky and it can be dangerous to drive down to the Oasis.

Stay in Temple Des Arts Hotel

Morocco is known for its majestic accommodation options and Ouarzazate is no different. In Ouarzazate though, you’ll find one of a kind accommodation options that will make your stay even more memorable. Luxury hotels that have been decorated and inspired from classic movie sets.

Temple Des Arts Hotel_Booking.com

The hotel Temple Des Arts is one of these unique hotels and it’s absolutely stunning. Once you step in, you immediatly feel like you’re transported back in time to an Egyptian palace.

Kasbah Deluxe OZ Palace

Another beautiful hotel in Ouarzazate is Kasbah Deluxe OZ Palace. A great place to feel like a king in its majestic suite. Everything about this hotel is luxury but in a Moroccan way, the rooms, the amenities and the service. If you are up to for a Moroccan luxury experience try OZ Palaze.

Walk the narrow streets of Ouarzazate Medina

Wandering around the narrow streets of Ouarzazate’s old medina is one of the best things to do in the city. The streets are lined with mud-brick buildings with beautiful Moroccan doors.

ouarzazate morocco old medina
A random street in Ouarzazate Medina

The Medina of Ouarzazate is unlike any other I’ve visited in Morocco. It’s totally different from the more popular and touristed cities like Marrakech and Fez. Exploring the Medina will literally transport you back in time.

Best Time to Visit Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate is a living oasis lost in the dry desert in Morocco. Therefore, the weather can be unbearable in the summertime, especially in June and July, featuring up to 40 degrees. Since visiting Ouarzazate will be mostly about sightseeing and outdoor activities, peak summer isn’t the best time to visit. 

ouarzazate morocco best time to visit

Winter on the other hand can be harshly cold, reaching below zero between December and February, due to the proximity to the high Atlas Mountains. To benefit from a convenient climate, one should visit Ouarzazate between April and May or September and October.

During this time, the temperature varies between 13C to 19C. However, September and October can have some rainy days.     

How many days to spend in Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate is a small city with a few iconic sites that can be covered in two days easily. However, adding an extra day to explore the desert is highly recommended.

Where to Stay in Ouarzazate, Morocco

I’ve listed three accommodation options in Ouarzazate: Budget-friendly, Mid-range, and Luxury.

Budget-Friendly Accommodation in Ouarzazate

La Baraka Auberge

La Baraka Auberge is located just 400 meters from Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, this hotel is a well-rated accommodation for budget travelers, and backpackers. The hotel has a restaurant, free private parking, a shared lounge, and a terrace.

Ksar Ljanoub Hotel

is another affordable option in Ouarzazate. The 2-star hotel offers accommodation with a shared lounge and a restaurant.

Mid-Range Accommodation in Ouarzazate

If you want to enjoy a Moroccan authentic stay but still you don’t want to break your bank accounts, I’ve listed a few hotels that can provide that.

Ksar Lamane Ait Ben Haddou Hotel

Ksar Lamane Ait Ben Haddou is one of these options. It’s a 3-star hotel located just 5 kilometers from Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah. The hotel provides private bathrooms equipped with all the necessary toiletries and providing a pool view. Ksar Lamane Ait Ben Haddou has incredibly friendly and helpful staff.

Le Petit Riad Maison d’hôtes

Le Petit Riad Maison d’hôtes is a Berber-style Riad with a beautiful central fountain. The Riad is located just 1.3 kilometers from Ouarzazate Airport. Le Petit Riad Maison d’hôtes has an outdoor swimming pool. The hotel has great service, spacious rooms, and by all accounts, a fantastic breakfast.

Luxury Accommodation in Ouarzazate

If you prefer luxury hotels, here are some of our favorite hotels to stay in.

Le Temple Des Arts

Le Temple Des Arts hotel is located in the heart of Ouarzazate, the luxurious 5-star hotel offers fascinating themed rooms and suites, each with a unique film-inspired design.

The hotel’s rooms are decorated with unique features, such as hand-painted walls, fireplaces, Buddha statues, and marble bathrooms. Some of them are with huge balconies overlooking the garden or swimming pool.

Kasbah Dar Daif Hotel

is another luxury hotel in Ouarzazate. Similar to Le Temple Des Arts, Dar Daif’s rooms are individually designed in a traditional Moroccan way. Most of them have views of the Atlas Mountains and the lake. Kasbah Dar Daif offers an acclaimed restaurant with local specialties, a fire-heated hammam, hiking tours, and many more.

Berbère Palace Hotel

provides world-class service and celebrity treatment. Well placed in Ouarzazate town center, Berbère Palace has 4 different restaurants serving dishes from around the world.

How to get around Ouarzazate, Morocco

It is possible to rent a car in Ouarzazate. However, a 4X4 is recommended if you are planning to go on a desert trip. In the city, buses and taxis are easily found. To avoid walking long distances in the heat you can use the red taxis (Small Taxi)

ouarzazate morocco how to get around
Ouarzazate city | Credit: Luiz Barucke, Flickr

Ouarzazate Airport is located just a few kilometers away from the city center. To get to the hotel you can take shuttle buses to the city center then work your way to the hotel using a small taxi. You can take a taxi directly from the airport to your hotel.

You may want to check with your hotel, if they offer hotel transfers. There is no harm in paying extra for comfort unless it’s free.

Ourazazate Public Transport Average prices:

  • The small red taxis (Petit Taxi) are used within the city only and they are very cheap. 5 Dirhams a person during the day and 7 Dirhams at night
  • Taxis to and from the airport usually cost 50 Dirhams a person
  • The beige Mercedes (Grand taxi) are used between cities. The price depends on the destination but bargaining is A MUST. You could pay 200 Dirhams or less to Ait Benhaddou and back, including to surrounding Kasbahs.

Day Trips from Ouarzazate, Morocco

Merzouga Two Days Trip

Merzouga is a small town in the Sahara desert. The town is very close to the Algerian border and it’s the entrance to the Erg Chebbi Desert sand dunes. Merzouga is famous among tourists for camel treks into the dunes, and night camping trips under the stars in the Sahara.

Merzouga is about 300 kilometers from Ouarzazate (About 5 hours drive).

Kelaat Mgouna Day Trip

Kelaat Mgouna is a small city in Tinghir Province, known for its Rose Festival that takes place every year around May or June. Kelaat Mgouna is a 2 hour’s drive from Ouarzazate and  it’s the perfect day trip if you’re looking to escape Ouarzazate city for a bit.

The Rose Festival is an annual event in Morocco that celebrates the start of the rose harvesting season. Kelaat Mgouna is known as the “Valley of a Thousand Roses” and during the festival, the streets are lined with rose petals.

Kelaat Mgouna town

It’s a truly magical event and it’s definitely worth planning your trip to Ouarzazate around the festival.

If you’re not able to make it for the festival, Kelaat Mgouna is still a beautiful place to visit. The city is surrounded by mountains and it’s the perfect place to go for a hike or explore the nearby waterfalls.

Dades Gorges Day Trip

The Dades river has carved out an incredible canyon over the years and the result is a breathtaking landscape of towering cliffs and verdant valleys. Take a drive through the picturesque rocky mountain formations and the stunning tight roads to reach the top of the gorge where the real surprise is. 

morocco ouarzazate dades gorge
Dades Gorge

The Dades Gorge is one of the most popular day trips from Ouarzazate and it’s easy to see why. The drive through the gorge is absolutely adventurous and it’s definitely a road trip you won’t forget.

At the top of the gorge, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the valley below. It’s the perfect place to take some photos and just take in the incredible scenery.

It’s good to know that the mentioned days trips from Ouarzazate can be done all together by booking a 3-day private tour from Ouarzazate. This way you will get to visit all the destinations including the ones only locals know about.

How to get to Ouarzazate, Morocco

Ouarzazate is located in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and it’s about a 4 hour drive from Marrakech. The best way to get to Ouarzazate is by car. The drive is relatively easy and the scenery is beautiful.

There are also a few flights that go from Marrakech to Ouarzazate with Royal Air Maroc, but they’re usually more expensive than just renting a car and driving.

how to get to ouarzazate morocco

Another great way of getting to Ouarzazate is with an arranged tour from Marrakech. This is a great option if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of renting a car and driving yourself.

The tours will usually include Ouarzazate among other stops like Ait Benhaddou, Dades Gorge, and the Sahara Desert.

Buses also go from Marrakech to Ouarzazate (CTM). While it the best budget option, the journey is long (around 6 hours) and may not be as fun as driving or taking a tour.

Conclusion

Ouarzazate is more than a tongue twister. It’s a magical city that neither words nor pictures can do justice to. This city has been around for ages and endured the tough desert storms until the current day.

Thanks for following along on our journey through this amazing country!

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ouarzazate morocco what to do

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