In Morocco there are many places that are popular among foreign visitors, such as Marrakech, Tangier, Fez or Casablanca; however, the real beauty of Morocco lies beyond its well-trodden paths. Here are 11 lesser-known spots in Morocco that will blow your mind.
Located near Meknes, this alpine-style region is home to many stunning log cabins, colorful flowers, lake-studded parks and, most importantly, white snow with blue sunny skies.
Ifrane National Park covers over 500 square kilometers (123,553 acres) of lakes and greenery, including its famous Atlas cedar. The park is also a habitat for endangered animals such as the Barbary macaque.
Ifrane was also a key location during World War II, having been used as a prisoner-of-war camp. Legend has it that the stone lion in the center of town was carved out of limestone by an Italian or German prisoner in exchange for their freedom, but this story is now heavily disputed. However, snapping a photo with the lion remains a ritual for many travelers.
Sefrou is a small Berber town (an indigenous North African group) about 30 km (19 miles) from Fez, making it an easy day trip. Located on the edge of the Middle Atlas mountains, Sefrou once hosted one of the biggest Jewish communities in Africa. It was also briefly the home of Moulay Idriss II (a leader in ninth-century Morocco) while he oversaw the construction of Fez.
This small town has a medina (a walled, maze-like set of streets) that pre-dates Fez. Here you will come across traditional workers making rare jewelry, artifacts and other amazing goodies. The difference between Fez and Sefrou is that the latter feels untouched by tourism—even today, many travelers are unfamiliar with Sefrou, so strolling through it will definitely be a more relaxing experience than in other cities.
In June every year the town holds its four-day Cherry Festival—the longest-running festival in Morocco. This UNESCO-endorsed festival celebrates the annual cherry harvest with displays from local artists, folk music, parades and the crowning of a Cherry Queen.
Up until 2005, non-Muslims were not able to stay overnight in Moulay Idriss. This town is considered the holiest place in Morocco as Moulay Idriss, the person who brought Islam to Morocco and great-grandson to the Prophet Muhammad, is buried here.
Only Muslims can enter the mausoleum of Moulay Idriss, but there are great views of the site and the surrounding town from nearby rooftop restaurants.
The town is a 45-minute drive from Meknes and has some gorgeous picturesque landscapes, greenery and typical Moroccan narrow streets.
This amazing small beach town is located south of Agadir and has one of the most under-rated beaches in Morocco.
For years Mirleft has been an ideal spot for surfers, along with travelers crossing the Sahara, due to its gorgeous views over the beach, hills and cosy cafés where they can watch the sunset.
Mirleft also has a campsite called Erkounte Park where travelers stay in their caravans or motorhomes or rent one of the onsite bungalows.
Zagora is a small town in South Morocco near the Algerian border.
The town is located between mountains, the best known being Jebel Zagora, which you can hike with a group of friends. Or, if you’re not a sporty type, a walk along the Draa River will be far less strenuous.
The souks and street markets of Zagora offer the most authentic Moroccan ingredients, including spices, dates and dried nuts and fruit.
This small town of roughly 9,000 inhabitants is pretty much unknown among both nationals and internationals, but the picturesque landscapes and rivers make it an oasis within the desert.
Here you’ll find the Souss-Massa National Park, a top spot for bird watchers. The varied landscape, including beaches, dunes and wetlands, attracts all different types of animals, such as flamingos, oryxes and gazelles. You can also ride camels in the Souss-Massa park.
Laayoune is the largest city in Western Sahara, and has been dubbed “the city of sands.”
Occupied by the Spanish during the 1940s, Laayoune is still home to the colonial Spanish cathedral St. Francis of Assisi. The city’s main square is called Place du Mechouar, and Foum el Oued, situated on the Atlantic Ocean, is not to be missed.
Here you will easily find affordable accommodation as well as cheap restaurants with delicious food.
This picturesque little village located between the high Atlas Mountains is the perfect location for a chilled trip. One of the best things to do here is to sit on a rooftop and enjoy a glass of fresh mint tea.
There are many traditional goodies you can buy here such as jewelry, headscarves and Moroccan dresses.
Many climb Toubkal—the tallest mountain in North Africa—from Imlil.
Many people travel to Dakhla for its amazing beaches. Built on a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Coast, Dakhla is an excellent spot for surfers and sun worshippers.
Although Dakhla is isolated from the rest of Morocco, its development is remarkable, with recent investments in infrastructure making vast improvements for both residents and visitors.
Located near Agadir, Tafraoute is one of Morocco’s hidden gems, with few tourists and lots of friendly locals. Tafraoute is home to some excellent food—try amlou, a sweet mixture of almonds, olive oil and argan oil that is served at breakfast along with bread.
The best thing to do in Tafraoute is to get lost in its beautiful landscape, where you will be taken aback by unique rock formations hidden behind the endless green palm trees.
Located north of Rabat, Kenitra’s US Naval Air Facility served as a stopping point during the Cold War.
While visiting Kenitra you can spend a day at Mehdia Beach, just west of the city, watching people surf, ride camels and, of course, sunbathe.
Another amazing spot is the Thamusida Ruines, a river port dating back to the Roman era.
To discover Morocco on your own off-the-beaten-track holiday, check out Intrepid’s range of Moroccan trips here.