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Morocco’s Hidden Gems: 10 Breathtaking Places off the Beaten Path

Morocco’s Hidden Gems: 10 Breathtaking Places off the Beaten Path

Morocco is a land filled with mystery and intrigue, and Morocco’s hidden gems are just waiting to be explored. Away from the busy tourist destinations like Fes and Tangiers, Morocco offers visitors a chance to discover some unique destinations off the beaten path.

After a recent visit to the lively city of Marrakesh, I decided to find out whether there are any secret places left to discover in Morocco away from the tourist hotspots.

With this in mind, I asked some fellow travel bloggers to contribute to this post, and I think you will agree that some of these hidden gems in Morocco need to go on your next Morocco trip itinerary – I know a few of them will make it on to mine!

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Morocco Map of Hidden Gems

Ten of Morocco’s hidden gems you didn’t know existed: Morocco off the beaten track.

Ameln Valley, a natural haven for outdoor adventures

rocky mountain with a green oasis below in Morocco
words and image by Conversant Traveller

The pretty Ameln Valley lies well off the beaten tourist trail and is undoubtedly one of Morocco’s hidden gems.

Located in the Anti Atlas Mountains just north of Tafraoute, this rugged natural haven is great for walking, photography and learning about local culture. It’s the sort of place where you’ll probably not see another tourist all day.

Hiking in the Ameln Valley is why most visitors make their way here, and there are several trails of varying difficulties to explore.

The most popular route is along the valley floor, passing through remote villages and palm oases. This is also a popular place for climbing if you have a head for heights. Look out for the famous Lion’s Face Rock that keeps watch over the valley – it’s just above the village of Asgaour.

As you walk along the valley, stop in the tiny village of Oumesnat, where a 400-year-old Berber house doubles up as a museum. It shows what life here used to be like, and if you’re lucky the owner will invite you in for some refreshing mint tea.

The easiest way to get to the Ameln Valley from Marrakech is by driving the A3 south before picking up the R105 near Agadir. It takes about 5 hours, so it’s best to stay a couple of nights to make the most of your visit.

The Auberge Kasbah Chez Amaliya guest house is well-placed for exploring the valley on foot.

Oualidia – a hidden coastal town

beach in Oualidia Morocco
words and image by Places of Juma

The fishing village of Oualidia is one of Morocco’s hidden gems, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, gorgeous beaches and a fantastic atmosphere.

Not to be missed is the azure lagoon of Qualidia, which covers an area of about 12 square kilometres and is full of birds. From flamingos and herons to gulls and terns, the lagoon is a true paradise of nature!

In theory, Oualidia can be reached by a day trip from Casablanca or Marrakech, both 200 kilometres away. However, it is more worthwhile to spend a few days in Oualidia. It is a unique place to relax surrounded by nature, and you can learn to windsurf.

The picturesque beach of Oualidia stretches for miles and offers visitors plenty of space to soak up the sun and enjoy the gentle waves of the cool Atlantic Ocean while swimming. A visit is especially recommended during the summer months.

Oualidia is also known for its delicious seafood. Here visitors will find the best oysters that can be tasted fresh from the sea. The restaurants in the village are phenomenal. Very cool are the restaurants right on the beach that grill fresh fish for the visitors. But be careful; the price has to be negotiated beforehand!

Oualidia offers a range of luxurious accommodations for those seeking relaxation, including boutique hotels and oceanfront villas. An insider’s tip is the Hôtel l’Hippocampe, with a lovely garden and sea views.

Merzouga, gateway to the red dunes of the Sahara

Red sand desert in Morocco
Image and words by Travel Choreography

Seemingly at the end of the world, the small desert side town of Merzouga in south Morocco is known for being the getaway to enthralling Erg Chebbi.

Merzouga is one of the non-touristy places in Morocco but was once on the busy trade route linking Timbuktu to the Atlas region.

Although the most common way to visit Merzouga is on a three-day tour encompassing Fes and Marrakech, the most adventurous travellers can search out their own treasures in its red sands.

Opting for the overnight bus from Meknes or driving to Merzouga will let visitors enjoy all it offers.

While perfect for exploring Morocco’s most impressive dunes, the desert town is a great place to take a break for a few days. The endless horizon and vast starry sky create the perfect setting for complete relaxation.

Get in touch with the unique mix of Arabic and Berber culture here, venture out on a camelback excursion or simply bask in the sun by the pool of one of Merzouga’s hotels.

This much is certain. The picture of the amber sands in the country’s distant south will stay with you long after you fly home, leaving you wanting more.

Dades Valley – hike the hidden Monkey Fingers rocks

red rock desert canyon in Morocco
words and image by The Unknown Enthusiast

The Dades Valley is one of Morocco’s hidden gems, just off the route between Marrakech and the start of the Sahara Desert in Merzouga. Boulmane Dades and Tammellalt are two of the main villages in the area. 

Most travellers pass right by this gorgeous, sleepy valley, not realizing that it is one of Morocco’s best places to visit.

The Dades Valley is surrounded by deep red sandstone mountains and a small stream (the Oued Dades) that passes through the gorge – creating a snaking line of greenery that follows the riverbed. 

If you are wondering what to do in South Morocco, hiking in the Monkey Fingers is one of the best things to do in Dades. 

Grippy, red rock boulders with bulbous protuberances characterize this rocky area. As you head through the canyon, some areas have vertical rock separations, creating knobby “finger”-like rock formations (thus, the name). 

Monkey Fingers has slot canyons, interesting rock formations, and beautiful views. If you’re a hiker, you will definitely appreciate this hiking spot.

Another big attraction in the Dades Valley is a great photo spot overlooking the tight switchbacks of the Dades Gorge. You can look down on impressively squiggly, tight switchbacks in the not-very-large canyon from the restaurant terrace at the top of the canyon. 

The Dades region is a great place to spend a half day and is perfect as a stopover on your way to the Sahara. 

Fint Oasis, a lush palm-filled secret riverside destination

Water surrounded by date palms in the hidden gem of Fint Oasis in Morocco.

Fint means hidden in the ancient Amazigh language, and the Fint Oasis is certainly that. Its beautiful lush scenery and rich cultural heritage make it undoubtedly one of Morocco’s hidden gems. It is a breathtaking must-see natural wonder when visiting Ouarzazate.

The most popular activity in Fint Oasis is hiking through the palm trees, orchards and along the river banks. Another highlight is its traditional Berber villages.

These ancient villages give visitors a glimpse into what life was like for locals many years ago. You can wander through narrow alleyways, visit local markets, and learn about Berber customs and traditions.

If relaxation is more your style, Fint Oasis has several hammams (traditional Moroccan steam baths) where you can unwind and rejuvenate after a long day of exploring. Several restaurants in the area also serve delicious Moroccan cuisine made with fresh ingredients from the nearby gardens.

This beautiful oasis is perfect for visitors wanting to experience a Moroccan destination tucked away from mass tourism. For those looking for an overnight stay, the hotel La Terrasse des Delices offers basic but comfortable accommodations with a swimming pool in the middle of the Fint Oasis.

Imlil – a village in the High Atlas Mountains

mountains and valley in the Atlas mountains morocco
words and image by The World In My Pocket

One of the hidden gems in Morocco is Imlil in the High Atlas Mountains. If you are hiking to Toubkal, you will likely have to either stay the night in Imlil or pass by it in the morning on your way to the beginning of the trail. 

To reach Imlil, you have to hike for about an hour on an easy trail or get a ride with one of the villagers for a small amount of 20 dirhams per person. 

If you stay overnight in the village, you must try one of the few homestays in town. You will be made to feel welcome and will enjoy a homemade meal and plenty of mint tea, one of the most popular Moroccan drinks

In the evening, you will gather around the fire to warm up and chat with the owners about their life in the mountains. Make sure to pick a homestay that has a balcony overlooking Toubkal. It is so special waking up in the morning and seeing the peak covered with snow, which adds to its charm, making it one of the best villages in Morocco. 

Around Imlil, there are plenty of hiking trails and beautiful places to stop and enjoy nature near the river passing through the nearby valley. A few riverside restaurants serve freshly barbecued meat and tagines.

Did you know you can visit Imlil and the Agafay Mountains on a day trip from Marrakech?

Al Hoceima National Park, hiking and wildlife along the coast

Coastal view of mountains and ocean in Morocco
Image and words by Brainy Backpackers

One of Morocco’s hidden gems that only a few tourists consider is the mesmerizing Mediterranean coast of Al Hoceima National Park

This protected landscape is crisscrossed with hiking paths, making it a perfect destination for active travellers. It is also dotted with small Berber villages and is home to many unique animal species like the endangered Monk Seals and Ospreys, different species of dolphins and pink flamingoes. There is also a large thuya forest within the park. 

For those who prefer a more relaxed pace on their vacation, Al Hoceima is home to splendid beaches where you can relax all day and enjoy tasty tagines from the restaurants in town.

There are plenty of hotels in the town of Al Hoceima, and your best bet is to stay there for a few days before exploring other hidden gems further south. Getting there is easy by flying to Cherif Al Idrissi International Airport or driving from Tangier. 

If you want to stay in a more remote location, there is a lovely campground in Cala Iris on the west side of the park where you can rent bungalows at an affordable price. They make magical tagines and serve hot mint tea at all times. Match this with splendid views, and you are on to a winner!

Volubilis – historic Roman ruins near Meknes

Roman ruins in Morocco

The UNESCO-listed heritage site of Volubilis is a preserved Roman city in Northern Morocco. It is 35 km from the town of Meknes or 80km from Fez and is an interesting historical site. If you are looking for a hidden gem in Morocco, you have come to the right place.

Volubilis was founded in the 3rd century BC and became a prosperous Roman settlement by the 1st century AD. It served as a hub for trade and commerce, strategically located on the main caravan route between Marrakech and Tangiers.

Today, Volubilis remains remarkably well-preserved despite being abandoned for centuries and is one of the unique places in Morocco for history buffs. Visitors can explore its impressive ruins, which include grand arches, intricate mosaics, and towering columns that once supported public buildings such as temples, baths, and marketplaces.

One of the highlights of a visit to Volubilis is its stunning mosaic floors. These colourful works of art depict scenes from everyday life in ancient Rome, including hunting scenes, mythological tales, and portraits of wealthy Romans.

In addition to exploring the ruins, visitors can learn more about Volubilis at the on-site museum. Here you can discover more about the history of this hidden gem through interactive exhibits and displays showcasing artefacts found during archaeological excavations.

If you plan on visiting Morocco any time soon or are simply interested in learning more about this incredible piece of history, then be sure not to miss out on a trip to Volubilis. It is one of the lesser-known places in Morocco that should be experienced firsthand!

Aït Bouguemez, a hidden valley with stunning views

photo copyright Booking.com

Aït Bouguemez, also known as the “Happy Valley,” is a hidden gem in Morocco that offers an authentic experience for travellers seeking to immerse themselves in Berber culture. Nestled in the heart of the Atlas Mountains, Aït Bouguemez is a peaceful and picturesque valley surrounded by lush greenery and towering peaks.

Even though it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Morocco, it remains one of the lesser-known tourist destinations making it a wonderful place to see for those in the know.

There are numerous things to do in Aït Bouguemez, including meeting the locals. The Berber people are warm and hospitable, and you can learn about their way of life, customs, and traditions by visiting local villages or attending festivals.

You can also taste delicious local cuisine while you are with the locals. Berber cuisine is flavourful and hearty, featuring ingredients such as couscous, tagine dishes, and fresh vegetables.

While there are a few homestays in the mountains, a beautiful property around 30 minutes drive from Aït Bouguemez is the Touda Ecolodge Atlas Mountains. It offers luxurious surroundings with die-for mountain views and a swimming pool to cool down after hiking or sightseeing.

With its breathtaking natural beauty, Aït Bouguemez is perfect for hiking enthusiasts. Trails range from easy strolls to challenging treks that lead you through verdant valleys and over rugged mountain passes.

The region has several well-preserved Kasbahs (fortified homes) dating back centuries ago. These architectural wonders offer an insight into traditional Moroccan architecture and are worth exploring.

Bhalil is one of the unique places to stay in Morocco

Grotte Thami cave house – copyright Booking.com

This charming town in the northern part of the country is off the main tourist trail but is becoming increasingly popular for its unique cave houses. These homes were built by Berber tribesmen, who carved them into the soft sandstone cliffs.

Exploring the cave houses in Bhalil is one of the unique experiences in Morocco that will take you back in time. The architecture and design of these homes are fascinating, and they offer visitors a glimpse into traditional Moroccan life. Each house has its own story to tell, and many have been passed down through generations of families.

To make the most out of your visit to Bhalil’s cave houses, it’s important to have a guide who can provide insight into their history and significance. A knowledgeable guide can be picked up in Bhalil and will take you on a tour of some of the most beautiful and interesting cave homes, pointing out details you might otherwise miss.

During your tour, you’ll see how residents have adapted these caves to modern living standards while preserving their original character. Many homeowners have added modern amenities like electricity and plumbing while keeping true to their heritage with traditional furnishings and decor.

So if you want to explore Morocco’s hidden gems through its architecture, Bhalil’s hidden cave houses should be on your bucket list.

If you want to stay in a cave house in Bhalil, book to stay at Grotte Thami. If you prefer a traditional Moroccan house stay, Dar Kamal Chaoui is a good choice.

 Please Pin for Future Travel to Morocco

Jill

Saturday 3rd of June 2023

What a helpful post, I've heard so much about Morocco but never anything but the populated tourists spots! I definitely think a hike through the Monkey Fingers rocks would be cool :) Thanks for compiling and sharing these hidden gems!

WhereAngieWanders

Sunday 4th of June 2023

You are welcome! I have my eye on a few of Morocco's hidden gems to visit in the future. Like you the Monkey Fingers Rocks and the Oasis look interesting.