Welcome to the “Door to the Desert.”
Once upon a time, African traders passed by Ouarzazate to reach Europe and Northern Morocco for businesses. Camels, jewels, embroideries completed the entourage. When the French were in Morocco, the province acted as a citadel and housed many kasbahs.
High walls, lack of windows, constructed on hilltops by Berber-speakers; kasbahs were home to local leaders and they were also a place for defense and hiding when the city was invaded. The unique landscape has allowed the authenticity of Ouarzazate to shine as backdrops in numerous Hollywood films.
As the “Door to the Desert,” the town is where Berber-speakers call home. It is also here, where you’ll experience Morocco in its arid originality.
Kasbah Aït Ben Haddou
The world famous fortified village, or kasbah, is one of the most important landmarks in Ouarzazate. Along the previous caravan route between Marrakech and Sahara, the site draws enormous tourists due to the historical dwellings, merchant houses and the four families who still live in the village. Made up by earthen clay, the architecture makes a fun stroll like wanderlust in a maze. Along the way to the top, there are plenty of shops for you to stock up on souvenirs.
Studios Atlas Ouarzazate Maroc
If you’d like to travel from Tibet, to Mexico, to Egypt all in one afternoon, then stop by Atlas Studios for a taste of Hollywood in North Africa. The first film studio located in this part of the world was the set to Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile, The Mummy, Game of Thones…and so many more!
Another kasbah popular among tourists is the Taourirt which is considered a well-restored one. Feel free to spend an hour here, locals are more than enthusiastic to show you their homes but sometimes with a fee. UNESCO has helped piece together small parts of the inner dwellings. Check out the prayer room by passing through the maze where you’ll see stucco and the very original ceiling belonging to the tataoui.
So green, so lush, so full of palm trees. This is all 10 kilometers south of Ouarzazate – the Door of the Desert. As you learn about an oasis which randomly exists in the middle of the desert, you’ll be surprised to find out here is also the set of several Hollywood movies, including: Prince of Persia and Kingdom of Heaven.
If you want to stay here for a night, the Oasis Fint Hotel is modest with a local family. You’ll notice the mixture of Arab, Berber and African cultures while sipping down mint tea and grooving to live music performances.
Kasbah of Tifoultout
A gorgeous 300-year-old kasbah became a hotel for the cast and crew of Lawrence of Arabia. Having some mint tea (what else in Morocco!) and a lovely lunch if you’re famished on the rooftop is a great option with an view!
Jardin Des Arômes – Moroccan/Mediterranean
Boulevard Mohamed V, Ouarzazate 45000, Morocco (map, website)
As the trendiest lounge restaurant in Morocco, Jardin Des Arômes features Moroccan gastronomy cuisine. You’ll be surrounded by a garden, an upstairs terrace, embellished furniture lit by amorous lights. Don’t underestimate the Royal Couscous accompanied by Caramelized Chicken with Tomato Jam or Fish Tagine.
La Kasbah des Sables – Moroccan/French
N° 195 Hay Ait Ksif, Ouarzazate, Morocco (map)
The Moorish bed and breakfast hosts adorable lounges and nooks on the patio area surrounding a pool. Sounds like an Arabian dream in an ancient Glaoui mansion? It sure is, especially with candlelights, pillows and beautiful lamps. Serving a bit of everything, La Kasbah des Sables makes a nice break from tagines.
Restaurant Douyria – Moroccan
Avenue Mohammed V، Ouarzazate 45000, Morocco (map, website)
If you want dishes that don’t typically appear on a Moroccan menu, then stop by Restaurant Douyria. The date milk shake is a must-have, and if you’re a foodie daredevil, then try the camel tagine. Hmm…
The modern riad is a 5-star property, though cozy and intimate in midst of palm trees and the Atlas Mountains. There are 20 rooms, with a large swimming pool and solar power for warm water.
Maison d’hotes Irocha
A 4-star hotel that offers single rooms, suits and family apartments. The mountain lodge in the Tisselday Berber village delivers fantastic views of the valley, mountains and river.
Le Berbere Palace
The experience of staying in a Moroccan Hollywood hotel exists at Le Berbere Palace. Throughout this massive and luxurious hotel, you’ll see various props used in movies filmed in the city. With 249 rooms, an outdoor pool and 3 restaurants/bars; this is one of the most opulent choices in Ouarzazate.