Morocco’s most beautiful villages and towns
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: From the rocky hills of the Rif to the vast expanses of sand bathed by the Atlantic, Morocco offers a host of spectacular panoramas. The country is dotted with villages overlooking the sea, riads anchored in the rocks, or medinas lost in the desert, all of which will delight tourists in search of authenticity.
Since July 14, French travelers wishing to visit Morocco have been subject to stricter health requirements. A full vaccination certificate (the second dose must have been administered more than two weeks before the date of travel) is required, as well as a negative PCR test less than 48 hours old. Travelers who have not been vaccinated, or who have received only one dose, must present a negative PCR test less than 48 hours old before the date of entry into Morocco, and undergo a controlled 10-day quarantine once there.
For those who can leave with the health pass in hand, here are the ten most beautiful villages and small towns to discover in Morocco.
This small Saharan village in south-east Morocco, over 500 km from Marrakech, is renowned for its dunes and desert panorama.
Moulay Driss Zerhoun
Considered a holy city in Morocco, this commune perched on a hill 30 km from Meknes will appeal to lovers of historical sites.
In north-west Morocco, the blue city attracts tourists from all over the world, who come to photograph its azure walls.
Oukaïmden is the highest winter sports resort in Africa, at 2,620 meters above sea level. In summer, mountaineering enthusiasts will love it.
This fishing village north of Agadir is renowned for its surf beaches and wild charm.
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: Asilah is a quiet, beautiful destination on the Atlantic coast, some 40 km from Tangier. It offers a haven for holidaymakers in search of serenity.
Known for its mountain panoramas, Imlil is a pleasant town with a number of sites not to be missed, including High Atlas and Toubkal National Park.
Aït Ben Haddou
Located 30 km from Ouarzazate, the village of Aït-Benhaddou offers an impressive display of rock strata. The place is a recurring film set (Game of Thrones, Lawrence of Arabia…).
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: Perched at an altitude of 1,200 meters to the south-east of Agadir, the commune of Tafraout is renowned for its palm groves, home to almond and olive orchards.
Taroudant, 80 km from Agadir, is a picturesque town, protected by superb ochre-colored ramparts that are almost worth a visit on their own, according to Le guide du Routard.
The best places to retreat in MoroccoWhether you choose to live in the city or the country, by the sea or a little inland, you’re spoilt for choice. Here’s a quick rundown of the best places to retire in Morocco to help you start dreaming:
A pleasant seaside resort with small white houses built into the cliffs and one of the most beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean coast, Cabo Négro has the added advantage of being 74 km from the modern city of Tangier, 16 km from the enchanting Unesco-listed old town of Tétouan, and 7 km from the small fishing port of M’diq.
46 km south of Tangier, lies the ancient town of Asilah, nonchalant behind its beautiful ramparts, with its maze of alleyways, white houses with blue or green shutters and wrought-iron gates. It attracts artists, as evidenced by the many painted walls that enliven the streets. Boasting a very long sandy beach, a seafront promenade and a marina, the town takes on the appearance of a rather posh seaside resort in summer, yet retains a quiet charm.
Morocco’s most beautiful villagesRabat is a city where life is good. Morocco’s second-largest city in terms of population, capital and political center, it is appreciated by expatriates for its provincial atmosphere, modern infrastructure and easy access from Paris. Rich in history, this airy, quiet city boasts superb ochre ramparts that give it a distinctive character.
Situated on the Atlantic coast, 80 km from El Jadida, Oualidia’s fine sandy beach is protected from the ocean by a lagoon with a very special configuration, making it a very popular seaside resort. Renowned for its oysters, the fishermen also offer fresh fish grilled on the beach or delivered to your door.
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: The most seductive town on the Moroccan coast offers the charm of its narrow streets, white houses with blue shutters, its fishing port with brightly-colored wooden trawlers, its mighty crenellated ramparts, its small medina with fish, spice and fabric markets… And last but not least, a long sandy beach stretching for several kilometers to the south of the town. Often swept by the trade winds, it enjoys a relatively temperate climate all year round.
The climate is one of Agadir’s main assets: 300 days of sunshine a year
a year and a winter that is only slightly cooler and wetter than the summer, make for year-round bathing on a 9 km stretch of fine sandy beach. The new medina, rebuilt in the 90s, is a bold and original success story, where the Moroccan soul still lives on. Added to this is a colorful hinterland, rich in curiosities of all kinds.
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: More and more French retirees are being seduced by the atmosphere, cultural richness and flavors of Marrakech, but this destination is best reserved for the “swallows” who come here in spring or autumn, thus avoiding the stifling heat and flood of tourists in summer, as well as the relative coldness of winter.
Which of these places is ideal for you?
There isn’t one ideal place, but there is your ideal place. The one that best suits your lifestyle, your desires and the idea you have of your future life in Morocco.
So you can understand why it’s difficult for us to tell you which town or village is right for you: beaches, nature, heritage, leisure activities, cost of living, property values, infrastructure… it all depends on the importance you personally attach to each of these criteria. Don’t worry, you’ll be spoilt for choice: the table below will help you make a first selection.
Then it’s up to you! After all, there’s no substitute for the indispensable prospecting trip you’ll have to make to criss-cross the country and choose the little retreat that best suits your expectations and priorities.
The benefits of a spa session in Ouarzazate
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: It’s almost vacation time and you’d like to see a bit of the country? Morocco is the ideal place to get away from it all and enjoy a unique experience. Among the Moroccan destinations to prioritize for your trip to Morocco is the town of Ouarzazate. This Moroccan town is renowned for its wellness and relaxation areas. Discover the benefits of a spa session in Ouarzazate.
The benefits of a spa in Ouarzazate for the body
Discover the physical benefits of a spa in Ouarzazate.
A spa session to get back in shape faster
In recent years, spas have become very popular with athletes of all disciplines. And with good reason, this type of wellness space is the ideal place to get back into shape. Indeed, the term spa means “health through water”. The warm water of a whirlpool bath is ideal for relaxing muscles after physical exertion. This is particularly useful after a trip to the Merzouga dunes or a camel ride. Add to this a relaxing massage and you’ll be back at full gallop in no time.
Also, come and enjoy our spa in Ouarzazate between visits to two Moroccan tourist sites.
A spa session to relieve body aches and pains
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: As well as loosening muscles, a spa session relieves many types of bodily pain, some of which are related to illness. Hot water helps dilate blood vessels and improve circulation. This has the effect of relieving aches and pains such as backache, aches and pains, rheumatism and tendonitis. A spa session also prevents chronic pain associated with arterial tension or varicose veins. This is made possible by the natural elimination of toxins through sweating in a sauna or hammam.
A spa session also tones the skin, providing an anti-aging effect.
The benefits of a spa in Ouarzazate for the mind
Discover the mental benefits of a spa in Ouarzazate
A spa session to relax and unwind
In general, people go to the spa to experience a moment of relaxation. Of course, you can also relax at home. But for the ultimate in relaxation, nothing beats a real spa. The comfort and intimacy of a spa and wellness center create a cosy atmosphere conducive to the secretion of endorphins, or happy hormones. This hormone helps you fight stress. What’s more, a luxury hotel spa offers a range of body and facial care services. In fact, for a spa area with a hammam, a black soap scrub is an essential ritual.
A spa session to banish negative vibes
A holiday in Morocco is the perfect opportunity to take your mind off things. Forget the problems of everyday life and take advantage of the beautiful desert landscapes to experience a real escape and a change of scenery. Of course, you don’t have to go far to get rid of negative vibes. A spa session in Ouarzazate provides a feeling of well-being, conducive to a positive, calm mood. The relaxing effect then leads to the secretion of endorphins. This hormone is essential for improving sleep quality and combating anxiety and depression.
Where to go for the best spa in Ouarzazate?
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: Looking for a place to relax and unwind in Morocco’s Deep South? Make your reservation at Riad Ksar Ighnda, one of the best luxury hotels in Ouarzazate.
Our charming 4-star hotel, located at the gateway to the Sahara desert, offers you a haven of peace in which to recharge your batteries. Our establishment boasts an exceptional setting with spa, jacuzzi, traditional hammam and outdoor pool. We also offer pampering services and relaxing massages.
Old and new city names in Morocco
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: Have you ever been stopped by the name of a Moroccan town in the days of the Protectorate, wondering where it might be?
Most of these name changes are linked to соlоnіаlе history, in the broadest sense (i.e. including Spanish and Portuguese towns). A few are much more recent. In all, some twenty-five Moroccan towns have changed name. Many are in the greater Casablanca and Chaouïa region, the first stage of French colonization. And, of course, that includes Casablanca.
From Anfa to Dar El Baïda, via Casablanca
Of course, Dar El Baïda الدار البيضاء is the Arabic version of Casablanca. The economic capital thus finds itself, I believe, the only city in Morocco to have a phonetically very different name in аrаЬе and French.
But originally, Casablanca was called Anfa, and it was a very prosperous city. Destroyed by the Portuguese in 1468, it was rebuilt in 1760, on the orders of Sultan Mohammed III. It was here that it changed its name to “Dar El Baïda”, the Ьlаnсhе house, which was the name given to the sultan’s various palaces. When the Spaniards returned to trade, they translated this name into “Casa Blanca”, easier for them.
It is also said that Casa Blanca referred to a large white rectangular house, located in this new city…
And other Arabic translations
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: Many city names are simply translations. But you need to know this to make the connection, even if the names may sound similar.
Alcazarquivir translates as Ksar El Kebir
“The great fоrtеrеѕѕе” in both Spanish and Arabic. Of course, the fact that so many Spanish words come from Arabic helps a little with understanding!
Cap de l’Eau and Ras El Ma
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: A real word-for-word locality near Nador. The town was formerly known as “Kebdana” in Rifain, therefore this name is not its original one.”. It was the Spanish occupiers who named it “Cabo de Agua”, later translated into French and Arabic. Rifans continue to call it “Kebdana”.
Mount Arouit or Al Aroui
Someone saw fit to add a mountain to this town’s name.
Not very marked differences in pronunciation
These are not really name changes, but rather transcriptions, with varying letters. Spoken, the names are very close, even identical, but for a text search, the computer won’t make the connection:
Xauen is Сhаоuеn, or Chefchaouen
Arcila or Assilah
Safi or Asfi
(There are also transcription differences in ancient texts, roughly until the arrival of the military standardized names: Meknès can be written Mékinez, Boujdour is transcribed Bougdour, etc.)
Louis Gentil becomes Youssoufia
Morocco’s most beautiful villages: Louis Gentil is the name of a French geologist born in Algeria, who took part in the exploration of Morocco from 1902 onwards. The town of Louis Gеntіl was founded in 1931 by the French on a site where there was not already a town, to exploit one of the kingdom’s largest phosphate deposits. It changed its name to Youssoufia after independence.
Petit-Jean or Petitjean is Sidi Kacem
Before colonization, there was no town, just the zaouïa of Sidi Kacem and a Thursday souk. A small group of settlers moved in to clear the land and start farming. Oil was found nearby, a railway station was built and the town grew. It took the name of a саріtаіnе of the French army, killed on May 19, 1911, two kilometers from Kénitra. At independence, it was named after the zaouia’s patron saint.
Port-Lyautey becomes Kénitra
Kénitra, in fact, was a kasbah built at the end of the 19th century, “part barracks, the part guesthouse”. It was Lуаutеу who decided to build a town next to this kasbah, starting in 1912. It wasn’t until 1932, for the 20th anniversary of the protectorate, that the town that was described as “the most French in Morocco” took the name Port-Lyautey, to the ԁеmаnԁе of the town’s inhabitants wanting to pay tribute to their former Resident General.
The French “camps
After the bombing of Casablanca, the French move out of the rеѕtrеіntе zone around Casablanca to subdue the tribes. The beginning of the “Third Moroccan War” is concentrated in this area of the Chaouïa, and the military camps they set up. For obvious security reasons, they were set up some distance from the existing villages. The logistics required to set up a permanent camp, including roads, mean that most of them will be transformed into towns once the region has been pacified.
Of course, they did not keep their French names after independence:
Camp Boulhaut becomes Benslimane
A camp founded as early as 1907, on the site of a local market, the future Веnѕlіmаnе developed rapidly, with a “hard” housing area for military personnel. Its name comes from Sidi Mohammed Benslimane, a marabout one kilometer from the town.
Camp Marchand becomes Rommani
Located in the Khemisset region, the town of Camp Marchand was given the name Rommani, meaning “Grenadier”. Founded in 1911, Camp Маrсhаnԁ quickly became a large town, with a status similar to that of a prefecture. It has a post office and serves the surrounding villages, including Camp Christian and Le Jacqueline.
From Amogdoul to Souira, from Souira to Mogador in Essaouira
The story is much the same for Essaouira. The Portuguese built a fort, soon abandoned, on a site of uncertain name. It’s thought that the Moroccans called it Amogdul, a name that appears in chronicles from the 11th century (and is believed to mean “fortified”). The Portuguese called the location “Mogodouro” when they built their “Castelo Real” because Sidi Mogdul is the most critical saint there”.
In 1760, the sultan decided to found a fortified town on the site abandoned by the Portuguese and called in a Frenchman to draw up the plans. The city would become the “Ьіеn dessinée”, from Tasaouira or Souira, meaning painting.
Another etymology is that of the Amazigh “Tassourt” for walls, transformed into Souira, which is also used for ruins (or fallen walls).
In any case, Essaouira, a city authorized to trade with foreigners, was called Mogador by Europeans until independence.
Fedala and Ksar Es Souk, name changes after independence
Indeed, the before and after went from one Arab name to another!
The large town of Fedala was renamed Mohammedia in hоmmаgе to Mohammed V and, in the south, Ksar es Souk became Er Rachidia in homage to the рrіnсе Moulay Rachid!