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5 Reasons Why You Should Visit "Morocco's Hollywood" Film Locations

Updated: Jan 15

Have you been researching places to go in 2024 and come up with the same old dusty list? Stop thinking within the bounds of comfort, and start researching for a bit more exotic.


Imagine the Sands of Time, whirling dervishes spinning 'round for entertainment at opulent feasts...imagine camel rides through barren, clay-colored land. Feast your thoughts on colorful palaces, delicious cuisine, and even a bit of mystique - Morocco is calling to you!


I've detailed the bustling details of hub Marrakesh and illuminated the Mediterranean-inspired shores of coastal Essaouira, but now let me introduce you to an even more exotic place on the map that should be part of any visit to Marrakesh - Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou.


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clay and sandstone rooftop buildings view


5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou in 2024


1. Visit To Explore the Hollywood of Morocco


a woman stands under a bamboo roof with a beautiful village in the background

Scores of movies have been filmed in Morocco, and for good reason. The scenery is great for long camel treks with the Dothraki (Game of Thrones), or jumping from building rooftop to building rooftop in the Prince of Persia, not to mention countless films of Arabia, Indiana Jones and so on.


This list, photographed in 2017, stops at 2016, but it gives a good representation of the amazing films that were shot in Ait Ben Haddou's breathtaking village.


list of films made in ait ben haddou

2. Visit the Kasbahs and Ksars


If you want to feel completely transported out of the maze of Marrakesh's busy medinas and into the open landscapes of the desert, look no further than in Ait Ben Haddou and the outskirts of Ouarzazate.


From the far side of Ouarzazate's main artery, you can't miss the magnificent Taourirt Kasbah on the road leading out of town.


taourirt kasbah sandstone building with palm trees

Not only is it stunning from the outside, the inside corridors offer loads of entertainment (and photo ops) for the curious visitor to see life in earlier times.


At spellbinding Ait Ben Haddou, essentially an oasis in the desert, a castle-like village juts out over the sand and clay backdrop, adorned with greenery and palm trees.


sandstone village with palm trees

Go in the afternoon and you'll find you have the village almost to yourself. Shops will begin to close near dusk, where earlier buses of tourists came through to snap pictures and shop for wares at little boutiques.


There are no cars in the village, so you must park outside of the fortress in the modern town of Ait Ben Haddou.


Take in views from the village and breathe it all in - you are standing where Hollywood's greatest film stars have been.


a woman looks out across a desert village


3. Visit For the Gateway to the Zagora Desert


Fly in, drive in, or take a grand taxi (a shared ride) to enjoy Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou, but don't stop there. Ouarzazate is the best starting point for many travelers to reach the neighboring desert lands of Zagora.


In Zagora, you can even arrange for an overnight camping experience at a Berbere camp. This incredible opportunity has visitors sleeping in desert tents, eating under the stars, taking camel rides, and enjoying drum circles with the local berbere people.


a man, woman and their donkey carrying goods


4. Stay the Night In a Kasbah and Dine in a Candlelit Cave


You will find many hotels and restaurants in both Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou, but lucky travelers may choose to spend the night in the old village of Ait Ben Haddou - having the quiet ksar practically to themselves.


At the Kasbah El Hajja guest house in the center of Ait Ben Haddou, overnight guests will be treated to a most magnificent experience for dinner with the ksar walls. The berbere folk working at the hotel will prepare a feast to remember.


In our hotel we took dinner in a candlelit cave and joined our hosts in sharing stories and making music together all night long.


candlelit cave dinner


5. Lastly, Go For The Food


There is no doubt that anywhere in Morocco you will be met with heaping tagines of couscous or kofta meatballs, skewered meats, or stewed dates. But the way in which you dine in both Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou are largely unmatched for two reasons - the views, and the vibes.


Stepping back in time like you're on the set of Casablanca, Ouarzazate definitely caters to the nostalgic at places like Dimitri in the center of town.


girls makes a funny face with a wall of black and white photos behind her

French-inspired plates highlight the golden age of Hollywood - from Bogart to Hepburn, with signed headshots adorning walls and European food filling bellies. It's all quite enchanting.


And secondly, the views of many eateries, like that of the rooftop restaurants in Ait Ben Haddou and near the Taourirt Kasbah make you feel like perhaps you, too, are part of a movie set. Largely unreal in feeling, it's quite humbling to dine with such atmosphere to accompany you.


rooftop lunch with tile table


Although a brief visit to Hollywood's favorite filming locations in Morocco, Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou were stunning. To explore tour and ticket options for these towns, see more at Viator's round up for Ait Ben Haddou.

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Hi, I'm Maria!

Globetrotting since 1995, I'm not a digital nomad or a social influencer.