Visiting Berber towns and villages from Marrakech

If you’re planning a stay in Morocco and want to discover the most beautiful Berber villages from Marrakech, here’s the list you need to know.

The Berbers, or Amazighs in their original language(Imazighen in the plural), are an ethnic group originally from North Africa, but now widespread throughout the world. With a particularly long and rich history, it has not yet been possible to determine their precise origins.

Today, the Berbers live mainly in North Africa, notably in Morocco and Algeria. A nomadic people, they have nevertheless settled in places, forming villages with a very distinctive appearance, set against the arid landscape of theMoroccan Atlas. Berber villages are now part of Morocco’s architectural and historical heritage. It is possible to visit them.

Explore the most beautiful Berber villages from Marrakech, the gateway to Morocco. The authenticity of these places and the generosity of their inhabitants will leave a lasting impression on you…

1. Ouarzazate and the Atlas Studios

Balade à Ouarzazate

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Leonid Andronov

⏱️ Time: 4 hours

📍Distance: 193 kilometers

Ouarzazate is one of Morocco’s best-known Berber towns, despite its very young age (20th century). It is one of the places not to be missed during a stay in southern Morocco.

In fact, its geographical location has earned it the nickname « Gateway to the Desert », due to its proximity to the endless stretches of sand that make up the Sahara. Ouarzazate is full of color and history: indeed, many film-makers have fallen under its spell and made it their film location. Don’t miss the Studios de l’Atlas or the magnificent Kasbah in the heart of the town.

2. Aït-ben-Haddou and the « salt river

Se rendre à Ait Ben Haddou

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Felix Tallada

⏱️ Time: 3h30

📍Distance: 175 kilometers

Situated between Marrakech and Ouarzazate, Ait-ben-Haddou is actually what is known as an « ighrem » (Berber language) or a « ksar » (Arabic language), a fortified village. Its beauty has earned it UNESCO World Heritage status, with its reinforced walls, ancient granary and distinctive, typically Moroccan architecture.

Aït-ben-Haddou lies not far from theoued Maleh, the « salty river », which has the singularity of being extremely salty, and therefore unfit for consumption! Like its neighbor Ouarzazate, the village has been the setting for numerous films, including Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Gladiator (2000).

3. Taliouine and saffron

Taliouine proche de Marrakech

Photo credit: Shutterstock – cornfield

⏱️ Time: 5 hours

📍Distance: 310 kilometers

Taliouine is a must if you want to visit Berber towns and villages from Marrakech. The village stands out for its colorful facades and marvelous kasbah, where you’ll find the former palace of the Pacha. The souk is also well worth a visit, especially as you’ll be able to smell the saffron fragrances tickling your nostrils.

Indeed, Taliouine is located in a region that produces this rare spice, the local gold, the red gold of the Berbers. Saffron cooperatives are open to visitors, so don’t miss the chance to discover all the secrets behind this delicate product.

4. Tinghir and the Toudgha gorges

Gorge de Todgha

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Pavel Szabo

⏱️ Time: 6 hours

📍Distance: 363 kilometers

Tinghir is a densely populated Berber town by comparison, with around 37,000 inhabitants. It’s a huge oasis that has taken advantage of the richness of its land to create a real, lively and prosperous town around the Oued Toudgha (the river that runs through it).

In fact, if you stop off in Tinghir, you won’t want to miss the Gorges de la Toudgha, slightly to the north of the town. A veritable natural monument, these gorges have been home to a wide variety of crops, including apple, pomegranate and apricot trees. If you like climbing, you can visit them on your own or with a guide.

That said, don’t miss the town itself, which is well worth a visit with its desert colors ranging from ochre to green, reflecting the authentic architecture of the entire country.

5. Ouirgane and the High Atlas landscape

Ouirgane à 2 heures de Marrakech

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Jan Jerman

⏱️ Time: 2 hours

📍Distance: 91 kilometers

Who says visiting Berber towns and villages from Marrakech has to be time-consuming? With Ouirgane, you only have to drive 2 hours, or 90 kilometers. Its proximity to the rest of the country and its arid topology make Ouirgane a very popular Berber town for tourists, who come here to find authenticity.

With its mountainous, rural ambience, Ouirgane lies in the Haut-Atlas massif, where the nights can be cool but the days are always beautiful. Discover the region’s relief and lush gardens.

6. Oukaimeden

Visiter le village berbère d'Oukaïmeden

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Aniks Tolk

⏱️ Time: 1h45

📍Distance: 78 kilometers

When you set out from Marrakech to visit the Berber villages, you’d never dream of discovering a ski resort. However, the village of Oukaimeden is one of them, and in winter it is dressed in white, allowing many enthusiasts to descend the snow-covered slopes. Oukaimeden is the country’s main ski resort, with 20 ski runs, all less than 2 hours from Marrakech.

We therefore advise you to visit in winter. Indeed, although the village is just as accessible and charming during the other seasons of the year, it’s in winter that it shines brightest.

7. Azemmour

Vue sur le village berbère d'Azemmour

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Leonid Andronov

⏱️ Time: 3h20

📍Distance: 234 kilometers

Not all Berber villages that have become cities have retained their authentic architecture. An ancient city of the Berber kingdom, Azemmour (translated as « olive ») still retains its past splendor.

In fact, you’ll find a splendid mosque, a medersa and a beautiful medina. A visit to Azemmour is a must, because even though it’s more than three hours from Marrakech, it’s still an exceptional Berber town, bordered by theOum Errabiaa river and the El-Haouzia beach, which is very popular with tourists and locals alike.

8. Asni

Le village berbère d'Asni

Photo credit: Shutterstock – ohsisterstudio

⏱️ Time: 1h40

📍Distance: 76 kilometers

At the edge of the Haut-Atlas massif lies Asni, an authentic Berber village with its own colors and vegetation. With an immediate view of the massif, Asni is a gentle place to discover, giving yourself time to appreciate the great landscapes and surrounding nature. Set on the side of a valley, Asni is a place of great beauty.

This Berber village is the perfect place to recharge your batteries, take a break from a hectic holiday, and take time to reflect. Time itself seems to slow down, as if to give us time to understand our surroundings. There are many walks in the surrounding area, and we invite you to take them.

9. Aït Hamza

Ait Hamza

Photo credit: Shutterstock – HANAN HAMZA

⏱️ Time: 4 hours

📍Distance: 184 kilometers

Right in the heart of the Haut-Atlas, on the heights of these imposing massifs, Aït Hamza is one of those isolated Berber villages. And yet, it’s the ideal place to discover an entire culture, with the locals, around the bend of a narrow alley tinted ochre or made of stone.

You won’t spend weeks here, but you’ll enjoy stopping off for a few hours or even a day or two. Morocco has the power to celebrate the pleasure of enjoying, embracing the generosity of its people and the many colors of local life.