Often, the first place people think about when they hear the word ‘Morocco’ is the bustling and beautiful city of Marrakech—and with good reason. One of the most visited sites in all of Morocco, the city is a riotous joy of color, history, and religious significance that’s only underscored by its bustling Medina and crowded vividly-hued streets. Bursting with singular sights and sounds, Marrakech is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important cornerstone of the Muslim world whose culture, heritage, and beauty still resonates to this day.
However, despite its must-visit status, there’s so much more to beautiful Morocco than its most famous city: small towns and villages scattered throughout the mountains and desert countryside that have a quaint charm all their own; and offer visitors a less touristy glimpse into what makes Morocco so very magical.
Rabat: History, Modernity, And Harmony In Morocco’s Capital City
Magical Morocco’s capital city of Rabat is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the perfect balance: deep historical tradition and culture, all set against the backdrop of a modern and environmentally-friendly capital city known for its plethora of green spaces. Here, bustling, contemporary vibes co-exist with cultural landmarks to create an exciting cityscape and must-see Moroccan destination.
- Where To Stay: Sofitel Rabat Jardin des Roses; Riad Dar Rabiaa; Euphoriad Hotel; Riad Kalaa
- Things To Do: Kasbah of the Oudayas; Chellah Necropolis; Exotic Gardens of Bouknadel; The Hassan Tower
- Eating Out: Le Limonadier; Sa Caleta; Dar El Medina; Ty Potes
- Don’t Miss: Shopping at Rabat’s Medina
Draa Valley Desert Expeditions In Zagora
Situated at a highly trafficked desert crossroads, Zagora has been a nomadic outpost for centuries—and is still a popular meeting place for travelers to this day. However, Zagora is more than just a pit stop on the road to the nearby Erg Chigaga dunes; but is instead a lovely oasis on the outskirts of the Sahara with a crossroads culture of its own. Its location at the center of it all makes it easy to explore the other nearby villages of the Draa Valley, too.
- Where To Stay: Kasbah Sirocco; Riad Marrat; Riad Dar Sofian; Camp at Auberge Palmeraie d'Amezrou
- Things To Do: Zagora’s Souk (Market); Expedition to Erg Chigaga (by camel or 4x4); Stroll through the palm groves; Visit the Musée des Arts and Traditions de la Valleé de Draa
- Eating Out: Restaurant Marwa; Villa Zagora; Riad Lamane Zagora; Restaurant Jardin Chez Ali
- Don’t Miss: Zagora’s colorful street art; the ancient rock carvings of nearby Timiderte
Max And Relax In Mirleft
The laid-back, down-to-earth tiny town of Mirleft is the ideal place to kick back and enjoy some of Morocco’s best local vibes in this haven for both travelers and artists alike. A great spot for sunbathing, socializing, and scoping out some breathtaking coastal views, Mirleft is also known for its stellar surf scene and cool, cosmopolitan vibes that can be found throughout its arched doorways and charming streets.
- Where To Stay: Hotel Abertih Mirleft; Dar Najmat; Aftas Trip Water Lodge & Spa; Aman House
- Things To Do: The best of the beach: Mirleft, Marabou, Atlas, and Plage Sauvage are all top spots to soak up the sand, sun, and spray; max and relax at Le Jardin d’ Orient Hammam
- Eating Out: Tifawin Café; Restaurant Ayour; Café Aftas; Woodstock Restaurant
- Don’t Miss: Take a surfing lesson at Biscou Surf School
Moulay Idriss: A Holy Place And Natural Sanctuary
A sea of crisp, pristine white buildings and meandering, painted rock lanes await visitors to the holy city of Moulay Idriss. Once closed to non-Muslims, this picturesque spiritual haven is rapidly gaining in popularity as a tourist stop due to its proximity to towns like Fez—however, it still remains a bit of an under-the-radar Moroccan gem that’s definitely worth a visit due to its lovely green mountain scenery and reputation as one of the country’s most visited pilgrimage sites.
- Where To Stay: Dar Zerhoune; Kasabah Senhaji; Diyar Timnay; La Columbe Blanche
- Things To Do: Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss; Grande & Petite Terrasses (Scenic Viewpoints); Sentissi Mosque’s Cylindrical Minaret; Haroune Aqueduct
- Eating Out: Scorpion House; Restaurant at Dar Zerhoune; Volubilis
- Don’t Miss: The Roman ruins and baths of Volubilis (45-minutes from town)
The Beautiful Blue City Of Chefchaouen
Saying that the Rif Mountains’ village of Chefchaouen is picturesque is an understatement of epic proportions—sandwiched between the dramatic mountain peaks, this Northern Morocco spot is a true standout because of its bright blue buildings that pop with riotous sea and sky-colored glory. Though the city’s Medina was once off-limit to all Westerners, it has since become a noteworthy tourist spot; mainly due to its relaxed vibes and IG-worthy photo ops around every corner.
- Where To Stay: Riad Hicham; Dar Meziana; Lina Ryad & Spa; Hotel Parador
- Things To Do: Kasbah Museum; Rif Mountain Hike; Scenic Views from the Spanish Mosque; Stroll through the Chefchaouen Souks (markets)
- Eating Out: Bab Ssour Restaurant; Restaurant Hicham; Café Clock; Sofia
- Don’t Miss: There’s a surprise around every corner for visitors who stroll the village to capture its blue-hued glory—the streets are quiet, lovely, and a feast for the eyes
More Must-See Small Towns In Morocco
For those seeking even more small-town marvels, there are plenty of charming spots just waiting to be explored—below are just a few of the best to add to any Moroccan itinerary.
- Asilah This cozy fishing village has a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Take in the charming Medina; visit the Puerto de Assilah; or tour the Church of San Bartholomew.
- Oukaïmeden may be Morocco’s only ski resort, but in the summer months, it becomes a great place to start exploring the nearby Atlas Mountains, Three Valleys, and a parade of nearby waterfalls. A must-stop for outdoor enthusiasts
- Imlil is just two hours from Marrakech, but its elevated (over 5,700 feet high), location in the Aït Mizane valley makes it feel like it's worlds away. A truly relaxing and tranquil retreat, it’s also an idyllic home base for those who want a guided hike to Mount Toubkal or the Atlas Mountains—and the nighttime stargazing is absolutely breathtaking, too
places like Fez and Marrakech are known the world over for their larger-than-life vibes rich in culture, heritage, and religious significance. However, these under-the-radar spots have a charm all their own—from scenic vistas to bustling souks; outdoor activities to local flavors, these tiny towns are the perfect way to explore memorable Morocco beyond the borders of the world-famous Marrakech.The small towns and villages of Morocco may not be as famous as their big city cousins—after all,