Ait-Ben-Haddou: Guide for Morocco’s famous Ksar

Ait-Ben-Haddou in Morocco is a beautiful, fortified village in the southeast of the country and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. The small town was built around 1,000 years ago and was an important point along the caravan route back then. Today, Ait-Ben-Haddou is one of the most visited attractions in Morocco and probably the most attractive stop on round trips across the country. Due to its unique architecture and incredibly magical ambience, Ait-Ben-Haddou has already served as a movie set for many well-known films. Game of Thrones, Gladiator, and Lawrence of Arabia were all filmed here, for example! Yes, a visit to this pretty village is worthwhile, and so every Morocco traveler should have seen the largest Kasbah in the country.

In this travel guide, we give you all the essential info about Ait-Ben-Haddou in Morocco. In addition, we show you amazing pictures, and give tips about how to get there, accommodation and the most beautiful viewpoints of the mud city.

Good to know!

Many visit Ait-Ben-Haddou on a guided day or multi-day tour. On GetYourGuide you can find unforgettable excursions, which usually include other attractions of southern Morocco on the program.

You can definitely explore Ait-Ben-Haddou by yourself with a rental car. A perfect itinerary for a road trip through Morocco should not be without a stop in the famous fortress town!

Half a day in Ait-Ben-Haddou is enough. However, if you want to experience the desert village at sunset and enjoy the surroundings, you better should plan 1 or 2 nights.

If you are still looking for a very special accommodation, we can recommend the very charming Riad Caravane, with fabulous breakfast and nice pool.

General info about Ait-Ben-Haddou

Ait-Ben-Haddou, or also known as Aït Benhaddou, is a famous fortified mud town at the shore of the Atlas Mountains, about 30 kilometers from the city of Ouarzazate. The town sits proudly on a hill overlooking the barren landscape, and the river Asif Mellah conjures up a picture-perfect backdrop at the gates of the old town. The historic center of the town, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987, is particularly impressive. At the top of the hill above the fortified old town is the 17th century fortress, from which you can enjoy a spectacular view of the region!

The construction of the brown-red town houses is considered a special feature. Thus, the old mud houses were built close together and sometimes even nested inside each other. Some historic town dwellings are still in good condition and can also be visited from the inside.

In addition, Ait-Ben-Haddou served as the location for many films. Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Asterix and Obelix, Aladdin, Prince of Persia, the Mummie, The Hills Have Eyes II, Babel, Alexander and Laurence of Arabia are just a few of the most famous!

 

How to get to Ait-Ben-Haddou from Marrakech

Ait-Ben-Haddou is about 180 kilometers southeast of Marrakech and can be reached either by rental car or on a guided tour. Actually, the journey from Marrakech to Ait-Ben-Haddou is fantastically beautiful. Your trip will lead over the High Atlas and past the Tizi n Tichka Pass. You will enjoy grandiose landscapes, a unique mountain world and finally reach the beautiful south of Morocco. If you love taking pictures, then you should allow yourself enough time to drive over this panoramic mountain road.

By car we will drive from Marrakech through the Atlas Mountains towards the city of Ouarzazate and on to Ait-Ben-Haddou. The way is the goal and so it is on this panoramic road. After Marrakech, the landscapes begin to change rapidly and you marvel at the lush greens that conjure up a breathtaking backdrop. In time, the road begins to rise and you pass the first rustic mountain villages of the Atlas Mountains.

Tip: Make sure you take a break in the café at Tiz Imguer! From there you have a great view of the red rocky mountains and the wide valley. With a little luck you can see some meerkats here.

Further, the road will take you up to the Atlas mountains and finally you will get to the Tizi n Tichka Pass. Many amazing photo opportunities and viewpoints can be found right next to the road. One more reason why it is worthwhile to explore Morocco by car. Once at the top, you can admire the High Atlas with its breathtaking white peaks. This zigzag road goes up to 2260 meters. If you are interested in minerals, then you are definitely in the right place, because along the Atlas Street there are always stones for sale.

After Tizi n Tichka Pass, as the mountain descends, the landscape changes dramatically again. Dry hills, huge rock formations and ancient kasbahs are the heralds of the Sahara. The area around Ait-Ben-Haddou is already very dry and suddenly, as if from nowhere you can already spot the first camels.

Things to Do in Ait-Ben-Haddou

Taking a walk is the perfect thing to do for exploring the beautiful mud city Ait-Ben-Haddou. As you cross the river, you’ll get an idea of ​​this spectacular city. Walking inside the huge Kasbah, you have the opportunity to explore some of the old houses from the inside. The entrance fee of these small museums often costs only 1 Euro and gives an exclusive insight into the life of earlier times.

On the way to the top of the village Ait-Ben-Haddou you will find plenty of souvenir shops, some restaurants and really lovely cafés. Some of these are really popular spots for Instagram shots. In former days, this fortified town was huge, and it’s hard to believe that 2,500 people lived here until 50 years ago. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with an incredible view over the barren desert landscape. This is in our opinion the best part of the tour. You can see all over the valley along the village, the many beautiful clay buildings, rocky lunar landscapes to the white peaks of the Atlas Mountains. One can imagine the Berber life 1000 years ago.

Best Viewpoints of Ait-Ben-Haddou

The entire panorama of this village is just amazingly beautiful, and the colors of the city change depending on the time of day. Ait-Ben-Haddou offers wonderful photo opportunities at morning-lights, and not only professional photographers can look forward to taking unique pictures here.

Tip: The best views of Ait-Ben-Haddou are from one of the many rooftop hotels and accommodations around the desert city.

Famous Movies

No wonder this magical place has become that famous. Because Ait-Ben-Haddou served as a movie set of many Hollywood strips. Here are a few of the movies filmed there: Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Asterix and Obelix, Aladdin, Prince of Persia, The Mummie, The Hills Have Eyes II, Babel, Alexander, Laurence of Arabia and many more.

Admission and Opening Hours

The entrance to Ait-Ben-Haddou is completely free. A small admission fee is only for visiting certain private museums. There are no official opening times, so you can visit the town at any time. But especially nice are exploration tours in the late afternoon or early morning, when most of the tourists are gone.

Trips from Marrakech to Ait-Ben-Haddou

Certainly, you can also join a guided tour from Marrakech to visit the mud city of Ait-Ben-Haddou. Either day tours, but also multi-day tours with a subsequent visit to the desert in Merzouga or Zagora are offered. On GetYourGuide you will find a wide range of excursions.

 

Where to Stay in Ait-Ben-Haddou

In Ait-Ben-Haddou you can find really charming small hotels to stay in. We would recommend that you choose a Kasbah directly in the mud city or, even better, an accommodation with a view of the beautiful mud city. Having breakfast in such an ambience is unbeatable. Here are the hotel tips for Ait-Ben-Haddou…It’s worth a look!

  • Kasbah in the Old Town: The Kasbah Tebi is romantically located directly in the old town center of Ait Ben Haddou. In the evening there is no electricity, only a sea of candlelight. A secret tip!
  • Hotel with pool: The beautiful accommodation Paradise of Silence inspires its guests with great rooms, a pool and really delicious cuisine!
  • Kasbah with a View: As a budget alternative, we can recommend Chez Brahim. The view of the mud city from the roof terrace is simply incredible.

Find the best accommodation in Ait-Ben-Haddou:

 Booking.com


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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


 

12 Comments

  1. Amanda Cosenza Reply

    Incredible pictures! It’s no wonder so many movies have filmed there, it looks amazing.

  2. This sounds like an amazing roadtrip! I can definitely see why they would use this beautiful little town for a filming location!

  3. I’m off to Marrakech and the Atlas mountains in March and this is definitely on the list. Amazing pictures and a great post. Thank you

  4. Wow this place looks like something out of an Aladdin story book! I love reading about new places and I have never heard of Ait-Ben-Haddou before! So many great photo opportunity’s! I love travelling to places where there is a complete culture shock this must have been an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing I have made notes… planning to visit Morocco one day.

  5. Never heard of this one before. I have Morocco in my bucketlist for this year . Thanks for highlighting that driving in Morocco is safe . I would be keen to do that 🙂

  6. There’s something about mud in architecture that makes places look so warm and welcoming. All of the different uses of natural materials in building construct places that are so at one with the natural landscape. I love what you say about staying to enjoy the ambiance when the crowds have gone home, and the special pleasures of experiencing nightfall and sunrise to see the changing moods of the place.

  7. I can see why so many famous movies were set here, the location is absolutely surreal and stunning. And I love that this movie set carries such rich history behind it. The drive alone would be worth it, the landscape is so diverse and not at all what I would have expected. I would have to spend the night for sure, just to stop and capture it as often as I could and truly soak it in. This is an incredibly beautiful area that I would love to visit for myself!

  8. Had never ever heard of Ait-Ben-Haddou and I am planning a trip to Marrakech!! WOW! This looks absolutely gorgeous with its rustic architecture! The views from the high atlas mountains are super scenic especially the rocky stone formation! Lovely panoramas and landscapes! No wonder movies were shot here.

  9. Amazing place and very iconic – not surprising that it’s been used in so many films. It’s top of my Morocco bucket list for sure – I went to Morocco about 15 years ago and didn’t make it to Ait Ben Haddou. Gorgeous photos!

  10. Wow ..This looks like magical place .never heard of Ait-Ben-Haddou. Thanks for your recommendation in driving too. Never thought it ould be easy in Morocco.

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