Exploring Aït Benhaddou

The fortified city of Aït Benhaddou is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has played a starring role in films such as Gladiator, Prince of Persia and The Living Daylights. Read all about it right here!

Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
Aït Benhaddou, Morocco

Standing at the edge of the High Atlas Mountains, the city historically served as an important trading post on the caravan route between Marrakesh and Sudan.

Home to one of best-preserved ksars (citadel) in Southern Morocco, Aït Benhaddou allows for a justified detour from the country’s lively main cities.

So here are our suggestions of what to see and eat and how to try to get the most out of Aït Benhaddou, however long your trip is.

Camels at Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
Camels at Aït Benhaddou, Morocco

What to do

The size of the city means that Aït Benhaddou can be explored in a day. However it is not the most accessible place on earth, with public transport not servicing the city directly. Local buses will drop you around 7km from the city, so a car or organised coach tour is the best way to get to Aït Benhaddou.

The ksar serves as the main local attraction with a granary situated at the top of the hill and a mausoleum at the bottom, can also be easily explored. On the other side of the river lies the main village, where the majority of the city’s inhabitants live, although 10 families still reside inside the citadel.

What to eat

Like hotels, restaurants in Aït Benhaddou are in limited supply however there is a handful that serves traditional Berber and Moroccan and cuisine.

Couscous and tajine dishes are staples of the Berber diet. Another Berber specialty is Pastilla, a pie made traditionally with pigeon, although shredded chicken is more commonly used nowadays.

What to drink

Green tea with mint or ‘whiskey berere’ is the most popular drink in Morocco and the locals take much pride in their preparation and consumption of the drink. Traditionally served in three rounds, the tea becomes stronger with each cup.

Moment you’ll never forget

Just before sunset the mud structures of the ksar radiate a spectacular orange hue. From the top of the citadel you can look over the river towards the sprawling, burnt umber desert beyond. Take a moment to capture the splendor of this spectacular undisturbed landscape.

Click the links for more on Ait Benhaddou and tours to Morocco.

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