Ait Ben Haddou is an ancient fortified village and a must visit place in Morocco for any road trip or travel itinerary. This iconic ksar has been used in many famous movies and shows like Game of Thrones, Gladiator, Prince of Persia, The Mummy, and Lawrence of Arabia. Read this complete travel guide to help you plan your visit to Ait Ben Haddou.
Perched on top of a hill overlooking a valley, the ksar of Aït Ben Haddou is one of the most picturesque and best preserved ancient fortified villages in Morocco. Its grand Kasbahs and old earthen buildings made of mud and straw have enchanted many visitors over the years.
Planning to visit Southern Morocco or Marrakech? Make sure to include a visit to the magical village of Ait Ben Haddou on your itinerary.
In this travel guide, we will cover everything you need to know to visit Ait Ben Haddou on a day trip from Marrakech, Ouarzazate, or as part of a road trip itinerary while traveling around Morocco.
Where is Ait Ben Haddou Located?
The fortified ksar of Ait Ben Haddou is located in the Ouarzazate province of Morocco, about 30 km northwest of Ouarzazate city and just west of the High Atlas Mountains.
It sits on a hill overlooking the Ounila River valley with scenic views of the surrounding barren landscape.
Ait Ben Haddou is located on an ancient caravan route between the Sahara desert region and Marrakech. It was an important stopover along the trans-Saharan gold and salt trade route.
Today, the ksar lies just off the main road between Ouarzazate and Marrakech (over the Tizi n’Tichka pass through the High Atlas mountains).
Why Visit Aït Benhaddou?
There are many great reasons to visit Aït Benhaddou on your Morocco itinerary:
- It’s one of the most picturesque and well-preserved ancient fortified ksars in the country. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
- You get to explore its narrow winding alleys, high defensive walls, old earthen buildings, granaries, and tower houses.
- It is been the filming location for many Hollywood movies like Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Prince of Persia, and more.
- You can climb to the top of the hill on the northern edge for amazing panoramic views of the ksar below and the valley landscape.
- It makes for an easy and rewarding day trip from Marrakech or Ouarzazate to experience Berber’s history and culture.
- Spending a night in Ait Ben Haddou lets you enjoy scenic views at sunset and sunrise in the quiet atmosphere.
So if you’re planning a trip to Morocco, a visit to Ait Ben Haddou is a must to appreciate this iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site and its place in cinema history.
How to Get to Ait Ben Haddou?
Ait Ben Haddou is located relatively close to the popular tourist destinations of Marrakech and Ouarzazate in Southern Morocco.
Here are the best ways to reach Ait Ben Haddou for your visit:
The fastest way to get to Ait Ben Haddou from Marrakech is by an arranged tour or private transfer. The journey takes about 3.5 hours one way going over the High Atlas Mountains through the Tizi n’Tichka pass (2260 m altitude).
You can also take public transit but it will take much longer with changing buses/taxis. First, take a bus to Ouarzazate (5 hours) and then a taxi to Ait Ben Haddou (30 minutes).
Driving yourself by rental car is also an option for more flexibility.
There are also shared taxis that drive back and forth frequently between Ouarzazate to Ait Ben Haddou.
Alternatively, you can join an organized day tour from Ouarzazate to Ait Ben Haddou which often combines other nearby attractions like the Taourirt Kasbah and Fint Oasis.
Berber Village Day Tour from Marrakech
One of the best ways to visit Ait Ben Haddou without the hassle is through this highly-rated Marrakech desert tour agency.
It picks you up from your hotel or riad in Marrakech and takes you over the Atlas Mountains and through the Tizi n’Tichka pass.
You’ll stop for panoramic views along the way before reaching Ait Ben Haddou. There you can explore on your own and have lunch.
On the return journey, you’ll visit another UNESCO village and have Berber pizza for dinner before returning to Marrakech by evening. Check tour dates and prices here.
Best Time to Visit Kasbah of Aït Ben Haddou
The best time to visit Ait Ben Haddou is during the cooler months from September to May. Summers can be extremely hot. During the winter rainy season, the surrounding landscapes look more lush and green.
Aim to arrive early in the day as tour groups start to pour in during the mid/late mornings. Late afternoon is also a nice time to visit to wander around the ksar and enjoy sunset views from the hilltop with fewer crowds.
Ait Ben Haddou Entrance Fee
There is an entry fee of 20 Moroccan Dirhams per person to access the ksar of Ait Ben Haddou. Children under 12 years enter for free.
You can pay the entrance fee at the ticket window across the bridge entering the Ksar. Be sure to keep your ticket on you as you’ll need to show it when entering some parts of the village like climbing up to the top of the hill.
Exploring Ait Ben Haddou
Ait Ben Haddou is quite a compact site that can be explored in 2-3 hours. Here are the main things to see and do during your visit:
- Walk through the winding pedestrian alleyways of the lower Ksar quarter. Admire the old earthen buildings and towers with wood and thatch roofs.
- Climb up to the abandoned upper town on the northern hill for the iconic panoramic views overlooking the Ksar below.
- Venture through the Kasbah fortress and granary at the top of the village – largely barren today but still atmospheric.
- Cross the river to get scenic views of Ait Ben Haddou from the distance. There’s a cafe here for refreshments.
- Wander among the crumbling kasbahs and towers outside the main ksar for picturesque views and to imagine what life was once like.
Allow enough time as climbing to the upper hill and back takes about an hour round-trip. The views are worth it! Dressing modestly and bringing good walking shoes, sunscreen, and water is recommended.
Where to Eat and Stay Near the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou?
There are a handful of basic restaurants and cafes around Ait Ben Haddou where you can grab a quick tagine lunch or refreshments. For overnight stays, it’s best to stay in Ouarzazate which offers more authentic riads and hotel options.
Here are some highly recommended places to stay in Ouarzazate, located about 30 minutes drive from Ait Ben Haddou:
- Riad Dar Chamaa – Charming riad with roof terraces offering scenic views of the Atlas Mountains.
- Le Temple Des Arts – Restored riad with traditional decor and friendly owners organizing tours.
- Berbere Palace – Elegant Kasbah-style hotel with a swimming pool, spa, and views.
For a special experience, consider spending a night at the Ait Ben Moro Kasbah which has traditional rooms and suites overlooking Ait Ben Haddou.
Tips for Visiting Ait Ben Haddou in Morocco
- Dress modestly – shoulders and knees should be covered when entering the ksar.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes as you’ll be climbing over uneven stairs.
- Carry cash (Moroccan Dirham preferred) as there’s nowhere to exchange money or withdraw there.
- Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat as there’s little shade on site.
- Try to visit early morning or late afternoon to avoid the big tour groups.
- Hire an official local guide to learn more about the history and architecture.
- For the best views, walk to the abandoned upper ksar and Northern Kasbah hilltop.
- Scenes from Game of Thrones and other movies were filmed outside around the outer kasbahs.
Visiting the mud brick ksour village of Ait Ben Haddou will be one of the highlights of your trip to Morocco that you’ll fondly remember.
Have you been to Ait Ben Haddou in Morocco before? Share your experience in the comments!
More on Visiting Morocco
- 11 Days Desert Morocco Tour
- Desert Tours from Marrakech
- Moroccan Tours From Casablanca
- Desert Tours from Fes
- Tours from Tangier
Visit Ait Benhaddou on a 2 Day Trip from Marrakech
If you want to visit Ait Benhaddou on an easy guided tour from Marrakech, Great Desert Tours provides a fantastic 2 Days Morocco Tour from Marrakech to Ait Benhaddou.
This small-group tour takes you over the Atlas Mountains, explores Ait Benhaddou and other highlights like the city of Ouarzazate and the Dades Valley, and drops you back in Marrakech by the evening of the second day.
Transportation, accommodation, guides, and meals are all included. Check out this 2-day Ait Benhaddou tour booking details here.
So have you been convinced to visit Ait Ben Haddou on your next Morocco trip? Let us know if you have any other questions!