5 Best Small Cities to Visit While Studying Abroad in Morocco

You are here

There are so many beautiful places to see when you study abroad in Morocco, but where do you go when you want to avoid tourist traps? (I’m looking at you, Marrakesh.) Where do you go when you feel like you’ve already been everywhere?

Here are some of the best hidden gems to travel to while studying abroad in Morocco.

1. Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is the most well-known of Morocco’s small cities. Known as the blue city of Morocco, Chefchaouen is a beautiful city in the middle of the Rif Mountains. You can get there easily by traveling with Compagnie de Transport au Maroc (CTM), a bus company that operates throughout Morocco, from Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat, or Fez for less than $15 USD.

There are a ton of hotels and hostels that cater to the European tourists who come during the summer, and the city is known for its textiles — so buy a blanket and a scarf! Make sure to try some of the city’s famous goat cheese, too!

2. Meknes

Located between the cities of Fez and Rabat, Meknes is arguably the most underrated of Morocco’s imperial cities. (The imperial cities — Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh, and Rabat — have all served as Morocco’s capital at some point.) You can get there by taking the bus or the train.

Go shopping in the old medina, and don’t forget to check out Beb Mansour! Bonus points if you travel to the nearby Volubilis ruins! (When you study abroad in Rabat with IES Abroad, you’ll get the chance to see the well-preserved Roman ruins and more than 30 original mosaics in Volubilis on a field trip during orientation.)

Meknes, Moracco

3. Agadir

Well known among European tourists, Agadir is a beautiful beach town south of Casablanca. While it doesn’t have the old medina charm of some of Morocco’s other cities, the town is perfect for lounging on the beach and hiking in the nearby Paradise Valley. You can get to Agadir by bus, but you’ll have to get a guide to take you hiking. Talk to your hotel or hostel about booking a tour.

Agadir, Moracco

4. Merzouga

Stereotypical experience walking through sand dunes with not a building in sight? Check. Merzouga is a town in southern Morocco near the Algerian border. Famous for the nearby sand dunes — Erg Chebbi — there isn’t much besides the tiny village and some fabulous, luxurious resorts. (We stayed at the Xaluca Group resort in Erfoud.) But on the way there, you can check out all the fossil shops. You could buy a pretty knick-knack — or a kitchen countertop! You can get to Errachidia by plane, take a ~$30 taxi to Erfoud, and book your desert excursions through your hotel.

5. Ifrane

When you think about Morocco, you usually don’t think about snow-capped mountains… But if you find yourself missing winter when you’re studying abroad in Morocco, Ifrane will soothe your cravings.

Situated in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Ifrane was first set up as a colonial settlement by the French because of its similarity to the Alpine environment! Ifrane is easily accessible through the CTM — you can get there easily from Rabat, Casablanca, Fez, and Meknes.

When you study abroad in Rabat with IES Abroad, you can join a field trip to the Middle Atlas Mountains that includes spending two nights with a Berber family, visiting natural springs, and learning about medicinal herbs native to the region.

Ifrane, Morocco


Emma Jerzyk headshotEmma Jerzyk

Emma is a senior at Brown University studying Middle Eastern Studies and Computer Science. She is a two-time alumna studying abroad with IES Abroad Rabat in Spring 2017 and IES Abroad European Union in Summer 2017.

Read Emma’s IES Abroad blog to learn more about her experience studying abroad in Rabat.

Recent news & press

Apr 19 3:00pm
Amsterdam

Sustainable Living While Studying Abroad

by Victoria Bruick

Whether you’re a long-time environmentalist or a budding recycler, interning or studying abroad offers you an opportunity to gain insight into how different communities approach sustainable living.

Read more
Apr 19 9:17am
Paris

IES Abroad Paris Students Explore Clichy-Batignolles, the City’s Growing Eco-District

by Victoria Bruick

Professor Alvaro Artigas recently led IES Abroad students on a course-related trip to Clichy-Batignolles, a dynamically growing eco-district in Paris.

Read more
Apr 18 9:19pm
Rome

From International Internship in Italy to Pursuing Public Health

by Shaina Moran

IES Internships alumna Michelle Wagner (Rome Summer Internship 2015 | Penn State University) wears many hats: graduate student, world traveler, public health enthusiast, and blogger, to name a few. In a previous role as an IES intern in Rome, Michelle participated in hands-on work, came face-to-face with social issues, gained a professional mentor, and paved her path to graduate school. Read on Michelle explains her international internship in Italy.

Read more
Apr 17 1:41pm

The Power of Advocacy: Mobilizing the Study Abroad Community

by Hernando Sevilla-Garcia

Hernando Sevilla-Garcia, IES Abroad Diversity Relations Manger, visited Capitol Hill to speak with Illinois representatives on the importance of study abroad programs and international students.

Read more
Apr 16 1:05pm
Paris

Giving Back - Alum of the Month Gianna Reyes Montinola

by Victoria Bruick

Meet Gianna Reyes Montinola (IES Abroad Paris, Summer 1978 & 1978-79 | Mount Holyoke College), Vice President for Corporate Affairs at the Far Eastern University (FEU) Manila.

Read more