20 Best locations to visit in Morocco for pictures
As a professional photographer and professional traveller, actually I don’t know if that exists as title but I feel like i’m a true professional traveller especially here in Morocco, i spent in my young age a full two years in my life travelling across my country i was travelling full time and finding photography gigs along the way … let alone all the travels that i did professionally as a tour guide and tour leader for private small groups as well as big groups tours around Morocco. So i guess i can title myself a professional traveller … As I’m still doing this full time and I’m very passionate about it, I would say that great pictures opportunities are everywhere in the kingdom of Morocco, the weather is fantastic 80% of the time combined with the vibrant colors of the sceneries in both the urbanscapes and landscapes it makes it perfect for a photography trip whether if you’re an amateur that is looking for new discovery and practical field learning or a professional that want to get some inspiration and get some great frames to enrich his portfolio.
In this article I’m sharing with you the best Morocco locations in my opinion if you travel for photography. Also I would love to share with you some of the gear that you will need.
Let’s talk gear :
The best camera that you can use is the one that you already have, the least, your smartphone will do an astonishing job … the gear nowadays barely makes a difference, many great pictures that i took were with my phone camera 😉
But let’s be honest, us photographers, we like our lenses, camera bodys, filters and our huge backpack full with stuff that we carry around wherever we go. Of course depends on your style of photography and you interests, but here’s a general list of the gear that i will recommend you to bring along while your travelling to Morocco :
The Camera :
- Any DSLR or mirrorless will work of course but personally i will prefer a full frame body because it captures more light and has a wider look in general.
The lenses :
- A wide angle 12-24mm for the great landscapes and also some tight spaces like the narrow alleyways and the small shops in the old towns, i will use also the wide angle for my favorite genre of photography environmental portraits
- A tighter prime lens 35mm, 50mm or 85mm with a big opening f1.4 or f1.8 for some buttery shallow depth portraits and some details it comes super handy in many occasions.
- A standard 24-70mm that’s what you’re gonna be using most of the time. It’s gonna be always on your camera, very versatile lens wide enough and can zoom quite well, it will be your friend in the cities for street photography architecture urbanscapes and more …
- A telephoto lens 70-200mm is not a must, but it can definitely help photographing through the crowd and across long distances, great also for portraits if you want to really smooth out that background and make your subject the hero of the frame. In my point of view it will miss out on the interaction between the photographer and the subject and that’s what makes true great photos. But particularly if you like birds or other wildlife you will of course carry your Huge 200-600 or so …
- Tripod : you don’t wanna miss the chance to do some night photography capturing the desert under the clear sky full of stars …
- Filters : i’m not a huge filters fan i barely use them … but if you’re very picky bring a polarising filter and a variable ND.
- Anything that is protecting the gear … your cleaning kit, a silicone housing, lens caps and protectors, it can get very dusty in some locations and you”ll need some good protection for the stuff that you care about.
Now once everything is set up you know the gear, you’ve obviously seen some great photos of Morocco, and you want to start planning your travel to morocco, here’s a list of 12 locations for great landscaping pictures and 8 beautiful picturesque cities.
Most beautiful Morocco Landscapes for pictures
- Merzouga or M’hamid el ghizlane Sahara Desert
If Photography is your main goal while you’re travelling, this is a must so many curves and lines to play with so many volumes, great colors, sunsets and sunrises, minimalistic looks and especially a great background for portraits, the people there, the nomads, are always smiling and dressed traditionally they just look so cool guiding or riding their camels or more precisely dromedaries … night photography is also a great option if you’re into it, on a clear day which is the most frequent you can capture the milky way and your favorite stars constellations with some sand dunes and palm trees i the foreground. For light painting fanatics I would say this is your heaven …
- Akchour waterfalls and God’s bridge
A hidden gem between the rif mountains located in Talassemtane national park, not far away from the blue city chefchaouen, those water sources created such great natural hiking trails following the rivers. There are two famous routes, the short trail (~1hour hike) that will take you to the God’s Bridge, an astonishing landscape, a bridge between two mountains naturally formed. The long trail (~3hours Hike) is the big waterfall, a more than 30meters height waterfall with a stunning rock formation around it. And along the way so many small man made bridges and small shops selling tea and some tagines … everything about this place is authentic, raw and picturesque
- Imlil and Toubkal national park
A small village located in the High Atlas mountains like 1.5 hour ride from Marrakech. This village is the last driving stop for travellers that want to climb to Toubkal Summit the highest mountain peak in Morocco and north africa (4160M) … also the village is particularly beautiful during spring when all the trees are colorful and blossoming, also all the rivers are full with water and the waterfalls came white and buttery on those long exposure pictures, all the surrounding mountains looks green and give the whole scene a wonderful background. But all around the year there’s always something to photograph there, it’s just exquisite.
- Bin el ouidane lake
Literally Bin El Ouidane translates to between the rivers, it’s a naturally formed lake that Morocco turned into a water dam, to fulfill the region azilal beni-mellal with its water needs. It’s also a national destination where the locals will spend weekends doing fishing, kayaking and boat riding … What makes this place a picturesque destination is the fact that there’s not many buildings around it, the scenery still looks raw and contrasted, the red rocky mountains surrounding it and the perfect milky blue color of the lake make a perfect color harmony where you can also capture some of the best reflections.
- Ouzoud waterfalls
The biggest waterfalls of the kingdom, 110m height of water falling through 3 drops, and the beginning of a big valley following the river, with so many crazy rock formations and impossible waterfalls … the best thing to do here is to have a great traditional lunch at the bottom of the waterfall and then explore the river for beautiful landscaping and unforgettable hikes. all the way across this river and about 700m walking in a narrow and a bit difficult track leading to the caves where water mills are used to grind wheat grain into flour.
- Dades gorges canyons
Colorful rocky mountains with some crazy tight cannons and very beautiful rock formations all the way along Dades river that creates green spaces to balance out the scenery … you can never get enough of this place and whenever you point your lens there’s something to capture. Portraits of the nice Amazigh (berber) people working on their small agricultural fields, great nature landscapes and unique textures are everywhere.
- Ait Benhaddou Ouarzazate
If you saw, Gladiator, Babel, Prince of Persia, Kingdom of Heaven, Alexander, queen of the desert or if you’re a fan of the famous series Game of Thrones this location might seem familiar to you, it’s a movie set with all the criteria, so many Hollywood movies were shot here also other countries productions were filmed here …
- Painted rocks Tafraout
In 1984 a belgian artist Jean Verame during his trip in Morocco found those round and piled up granite gray rocks formations in the middle of a dry desert area far 4km away from a small town called Tafraout in south Morocco, he made this stunning art installation, basically he just painted in blue pink and green some big stones and made colorful compositions, what bring a strong contrast with the red granite landscape. The place has become a destination for so many nature artists where they express themselves through ephemere paintings and visuals … and wherever there’s those components, Us photographers can do some magic playing with our cameras capturing moments of beauty illustrating nature perfection and man made touch.
- Ait bouguemez Valley
One of the famous valleys of the Atlas mountains not far away from M’Goun the second highest mountain peak in Morocco (4071M), also called the happy valley, it’s a place with so many Kasbas (old fortresses) built decades and still preserved by the local communities … best timing to visit is during the spring where all the trees are blossoming …. you can take quick hikes to some peaks nearby to get great shots of the big landscapes full of colors.
- Imsouane / Taghazout / Tafedna Surf villages
Those are three different villages but not far from each other they are all located between Essaouira and Agadir they are known by the surfers, some if the best spots where you will find most of the time if it’s not always perfect conditions for surfing … if you’re into that that’s great but if it’s just for photography the most beautiful sunsets on the ocean happens right here, all that wet sand on the beach turn gold and super reflective as a gigantic Mirror … Also photographing fishing boats and surfers is such a cool style of photography that i personally love so much.
- Legzira beach Arches
you have probably seen those pictures of the reddish archways collapses on to the ocean, that’s Legzira Beach and those arches are formed naturally after decades of erosion and they are accessible during the low tide, this beach counted 4 arches and one of them, the thinner, has collapsed in august 2016. This beach is labelled “a Jewel of Northwest africa” and it was ranked the 29th among the best 40 Beaches on the planet. Beside it’s natural sea-worm cliff archays, Legzira is known for being such a great location for a quiet escape. still not so much visited by tourists, you find just the minimum of hotels and restaurants beside the beach providing a very friendly and welcoming service. Legzira is located just between Mirleft and Sidi Ifni, two great small towns known by surfers, wild adventurous travellers and fish lovers …
I your a fan of kitesurfing Dakhla must be your paradise, it’s always windy and you have that huge lagune that is always flat all the good conditions for great sessions each day … but more than that Dakhla and it’s Regions is full of colors, minimalistic deserts landscapes and nomads travelling with their herds of dromedaries. The only thing here is that Dakhla is located in the Extreme south of Morocco so you’ll need to fly there but fortunately flights are available every day from casablanca, Marrakech, Paris or Agadir via Air Arabia or Royal Air Maroc
Morocco Cities that you have to visit if you’re a photographer :
Of course that’s my hometown, and the capital of morocco, also labeled the city of lights, all the city is registered unesco world heritage site with its 19Kms of 12th century walls, it’s old town (the médina), the ROman ruins of Chellah the necropole and the mythical Kasbah des oudayas a 12th Century fortress overlooking the Bouregreg river and the Atlantic ocean. Rabat has such a unique contrast between Authenticity and Modernism, from the Old walls, minarets and fortresses to the colonial French style architecture passing by the modern 20th century architecture with its gigantic murals painted all over the city … so many unique locations to photograph either day or night a great mix that is worth spending 2 to 3 days.
A small city in the north of morocco, known by The blue city, or the blue pearl, you’ve seen for sure pictures of it while scrolling on instagram, it’s those bright blue streets, the wonderful blue doors and the small shops on every corner. The city is also surrounded by mountains and built around a natural spring water source Ras Elma by far picture wise this city will be my favorite whenever i go there i will bring my memory card full.
It’s a city known by surfers, and travellers that want just a relaxed and calm atmosphere, everything is going at a slow pace there, in the 80s Essaouira was very popular as a destination for the hippy communities … its old town is an explosion of colors, with a portuguese / spanish medieval style, there are many stunning alleyways, gates and doors that are great subject for your frames, Also the peoples in essaouira are all stylish always smiling and they don’t mind being in front of a lens … essaouira is also knows by the street Gnaoua music performances which add that extra spice to your Essouira Photo Album
Like who doesn’t know this destination, it’s the most famous city in Morocco, the Medina of this fortified old city is heavily packed with stalls selling all sorts of moroccan crafts, leather, ceramics, pottery, lanterns, textiles, jewelry, street food, fruits and the list goes … it’s a city of hustle and bustle a popular tourist destination and that’s what marks it perfect for great street photography opportunities, you’ll stumble across a big mix of interesting subjects to photograph. The most famous main square Jamma Elfan on it’s own come together as a piece of art definitely the place to take some great shots here’s also some places where you can take some unique pictures
Such a unique destination not very known by tourists although it’s a popular destination for moroccans, since it’s the city is located on a high elevation 1665m and one of the rarest cities that gets snow in Winter, so whenever it’s snowing there many moroccans will spend there a two days weekend vacation and bring their kids and families to experience and play in joyful snowy weather … but in term or architecture the city is considered a Garden city following the model that was developed in britain to solve the problem of industrial cities in the 19th century as a social reform aiming to lower the density of housing which consists of fully detached or semi-detached single homes surrounded by gardens … the records said also that the french urbanists when they were planning to build this city they thought about the gardens and the green spaces as a priority. The plan also called for chalet-type summer homes in the Alpine style, from where this town got the name of Switzerland of Morocco. Well I guess you got it, with that being said it’s a perfect spot for photography.
Meknes is one of the Old capitals of the moroccan Kingdom back in the 17th century and early 18th. Founded in the 12th century as a military settlement and knew it’s major development by the King Moulay Ismail when he made it a Capital around 1670. Mly Ismail the third King of Alaouite Dynasty made this city it’s capital and built outstanding architecture edifices, 40km of fortified protecting walls, a huge horse stables, an inventive granary, a genius water reservoir that will fulfill all the city needs of water. Meknes the old town is also known by the many mosques from the panoramic view you can see more than a hundred minaret across the Médina. For some awesome architectural historical pictures Meknes is the Goto.
The medina of Fez or Fes El Bali is a Unesco World Heritage Site also it’s believed to be the largest world urban pedestrians only zone (car free), obviously because it’s impossible to fit a car in some 30 to 40Cm wide alleyways, it’s a massive maze made out of 9000 narrow alleyways with numerous Mosques, Madrassas (Religious schools), Water fountains, Foundouks and city gates, those buildings are considered hallmarks of the pure Moroccan architectural style with all it’s tiles, carved wood, brass and marble decorated designs. The city has been named the “Mecca of the West” and the “Athens of Africa”. What’s unique about it in terms of photography, is the choking contrast between the beauty and the meticulous details of the interiors and the roughness, blandness, colourlessness of the streets …
The biggest city of morocco, a metropole with almost 6 million population, the new york city but on our scale. Casablanca shows so many visual aspects in terms of the architecture, the atmosphere and the general feel of the town. It reflects modernism and urbanisme in so many different ways it’s a city where you will stand on a crowded spot hunting the best street photography compositions or portraits, there are so many things happening at the same time at a high pace. It seems confusing and overwhelming at the beginning but you’ll get easily trapped by the friendliness, the smiles and the social interactions that will make you fall in love with this metropole.
- Bonus : Assilah
A northern coastal small town known by the city of artists, its Médina is full of murals paintings and art installations, small local artists shops selling their workarts. The architecture again is a portuguese medieval style with white and green as a dominant color.