What to see and do…
Moulay Idriss and what to do nearby will come as a surprise to most visitors and tourists. You can either follow the tourist route of stopping on the hill and taking the photo of this picturesque town, or you can take the time to stop, absorb and experience the charms and peace of Moulay Idriss, surrounded by mountains, olive tree’s and Roman Ruins.
This information is to help you enjoy your time in Moulay Idriss Zerhoune, and hopefully see some parts that you did not expect too.
There are no ‘official’ guides in Moulay Idriss, although the one’s that you pick up, or pick up you (which is more likely) are pretty good. They can speak Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, English, German. Just make sure you are happy with the language choice of your guide before going far. Dar Zerhoune can book a guide for you in your preferred language if you require.
Things to do in Moulay Idriss that you may not have known about…
Moulay Idriss has a roman bath that is filled with thermal spring water which is said to have many curative properties, similar to Moulay Yacoub. It is FREE to use and open all day and night. Now please don’t imagine it is like going to a municipal swimming pool. It is literally a big bath tub, about 10 m diameter, there is nowhere to get changed and there is a ‘shack’ for a local café. I recommend you go dressed in what you want to swim in and enjoy the experience. Even Moroccans from outside of Moulay Idriss will not believe you about the Roman baths with thermal spring water so take a photo to prove it is there.
To get there it is a 15 minute walk from Dar Zerhoune and we will send you off in the right direction. Personally I like the early morning dip before it gets too busy.
The Roman Ruins and mosaics of Volubilis are a must visit. They are open from about 8am till sunset and it costs 10Dh to enter. You can walk from Dar Zerhoune in 45minutes, passing olive groves and local farm or alternatively you can catch the grand taxi from 5Dh per person. There is plenty of information about Volubilis in your guide books, or please ask if you would like more information. Heading down there to experience the sunset through the roman columns is a very memorable experience.
Moulay Idriss is reknown for being the region of gorgeous tasting olive oil, it is a must to sample some of this fine delicacy (and you will with your breakfast at Dar Zerhoune). In the months of December and January you will see a flurry of local people picking the olives from the tree’s (the men hit the tree’s with sticks, then the woman pick the olives from the ground, usually they have draped a tarpaulin around the tree to catch them all and make the job a little easier). Then on the side of the road you will see piles of olives and these are sorted into what is good for eating and what is good for oil.
On your return to Moulay Idriss, you can then see the olive presses at work, some mechanical and most of them manually pressed for the most gorgeous and unique tasting olive oil. Expect to pay about 25Dh for a litre of good olive oil.
Whatever you like to call it, Moulay Idriss and the Zerhoune mountain range is the place to go walking. From an easy 45 minute walk to Volubilis, to a 5 hour strenuous walk return to Paragliders point. This is the place to come, meet local villagers on the way and enjoy the fabulous view from Volubilis to Meknes. It is safe to do, and easy to arrange a trek with an experienced local guide who has been walking these hills for most of his life, although they are not ‘official’ guides. Please make sure you take enough water and snacks with you especially on a hot day. It is also an option to hire donkeys to make the trek easier on four legs, there is no official place for hire donkey’s, more that we would arrange to borrow the animal, for a fee, from a local man. All part of the fun experience.
Oh and walking to the top of the town to see the View Panoramic will get your blood pumping.
Ever wanted to learn how to make a tagine? Or the yummy salads? bake bread in the local faraan (community oven)? make moroccan cookies and cakes? Now is your chance with a cooking class at Dar Zerhoune. You begin with a shopping trip to the souq to buy the ingredients, and the cooking class is carried out at Dar Zerhoune with an english or french speaking cook.
Did you know that there is an artisan’s area in Moulay Idriss? Step inside the walls of the artisan souq and be amazed at what is available and what is produced. From Dar Zerhoune walk to the main square and then walk down to the left. At the end of the square, cross the road and enter the artisan area, through the open doors.
Moulay Idriss and the surrounding villages are packed with talented artisans. There are men carving wood, sewing jellabah’s, women embroidering cloth in patterns that you can request. It is also possible to do a tour of the artisans in their village, or spend time with the local craftsman. The best way to do that is to talk to your host at Dar Zerhoune, and we will recommend who to speak to.
This is such a fabulous and speedy way to see Moulay Idriss, Volubilis and the surrounds whilst exercising your body and having fun at speeding downhill on the hills. It is possible to hire a bike from Dar Zerhoune for a half day, or a full day and set yourself free. Though remember, what comes up must come down!
Yes, it is possible to do this also. One of my favourite pastimes is sitting with a coffee in the main square of Moulay Idriss. To take a front row seat and watch locals go to pray, return from the souq laden with fresh, seasonal fruit, vegetables. See tourists look around in amazement, and young children playing in the main square. And are no problems to sit there as long as you want to, participating in life with the locals.
You will definitely have heard about the Saturday market and guidebook’s have described it as ‘an unspoilt local market’. It is fabulous and a great experience. Locals from surrounding villages travel early with their wares and buy what is on offer to take back home. There are tea pots, jellaba’s, sheep, egg’s, tarpaulins, toiletries, whatever takes your fancy it is possible to find in Moulay Idriss. And there are lots of people and the streets, cafes and restaurants are full of locals resting after a tough time shopping.
Of course it is possible to haggle, and be sensitive that you will be treated like a local here and the price they offer you first is not likely to be a tourist price as it is a local market.
Whatever you do, please just enjoy Moulay Idriss and your time at Dar Zerhoune.