Ifrane: A Journey Through The Switzerland Of Morocco

Morocco is an African nation filled with an array of interesting tourist attractions that have become a strong magnet to many tourists, both from local areas and international origins. This country is a melting pot of European, African, and Arab cultures.

In addition to the cultural sites in this country, you can also have a great time visiting various fascinating destinations, including its great landscapes. Should you look for a complete tourist destination in Morocco, you should visit the city of Ifrane.

Known as the ‘Switzerland’ of Morocco, Ifrane is a small city in the middle Atlas region of Morocco. It is the perfect destination for those looking to escape to the countryside for a peaceful and chilling weekend. The beauty of this city is enclosed in a natural park and often surprises visitors with the best and most amazing Moroccan experiences.

If you would like to know more about Ifrane or planning to travel to it. Then keep reading!

Ifrane City

The Complete Introduction To Ifrane

Before moving to the travel guide, we will take a quick look at Ifrane city, its exact location, its weather, and what makes it so special and different than other Moroccan cities.

A Quick Overview Of Ifrane

When thinking of Morocco, most people think of the Sahara Desert, long canyons, red sandstones, and mudbrick houses. But Ifrane is ready to surprise you.

The city was established during the French protectorate in Morocco in 1928. The landscape of the region is comparable to that found in Europe. The goal was to provide a place where the French could spend their summer holidays.

Ifrane was conceived as a “hill station” or colonial settlement. It is a resort town set high up in the mountains so Europeans could find relief from the summer heat of the interior plains of Morocco.

In 1979, Ifrane became the seat of the administrative province of the same name, and some government services were established. In 1995 Al Akhawayn University, an English-language, American-curriculum public university, opened, and this has helped re-launch Ifrane as a desirable destination for domestic tourism.

Consequently, Ifrane continues to develop as both a summer and winter resort. Old chalets in the center of town are being demolished and replaced with condominium complexes, while vacation centers and gated housing estates are springing up on the city’s outskirts.

Today, economic and social growth is booming in the city of Ifrane. The large-scale trade has captured the hearts of people, traders, and tourists from outside regions.

What is the weather like in Ifrane city?

Located in the Atlas Mountains and affected by the cold north Atlantic current, Ifrane has a continental-influenced warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Csb) with short, somewhat dry, warm summers and long, cool, damp winters.

The nights can be severely cold in winter. The winter highs rarely exceed 10 °C (50 °F) from December to February.

Because of its elevation, the town experiences snow during the winter and a cooler climate during the summer (not as hot as in the nearby regions, which lie at lower altitudes). Funny enough, Ifrane holds the record for the lowest temperature observed in Africa.

Where is Ifrane Located?

Among the city of Morocco, in the province of the same name, in the region of Fez-Meknes, Ifrane is located in the Middle Atlas Mountains at an elevation of 1,665 m (5,463 ft) meters above sea level. The drive from Fes city is around 45 minutes.

Ifrane Morocco: A Travel Guide for Adventure Seekers

Ifrane Travel Guide

Now that you have a general idea about Ifrane city. Let’s move on to the travel guide in which I am going to show you everything you need to know to plan an amazing adventure and enjoy the charm of the swiss-like Moroccan city.

Is Ifrane safe?

Despite the magical and captivating qualities of Ifrane city, it still incites hesitation and safety concerns for western travelers. Is Ifrane safe?

Yes, Ifrane is a safe place to visit, you’re unlikely to encounter serious problems as a tourist, but it is essential to be careful, especially if you are a solo traveler but don’t let this keep you from experiencing a truly wonderful adventure of the city.

Visiting Ifrane requires you to be a little strict in some places due to the sheer number of people who will give you unwanted attention to buy things. Visiting for the first time alone could be annoying, especially if you are a solo traveler.

Let’s be honest; no country or city in this world is entirely “safe,” that’s why you have to do a little prior research before traveling. Your journey would be less stressful and much more enjoyable if you knew what to expect and how to behave in new places with different cultures.

Well-lit and busy areas are always safe in Ifrane; you should be exploring the city only during the daytime, so stay away from dark corners and back alleys at night.

No matter how hot it is, you won’t see local Moroccan women walking/strolling the city of Ifrane in mini skirts, so if you’re a woman, don’t show too many tights, chest, and shoulders as it may easily attract unwanted attention and more harassment.

How To Get To Ifrane And Get Around?

The city is closest to Fes and Meknes. Both cities are just an hour away from Ifrane. Here are some ways you can get to Ifrane and get around:

1. Grand Taxi

Take a grand taxi from Fez CTM station in Fes to reach Ifrane. The taxi will leave you at the grand taxi station, which is temporarily located just 300 meters southwest of the market.

The rides are more expensive during the weekends. While you’ll pay 25DH on a weekday, taxis may ask for a good 30DH on the weekends. If you take a taxi at odd hours (too early in the morning or too late at night), the taxis may charge you even more.

You can also hire a taxi from Fez airport, but they charge more than those leaving from the Fes CTM station which charge usually around 300DH.

2. By The Bus

CTM, or Compagnie de Transports au Maroc (Transport Company of Morocco), runs many buses from Fes to Ifrane. There is a CTM office at the east end of the Fes market, from where the buses depart.

Their buses are admired for being clean and fast compared to other transport companies, thus you can expect a comfortable journey.

The buses to Ifrane will likely depart from the new Gare Routière, opposite the grand taxi station. Some buses can take more time to reach, owing to a greater number of stops, but they start early and are easy to catch.

3. By The Train

There are no trains for Ifrane since the city has no railway station.The train does not run to Ifrane but will get you to Fez city. From there, you can take an alternative form of transportation to reach Ifrane.

How Many Days Do You Need In Ifrane?

It is recommended to stay at least 2 days to appreciate everything Ifrane has to offer fully.

With a population of 73,782, Ifrane is a must-see destination in Morocco. It is one of the most popular cities to visit in the country.

Start your day by visiting Centreville, the main part of Ifrane, which features different attractions, buildings, restaurants, cafes, and shops. A typical attraction, ‘the statue of the lion,’ situated near the lake and park, is famous among visitors.

Also, do not miss the view of one of the major market areas of Ifrane (Marché), offering a wide range of colorful products, from books to electronic items. There are also many fruit stores, restaurants, and cafes at Marché.

Also, there’s a ski station which is 40 minutes from Ifrane. You can stop and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside along the route. The station is low altitude, and you can find several restaurants. However, the prices are particularly inflated.

Next to the coffee and Beethoven Bowling center, you can take a tour on this small train, which does a circuit around the city, a pleasant and original way to discover the beauty of Ifrane.

Remember to see the Dayet Aoua, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Middle Atlas and located about 15 km (10 miles) from Ifrane. A meadow and a forest of different species of trees with several great trails for hikers surround it.

Lastly, if you are one of those who enjoy visiting schools, then you should not forget to visit Al Akhawayn University.

What Is The Best Time To Visit Ifrane?

The best time to visit Ifrane is from January through May and October through December. In this period, you have a warm temperature and almost no precipitation.

The highest average temperature in Ifrane is 102°F in August, and the lowest is 69°F in January.

What To Pack When Traveling To Ifrane?

Travel, while usually enjoyable, can also be stressful. There will always be some oversight when you start packing the right items. You’ll undoubtedly forget to bring your toothbrush or your favorite shoes. While on your trip, you want to worry about whether you have everything you need.

There’s nothing more frustrating than being on vacation and realizing you left your favorite shirt or pair of pants at home. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, here’s a great checklist of things you should bring so you’ll be able to enjoy your trip without worrying about what you left behind.

By packing the essential items, you’ll be ready for anything that comes your way on your vacation. Whether you’re embarking on a camping trip, visiting family in Ifrane, or taking a weekend getaway, these items will make your travels much smoother.

For Women Traveler:

  • Clothes (not too tight or revealing dresses) because Ifrane is a conservative city.
  • Jacket
  • Pairs of underwear, depending on your trip length
  • Pairs of socks, depending on your trip length
  • Pairs of shoes
  • Swimsuits
  • 1 set of PJs
  • Scarf, shawl, or sarong
  • Shampoo (a bar shampoo is easier to pack)
  • Conditioner
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Lotion(s)
  • Cleanser
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Basic face makeup (foundation, concealer)
  • Makeup essentials (lipstick, eyeliner)
  • Travel-sized bottle of hair product (if you use it)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Camera
  • Laptop or tablet (optional)
  • Chargers
  • Adaptor

For Men Traveler:

  • Socks/Underwear
  • Undershirts
  • T-shirts Dress Shirts
  • Sweater
  • Pair of Extra Dress Pants
  • Pair of Jeans
  • Pairs of Shoes
  • Toiletries – toothpaste, toothbrush, shaver, shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
  • Accessories

For Children:

  • Clothing that can be layered: Daytime temperatures can get quite hot, even in the spring but drop 30-40 degrees (Fahrenheit) once the sun sets. A t-shirt or tank top might be perfectly comfortable at midday, but a cardigan or light jacket may be needed by evening.
  • For Boys: A baseball hat or sun hat, t-shirts, 1-2 lightweight long-sleeve shirts or button-up shirts, a medium-weight hoodie or sweatshirt, a heavier jacket – weight depending on the season, lightweight pants, elastic waist pants for comfort, pajamas, socks, and underwear.
  • For Girls: A hat to protect the face and neck from the sun, leggings and lightweight pants, sun dresses or maxi dresses, a cardigan, medium weight hoodie or sweatshirt, a heavier jacket – weight depending on the season, pajamas, socks, and underwear.
  • Bathing suit and plastic flip flops
  • Good walking shoes that have been broken in. Nothing is worse than a child with a new pair of shoes that are hurting. Nothing.
  • Shampoo.
  • Reusable water bottles.
  • Snacks: If you have picky kids, this is especially important. Small, light items like granola bars and nut butter packs take up little space and can be a lifesaver.
  • Toys that are non-tech: Cards, paper, pens, and stickers are just a few suggestions.
  • Medication kit: Pharmacies in Morocco may need to carry the brands and dosages your child is used to. Packing an emergency kit will help you avoid any issues.
  • Journaling supplies – a new notebook, drawing pencils, etc. will keep your child busy and encourage them to record their adventure.
  • Camera: Make the trip their own by letting them take pictures.

Important Note: For men, this is simple. Don’t go shirtless except at the beach. Women’s dress codes tend to be more ideologically and pragmatically complicated.

Women have heard a thousand times that it’s safer to travel in conservative clothing. Catcalling is frequent in Kenitra, as in many places throughout Morocco and is likely to happen regardless of clothing choice. But the travel guides say dressing modestly will help lessen unwanted attention.

Legally, women can dress however they want in Morocco. However, covering up shows respect to local women by following the local Moroccan dress standard.

Dressing to local standards doesn’t mean you agree with all the local institutions. Rather, your willingness to adapt shows your ability to learn, understand, and withhold judgment about social customs that are not your own.

Ultimately, you can choose how you dress when you travel. But your appearance and behavior may affect the hospitality locals show you.

Top 10 Ifrane’s Things To Do You Should Not Miss

Ifrane Morocco

Here are some of the top spots and things to do when visiting Ifrane city:

1. Explore Ifrane National Park

Ifrane National Park is one of Morocco’s most important and protected parks. In addition to being natural and pristine, the park is home to lakes, caves, and several diverse plant and animal species that are not found elsewhere. To be noticed by nature lovers.

2. Take a Snap Next To The Lion Statue

The lion statue has become emblematic of the city of Ifrane, and locals joke that every full-fledged Moroccan has at least one photograph with the sculpture.

The history of the lion statue is shrouded in mystery, and opinions on the sculptor’s identity diverge. Some people believe that an Italian or German soldier carved the figure far back during the second world war to commemorate the last wild Atlas lion that perished near the region of Ifrane.

However, the sculpture dates back to 1930, and the most plausible narrative attributes the design and creation of the lion statue to French sculptor Henri Jean Moreau who moved to Morocco in 1928. He also carved several sculptures in the country’s churches and chapels, including the Catholic church of Ifrane.

3. Enjoy Skiing & Golfing

If you are passionate about skiing and golfing then you should try some of the following activities.

i. Michlifen golf & ski resort

During winter, thousands of Moroccans head out to Michlifen for skiing, sledding, and snowboarding. With one kilometer of slopes, the station is always bustling with kids and adults alike.

Visitors can enjoy the immaculate mountainous scenery, build snowmen, and engage in snowball fights. During winter, thousands of Moroccans head out to Michlifen for skiing, sledding, and snowboarding. With one kilometer of slopes, the station is always bustling with kids and adults alike.

Visitors can enjoy the immaculate mountainous scenery, build snowmen, and engage in snowball fights. Near the ski station, you will find a golf center boasting a unique 18-hole course that summarizes the beautiful landscapes of the Atlas Mountains.

The course is challenging for experienced pros but offers good entertainment for novice golf enthusiasts.

ii. Habri Ski Station

Ifrane is a short taxi ride to Habri Ski Station, where a series of easy trails offer a fun day out for beginner and intermediate skiers.

There is a ski lift at this station, but it’s also possible to hike to the top of the slopes. Bringing your gear is best if possible, although rental shops offer equipment in varying states of repair at the ski station and in Ifrane itself.

4. Visit Al Akhawayn University

Al Akhawayn University was founded by Morocco’s former king Hassan II in 1993 (by royal decree) and officially inaugurated in 1995. The university is English language-centered and boasts more than 2,100 full-time students.

If you enjoy visiting school facilities, you wouldn’t want to miss this one. Al Akhawayn’s campus has many amenities, including a swimming pool, a health center, restaurants, and auditoriums. You can call the university ahead of time to schedule a proper tour of the establishment.

5. Stroll The Town

Exploring the town center in Ifrane is a must-do. One of the first things that come to mind is that it looks very unlike other Moroccan towns with unique buildings and architecture.

Also, the nightlife in Ifrane is less buzzing than in its neighboring cities. However, the town offers three decent places to go and enjoy the night.

Head directly to either Grand Hotel or Les Tilleuls if you are in for dancing the night away. These two places have dance clubs with music booming at full volume.

6. Admire The view at Ain Vittel

Located three kilometers away from Ifrane’s town center is Ain Vitel. This is one of the most popular attractions in the city of Ifrane and perhaps the most enchanting one.

With its mesmerizing cascading waterfalls and the verdant leafy forest, Ain Vitel is ideal for a delightful picnic.

During spring and summer, you can admire this scenic view or head over for a lunch cookout followed by an excursion into the forest.

7. La Prairie Park

The green park offers a peaceful experience around nature, where visitors can take walks through the forest, spot various bird species, and enjoy the water.

Also, the park has a picnic area, pavilion, baseball field, hockey rink, tennis courts, basketball court, and playground.

8. Waterfalls & Source

If you are someone who likes peace, chilling out, and enjoying nature then I recommend you visit the following amazing waterfalls and sources during your trip itinerary.

i. Zaouiat waterfalls

Within easy reach of Ifrane, Zaouiat waterfalls may be fairly small, but the stunning beauty of the falls makes this a top place to visit. It is undeniably a magnificent landscape, although the surroundings do not give the impression that a corner of paradise is hidden behind it.

This is a perfect spot for nature lovers in the middle of a paradise of freshness and greenery, away from the hustle and bustle.

ii. Source Ras El Ma

The spring of Ras el Ma is the cornerstone that led to the construction of the city of Ifrane. This spring was and still is the only source of drinking water for the town. In the past, it was the source of energy for the water mills that dotted the two banks of the stream.

Here, where the water comes gushing out of the mountain, local women come to do their washing. The sound of the water provides a sudden and strong dose of nature. Currently, it is managed by the National Office of Drinking Water (ONEP), and it has become a tourist attraction for visitors.

For more information, check out my in-depth guide about the best waterfalls in Morocco.

9. Enjoy A Picnic at Aoua Lake

Boasting crystal-clear water surrounded by the Atlas Mountains range, the place is a serene picnic destination where you can go with family and kids. Go there to unwind and relax in the lap of nature while admiring the picturesque view. There are horses that you can rent and go on a ride.

You can also go boating in the lane. There are a lot of ducks in the lake, and you can spend the afternoon feeding them and watching them paddle along the lakeside. The lake may be a bit crowded on the weekends, but on weekdays you will find the place largely to yourself.

10. Visiting & Exploring Azrou

Azrou is home to over 200 000 people and lies at an elevation of 3,950 feet. About eleven miles southwest of Ifrane, the town is tucked away within the beautiful Middle Atlas Mountains – famous for its forests and butterflies.

The surroundings of Azrou are a center of attraction for the residents, hikers, and picnickers of the large neighboring towns. These surroundings are also home to the ‘Cedre Gouraud’ or ‘Grand Cedar’, a famous tourist attraction.

This place is also famous due to the macaque apes that live in the area and are drawn by tourist activity. Moreover, the Azrou forest provides an excellent hiking and exercise environment and holds several summer camps for children.

Read The Next Guide:

Marrakech CityChefchaouen City
Casablanca CityEssaouira City
Fes (Fez) CityRabat City
Agadir CityMeknes City
Tangier CityEl Jadida City
Tetouan CityKenitra City
Ouarzazate CityMerzouga City

Final Thoughts

To summarize, Aside from the celebrations and festivals in the city, you will have a great time touring attractive sites in the area.

Ifrane is well worth a visit because of its diversity and the opportunity it gives its visitors to experience so many activities, and it’s undoubtedly the ideal place for lovers of nature and fresh air.

That’s all for this full guide of the Switzerland of Morocco, I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Stay awesome.



Is Ifrane the cleanest city in the world?

According to the latest data from NBC News 2015, Ifrane has been praised for the quality of its water sources (waterfall lake and rivers filled with fresh fish), its national park, and fresh air, so they named the city one of the cleanest cities in the world.

What is Ifrane famous for?

It is popular because of the city’s natural resources, making it a tourist hub for hiking, hunting, and fishing lovers. Also, its national park covers 500 square kilometers and offers visitors the experience of seeing wolves, wild pigs, and various rodent species.

Is ifrane nice?

Ifrane is one of the nicest places in Morocco. Many tourists love to come to this city as they are always warmly welcomed. Not only are they provided with an array of interesting tourist attractions, but the warm and friendly local people of Ifrane city will also make you want to come back as soon as you leave.

Why is Ifrane cold?

Because of its elevation, Ifrane experiences snow during the winter months and a cooler climate during the summer.

Does it snow in Ifrane, Morocco?

Yes, it does, and the month with the most snow in Ifrane is January, with an average snowfall of 5.7 inches.

What city is called Moroccan Switzerland?

Ifrane, in Morocco, is a nestled town in the Middle Atlas Mountains.

How cold is Ifran in the winter?

Ifrane has an Oceanic climate with a continental influence. Located in the Atlas Mountains, Ifrane holds the record for the coldest temperature ever registered in Africa (-23.9°C | -11°F). Winter is cold and snowy and may become severely cold at night.

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The Editorial Team

Optimos Travel is a travel blog to help you travel the world, and explore different lifestyles, traditions, foods, and everything in between.