On the edge of the Sahara Desert in Ouarzazate, Atlas Film Studios is not only the center of Morocco’s film industry, but the largest film studio in the world. Founded in the early 1980s, the studios boast an impressive pedigree, having hosted iconic film sets such as Gladiator and Star Wars, as well as scenes from Game of Thrones.
Located within the Hollywood of Morocco, Atlas Film Studios allows visitors to encounter famous film sets such as the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Ait Ben Haddou, which served as the clay kasbah in Game of Thrones; the coliseum where Russell Crowe fought in Gladiator; or the prop jet plane from Jewel of the Nile. Elsewhere in Ouarzazate is the maze-like Taourirt Kasbah (which has also served as a cinematic backdrop), the Cinema Museum (Musée du Cinéma), and the town’s UNESCO-listed adobe dwellings.
You can explore Atlas Film Studios as part of a half-day, full-day, or multi-day private or group tour that incorporates myriad adventures, such as a visit to Oasis Fint for a traditional lunch in a local home. Tours often include time to walk through groves of lush palm trees, stops in Berber villages, camel rides, camping in the desert, or a motorbike adventure through the Atlas Mountains to Saharan sand dunes and Atlantic beaches. Tours may include round-trip transport, entrance fees, and food and drink; check specific tours for details.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Atlas Film Studios is ideal for movie buffs yet fascinating for all travelers.
- Most tours are not wheelchair accessible. Be sure to check beforehand.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
- Atlas is not a visitor attraction like Universal Studios, it’s a more low-key and authentic experience visiting decaying sets in a desert environment.
How to Get There
Atlas Film Studios is located about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Ouarzazate and 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the Ouarzazate Airport on the road to Marrakech. If not self-driving, take the yellow shuttle bus from Ouarzazate main street, Avenue Mohammed V, directly to the studio.
When to Get There
Atlas Film Studios is open from 9am to 6pm daily, except when filming is in progress. The best time to visit Ouarzazate is the spring (March through May) and fall (October and November), as these months have the most pleasant weather. Festive times to visit include late May for the Rose Festival in Kalaat M’Gouna, the rose capital of Morocco and a short drive from Ouarzazate, and August, when Sidi Daoud is celebrated with a pilgrimage, souk for craftsmen, and traditional songs and dance.
The Valley of the Roses
Don’t miss Kelaat M’Gouna (Valley of the Roses), the epicenter of Morocco’s thriving rose industry. Here, the local Berber population cultivates their famous rosa damascena on the slopes of the High Atlas Mountains, whose minerals deepen the pink pigment of the blossoms. In the springtime, the valley is carpeted in pink, and the annual rose harvest festival is celebrated in late May/early June with music played on traditional instruments, a parade, artisan booths, and food vendors.