The first permanent settlement of the area dates to the 16th century, when a saintly sharîf by the name of Sîdî 'Abd al-Salâm established his community in the Tizguit valley, seven km downstream from the present town. By the mid-17th century the zâwiyah was well enough established to receive an extensive iqtâ' (land grant) from the 'Alâwî sultan Mûlây Rashîd b. Muhammad. While the founder's lineage was ethnically Arab, the inhabitants of the village today mostly speak Tamazight.
As elsewhere in Morocco, a shantytown called Timdiqîn soon grew up next to the colonial establishment. It housed the Moroccan population (maids, gardeners, etc.) that serviced the French vacationers. Timdiqîn was separated from the colonial garden city by a deep ravine. After independence the French properties in the original garden city were slowly bought up by Moroccans. The town was enlarged and endowed with a mosque, a municipal market and public housing estates. Furthermore, the shanty neighborhood of Timdiqîn was rebuilt with proper civic amenities.
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 knocked down and replaced with condominium complexes, while vacation centers and gated housing estates are springing up on its outskirts