Best Morocco Travel

Best Things to Do in Fes (Morocco)

Best Things to Do in Fes

Best Things to Do in Fes

In this post, we will tell you what are the best things to do in Fes the ancient city of Fes which lies in the arms of Morocco, imbuing it with its rich cultural heritage, delicious Moroccan cuisine, and captivating traditions. Often called the capital country of culture, Fes prides itself on its rich history, showcased by the esteemed University of Al-Qarawiyyin and the oldest medieval city in the world. Wandering through the labyrinthine alleys of Medina, a treasure trove of spices, traditional crafts, and hammams awaits, offering a sensory feast. Enjoy the blend of flavors that characterize Moroccan cuisine, and enjoy every moment in the charming city of Riads and more. When you explore Fes, you will be transported back in time, enchanted by its timeless appeal and immersed in an authentic Moroccan experience unlike any other.

So are you planning to visit Fes? Here are our tour packagesContact us today and we will be happy to help you have the best trip in Morocco full of experiences and enjoyment.

Take a Walking Tour of The old Medina

The Old Medina of Fes is an enchanting labyrinth of intertwining alleys that fan out from the bustling main street at its center. With the medina cascading down a gentle slope, embarking on a walking tour from the top and gradually descending is the ideal way to explore its treasures. Once you’ve traversed the charming maze, simply hail a taxi to return home. Unlike many other medinas in Morocco, this one is solely reserved for pedestrians, granting you the freedom to wander without worrying about motorbikes.

Start your trip at Bab Boujloud, an imposing archway that serves as the gateway to the Old Medina. Capture a few photographs here, then venture inside. As you delve deeper, immerse yourself in the vibrant mix of tourists and locals, relishing the captivating sights, sounds, and aromas that envelop this ancient wonderland. The Old Medina of Fes promises an unforgettable adventure filled with history, culture, and intrigue at every turn.

Al Quaraouiyine Mosque

Al Quaraouiyine, a historic gem founded in 859 BCE by Fatima al-Fihri, stands as one of the world’s oldest universities. Though now functioning as a mosque and inaccessible to non-Muslims, its library, refurbished in 2016, opens its doors to the public. Behold the awe-inspiring handcrafted tilework, a testament to the splendor of the 9th century. For a glimpse of the mosque courtyard, ascend to the rooftops of nearby medina restaurants, offering a perfect vantage point. The legacy of Al Quaraouiyine lives on, captivating visitors with its enduring brilliance and cultural significance, a timeless treasure of Morocco remarkable past.

Visit The Bou Lnania Madrasa

As you venture deeper into the Old Medina, your first delightful stop will be the Bou Inania Madrasa, a magnificent Islamic university from the 14th century. For a nominal entrance fee, you’ll marvel at the intricate hand-carved plasterwork, grand doors, and exquisite lattice screens surrounding the expansive central courtyard. Although it ceased functioning as a school in the 1960s, its restoration work enables visitors to relish its original splendor.

As you continue your Morocco trip, you will encounter several striking mosques along the way. While non-Muslims are unable to enter most mosques in Morocco, including Fes, you can still admire their beauty from the exterior or capture a photo as a precious keepsake. Don’t miss the opportunity to glimpse the enchanting Zaouia de Moulay and the historic Al Quaraouiyine Mosque during your exploration.

The Smell of Tanneries

A must-visit in Fes is the world-renowned tanneries, a captivating part of the city’s culture. Witness the fascinating sight of numerous earthen pits brimming with vibrant colored dyes used to treat animal skins. It’s an unforgettable experience and one of the top highlights of any trip to Morocco. Be aware, though, that the smell can be quite potent.

Locals may offer you “free mint” to help counter the odor, but be cautious as some might ask for payment afterward. To avoid any issues, it’s wise to bring your mint or a scarf to mask the smell. For an alternative perspective, head to a nearby rooftop terrace, where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the mesmerizing tanneries. Don’t miss the chance to visit Chouara tannery, the largest in the city and the oldest leather tannery in the world, adding another layer of allure to your Fes adventure!

Mellah The Jewish Quarter

The Mellah, established in the 14th century, served as an important Jewish quarter in Fes. Its counterpart, Fes el-Jdid, provided a refuge for the Jewish community, once boasting a thriving population of around 250,000 Jews. However, after the establishment of the state of Israel, the majority emigrated, leaving only a small number of Jewish residents who now reside in the Ville Nouvelle.

The Mellah holds a treasure trove of history and features remarkable Jewish-style architecture. At its heart lies the famous Ibn Danan synagogue, a symbol of the community’s presence. Remarkably, some buildings in the Mellah continued to be inhabited until the late 20th century, preserving the district’s historical significance and cultural heritage. While the Jewish population has diminished, a visit to the Mellah offers a captivating glimpse into the past and the enduring legacy of Fes’ Jewish community.

Visit Al-Attarine Madrasa

The Al-Attarine Madrasa, much like the Bou Inania Madrasa, boasts a captivating charm with its large courtyard adorned by exquisite carvings and remarkable doorways. What sets it apart is the intriguing contrast of black and white tiles on the ground against the stone and marble facade. To explore this architectural wonder, an entrance fee of 20 Dh for adults and 10 Dh for children aged 12 and under is required. Delve into the rich history and cultural significance of this magnificent site, and get into the beauty and artistry that graces the Al-Attarine Madrasa in the heart of Fes.

University of Al-Qarawiyyin (Al-Karaouine)

The Kairaouine Mosque, renowned as the world’s oldest university and the second-largest mosque in Morocco, holds immense religious significance in Fes. While non-Muslims cannot enter the interior, you can catch a glimpse through various entrance gates. Marvel at the sight of the marble courtyard, fountains, arches, intricate tiles, and carvings that adorn this sacred place, which continues to function as a university.

If you are eager for a different view, head to one of the nearby rooftops and try to spot the mesmerizing minaret of the mosque. Although you won’t be able to explore the interior, witnessing the beauty and spirituality from the outside is still an awe-inspiring experience not to be missed during your visit to Fes.

Dar Batha

Dar Batha, which was a palace and is now a museum in Fes, houses an impressive collection of traditional artifacts. Its Andalusian-style garden welcomes visitors with lush greenery, mosaic work, and a soothing water fountain. Inside, exquisite wood carvings, Moroccan tiles and embroidery, carpets, and an impressive collection of ceramics from the 14th century are on display. This cultural gem offers a glimpse into Morocco rich heritage and artistic legacy. A visit to Dar Batha is a must for anyone exploring Fes, immersing visitors in the country’s vibrant history and artistic treasures.

Royal Palace of Fes (Dar Al-Makhzen)

Explore the Royal Palace in Fes, though entry is reserved for the royal family and government. However, its exterior is breathtaking with blue mosaic tiles and exquisite bronze doors, leaving visitors in awe. The adjoining palace gardens provide a peaceful retreat, and it is close to the Great Mosque of Fes el-Jdid, which has a beautifully ornate minaret. Although the interior remains off-limits, exploring the palace’s surroundings offers a glimpse into the city’s royal past and architectural marvels, leaving travelers fascinated by Fes’ rich history and cultural charm. Take a look for more info about the Royal Place of Fes.

Merenid Tombs

The Merenid Tombs in Fes are the resting places of sultans and royals from the Merenid dynasty. Despite the fading decorations and engravings over time, the authentic architecture still impresses visitors. Climbing up the hill is rewarded with a stunning view of the 1,200-year-old medina, especially during sunset. However, it’s best not to linger after dark as the descent can be challenging without proper lighting. These tombs offer a fascinating glimpse into Fes’ rich history and are a must-visit for those seeking to explore the city’s ancient heritage.

Shop in The Souk

Morocco is famous for its wide array of souvenirs, including leather goods, spices, ceramics, vibrant blankets and rugs, and intricately crafted metal lamps. While you can find similar items in various souks across the country, Fes stands out for its hand-made leather goods produced right in the medina’s tannery. The exceptional quality and craftsmanship are evident, and you can witness the creation process in small workshops, adding a special touch to your purchases.

When in Fes, don’t miss the opportunity to acquire stunning bags in various sizes. Examine the stitching and lining to ensure their high quality and inquire about the type of leather, whether it’s goat, cow, or camel. Leather cushions, known as “poofs,” are also popular souvenirs worth purchasing in Fes.

Haggling is a customary practice and is embraced in Moroccan markets, including the souks of Fes. Embrace the fun of negotiating, but don’t take it too seriously. Remember, you can always walk away if the price doesn’t meet your expectations. A good tactic is to counter with about half of their initial asking price and be prepared to meet somewhere in the middle, usually around 3/4 of their initial offer. Enjoy the process and happy shopping!

Where to Stay in Fes

Indulge in the authentic Moroccan experience by staying in a traditional riad in the heart of Fes. These charming guesthouses are nestled in historic quarters, boasting courtyards or serene pools that offer a peaceful retreat after your eventful days in the city.

For a truly great stay, opt for a hotel or riad conveniently located in the bustling medina. Being close to the main attractions ensures easy access to the city’s vibrant sights, and it reduces the chances of getting lost in the labyrinthine streets during late hours. Embrace the enchanting atmosphere of Fes by making a riad your home away from home during your unforgettable journey.

How to Visit Fes

Fes is well-connected and easily accessible from various cities in Morocco, including Marrakech, Rabat, and Chefchaouen. The train system offers a convenient way to travel, with routes taking you through beautiful coastal and countryside landscapes before arriving in the captivating city of Fes.

Additionally, Fes can be the perfect starting point for the Sahara Desert Tour, providing travelers with a once-in-a-lifetime experience and unforgettable memories. Going on this desert trip allows you to get yourself in the vast expanse of the Sahara and witness its awe-inspiring landscapes. Whether you begin your journey in Fes or venture into the Sahara, each option promises an incredible and enriching Moroccan experience.

Where to Eat in Fes

Fes is known for its delicious Moroccan gastronomy, which combines a mixture of unique flavors and aromas. Here I describe some of the different places to eat in Fes:

  • Traditional Restaurants: In Fes, you will find a large number of traditional restaurants that offer typical Moroccan dishes. These restaurants usually have exotic and authentic decorations, with mosaics, metal lamps, and Moroccan-style furniture. Standout dishes include couscous, tagine (a stew simmered in a clay pot), mechanic (roasted lamb), pastel (a chicken pie with spices and nuts), and harissa (a traditional Moroccan soup).
  • Street Stalls: Street stalls are an important part of the Fes culinary scene. Here you can find a wide variety of Moroccan street dishes, such as grilled meat skewers, kebabs, shawarmas, Moroccan crepes known as semen or hair, and other popular dishes. The street stalls are ideal for trying authentic local food and getting yourself into the vibrant culinary culture of Morocco.
  • Riads and palaces converted into restaurants: Fes has numerous restored riads and palaces that have been turned into elegant restaurants. These places offer a unique gastronomic experience, with a combination of the rich Moroccan cuisine and the opulent decoration of the riads, including interior patios with fountains, mosaics, and tiles, and terraces with panoramic views of the city. These restaurants usually offer traditional Moroccan dishes with a modern and sophisticated twist.
  • Cafes and Pastry Shops: Fes is known for its traditional cafes and pastry shops, where you can enjoy a wide variety of Moroccan teas, such as mint tea, and delicious local sweets and pastries, such as the famous baklavas, chakras (flower-shaped cookies dipped in honey), and almond and pistachio pastries. These places are ideal to relax and enjoy a sweet break during your visit to Fes.
  • Markets and Food Stalls: The markets of Fes, like the souk in the Medina, also offer a wide variety of dining options. Here you can find food stalls offering traditional dishes such as meat skewers, fish skewers, Moroccan tortillas known as tajines, and other local delicacies. The markets are ideal for trying authentic Moroccan food in a lively and bustling environment.

How to Get to Fes

The most convenient ways to reach Fes from other areas of Morocco are by train or by road. If traveling from Rabat, Marrakech, or Tangier, the train offers a comfortable and efficient option. If driving from Tangier, you have two main routes to choose from. The first is via the A1 toll road, followed by the A2 highway, offering a faster and more direct journey, taking approximately 4 hours. The second option takes you through smaller towns and rural landscapes, providing a more scenic and authentic experience, but taking around 5 hours.

When driving in Morocco, it’s essential to consider potential traffic and road conditions. Some roads may have tolls, so carrying local currency is necessary. Additionally, Fes-Saïs International Airport provides air connections with several European cities and other Moroccan cities, offering an alternative option for reaching Fes. From the airport, taxis or shuttle services are available to transport you the 15 kilometers to the city center.

Nightlife and Alcohol in Fes

Fes, Morocco, is renowned for its rich cultural and traditional ambiance, which translates to a more limited selection of nightlife and alcohol consumption compared to Western cities. However, visitors can still find suitable options to enjoy their evenings in Fes. Here are some possibilities:

  • Hotel Bars and Restaurants: Numerous hotels in Fes offer bars and restaurants where guests can indulge in alcoholic beverages. These venues tend to have a more Westernized atmosphere, serving a diverse selection of drinks, including wine, beer, and spirits. Some luxurious hotels, like Palais Faraj and Riad Fès, boast bars and terraces with breathtaking city views, making them popular choices for an elegant drinking experience.
  • Westernized Bars and Restaurants: Fes also features Westernized bars and restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages. These establishments often exude a modern and Western vibe, offering a variety of international drinks, cocktails, and beers. Some may even have live music or DdJs to enliven the night.
  • Shisha Bars: For a more relaxed experience, visitors can explore shisha or hookah bars in Fes. These venues provide a laid-back atmosphere where guests can enjoy shisha, a traditional water pipe, along with non-alcoholic drinks or limited alcoholic options like beer and wine.

Keep in mind that Morocco adheres to strict regulations on alcohol consumption due to its status as a Muslim country. Public availability of alcohol is limited, and consumption is restricted to licensed establishments such as hotels and authorized restaurants. It’s crucial to respect local cultural norms and religious practices regarding alcohol and consume responsibly and in moderation.

While Fes nightlife and alcohol options may be more restrained than in Western cities, travelers can still find suitable and authorized venues to enjoy a drink in a respectful and culturally mindful manner during their visit to this captivating Moroccan city.

Here are some places you might consider:

Fes offers a mix of traditional and modern spots for enjoying a drink or two. Here are some popular venues that cater to different tastes:

  • Sky Bar Fes: Situated on the terrace of Hotel Borj Fes, Sky Bar provides stunning panoramic views of the city. It offers a wide selection of drinks, including alcoholic beverages, along with shisha. The bar’s relaxed and elegant ambiance makes it a favorite spot to unwind and savor a drink while gazing at the city’s beauty.
  • Café Clock: Known for blending Moroccan and Western cultures, Café Clock offers a variety of beverages, including Moroccan tea and a few alcoholic options like beer and wine. The café exudes a warm and welcoming atmosphere, with comfortable seating areas and a rooftop terrace where patrons can enjoy the city’s vistas.
  • Cafe des Amis: Embodying the fusion of Moroccan and Western influences, Café des Amis features a bar serving alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine, as well as shisha. The venue offers a laid-back and friendly environment, enhanced by its unique décor that combines modern and Moroccan elements.
  • Dar Batha Restaurant & Lounge: Located within an enchanting old palace in Fes, Dar Batha Restaurant & Lounge offers a one-of-a-kind experience. Its bar serves alcoholic drinks, and shisha is also available. The ambiance exudes elegance and sophistication, with traditional Moroccan decorations and an inviting interior patio adorned with lush gardens.

While the nightlife and alcohol consumption in Fes is more limited compared to Western cities, these venues provide excellent options for visitors to savor a drink in diverse and culturally rich surroundings. Remember to respect local customs and regulations during your stay in Fes, and enjoy the unique experiences this captivating city has to offer.

Currency in Morocco

As of the time of writing, the currency used in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (Dhs). The exchange rate was approximately 9.56 Dh to USD 1. Therefore, when referring to prices or costs in Morocco, keep in mind that 100 Dhs is equivalent to approximately USD 10.50. This information will help you plan and budget your expenses accordingly during your visit to Morocco. Look over this like to know the currency

Languages Used Most in Fes

In Morocco, the official languages are Modern Standard Arabic and Amazigh (Berber). French is widely used as a second language, and English is becoming more common, especially among the younger population and in urban areas. Knowing some Arabic, French, English, or Spanish and some people can speak more different languages can be helpful for communication during your visit.

Learning a few Arabic phrases can help you with your visit to Morocco. Use (Salam Alaikum) means hello, (Shukran) means thank you, and (Ma-Elsalama) means goodbye. Remember (La) means no, and (Smah lya) means Sorry or excuse me, (bghit) means I want, to politely decline touts. These simple phrases will help you communicate and show respect to the locals during your visit.

Is Fes Safe to Visit?

Navigating the labyrinthine alleyways of the old city of Fes can be slightly unnerving, especially if you are a woman traveling alone, after dark. However, it’s important to note that the majority of people in Fes are genuinely friendly and pose no harm. As in any big city, exercising caution and staying aware of your surroundings is advisable. By being mindful and using common sense, you can still have a wonderful and safe experience exploring the enchanting streets of Fes.

Best Time to Visit Fes

Fes experiences a relatively mild climate throughout the year, but summer can bring scorching temperatures. From June to September, the average temperatures range between 82°F to 95°F (28°C to 35°C). Spring and fall offer the most enjoyable weather, with temperatures in the comfortable mid-70s (around 24°C). During these seasons, you can make the most of your trip by lounging by your hotel pool or enjoying the outdoor seating at the many terrace cafes.

In contrast, the winter months, from November to March, are the coldest, with average temperatures in the 50s (around 10°C). February typically receives the most rainfall, so if you plan to visit during this time, it’s best to be prepared with an umbrella. For a more pleasant experience, consider avoiding the wettest month or come prepared for occasional showers.