Fes is a unique city and the Moroccan capital of culture. The city of Fes has a way of making you feel like you’ve been transported into centuries past. We created a Fes guide to make sure you experience the 11 amazing things to do in Fes, Morocco.
Things to Do in Fes, Morocco
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What Is Fes Known For?
Fes is the oldest city in Africa and 100% worth a visit. As you meander stone streets of the Fes Medina and take in the souks and stalls, it’s no wonder why Fes is known as the cultural center of the country.
From handmade crafts like woven rugs, copper pots and mugs and leather goods, you’ll find endless artisan creations.
Fes will make you feel like you stepped back into time. It reminded us of being in Kathmandu, a place that felt completely authentic and that history awaits you around every corner.
1) Wander The Medina
The Medina of Fes (Fes el Bali) is UNESCO World Heritage site that’s home to over 9,000 alleyways of souks, shops and markets. The medina was founded in the 9th century and looks like it hasn’t changed since then.
The Fes medina is one of the largest car-free zones in the world and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The alleyways are scattered over 540 hectares (1,334 acres) and are a maze to navigate.
Our tip, hire a guide for the day to take you to the sites we have listed below.
2) Fall in Love with a Moroccan Rug
If you’ve been dreaming of a Moroccan rug, well baby, your dreams about to come true! Visit Palais Du Tresor in Fes. Their selection is endless, and they work with you on price.
From Berber rugs to traditional Moroccan rugs, it doesn’t matter the pattern or size, they have it all. Also, they can ship directly to your home if you do not wish to carry your carpet home with you on the plane. If you’re unsure if you want a rug, no stress.
There is no commit to buy when you visit.
3) Watch the Leather Workers at Chouara Tannery
Chouara Tannery is one of the three tanneries in the city of Fes. Chouara Tannery is by far the largest and most popular of the three tanneries.
When you enter the tannery, you are handed mint leaves for you to sniff throughout your time there. The main ingredient in the dye is pigeon droppings so the smell of soaking, treating and tanning the hides can be overwhelming for some, hence the mint leaves.
When touring the tannery, you’ll see the hundreds of deep vats used to treat and dye the hides. Once the “tour” is done, you can shop for bags, jackets, shoes, belts and wallets for you to take home.
4) Visit Some Madrasas
A Madrasas is religious school where students go to study Islam. Two of the most popular Madrasa’s in Fes is Al-Attarine Madrasa and Madrasa Bou Inania.
Bou Indania, a theological college, was built by Sultan Bou Inan in the 14th century. The building have greatly been restored and features lots of remarkable mosaics and carvings to marvel at. Inside the college, you will find a large fountain in the courtyard and endless, hand carved walls and tile work. The two story building is worth visiting if you love to see how students went about their studies many centuries ago.
Both Madrasa cost 20 MAD to enter ($2 USD) and well worth it. The tile work and stone carvings are shockingly beautiful. It’s extremely peaceful and a wonderful place to snap some pictures.
5) Get Your Picture in Front of The Blue Gate
Bab Bou Jeloud is the famous blue gate located at the main western entrance to the Medina. If you’re wanting to snap the perfect picture, be sure to get there early.
That’s your best chance to have as few people as possible in your photo.
6) Hear Call to Prayer at Al Quaraouiyine Mosque
The Al Quaraouiyine Mosque is the oldest operating university in the world. Al Quaraouiyine was founded in 859 and became the leading educational center for the Muslim world. Unfortunately, only Muslims are allowed into Al Quaraouiyine.
For all non-Muslims, you are able to stand and the entrance and get a glimpse inside.
7) Stroll Through Jnan Sbil Gardens
Also known as the Bou Jeloud Gardens, Jnan Sbil Gardens was created in the 19th century and a top tourist spot for those visiting Fes. From colorful fountains and an abundance of plants, Jnan Sbil Gardens is a great place to escape the chaos of the Medina.
8) Visit the Pottery Cooperative
Located outside the walls of the Medina, you’ll need to catch a taxi or have your medina guide take you. The pottery cooperative is a place where true artistry resides.
From hand painting intricate designs on pottery to placing and cutting tile to make beautiful mosaics, this place is truly something to experience. You’re taken on a small tour to see how each piece is made from scratch.
At the end, you are taken to an incredible store where you can find tagines, bowls, plates, teapots, and so much more to buy and take home!
9) See the Beautiful 7 Gates of The Royal Palace (Del el Makhzen)
Of course, you also need to visit the royal palace of Fes. The Dar el Makhzen itself isn’t open to the public but you can still visit the exterior of the palace with its enormous brass doors and carved cedar surroundings.W
The 7 gates are gilded in brass with brass knockers to match. The brass doors are covered with intricate designs from top to bottom. If you’re wanting to get your Instagram worthy shot, this is the place.
The mosaics and other artistic elements on the palace walls are also very popular among tourists. These doors have graced the cover of many travel magazines and embodies the beauty that waits for you in Morocco.
10) Watch the Sunset From A Rooftop
The last but certainly not least thing you need to do in Fes is watch the sunset from your Riad or Dar. Head up to the rooftop or terrace, grab some mint tea and watch the sunset over the city.
Call to prayer will start and finish as the sun is setting. We swear, time stopped for us.
Seeing the golden sun illuminate the buildings as call to prayer echoes in the background truly made us feel oh so far from home. Le sigh, Fes has our heart.
11) Get A Scrub at A Hammam
Hammam is an Islamic spa treatment used for purification and cleanliness.
So, what exactly is a Hammam? First, you sit in a sauna to open up your pores. Next you are lathered up with a black mud like paste and then vigorously scrub down to remove all your dead skin. Finally, you are immersed in cold water for a shocking finish. The end result is baby smooth skin.
How To Get To Fes, Morocco (Bus, Train, Flying)
Between flying, driving or cathcing the train, there are plenty of ways you can get to Fes.
From popular cities like, Marrakesh, Rabat and Casablanca, you can take the train or bus to Fes. Taking the train or bus can be a long journey, so if you have the time, well worth it!
If you are short on time, consider flying to Fes. While you might pay a little more than a bus or train ticket, flying may save you time!
Getting Around Fes & Where To Stay
When in Fes, you’ll want to stay in the Medina or “Fes El Bali” as it’s referred to locally. Within the Medina, you’ll be able to walk to see the best sights and attractions Fes has to offer. No need to rent a car or moped.
If you’re needing to get to places outside the Medina, your accommodation can easily arrange a car or taxi for you to get you where you need to go.
What To Do In Fes At Night?
Morocco is an Islamic country and like most Islamic countries, alcohol is not widely used or promoted. However, if you’d like to end the night with a few cocktails, no worries, there are a few places you can find a drink or two.
- Mezzanine Lounge – Grab a drink and shisha
- Le Golden Bar – For fine wine and cocktails
- Bar Lounge L’Alcazar – Located within Riad Fes, a quiet, upscale place for a drink
- Jungle Bar at Hotel Sahrai – For tapas and some Sangria
Is Fes Safe?
While Fes is frequented by tourist it’s best to stick to the well-lit areas after dark. Also, a big tip is to pay attention. Theft and mopeds are the biggest hazards when exploring the souks.
For more safety tips in Morocco, check our latest blog post.
For The Budget Conscious: Dar Borj is a cozy family run Dar located in the medina and a few minutes walk from The Blue Gate. With an unbelievable rooftop terrace, enjoy some mint tea and watch the sunset over the media.
For The Luxury Inclined: From an amazing on site spa, to a wonderful bar and lounge to fabulous food and intricate decor and tile work, Riad Fes is a one of a kind accommodation experience in the heart of the Fes medina.
For Something In Between: Riad Fes Al Cazar Suite & Spa is a beautiful riad that is situated in the historic old town of Fes. Featuring a swimming pool and friendly staff, Riad Fes Al Cazar is a great choice for travelers.
For more places to stay in Fes, you can check out the latest places and prices here.
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)