14 Things To Do in Fes: Top Attractions Not To Miss
Fes is the Moroccan capital of culture that is bursting with amazing things to do, and once you visit, you’ll easily see why. The city of Fes has a way of making you feel like you’ve been transported into centuries past. From its narrow streets that seem to weave on forever to Moroccan artist making copper goods, woven rugs, and cooking with spices that will make your mouth water, Fes is unique and unlike so many other places in Morocco.
Home to the largest and oldest Medina in Africa, even Google Maps can’t help you navigate it. Its ancient Medina walls have a story to tell. So whether you’re looking to spend one or two days in Fes, one thing is for sure, Fes should be on your must-visit list when exploring Morocco.
To get a sense of what there is to do in Fes, we compiled a list of what we consider to be the top Fes attractions to make sure you experience all the amazing things to do in Fes, Morocco.
The Best Things To Do in Fes, Morocco
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What Is Fes Known For?
Fes is the oldest city in Africa and is 100% worth visiting. Founded in 789, Fes has a memorizing hum and the ability to make you feel like you stepped back into time.
Within its historic Medina walls, another world awaits you. It reminded us of being in Kathmandu. Fes is a place that feels completely authentic and a bit of history is waiting for you around every corner.
As you weave in and out of the stone alleyways of the Fes Medina, you’ll pass by madrassas, tanneries, and endless souk stalls.
From handmade crafts like woven rugs, copper pots, and mugs, to leather bags and belts, you’ll find endless artisan creations in Fes. After all, they’ve been perfecting their craft for centuries in the same alleyways as the many generations before.
We’ll get to all of this just below, don’t worry!
How Many Days Do You Need In Fes?
If you are operating on a tight Morocco itinerary, visiting Fes can be done in one day (2 nights, 1 full day). But we IMPLORE you to spend at least 2-3 days in Fes. There is so much to see and experience only allocating one day here would just be a disservice to what Fes has to offer.
If you can ONLY spend one day in Fes, your best bet is to book a Medina walking tour. You’ll see some of the best things to do in Fes and get a history lesson along the way.
If you are in the 2 – 3 day+ gang, well, you’ll have loads of things to keep you occupied. Keep reading to find out exactly what those are!
The Best Things To Do In Fes
1. Take A Walking Tour of The Fes Medina
Without a doubt, the absolute highlight of Fes is its historic and massive maze of a Medina.
The Medina of Fes (Fes el Bali) was founded in the 9th century and today is a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s home to over 9,000 alleyways of souks and shops.
The 9,000 alleyways scattered over a maze of 1,334 acres (540 hectares) are completely car-free. That’s right, the only way to get around the Medina is by foot, making the Fes Medina one of the largest car-free zones in the world.
Yup…9,000 alleyways! We weren’t lying when we said it was massive 🙂 Which is why you need a guide to take you around.
A walking tour of the Fes Medina is really the best way to experience some of the best things to do in Fes! Sure, you can try plotting a route yourself on Google Maps, but we can’t tell you how many lost tourists we saw asking for help while on our walking tour. Let’s just say… A LOT.
Plus, a walking tour given by a local guide allows you to get all the insights and history that come with each stop. And trust us when we say Fes has A TON of history.
Tip: There are LOADS of Fes Medina tours so if one is unavailable, there are plenty of top-rated Medina tours for you to pick from!
2. Fall in Love with a Moroccan Rug
If you’ve been dreaming of a Moroccan rug well, your dreams are about to come true! You’ll find endless shops selling locally-made Moroccan rugs.
From Berber rugs to traditional Moroccan rugs, it doesn’t matter the pattern or size, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Plus, if you purchase a Moroccan rug some shops offer the option to ship directly to your house if you do not wish to carry your carpet home with you on the plane.
Whether you want to buy a Moroccan rug or not, definitely make it a point to stop in a local shop to pursue the beautiful colors and patterns. Who knows, you may just end up falling in love with a “made-for-you” souvenir from Morocco.
TIP: HAGGLE! When shopping for anything in Morocco, don’t accept the first price given to you. The rule of thumb is whatever price is offered first, counter offer with half and negotiate from there 🙂 Check out some tips for shopping in the Medinas of Morocco
3. Visit A Few Madrasas
What’s a Madrasa you may be wondering? A Madrasas is a religious school (elementary education or higher level learning) where students can go study Islam. The Quran is the primary teaching focus, although other subjects such as law and algebra are also offered.
Two of the most popular Madrasas in Fes are Bou Inania Madrasa and Al-Attarine Madrasa.
Bou Inania Madrasa
Bou Inania, a former theological college, was built by Sultan Bou Inan in the 14th century. The school has been greatly restored over the centuries to keep its impressive features intact.
While no longer an active school, inside the Bou Inania Madrasa you’ll find impressive arch doorways, detailed mosaics carvings, beautiful courtyards, and endless hand-carved stucco walls and tile work.
Unlike other Madrasas, Bou Inania has a mosque within its walls. Due to the Madrasa’s history and significance, Bou Inania holds the status of a “congregational mosque”. Meaning Bou Inania Madrasa is able to hold important Friday prayer sessions bringing together Muslims from other mosques in the area.
Bou Inania is open from 9 AM- 5 PM (however, not during prayer times), and entrance costs 20 MAD (Moroccan Dirham), about $2-$3 USDs
Al-Attarine Madrasa, while significantly smaller than Bou Inania is still well worth a stop on your walking tour.
Like Bou Inania, Al-Attarine Madrasa has a beautiful courtyard that is surrounded by geometric patterned tiles that cover the walls and floor as well as impressively carved wooden doors.
Whether you visit both Madrasas or just one, both are extremely peaceful and wonderful places to snap some pictures.
Al-Attarine Madrasa is open from 8 AM – 6 PM and costs 20 MAD, about $2 -$3 USD to enter.
TIP: For both Madrasas hours of operations vary with religious holidays, festivals, and events. Prior to visiting, be sure to check the Madrasas are open to the public.
4. Watch the Leather Workers at Chouara Tannery
Chouara Tannery (sometimes spelled Chouwara) is one of three tanneries that can be found in the city of Fes. Of the three tanneries, Chouara is by far the largest, oldest (over 900 years old!), and most popular.
Upon entering Chouara Tannery, you will be handed a small bushel of mint leaves. Why mint leaves? For your to sniff of course!
Two of the main ingredients used to make the dye at Chouara Tannery are cow urine and pigeon droppings. The smell of soaking, treating, and tanning hundreds of hides in various dye vats can be…well…not the most pleasant of smells.
The scent of mint helps alleviate the pungent tannery smells making it much more pleasant to walk around and explore.
When touring the tannery, you’ll arrive at an overlook. From the overlook, you’ll see hundreds of vats used to treat and dye the hides. Workers hand dip the hides into the dyes and navigate from one dye vat to the next on the surrounding ledges.
Once the “tour” is done, you can shop for handmade bags, jackets, shoes, belts, wallets, and much more. All of these are made directly by the workers you see at Chouara Tannery!
Open daily from 8:30 AM – 7:30 PM and while there is no official entrance fee, you should expect to pay a few USDs ($5ish) to get a mint leaf and see the tanneries.
5. Shop The Souks
Wait….what’s a souk?!
“Souk” is just another word for a market or shop. And you’ll find souks on every one of those 9,000 alleyways of the Fes Medina. Sometimes, souks are broken up into areas where a particular product can be found – i.e. spice souk, copper souk, carpet souk, etc.
Tip: Our local medina guide took us shopping at a few souk shops, which definitely was a welcome help! You can coordinate adding a few shopping stops directly with your Medina guide, or opt to book a shopping tour of the Medina souks!
Fes is known for its handmade leather goods, pottery creations, and patterned rugs. Not to mention it’s copper. A perfect place to knab yourself a copper mug for those Moscow Mules (just saying…it’s what we did!)
You’ll find dozens of souks selling everything you could imagine. So if you’re in the mood to shop, or just peruse, wander the souk-filled streets of the Fes Medina and enjoy!
TIP: On Fridays, which are holy days in Morocco, shops/souks may be closed at certain hours for prayer.
6. Take a Food Tour or Cooking Class in Fes
If it’s your first time in Morocco, what better way to get acquainted with local cuisines and spice profiles than immersing yourself in it? We’re talking about taking a cooking class or food tour!
You’ll get to taste tajines, cheeses, handmade breeds, couscous as well as various other Moroccan delicacies!
Both options are fantastic ways to not only learn about the amazing food and flavor profiles of Morocco, but how to make staple Morrocan foods, and the best part, taste it all!
7. Get Your Picture in Front of Bab Boujloud, The Blue Gate
Bab Boujeloud, more commonly referred to as “the blue gate”, is one of the more iconic architectural features in Fes. Located at the main western entrance to the Medina, Bab Boujeloud is a beautiful ornate city gate. With its massive archway and blue and green motifs, visiting Bab Boujeloud should be on your list of things to do in Fes.
What exists today is not the original gate. The original Bab Boujeloud gate was a very simple structure constructed in the 12th century. The gate that stands today was built by French colonists in 1913 to create a grand entrance to the old city of Fes.
Visiting Bab Boujeloud is a simple, quick stop and costs nothing! Snap a few pictures before ultimately passing through into the Medina.
8. Hear the Call to Prayer at Kairaouine Mosque
The Kairaouine Mosque, also written as al-Qarawiyyin or Al Quaraouiyine, is not only the oldest operating university in the world but is considered to be the spiritual heart of Fes.
Kairaouine was founded in 859 by a woman named Fatima al-Fihri and ultimately became the leading educational and spiritual center for the Muslim world.
Unfortunately, and like all the other Mosques in Morocco, only those practicing Islam are allowed to enter Kairaouine Mosque. Meaning, anyone who is not Muslim is not allowed in. For all non-Muslims, you are able to stand and the entrance and get a glimpse and the beautiful courtyard inside.
9. Stroll Through Jnan Sbil Gardens (Bou Jeloud)
Also known as the Bou Jeloud Gardens, Jnan Sbil Gardens was created in the 19th century and is one of the top tourist attractions 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.
The park is closed on Mondays, but open Tuesday – Sunday between 8 AM – 7.30 PM and is free to enter.
10. See The 7 Gates of The Royal Palace (Del el Makhzen)
Sadly, Dar el Makhzen itself isn’t open to the public as it is used by the Royal Family. You can however still visit the exterior of the palace with its 7 enormous brass doors.
Even though you cannot enter the Palace, paying a visit to its exterior is still well worth a visit.
The 7 doors are gilded in intricate brass designs, with brass knockers to match. The mosaics and other artistic elements of the palace walls are nothing short of stunning.
Come for sunset when you can really see the light dazzle off the doors! These golden doors have graced the cover of many travel magazines and embody the beauty that waits for you in Morocco.
11. Visit Poterie de Fes (Pottery Cooperative)
Located outside the walls of the Medina, the Poterie de Fes, a local pottery cooperative is a place where true artistry resides.
From hand-painted pottery to intricately designed tile mosaics, this place is truly something to experience. Upon you’re arrival, you’ll walk through the cooperative to see how each artist intricately and meticulously creates works of art from scratch.
There is also a shop where you can find handmade Moroccan souvenirs like tagines, bowls, plates, teapots, and so much more to buy and take home.
To get to Poterie De Fes, simply flag down a taxi or coordinate a ride through your accommodation in Fes.
12. Watch the Sunset From A Fes Rooftop
One of our favorite things to do in Fes is watching the sunset from a rooftop. Optimally, you are staying in a Riad or Dar that has rooftop access. Head up to the rooftop or terrace, grab some mint tea, and watch the sunset over the city.
As the sun sets, the call to prayer will start, echoing through the city. The way the colors of the sky change over the bustling stone Medina and ornate mosque minarets is sunset perfection at its finest.
We swear time stopped for us. Le sigh, Fes has our heart.
TIP: If you are not staying at a Riad with a rooftop, you can head over to Cafe Clock, Le Rooftop Bar (inside Riad Fes), or Café Terrasse Riad Kettani.
13. Book A Hammam Treatment
Hammam is an Islamic spa treatment used for purification and cleanliness. It’s also believed to boost the immune system by increasing circulation in your body.
Tourists can head to a local Hammam where they share a space with other people or opt for private treatment at such places as Spa Laaroussa and Riad Fes Cinq Mondes.
So, what exactly is a Hammam? First, you sit in a sauna to open up your pores. Next, you are lathered up with pastes, soaps, and salts before being vigorously scrubbed down for a full body exfoliation.
Finally, you are immersed in cold water for a shocking finish 🙂
The end result is baby-smooth skin! Are you up for it?!
14. Take a Day Trip From Fes To Chefchaouen
If you’ve spent a few days in Fes and are looking to explore more of Morocco, a day trip from Fes to Chefchaouen is a great choice!
While we visited Chefchaouen over the course of 2 days, this northern gem is definitely a beautiful city to add to your Morocco hit list…if you have the time.
From Fes, you can book a private transfer or a small group tour to get you to the beautiful blue city of Morocco.
You’ll spend the day wandering the blue-house-filled streets, enjoying Chefchaouen’s lively square, and beautiful viewpoint.
Chefchaouen and Fes couldn’t be more different and both are fantastic places to explore.
To learn more about what to do in Chefchaouen, read our latest travel guide!
More Day Trips From Fes
If you’re spending more than a few days in Fes, or visiting for the second time, consider a day trip to one of the below locations!
Day trips are a great way to experience more places without having to pack your bags 🙂
- Volubilis, Moulay Idriss, and Meknes: Be whisked to ancient Roman-Berber ruins, a historic hillside town, and a former Imperial city of Morocco. You’ll experience three different Morocco locations in one day! If you’re a history lover, this tour is for you.
- Atlas Mountains: Enjoy the outdoors and small mountain towns of the Atlas Mountains. You’ll get to enjoy rolling, mountainous landscapes and explore small towns like Ifrane, the “Switzerland of Morocco”.
- Overnight Sahara Desert Excursion: Ok, yes! Technically not a day trip, but we wanted to include it 🙂 You’ll spend the night at a luxury desert camp in the Sahara Desert. You’ll ride a camel over the sand dunes and enjoy a dinner by the campfire. Pretty great if you ask us!
What To Do In Fes At Night?
Morocco is an Islamic country and like most Islamic countries, alcohol is not widely consumed 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 in Fes!
- 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
Where To Eat In Fes?
There are so many cafes, restaurants, and street vendors offering tasty meals and tantalizing morsels for you to devour.
- Restaurant Dar Hatim: Recommended by our Riad, it did not disappoint! Probably one of our favorite meals we had in Morocco. Traditional Moroccan food made for you in a family’s home.
- Chez Rachid: Close to Bab Boujloud, The Blue Gate, serving traditional Moroccan food.
- Cafe Clock: Beautiful terrace views with some great Western food like burgers, salads, and delicious juices. Some evenings Cafe Clock even has a live band!
- The Ruined Garden: Enjoy Moroccan meals on a beautiful outdoor garden patio.
Where to Stay in Fes
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.
- 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 medina.
- 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 – Relais & Châteaux 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 looking for an amazing stay!
For more places to stay in Fes, you can check out the latest places and prices here.
Best Time To Visit Fes
The best time to visit Fes is during the spring months (April and May) and in the fall during September and October. The weather is mild, with sunshine. Perfect for walking and exploring!
The summer months bring the heat so if you visit during these months, start your days early and opt to find a Riad with a pool! Summer is also the busiest time to visit Morocco, along with many other popular destinations around the world. Why? School is out and families tend to travel more during the summer months for family vacations.
As for winter, you guessed it, it gets cold! So if you visit during these months, just bring a jacket and come prepared.
TIP: During Ramadan, one of the holiest months for Muslims, you may find it difficult to navigate around Morocco. Shops and restaurants may be closed during the day as well as some transport may not be operating at certain times. If you plan to visit Morocco during Ramadan be sure to plan accordingly. Make reservations ahead of time and confirm details with your accommodations. Ramadan falls on different dates every year.
Getting To & Around Fes
Between flying, driving, or catching 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 or are on a budget, this is your mode of transport!
Read all about the train ride from Marrakech to Fes here!
If you are short on time, consider flying to Fes. Places like Marrakesh offer non-stop flights to and from Fes. While you might pay a little more for a flight than a bus or train ticket, flying will save you time!
Once in Fes, no need to rent a car! The entire Medina of Fes is a car-free zone. Your best mode of transportation is your own two feet. If you need to get to any place outside of the Medina, flag down a local taxi or coordinate a ride through your accommodation.
TIP: Just in case the taxi driver doesn’t speak English (or your native language), have Google Translate downloaded to your phone.
Is Fes Safe?
While Fes is frequented by tourists, crime does occur. Just like in your home town and other places all around the world, it’s best to stick to the well-lit areas after dark. Avoid walking alone and keep your valuables out of sight.
You know, common sense stuff 🙂
For safety tips in Morocco, check out our latest travel guide!
WANT MORE INFORMATION ON MOROCCO?!
7 Days In Morocco: The Perfect Itinerary
How To Spend On Day In Marrakech
20 Amazing Things To Do in Marrakech
Where To Stay In Fes, Morocco – The Best Riads
Morocco Travel Tips: Things to Know Before You Visit
6 Amazing Things To Do in Chefchaouen
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stus)