While this city is far less known than for example Marrakech, we strongly advice you to visit, especially if you’re curious about the Arabic culture and how people live and work in Morocco. By walking through the medina, and also visiting the newer parts of the city, you can really soak up the atmosphere!
Fez is the oldest of the Moroccan imperial cities and it was founded in AD 808 by Moroccan ruler Saint Moulay Idris II. The city is located in a narrow valley against the backdrop of the Middle Atlas. It is strategically positioned on the old crossroads of the caravan routes that connected the Saharan empires such as Timbuktu and Takrur with the Atlantic and Mediterranean shipping lanes. Because of it’s location, Fez was a commercial center for much of its history.
These days, Fez is considered Morocco’s premier religious city because of its Islamic traditions and even if you spend just 1 day in Fez, I’m sure you’re going to love it.
What we'll cover in this article
- ONE DAY IN FEZ ITINERARY
- How to Spend Your Morning in Fez?
- How to Spend Your Afternoon in Fez?
- How to Spend Your Evening in Fez?
- Got More Time in Fez?
- Practical Information for Visiting Fez
- Products from Amazon.com
ONE DAY IN FEZ ITINERARY
How to Spend Your Morning in Fez?
Start the Day at Dar el Makhzen (Royal Palace)
The Royal Palace is located in new Fez, called “Fes el-Jdid”. This is a bit misleading perhaps, because this part of the city was build in the 13th century, but it’s outside of the Old City, right next to the Jewish Quarter. The sultan built the palace here and developed this area, simply because there wouldn’t be any space in the Medina.
While you cannot enter the Fez Royal Palace, making a quick stop here at the start of the day (before all the bigger groups show up) is something we would for sure recommend. There are 7 gates in total to the palace, each with impressive brass doors and thick, heavy walls and make for a great photo stop.
Make sure to strictly not take any photos of guards, because you will get in serious trouble.
The golden doors at the Royal Palace in Fes are definitely a must-see in Morocco. You can only imagine what grandness lies behind them! Too bad you can’t have a peek… . . We travelled Morocco with @Gadventures #gadventures #gwanderers #thetraveltester . . #morocco #maroc #moroccan #marocain #marocaine #moroccotravel #visitmorocco #igersmaroc #travelmorocco #ig_morocco #igmorocco #igers_Morocco #loves_Morocco #moroccotrip #mymorocco #northafrica #openmyworld #fes #fez #royalpalace #sheisnotlost #sheexplores #damestravel #femmetravel #girlvsglobe #ladiesgoneglobal #FossilStyle
Walk Through the Jewish Quarter in Fez
“Mellah” (The Arabic word for ‘salt’) is the Jewish Quarter of Fez, something almost every city in Morocco has. The Jewish community built their houses here in the 14th century under the protection of the sultan (the palace we just told you about is right next to it), and in return they would support him if there ever was any conflict.
These days, there aren’t many Jewish families around anymore (there used to be over 250.000!), but after the salt trade, this area flourished in the gold trade and there is still good wealth here.
If you have time, you could also visit the small, restored Ibn-Danan Synagogue (17th century), the Jewish cemetery and/or the Jewish Museum that has a collection of objects highlighting Moroccan Jewish life and culture.
Visit the Modern Part of Fez
Close to the Jewish Quarter, in the “Ville Nouvelle” (New Town), you can also visit the “Centre Commercial Borj Fes”, which is a giant shopping mall with modern shops. There is a big supermarket and bottle shop in case you want to buy your own food.
Make sure to also walk around the Avenue Hassan II, which is a beautiful green strip lined with palm trees and it’s where all the locals hang out.
I wouldn’t prioritize going here if you only have a short amount of time, but if there is anything you might need, or crave western food… this is the place.
Visit the Jnan Sbil Gardens
Before (or after, just how you plan your day) visiting the busy Medina, you can wander through an oasis of peace at Jnan Sbil, a park that was once an Imperial garden. If you come by bus from the city center, get off at the Bab Lahdid stop, or get your taxi to drop you off at the “Bab Bou Jeloud”, otherwise known as the “Blue Gate”. From the Jewish Quarter, it’s about a 10 minute walk.
In the park you can find tropical trees and plans and in the afternoon, a group of Ibises lands on an island in the lake.
Go to the Borj Nord Viewpoint
Borj Nord is a hill featuring a 16th century military fort with restored walls, from which you can overlook the houses and mosques of Old Fez. Apart from the view (which is free), you can also pay to go into the Arms Museum, featuring the military history and traditions of Morocco. There is a fine displays of cannons, firearms, daggers and swords.
We stopped here early in the day, which is great if you also plan to visit the museum, otherwise you could try and go here at sunset for incredible views.
For the more active travellers, you can also keep on climbing the hill to the top, where you can find the 13th century Merenid Tombs. They are ruined, but these tombs house the skeletal remains of sultans and other royals of the Merenid Dynasty. Don’t stay on the hill too long after nightfall, or it can be difficult to get back!
Eat a Prickly Cactus Fruit
Around Fez you can find plenty of trolleys with food and drinks, but one you should give a go are the ones selling cactus fruits, or as they say “prickly”. You can have the guy remove the skin and then simply dig into the sweet fruit. I liked it, but it’s full of seeds (way more than a melon, more like a kiwi fruit, but then bigger), so you must not mind that!
How to Spend Your Afternoon in Fez?
Venture Into the Medina of Fes El Bali
One thing you definitely don’t want to miss is the opportunity to wander around the hectic medina of Fes El Bali, the old center of Fez. This part of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is thought to be the largest car-free urban area in the world. Here, you can also find the world’s first university (that we’ll talk more about below).
The Fes El-Bali has stunning Islamic gates on the main entrances and exits. Some of the old city walls are also still standing. Because no cars are allowed here, this labyrinth is where you can spot many donkeys and carts squeezing down small alleyways. You’ll also see locals weaving and selling produce, which is basically anything from live chickens to olives, metalwork and artisan shoes.
The medina is a bit of an assault on your senses, and there are more than 9600 narrow alleys, so if you can navigate it with a guide, I would definitely recommend this. Luckily, our G Adventures guide stuck with us and showed us some of the best places.
If your’re navigating the medina of Fes on your own (there are some signposts as well), here are some of the places we visited that we enjoyed as a suggestion. There are two main streets running almost parallel into the old city: They are “Talaa Kebira” (big hill) and “Talaa Seghira” (little hill). When you find these roads, you’ll be able to work out where you are.
Of course, you might find completely different things on your own adventure:
What I liked about the medina, is that around every corners there seems to be a different theme: from food stalls, to pottery and from fabric to wedding gifts, continuing on to woven, leather and brass items. You keep looking around you!
Slight warning ahead: the next picture features a camel head. And not the one that is attached to a camel body. Just so you don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Go for a Tasty Lunch
In Morocco, meals are important social moments and so not many people will eat out. In Fez, there are some restaurants though to go out for lunch and dinner. If you’re with a bigger group, it can be difficult to find a spot as most of them are small businesses or street carts, that’s why with our G Adventures group, we had a pre-booked place to go for. I don’t really remember where it was, and it wasn’t really too memorable to be honest, so I will follow the suggestions of others that have been to Fez and list some lunch options for you below:
- Cafe Restaurant La Noria
- Chez Rachid
- The Ruined Garden
- Fes Cafe
- Fez Cafe at Le Jardin Des Biehn
- Les Jardins de Sheherazade
- Cafe Clock
- Medina Cafe
Bonus Tip: Scout for places that have a rooftop terrace (a lot of them will have them) and enjoy the views over the city!
See the Chouara Tanneries
Fez is famous for its tanneries (located in the Moulay Abdellah Quarter), so if you can stand the stench (I always have a blocked nose, so I didn’t smell a thing, haha – I win!), a trip to the tanneries will offer you insight into the process of dying animal skins that is a century-old practice. They only use natural ingredients to make the colours, you can kind of understand by now where the smell comes from. Also, because it’s natural, it won’t stain the skin of the guys standing up to their middle in the basins, apparently.
Tip: They offer you little twigs with mint leaves to help you cover the smell if needed. Some people on our trip stuffed it up their nose, if you can believe it, haha!
Besides having a look out over the tannery itself, of course this place is one big shop, actually, there are a few shops adjacent the tanneries that work as a co-operative. The profit of all sales in these shops go to everyone involved in the making of the products. Everyone gets a share! The people are friendly as well, so don’t worry about getting hassled if you don’t want to buy anything!
If you do want to bring something home, get your haggling-skills out, your smile on and start negotiating. Have fun with it, have a conversation with the people. We were happy to have our G Adventures guide as well, because he could let us know in advance what a good price would be for things, so we didn’t stress out about it at all.
In the shops, you could find anything from ottomans to bags, shoes, belts, wallets and leather jackets. A great souvenir from the oldest tannery in the world!
See the Mosques of Fez
Al Quaraouiyine & Al-Attarine Madrasa
The incredible Al Quaraouiyine was built in 859 by refuges from Kairouan in Tunisia and is the oldest existing, continually operating higher educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records. Most students at the school range from between the ages of 13 and 30, and study towards high school-level diplomas and university-level bachelor’s degrees. It is open to both men and women.
In the building, you can find details of green and blue zellij tilework, carved plaster and cedar wood carvings all over the place. The mosque is so big, it can hold about 20.000 worshipers!
You cannot enter as a non-Muslim, but you can walk around the building and look inside the stunning courtyard and decorative art through the many doors.
The nearby Al-Attarine “Madrasa” (the Arabic word for any type of educational institution) was built by the Marinid Sultan Uthman II Abu Said in the 14th century and you can visit it for 10 Dirham.
Medersa Bou Inania
We didn’t have time for this, but if you love architecture, you might want to visit this theological college that is located at the entrance of the Old Medina.
This old school was built by the Merenid sultan Abou Inan between 1351-1357 and is famous for its green-tiled minaret and one of the few religious buildings in Fez that can be entered by non-Muslims. The details are supposed to be stunning: ornate mosaics and tiles (“zellej”), large brass doors, intricate lattices and fountains in the dramatic courtyard. It also has rooms on two floors, where they used to teach students. The college is also famous for its water clock, one of a few still in existence.
Walking through the Medina, you’ll spot a whole lot more mosques and they are all amazingly decorated. There are 350 mosques in the medina that are still in use
today, so I’m sure you’ll get your fix of brass doors and green tiles for sure!
How to Spend Your Evening in Fez?
Have Dinner in the Medina at Night
After the day with the guide, we mustered some confidence and went back for a little bit with a few of the people on our tour.
We kept it simple and picked a restaurant right next to Blue Gate, so we wouldn’t get lost. Google Maps worked fine by the way, so these days it’s become a bit easier to walk around on your own.
From here, you’ll find many cafes and restaurants, although they are a bit more geared toward tourists. It’s popular to to start your adventures into the Medina here, because it’s a drop-off place for taxi’s.
A restaurant I can recommend is Café Clock. This is is a popular tourist spot (but for a change, that’s not a negative thing!) and they offer a nice blend of traditional Moroccan and Western food. At sunset there are concerts and other cultural activities that you might want to get involved in.
Got More Time in Fez?
See Crafts at Poterie de Fes
If you’re really into the handicrafts and interested in perhaps buying some ceramics, pottery or items with mosaics (such as vases, tables or water features), then it can be great for you to visit the Poterie de Fes. We visited this place as part of our G Adventures Tour and while it is basically a (work)shop, it was great to see how all the items were made and just how much work goes into making all these items.
The things that were sold in the shop weren’t cheap and the shop is located a bit out of the center of town, but if you’re serious about it, I can recommend a visit!
Practical Information for Visiting Fez
I hope this article helped you deciding what to do in Fez! Here is more information to help you plan your trip:
Time Zone in Morocco?GMT +1
Currency in Morocco? Moroccan Dirham. Check the latest exchange rate here.
Electrical Plugs in Morocco? 220V, Type C and E. We recommend getting a universal travel adapter to never worry about having the right plug on your travels!
Languages Spoken in Morocco? Moroccan Arabic (Darija), Arabic & Berber + French. We had no trouble getting around with just English and our G Adventures guide helped us everywhere, as he was a local and spoke all the languages needed.
Best time to visit Morocco & Fez Travel? Spring (March-May) or Autumn (September-October). Summer can be nice on the coast, but will definitely be too warm more inland. Make sure to also take the date of Ramadan, the month of daytime fasting, in account when planning your trip!
Insurance for Morocco? Make sure to get travel insurance! We recommend checking out worldnomads.com
Which organised tours to do in Morocco? We highly recommend organised tours with G Adventures Tour!!
More Great Resources:
- Skyscanner – Find the best flights to Fez
- Booking.com – Find the best hotels in Fez
- Get Your Guide – The most popular tours & activities around Fez
Hotels in Fez, Morocco:
With our group, we stayed at Hotel Mounia in Fez. It was a hotel suited for tour groups, I do not recommend booking here as an independent traveller. Instead, have a look at the following options:
- Ibis Fes [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Barceló Fés Medina [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Hotel Sahrai [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Palais Faraj Suites & Spa [see the best deals on booking.com]
Riads in Fes, Morocco:
- Riad Sabah [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Tahra & Spa [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Jardin Chrifa [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Al Makan [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Fes Baraka [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Dar Borj [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Toyour- Riad of birds [see the best deals on booking.com]
- Riad Zamane Fès [see the best deals on booking.com]
Map of Fez Tourism Spots
Make sure to check out our other Morocco articles:
- One Week in Morocco with Gadventures
- One Day in Casablanca
- One Day in Marrakech
- Marrakech Food Tour Review
I hope you enjoyed all the suggestions for Fes Morocco things to do!
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Tours & Other Things to Do in Fes Morocco
There are many great tours and activities in Fes. Here are some great ones to get your started:
- Fez Medina Guided Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- This tour of Fez takes you through the intricate maze of streets of the medina. See the tanneries, Medersa Bouaanania, Nejjarine Museum and more.
- Fes: Handicrafts and Shopping Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Meet the artisans of Fes on a guided tour of the medina and learn more about the different arts and crafts that make the imperial city famous. Get the chance to shop at a local co-operative and visit the oldest leather tannery in the world.
- Fez Medina Walking Guided Tours Click here for availability and current prices
- Enjoy a cultural tour of Fes with a professional guide. Visit the medina, see the world’s oldest continuously functioning university, tour the local souk, and stop to see the oldest tannery in Africa. Taste favorite street foods and meet local artisans.
- Full Day Fes Cooking Class Experience Click here for availability and current prices
- In this Fez cooking class, you will learn the secrets of Moroccan cuisine and its fabulous flavors. Just wait until you’re ready to sample your own culinary creation and taste the sensational flavors.
- Full-Day Fez Handicraft Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- On this Fez handicraft tour, you’ll spend your time discovering Moroccan Berber art and get to participate in some of the craft practices famed in Moroccan heritage.
- Fez Old City Private Tour & Lunch with Local Family Click here for availability and current prices
- Come visit the Ancient Medina of Fez, an experience you can’t miss on your trip to Morocco – explore the old walled city’s beautiful architecture and historical sites, and have a unique lunch experience sharing a meal with a Moroccan family in their home!
- Fes: Moroccan Hammam and Spa Click here for availability and current prices
- This Moroccan spa experience allows you to connect with locals, enjoy a traditional Moroccan hammam experience, and relax while enjoying a massage.
- Fes: Cultural and Historical Tour with a Local Guide Click here for availability and current prices
- Enjoy a cultural and historical tour of Fes with a driver and multilingual guide. Explore historical sites, Islamic places, important monuments, maze-like narrow alleys and attractive sights on this enjoyable day tour.
- Fes: Private Full-Day Sightseeing Tour Click here for availability and current prices
- Discover the highlights of the oldest of the imperial cities of Morocco on a full-day, private tour of Fes. Go to the historic medina and stroll the labyrinth of lively streets in the souks. See the world’s oldest university and more.
Day Trips from Fes Morocco
Here are some suggestions for epic day trips to take from Morocco:
- Middle Atlas Day Trip from Fez Click here for availability and current prices
- On this Middle Atlas day trip from Fez, visit three beautiful villages and witness the traditional lives of Berber families. Catch some stunning views, meet some monkeys, and learn about Moroccan culture!
- Tour from Fez to Volubilis, Moulay, Idriss and Meknes Click here for availability and current prices
- This excursion from Fez that takes you through Morocco’s history. Discovering thousands of years Moroccan heritage, monuments, gates, Moorish architecture and ancient ruins of Volubilis.
- Day Trip from Fez to Casablanca Click here for availability and current prices
- Enjoy a tour of Casablanca with your own driver/guide who is fully qualified and accredited. Join this tour to experience Casablanca in the best possible way.
- Fez: Sefrou and Bhalil Berber Towns Day Trip Click here for availability and current prices
- Spend a wonderful day visiting the Berber towns of Sefrou and Bhalil from Fez – get away from the city and discover waterfalls, caves, beautiful natural scenes, and learn about the culture and history of these fascinating Berber villages.
- From Fez: Chefchaouen Day Trip Click here for availability and current prices
- Discover the attractive blue pearl of the Rif Mountains on an enjoyable day trip from Fez. Explore the vivid lanes, thriving market, kasbah and more.
- From Fez: Meknes, Volubilis and Moulay Idriss Day Trip Click here for availability and current prices
- Visit one of the four imperial cities of Morocco and see the Roman ruins of an ancient kingdom on a day trip from Fez. Explore the Medina of Meknes, go to the historic remains of Volubilis and see the holy town of Moulay Idriss.
- Private Tour: Meknes and Volubilis Day Trip from Fez Click here for availability and current prices
- Discover thousands of years of Moroccan heritage on this private Meknes and Volubilis day trip from Fez. Admire ancient vineyards and olive groves on your journey across the mighty Saiss plains and visit the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail with a guide.
- Fes: Sightseeing Day Trip to Rabat Click here for availability and current prices
- Spend a full and exciting day in Rabat and check off the Moroccan capital’s key sights: the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the ruins of the Chellah, the Kasbah of the Udayas, Hassan Tower, Old Medina, and much more!
Disclaimer: We were hosted on our tour through Morocco by G Adventures. All photos and opinions in this article are, as always, 100% our own. This post contains affiliate links.