Fes (Fez) City: Overview, Attractions & Much More

Fes, one of the oldest imperial cities in the Kingdom of Morocco, is quite famous among travelers and tourists as one of the best destinations in the world.

It welcomes visitors to the North of Morocco, between the Rif and the Middle Atlas. Radiant and colorful, since its creation in the Middle Ages, a destination that makes art lovers dream and tourists.

An ancient breeding ground for scholars, artisans, and gourmands, Fes is often referred to as Morocco’s spiritual and cultural capital.

Fes may have played second fiddle to the more touristy Marrakesh, but thanks to a growing appreciation of its authenticity, Fes is rising in popularity. For a truly authentic travel experience, it is a place like no other.

Fes, Fez

Getting To Know Fez

Getting lost in its souks, venturing into the narrow streets of the medina, or contemplating its most beautiful buildings with impressive mosaics, there are lots to discover.

What Is Special About Fez?

Fes is famous for its ancient walled city Fez el Bali, the best-preserved medina in the Arab world and home to the world’s oldest university. A city many compare to the old walled city of Jerusalem. Covering an area of approx 2.8 square km, with an estimated 9500 streets, it is one of the world’s most significant car-free urban areas.

Fes has a beautiful history, meanwhile, it is a city in northern inland Morocco and the capital of the Fès-Meknès administrative region. It is the second largest city in Morocco, with a population of 1.11 million, according to the 2014 census.

Located to the northwest of the Atlas Mountains, Fes is linked to several important cities of different regions; it is 206 km (128 mi) from Tangier to the northwest, 246 km (153 mi) from Casablanca, 189 km (117 mi) from Rabat to the west, and 387 km (240 mi) from Marrakesh city to the southwest. Hills surround it, and the old city is centered around the Fez River (Oued Fes), flowing from west to east.

Fes was founded under Idrisid rule during the 8th-9th centuries CE. It initially consisted of two autonomous and competing settlements. Successive waves of mainly Arab immigrants from Ifriqiya (Tunisia) and al-Andalus (Spain/Portugal) in the early 9th century gave the nascent city its Arab character.

After the downfall of the Idrisid dynasty, other empires came and went until the 11th century when the Almoravid Sultan Yusuf ibn Tashfin united the two settlements into what is today’s Fes el-Bali quarter. Under Almoravid’s rule, the city gained a reputation for religious scholarship and mercantile activity.

Fes reached its zenith in the Marinid era (13th-15th centuries), regaining its status as political capital. Numerous new madrasas and mosques were constructed, many surviving today, while other structures were restored.

These buildings are counted among the hallmarks of Moorish and Moroccan architectural styles. In 1276 the Marinid sultan Abu Yusuf Yaqub also founded the royal administrative district of Fes Jdid, where the Royal Palace (Dar al-Makhzen) is still located today, to which extensive gardens were later added.

During this period, the city’s Jewish population grew, and the Mellah (Jewish quarter) was formed on the south side of this new district. After the overthrow of the Marinid dynasty, Fes declined and subsequently competed with Marrakesh for political and cultural influence. It became the capital again under the ‘Alawi (Alaouite) dynasty until 1912.

Today, the city consists of two old medina quarters, Fes el-Bali and Fes Jdid, and the much larger modern urban Ville Nouvelle area founded during the French colonial era. The medina of Fes is listed as a World Heritage Site and is considered one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones (car-free areas).

It contains the University of Al-Qarawiyyin, which was founded in 857 and is considered by some to be the oldest continuously functioning institute of higher education in the world. It also contains the Chouara Tannery from the 11th century, one of the oldest tanneries in the world.

The city has been called the “Mecca of the West” and the “Athens of Africa.” It is also considered the spiritual and cultural capital of Morocco.

The Weather in Fes City

Before you continue, it’s important to know when the seasons are in Fes, as they might differ from yours depending on where you’re traveling from. Fes is in the Northern Hemisphere, so the seasons fall during these months:

SeasonMonths
Summer June to August
Autumn/fall September to November
Winter  December to February
SpringMarch to May

Located on the northern edge of the Atlas Mountains, Fes has a Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and dry, and the temperature is mild in the winter. The average annual temperature for Fez is 46° degrees.

If you already have a rough idea about which months you want to travel, then you would want to do some research on how the weather in the month you are planning your trip so that you find a month that suitable for your needs and activities you are willing to do.

Fez’s Location

Fez is located in the northern sector of Morocco, around the northeast area of the Atlas Mountains, on the Wadi Fès, just above its influx into the Sebou River.

The city lies at the crossroad of Morocco’s main cities – Tangier to the northwest, Casablanca and Rabat to the west, and Marrakech to the southwest, which leads to the Trans-Saharan trade route. The city itself is slightly elevated while also being surrounded by high grounds.

Fes Morocco: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Fes city

The upcoming headlines will be all related to traveling to Fes so I am going to go through, break down, and explain all you have to know in order to successfully plan a great trip to this amazing city. Let’s Go!

Is Fes safe?

Generally speaking, Fes is a safe city. There are certain areas of Fes that are safer than others. larger cities and tourist destinations are safer than rural areas. However, even in the safest areas, there is always some risk involved, so it’s important to take precautions when traveling to Fes in Morocco.

Tips For Staying Safe In Fes

As a solo traveler, refuse help from ‘tour guides’ on the streets.  Locals, especially children, will say “no money” but want your money. They will try to take you to their shops and ask for money for their service. Be firm and say no. If they start walking with you and you engage, they will be nice to you, then quickly turn to bully you for money to pay for their ‘services’!

Terrorism is a risk in Morocco, especially in Fes. Tourist areas and public places are possible targets. Be alert to possible threats. Avoid known targets. The risk increases in remote mountain areas and the south and border areas.

Westerners are at high risk of serious crime across North Africa. This risk increases in remote areas. Don’t hike alone in mountainous or isolated areas. Get professional security advice before traveling to border areas. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is common.

Tourists/travelers have been mugged when walking at night. Keep your belongings close. Don’t walk in isolated areas or along dark streets at night.

You may face aggressive begging and harassment, particularly near ATMs. Female travelers may be sexually harassed. Take care when using ATMs. Avoid walking or traveling alone. Scams and fraud are common.

These include double-charging credit cards and replacing your purchased goods with lower-quality ones. Large public gatherings and protests can turn violent. Avoid demonstrations. Take care on weekends and around Friday prayers.

How To Get To Fes?

If you are planning to visit Fes city and you are wondering how to get there. Here are the common ways to get to Fes city:

By Air

The airport is about 15 km from the city center. There is a bus from the airport to the main train station. If you take a taxi, there is a fixed price – 120 dirhams from the airport to the city and 150 to the Medina. Ensure you confirm the price before you get in.

By Train

Fes-Ville Train Station is at the northern end of Ville-Nouvelle.

  • Eight services per day from Marrakech. Approx travel time of about seven hours. Expect around 295 dirhams for a first-class ticket (recommended) and 195 dirhams for second class.
  • Services from Casablanca run hourly. Approx travel time of about four hours. Expect around 165 dirhams for a first-class ticket (recommended) and 110 dirhams for second class.
  • Five services per day from Tangier. Approx travel time 4 – 5 hours. Expect around 155 dirhams for a first-class ticket (recommended) and 105 dirhams for second class.
  • From Rabat, services take about three hours. Expect around 105 dirhams for a first-class ticket (recommended) and 75 dirhams for second class.

The first class is recommended, especially in summer. Second- and third-class carriages are not air-conditioned, are often overcrowded, and do not have allocated seating. First is much more comfortable, especially for long journeys. Also, be aware of hustlers who frequently operate on the trains to Fez.

By Car

Fez is approximately four hours from Casablanca, two hours from Rabat, and four hours from Tangiers. The roads are excellent. The toll highway from Rabat to Fez, in particular, is in excellent condition.

How To Get Around?

Fez has a basic public transport system, with trains, buses, and taxis, but ultimately it is a city best explored on foot by tourists, as most of the attractions are in the old quarter.

Visitors should beware that getting lost in the narrow streets that make up Fez’s largest medina, one of the world’s largest car-free urban zones, is easy.

The medina is very walkable (and fun to explore on foot) but challenging to navigate. However, to aid visitors, the medina does have color-coded tourist routes, so it is best to use the accompanying tourist map and ask for directions or use GPS, so you don’t get lost.

Additionally, tourists should note that some locals have a reputation for misdirecting tourists, particularly if they can redirect them to family-owned stores or charge money to guide them along complicated routes instead of giving simple directions.

In Fez, the petit taxis are small and red and operate between the Medina walls and within the city limits. With a base fare of 20 MAD and 6 MAD per kilometer, taking a taxi is generally around 20-40 MAD per ride.

Taxis from the airport to the city center cost around 120-150 MAD, while the express bus only costs 20 MAD for the same distance. They are metered and are not too expensive, but they only carry three passengers simultaneously.

Also, public transportation is the best way to travel around Fez via bus. The city has a reliable and cheap local bus system. The standard fare is 2-5 MAD per ride. Be sure to watch out for pickpockets, as there are a lot.

Meanwhile, car rentals can be found for as little as 100 MAD per day for a multi-day rental. You don’t need one to get around the city. However, they can be helpful for day trips. Drivers need to be at least 21 years of age. Just be cautious — drivers here are aggressive, and accidents are common.

How many days in Fes is enough?

It’s understandable if you are concerned about where to stay in Fes. After all, the city has quite a unique layout which can make deciding where to stay a bit of a head-scratcher.

Even with just a few days or more, you’ll quickly see what makes Fes such a fascinating and chaotic place to visit. You should be able to experience the best of Fes in that time comfortably, but it’ll take much longer to understand or navigate this ancient city fully.

Covering each of the best places in Fes means visiting the famous historic medina of Fes and several landmarks on the surrounding hills.

What’s The Best Time To Visit Fes?

This is a question that many tourists ask themselves before planning a trip to this city (Fes). The answer, of course, depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation.

If you’re looking for sun and sand, the best time is winter, when the weather is warm and sunny (December to February). The daytime temperatures average around 7°C (45°F); while the days can be sunny, the nights can be quite chilly. Prices are usually a bit lower, but pack a sweater!

However, if you’re looking to explore the city and its culture, the best time to go is spring or fall when the temperatures are milder (September to November).

July and August are the hottest months, with an average of 38°C (100°F). It’s too hot to enjoy the city, so skip a summer visit if you can.The Fez Festival of Sufi Culture takes place in October and is a perfect way to listen to Sufi musicians. In June, the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music is a nine-day music festival with Sufi chanters, Iranian whirling dervishes, and dancers from around the globe.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines – Fes can be visited any time of year, depending on your interest.

What To Pack When Traveling To Fes?

Below is a list of essential things to pack before your trip to Fes:

For Men Travelers:

  • 3 pairs of jeans (heavy and not easily dried (a good alternative is khaki pants)
  • 3 pair of shorts
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
  • 1 pair of flip-flops
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 5 pairs of boxer shorts
  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 tube of toothpaste
  • 1 package of dental floss
  • 1 small bottle of shampoo
  • 1 small bottle of shower gel
  • 1 towel
  • Deodorant
  • Avoid clothing with unnecessary branding, logos, or designs that may not be appropriate or possibly offend.
  • Insect Repellant: Some rely on the local method of ‘amber stones,’ which Moroccans seem to swear by. But if that doesn’t work: the good old tried and tested insect repellant is a must.

For women Travelers:

  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 sarong
  • 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
  • 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
  • 2-3 long-sleeve tops
  • 2-3 T-shirts
  • 3-4 spaghetti tops
  • 1 light cardigan
  • 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
  • 1 hairbrush
  • Makeup you use
  • Hair bands & hair clips
  • Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
  • Plastic bags (great for laundry)
  • Shorts, dresses, and skirts should always come to at least your knees, if not over.
  • Hat: Protect your face and head from the blazing sun (and early aging) with a hat.
  • Full-length skirts or pants are always better. Lightweight, loose-fitting pants are best for Morocco, especially in hotter areas.
  • If you wear jeans or tighter-fitting pants such as leggings, mix them with a longer top such as a tunic to cover your rear.
  • You don’t need to cover your head daily; however, you will need to when visiting mosques. Some ladies cover their heads as a matter of course, out of respect and as a way to blend in a little more.

For Family Travel:

Most people dread the thought of traveling with toddlers and small children. Given that, it does sometimes feel like carrying your home along as the packing list gets longer with the extra stuff necessary for children/toddlers.

  • Diaper bag
  • Diapers -a little extra especially depending on your chosen destination
  • Wet wipes
  • Changing sheet
  • Blankets- At least two
  • Disposable plastic bags
  • Disinfectant/Sanitizer
  • Liquid hand wash for yourself
  • Child’s toiletries, including toothpaste and brush- small packs
  • Tissues
  • Toys and small books – Pick your favorites.
  • Clothes, socks, and shoes depending on the season- One outfit for a day and in cold weather, instead of putting on one thick sweater or jacket, always use layers of clothing. Check the nose tip and hands of the baby to see if the layers are enough. Baby shouldn’t feel too hot also.
  • Caps, mittens, and boots -necessary in case of the baby below 1 year.
  • Towels/bathing suit & washable bibs
  • Sunhats and sunscreen (advised by the doctor)
  • Feeding sets- lightweight
  • Carry snack food as well as any supplement or formula that you give
  • Medical kit- You can check with your child’s doctor if he can provide you with the list of medications that you should carry for the child depending on their age. Our doctor always did this, and in times of emergency, we would take medications based on the prescription given.
  • Take childproof rooms or carry socket protectors or painter’s tape to cover the switches.
  • Car seat- A must if you are driving on your own.
  • Stroller- Handy and easy to fold one

In order to make sure you are dressing the right way, I recommend you check my previous article about Morocco’s dress code for tourists.

16 Attractions & Best Things To Do in Fes

Fes travel guide

If you’re visiting Fes for the first time and wondering what are the best things to do in Fes?

Then you should look forward to absorbing the country’s rich and varied Muslim culture encapsulated within the confines of some of the most beautiful tourist attractions famous for their historical significance and aesthetical architectural designs.

Making your way through narrow passageways of traditional tanneries, the hustle and bustle of souks, scenic landscapes, and ideal tourist spots, you will be living and breathing amongst staunch Muslim believers offering an authentic Moroccan experience.

1. Fes el Bali (The Old medina)

Fes el-Bali is a walled neighborhood containing hundreds of alleyways within. You can easily lose your way because navigating the plethora of labyrinths is tough, so take appropriate measures before visitation.

It is famous for its cultural and historical significance as its centuries-old interior, and exterior structure has retained their ancient roots and withstood the test of time. Considered the Medina of the land, the people here still embrace and practice a very traditional lifestyle.

It is a car-free zone where people prefer to travel on foot rather than take any transportation. The site has become an acclaimed tourist spot filled with various unique monuments, mosques, and tombs.

If you are one of those that are passionate about discovering old cities and their history, I recommend you take a look at my previous guide on the best old medinas of Morocco.

2. Chouara Tannery

The Chouara tanneries of Fes are one of the city’s most famous sights. Sitting in the northeast corner of Fes el Bali, just east of the Qaraouiyine Mosque, the tanneries have been the bustling center of the city’s leather industry since the medieval era.

The only way to get the iconic bird’s-eye views over the pits, where hides are soaked in a multitude of colors to become bags, clothing, shoes later, and a variety of other products, is to head to the leather stores surrounding the tannery area, which offer views from their rooftops.

You have to tip the leather shops for entry, and do expect them to try a bit of sales pattern while you’re there. Come in the morning if you can, as this is when the tannery pits are still filled with a rainbow palette of dyes.

3. Royal Palace of Fes

The royal palace of Fes, more commonly known as Dar el Makhzen, serves as one of the high points in the country’s architectural history. The surprising thing about it is that it is frequently used by the government and has remained functional after centuries of usage by the royal family.

However, tourists cannot visit the breathtakingly stunning interior with endlessly extensive gardens and the adjoining grand masjid of Fes el-Jadid.

So, they’ll have to make do with a view of the colossal gold-colored doors worthy of kings and queens of the palace embroidered with complementing brass door knockers.

4. Ibn Danan Synagogue

For a glimpse of the city’s Jewish history in the Mellah, there’s a non-functioning but preserved synagogue dating back to the 17th century. This was set up by the merchant Mimoun Ben Sidan following the arrival of thousands of Jewish families recently expelled from Spain.

Inside, what will catch your eye is the large Torah Ark with carved wooden panels framed by delicately painted honeycomb plasterwork. The bimah (raised orator’s platform) is the opposite and has a wrought iron openwork canopy with horseshoe arches and floral motifs.

Downstairs is a mikvah (bath) for women, still with water, and you can head up to a terrace with a view of the cemetery next door.

5. Interesting Museum (Borj Nord, Nejjarine, Batha)

The Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts is a creative museum spread across three stories of a refurbished 18th-century funduq (an old traveler’s inn). Discover impressive examples of fine Moroccan woodwork, ranging from expertly carved doors to handmade musical instruments.

Built around an elegant central courtyard, the museum showcases the differences between the traditional Amazigh styles and the typical Andalusian designs of Fes.

Check out the intriguing collection of ancient craftsman’s tools, wooden prayer beads, old Berber locks, and traditional wedding furniture. Highlights include the wooden boards used by Quranic recitation students and the rooftop café, which offers an exceptional view over the medina.

Also, we have Borj Nord, an ancient museum in Fes, perched on a hilltop overlooking the medina and its famous Bab Boujeloud. Built in the late 16th century by Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour to keep an eye on his people, it’s been operating as an arms museum since 2016.

Today, the Borj Nord houses a varied collection of around 5,000 weapons spread across 13 rooms, ranging from swords and guns to muskets and other weaponry. The 12-tonne cannon used in the infamous 16th-century Battle of Three Kings is a major highlight.

Once you’re tired of admiring the weapons from all eras and different parts of Morocco, climb up to the northern tower and admire one of the best panoramas over the Fes medina. You won’t regret it!

Don’t forget to visit Batha Museum, located in the southwest corner of the medina. The museum’s centerpiece exhibit is the ceramics room, where the famous Fassi ceramic collection, colored with cobalt, is displayed.

More interesting than the displays are the building’s original decoration and the lovely internal courtyard garden, which is full of shady trees and tall palms and is a true oasis within the city.

6. Merenid Tombs

The Merenid Tombs are the remains of an ancient 14th-century necropolis that once towered above the Fes medina. These crumbling tombs were built during the Marinid Dynasty to serve as the final resting place of the royal family.

While they were once striking in their heyday – with brilliant marble and vivid epitaphs – what remains after years of looting and exposure is rather mediocre.

Luckily, the architecture will not have you legging it up the hill to the Merenid Tombs. While they’re definitely worth having a look at, the views of the Fes el-Bali medina below make the hike or short taxi ride worthwhile. You’ll have a view over the sprawling medina and the hills dotted with human-made caves that locals live in.

7. Kairaouine University & Mosque

Considered one of the world’s oldest universities, the University of al Karaouine is located in Fes El Bali. It has now been converted into the city’s second-largest mosque.

The Kairaouine Mosque is Morocco’s second-largest and one of Africa’s largest mosques. With a green triangular-shaped roof and two historic minarets (one of which is the oldest Islamic monument in Fes), it’s one of the most iconic landmarks in the Fes el-Bali medina.

Built-in 859 by a female refugee from Tunisia, the original building has been expanded several times and can now cater to up to 20,000 people in prayer. The complex includes fountains, courtyards, and a library that’s one of the oldest in the world – open only to students, though.

The Kairaouine Mosque is also debatably one of the oldest universities in the world, second only to Al-Azhar in Egypt. While non-Muslims cannot enter the mosque, they can admire the mosque’s courtyard from the gates or the rooftop of the Medersa el Attarine.

8. Al Attarine Madrasa

Located beside the fragrant spice and perfume market in the center of the medina, the Al-Attarine Madrasa is a religious school with some of the most striking Islamic architecture in Fes. Built in the 14th century, it boasts a gorgeous rectangular courtyard that opens onto a great four-sided prayer hall.

This Marinid courtyard is a feast for the senses with its intricately carved stucco, Arabic calligraphy, tinkling fountain, and blue and green geometrical mosaics covering the walls and floor.

While the courtyard is the main appeal of the madrasa, visitors can also see the more recently renovated student accommodation upstairs.

9. Bab Boujloud

Unlike many of Morocco’s famous landmarks, Bab Boujloud is relatively modern, built only in 1913. Established during the French occupation, the arresting cobalt blue archway with its mosaic tiles is a massive, eye-catching landmark in the medina.

What’s interesting about the Bab Boujloud archway is that its mosaics change color from blue on the exterior wall to green on the interior wall – to mark the sacred color of Islam.

You’ll find a host of bustling cafes and restaurants on the other side of the gate, all of which are perfect for people-watching.

10. Jardin Jnan Sbil

A literal breath of fresh air in an often-chaotic city, the Jardin Jnan Sbil is one of Fes’ only green spaces, tucked between the Fes el-Bali medina and the Jewish quarter. First built over a century ago, the gardens were neglected for years and then restored in 2011.

Surrounded by the old medieval walls of the Fes medina, these beautifully landscaped gardens are the perfect spot to enjoy a quick lunch on one of the benches.

Tucked within the walkways, you’ll find tranquil fountains, fragrant roses, poplar trees, palms, and ponds. An ancient waterwheel is the garden’s highlight.

11. Bou Inania Madrasa

The Bou Inania Madrasa is one of Fes’ most architecturally beautiful theological colleges. Built by the Merinid Sultan Bou Inan in the 1350s, it’s one of the only still functioning religious buildings in Fes open to non-Muslims.

And it’s worth exploring. There’s so much to see beyond the striking brass entrance doors. The interior courtyard boasts detailed Moroccan Zellige tiles and carved dark cedar lattice screens.

In contrast, the mihrab niche boasts impressive onyx columns similar to those in the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

12. Explore the Jewish Quarter (Mellah of Fez)

The Mellah of Fez is the historic Jewish quarter (Mellah) of Fez, Morocco. It is located in Fes el-Jdid, the part of Fez which contains the Royal Palace (Dar al-Makhzen), and is believed to date from the mid-15th century.

While the district is no longer home to any significant Jewish population, it still contains several monuments and landmarks from the Jewish community’s historical heritage in the city.

13. Sunset on a Rooftop

Moroccan architecture makes for beautiful earthy-colored houses with flat rooftops. This means it’s a terraced paradise!

One of the best ways to see Fes is to find a great rooftop cafe or bar (like Cafe Clock) and enjoy the city from above. Sit here at the end of a day of sightseeing and enjoy the sun setting behind this wonderful city.

14. Do shopping in the Souk

For keen shoppers, the skinny souk (market) lanes of Fes el Bali are one of the major attractions of a Fes stay. Fes is renowned within Morocco for its artisan heritage, and you’ll find all Moroccan handicrafts here, from leatherwork to metalware and ceramics.

The local ceramic tradition (called Fassi ceramics), made from local clay, tends towards blue tones and is usually hand-painted with intricate patterns and recurring motifs. The streets just west of the Qaraouiyine Mosque have the greatest concentration of shopping opportunities.

As with Marrakesh, more tourist-orientated shops selling a range of souvenir-style giftware and more mass-produced items, as well as the big carpet emporiums, tend to line main roads in the medina such as Talaa Kebira. Specialty artisan workshops are usually found in smaller lanes.

15. Try Tasty Moroccan Food

Moroccan cuisine is another facet of the Kingdom that has gained acclaim and rewards for several years. Indeed, Moroccan gastronomy is at the top of the rankings of the world’s best cuisines. Moroccan cuisine seduces with its spices, flavors, and multiple influences (Arabic, Andalusian, Berber, etc.).

As you can see, Moroccan culture is a mosaic of very different cultures worldwide. Fez itself is never short of surprises if you dare to experiment. One of the delicacies you will frequently encounter in Fez is the traditional harira soup.

It’s made from chickpeas and meat, usually veal or lamb, coriander, noodles, parsley, ginger, carrot, tomato, and flour.

There are many different versions of this soup, but generally, it’s a very thick and hearty dish, usually accompanied by dates and some typical sweets called chebakia.

The harira soup is also a spiritually important dish for Moroccans, as they break their fasting with harira during Ramadan. It’s one of those local dishes that amaze you with their taste and warm you up.

If you are heading to Fes on a business trip or for vacation, be sure that you will be amazed at the culinary science and art of the people. Moroccan food ranks high when it comes to the best cuisines in the world, leaving you no choice but to try them out.

16. Hike Zalagh Mountain and Enjoy the views

This short adventure tour of hiking and trekking in Zalagh Mountain is designed for travelers who like to rough it up. This tour opens opportunities for active travelers to immerse in the culture by visiting the rural areas and places not accessible to mass tourists.

On this expedition, natural landscapes, tribal markets, and private homes are all within your reach.

Before packing your bags, make sure to fully plan your journey to have a joyous trip throughout the epicenter of the Muslim world.

Forge strong bonds with the local community along the way while being mesmerized by the fascinating customs of true Moroccan culture. While most of the city has been modernized, the traditional values and monumental architectures still have much to offer to the average tourist.

Things To Avoid When Visiting Fes

With an array of attractions and activities to suit all types of tourists, Fes is a captivating destination. While the city attracts a wide variety of visitors with different budgets and interests.

Here are a few things to avoid when visiting Fes city:

Walking alone at night

Always walk in well-lit busy areas, and be extra careful walking at night. There are many twisted roads, and people pop out of the doorways in Medina. Petty crime is rampant, especially against tourists.

Those areas are dangerous sometimes even for the locals themselves. So, in order to keep yourself on the safe side and make your trip as enjoyable as possible, I do recommend you completely avoid walking alone at night in the medina and such places, especially for woman solo-travelers.

Showy Clothing

In Fez, people dress in many versions of modest clothing for religious and practical reasons. When it’s blistering hot, locals know it’s better to be covered than to expose their skin to the sun.

Women should wear loose clothing, pants or long skirts made of light fabrics, and cover the shoulders and chest. This will show locals you are respectful of their traditions.

For more details and tips on what to wear for both men and women travelers, I recommend you check my previous blog post on how to dress in Morocco.

Say No to Tour Guides

Those people insisting they will guide you for “no money” definitely want your money. They will try to get you into their shops or take you places and ask for money for the service.

Be firm and tell them no. It doesn’t matter their age or how helpful they are, if they start walking with you, they will ask for money!

Negotiate Taxi prices upfront

Always negotiate the price for taxis before you get in, as prices will be substantially inflated when you arrive at your destination.

There’s no hard and fast rule about how much to pay, but negotiating any price is a must.

Watch for scams

There are a few common scams in Fes, so be on the lookout for them. One popular scam is the “broken camera” trick, where someone will offer to take your photo and then drop their camera, asking you to pay for the repairs.

Another common scam is being offered help with directions and being asked for money afterward. Also, if someone asks you into their shop for tea, they will use that as a pretext to get you to buy something, and, thanks to the ingrained psychological idea of reciprocity, you’ll probably give in.

Don’t let anyone ask you to write a letter or read a postcard that their “cousin” sent to them in English/French/whatever your native language is. It’s a ruse to get you into their store and wear you down.

While this is good advice for any country, Fes is more intense than your average destination due to the sheer number of people who give you unwanted attention. It takes a lot of energy to always be on your guard in a place where asking for directions often leads people to ask for money.

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The Bottom Line

So, if you were to ask, is Fes worth a visit?

It’s rare to find such a beautiful combination of sights and sounds in one place, but Fes Morocco is a truly magical city. The locals of this ancient city are different from any others you will meet in Morocco, and constant references to things outside the wall make you realize people live their whole lives in this medieval maze of commerce.

Suppose you’re looking for a bit of adventure, whether interested in history, food, shopping, culture, or just plain sightseeing; there is something for everyone in Fes. It is a great place to visit and a fascinating city with lots to see and do.

However, it’s important to be aware of the cultural norms and expectations of the locals. Following some simple guidelines and being respectful of the culture, you can have a safe and enjoyable visit to this fascinating city.

In a nutshell, Fes is the Morocco you come to see. If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, add Fes to your itinerary.

FAQs

Why is Fes famous?

Fes is one of the imperial cities of Morocco. It is famous for being home to the world’s oldest university, the University of al-Qarawiyyin (established in 859 AD and taking on the title of a university in 1963). It has an ancient walled city, which many compare to the walled city of Jerusalem.

What is Fez Morocco known for?

Fez, Morocco, is known for its many historical and cultural attractions. Fez’s most popular attractions are the Fez Medina, the Bou Inania Madrasa, and the Chouara Tannery. The Fez Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s oldest and largest medinas.

Can you drink alcohol in Fes?

Islam, a religion that prohibits the consumption of alcohol is the main religion in Morocco, and it can be quite difficult to find alcohol — especially in small cities like Fez. However, there are some spots where tourists and locals can enjoy a cocktail (or mocktail) in a relaxed atmosphere.

What language is spoken in Fez, Morocco?

The two official languages are Standard Arabic and Standard Moroccan Berber. Moroccan Arabic (known as Darija) is the spoken native vernacular.

Is there a beach in Fes?

Yes, and the nearest beach is a 4-hour train ride (to Rabat).

Is one day in Fes enough?

One day, although short, in Fes will be a perfect trip for first-time visitors to explore its frenetic Medina, immerse themselves in the local way of life, and leave with some powerful impressions. However, travelers who want to explore all parts of Fes should typically plan a trip for 4 to 5 days, depending on their schedule.

Are 2 days in Fes enough?

When visiting, it’s best to allow two days to experience the city properly. You’ll want to be prepared to make the most of your time. Also, two days or more will allow you to cover much of what there is to see and do in Fes and even some places just around it.

Which is better to visit, Marrakech or Fez?

If Fez or Marrakech is only your gateway to Morocco and you intend to see the region’s highlights, then I would choose Marrakech. The highlights in Southern Morocco are more spectacular than those in Northern Morocco. If your decision is based on just visiting the city, then I would choose Fez because its medina is plenty on the senses. You will enjoy visiting Fes: the chaos, the smells, the deals, markets, food stalls, and lots more.

Which is better, Fez or Casablanca?

Casablanca is a much more spacious and cooler area than Fez. Fez is often very hot, and the streets were significantly more crowded. Casablanca boasts the most Art Deco architecture of all of Morocco’s cities. It gives the city a fresh and modern feel in contrast to the imperial cities, which ooze history and tradition, and it has a lot of government buildings and is more modern-looking than Fez.

Is Fes a touristy?

Fez has long been one of Morocco’s top and most appealing tourist destinations, given the region’s singular and diverse range of tourist activities.

Do you need a guide for Fes?

In Fes, you are almost guaranteed to get lost without a guide. But that’s not necessarily such a bad thing. You will no doubt be asked to be guided if you want to stay independent, politely refuse, and say you “know where you are going.” Try to avoid ever taking up school children on their offer to guide you, especially if a tip is requested, because it will only encourage other kids to skip school, possibly in search of pocket money.

Is Fes dangerous?

Overall, Fes is generally a safe city for tourists. However, there are some areas that you should avoid and take precautions in.

Especially the old medina of Fes is one of the city’s highlights, but it can also be one of the most dangerous places for tourists. This is because it’s easy to get lost in the narrow, winding streets and alleyways. If you find yourself in this area, staying alert and aware of your surroundings is important.

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The Editorial Team

Optimos Travel is a travel blog to help you travel the world, and explore different lifestyles, traditions, foods, and everything in between.