Fez, Morocco, is a city that has been cherished for centuries for its rich history and vibrant culture. The city, which is the second largest in Morocco, is a treasure trove of famous sights, and amazing architecture and historical marvels, making it an ideal destination for those who love to explore the wonders of the past.
The top things to do in Fez, Morocco:
Explore Fes El Bali
The oldest and most iconic part of the city, Fes El Bali, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to numerous historical and cultural sites. Visitors can get lost in the labyrinth-like streets and alleys and visit the famous tanneries of Fez, which produce some of the finest leather in the world. It’s an ideal spot for immersing oneself in the city’s enchanting atmosphere.
Visit the Bou Inania Madrasa
This beautiful madrasa is one of the few religious buildings in Morocco open to non-Muslims. It has stunning architecture and intricate decorations, such as the carved plaster and tile work. The Bou Inania Madrasa also has a significant spiritual significance, making it a must-visit for any spiritual seekers on a Fes trip.
See the Royal Palace of Fez
The Royal Palace of Fez is known for its impressive brass doors and luxurious façade. While the palace itself is not open to the public, the exterior architecture and the surrounding gardens provide a stunning backdrop for capturing some memorable photographs.
Tour the Al-Attarine Madrasa
The Al-Attarine Madrasa is an outstanding example of Marinid architecture. This 14th-century educational institution features intricate decorations, including beautiful tile work, carved wood, and ornate plaster. Take your time to appreciate the detailed craftsmanship that reflects the rich cultural heritage of Fez.
Wander through the Jewish Quarter
Fez’s Jewish Quarter is home to the historic Ibn Danan Synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues in Morocco and home to a vibrant Jewish community. Visitors can explore the narrow streets and alleyways and visit the Jewish cemetery for a peaceful and reflective experience.
Shop at the local markets
The medina of Fez is home to several markets selling traditional Moroccan goods such as pottery, textiles, leather goods, and more. Bargaining is expected, so be prepared to haggle for the best price. A visit to the local markets is a must for anyone looking to take home a piece of Moroccan culture.
Fes El Bali
When you visit Fez, make sure to explore Fes El Bali, the oldest and most iconic part of the city. This walled medina is home to numerous historical and cultural sites. The Fez Medina, or Fes el Bali, is the city’s oldest neighborhood in Fez and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As you wander through its narrow streets and alleys, you’ll be immersed in a well-preserved historical setting that showcases the city’s rich heritage. Filled with stunning architecture, vibrant souks, and numerous landmarks, the Fez Medina offers a unique opportunity to experience the authentic atmosphere and charm of ancient Morocco.
Dar Batha Museum
Another attraction worth visiting is the Dar Batha Museum, which houses an exquisite collection of traditional Moroccan arts and crafts. Here, you can admire wood carvings, ceramics, and textiles, giving you an insight into the region’s artistic heritage.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the Al-Attarine Madrasa, an outstanding example of Marinid architecture. This 14th-century educational institution features intricate decorations, including beautiful tile work, carved wood, and ornate plaster. Take your time to appreciate the detailed craftsmanship that reflects the rich cultural heritage of Fez.
Visiting Jardin Jnan Sbil gardens
Jardin Jnan Sbil is a tranquil oasis in the bustling city of Fez, providing a breath of fresh air amid the chaos. Situated between the Fes el-Bali Medina and the Jewish quarter, this lush green space is surrounded by the ancient medieval walls of the Medina.
First established over a century ago, the gardens fell into disrepair before being restored in 2011. Today, Jardin Jnan Sbil offers visitors a peaceful retreat to unwind, enjoy the beautifully landscaped greenery, and appreciate the serene atmosphere of this hidden gem in the heart of Fez in North Africa.
Visit the Nejjarine Museum
The Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts is a captivating museum housed within a beautifully restored 18th-century funduq, which once served as a traveller’s inn. As you explore the three floors of this historic building, you’ll encounter a remarkable collection of fine Moroccan woodwork.
Discover a diverse array of expertly carved doors, handmade musical instruments, and other intricately crafted wooden artefacts that showcase the exceptional skill and artistry of Moroccan craftsmen throughout history. The Nejjarine Museum offers a fascinating insight into the rich cultural heritage and craftsmanship that has shaped Fez and its surroundings.
Visiting Borj Nord
Borj Nord is a historic fortress situated on a hilltop in Fez, offering panoramic views of the Medina and the iconic Bab Boujeloud. Constructed in the late 16th century by Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour, the fortress was designed to keep a watchful eye on the inhabitants of the city. Since 2016, Borj Nord has been operating as an arms museum, showcasing a diverse collection of approximately 5,000 weapons across 13 rooms.
Visitors can explore a range of swords, guns, muskets, and other weaponry, with the 12-tonne cannon from the famous 16th-century Battle of Three Kings being a notable highlight. The combination of historical significance and impressive artefacts make Borj Nord an intriguing destination for those interested in the rich heritage of Fez.
Take a day trip to nearby attractions
Fez is located near several popular attractions. Chefchaouen, also known as the blue city, is famous for its stunning blue-washed buildings. Meknes, another Moroccan imperial city, has beautiful architecture and historical sites to explore. Volubilis, an ancient Roman city, has well-preserved ruins and mosaics, making it an ideal destination for history buffs. Checking google maps will help you locate the best day trips in Morocco.
Geography and Climate
Fez, Morocco is located in the northwest region of the country. It is situated at a distance of 206 km (128 mi) from Tangier, 246 km (153 mi) from Casablanca, 189 km (117 mi) from Rabat, and 387 km (240 mi) from Marrakesh. This strategic location connects Fez to several important cities, making it an ideal spot to explore various regions of Morocco.
Fez, is situated to the northwest of the Atlas Mountains, with the Wadi Fès river flowing through it. The city’s topography consists of a mix of flat and hilly areas, providing you with a variety of landscapes to enjoy during your time in this historical location.
Fez has a Mediterranean climate characterized by mild wet winters and hot dry summers. The average temperature of the coldest month (January) is 10.0°C (50.0°F), while the warmest month (August) has an average temperature of 26.8°C (80.3°F). The rainy season typically lasts from October to April ). You can expect an annual rainfall of around 690 millimeters (27.2 inches) in Fez.
When planning your visit to Fez, keep in mind that the highest temperatures usually occur in July and August, with temperature highs reaching up to 95°F (35°C). If you prefer a cooler and more pleasant weather, you might want to visit Fez during the months when temperatures are milder.
Languages and People
As you explore Fez, you’ll notice that the main language spoken is Arabic, followed by Berber and French. This multicultural and diverse city is home to a mix of Arab, Berber, and Jewish people, creating a vibrant atmosphere full of warm hospitality.
Arts and Handicrafts
The city of Fez is known for its stunning arts and handicrafts. As you wander the narrow streets of the medina, you’ll find exquisite examples of traditional Moroccan crafts, such as pottery, leather goods, textiles, and metalwork. Be sure to visit the famous Al-Attarine Madrasa to admire its intricate tile work and carved plaster.
Visit the Chouara Tannery in Fes Morocco
The Chouara Tannery, located in Fes El Bali, is one of the world’s oldest and world famous tanneries, offering a unique insight into traditional leather production. As you observe the process of dyeing animal skins, be prepared for the pungent odours that come from the tanning vats.
It is advisable to bring a scarf to cover your nose or carry some mint to help mask the smell. Keep in mind that local vendors may offer you mint “for free,” but may later request payment for their assistance.
Your taste buds will thank you as you indulge in the rich and diverse culinary scene of Fez. Fassi cuisine is known for its fusion of flavors, resulting from its historical connections to various cultures. Some must-try dishes include pastilla, couscous, tagine, and the sweet pastries known as briouats. To experience the city’s culinary capital status, follow the foodie trail and explore the local food markets, street food vendors, and traditional restaurants.
Festivals and Events
Fez hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, showcasing its rich cultural heritage. As you plan your visit, consider timing your trip to attend some of these celebrations. The most notable events include the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, held annually in June, which brings together artists from different spiritual traditions. Other events to consider include the Fez International Film Festival and the Fez Pottery Festival.
Transportation in Fez, Morocco
Your main point of connection to Fez by air is through the Fes-Saiss Airport, located about 20 minutes south of the city. This airport offers occasional flights to other Moroccan cities and some European destinations. Major airlines such as Royal Air Maroc and Air Arabia Maroc often provide these flights.
One of the most budget-friendly and comfortable ways to travel in Morocco is by train. The national rail service, ONCF, links most of Morocco’s major cities, including Fez, and offers regular services from Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat, Nador, Oujda, Meknes, and Marrakesh. Although train schedules may not always be accurate, the overall experience of train travel is generally pleasant and efficient.
Local Public Transport
In Fez, you can easily make use of various modes of local transportation to get around the city. Some of the most popular options are:
- Taxis – You’ll find numerous taxis and shuttles available to help you explore the city. Some well-known taxi services include Fez Morocco Travel and AS Travel Click.
- Bus Tours – For a more structured mode of transportation, consider booking a bus tour, like the ones offered by One Way Trip, that will take you to popular tourist destinations, such as Chefchaouen and Tangier.
By using these various transportation options, you can explore Fez and its surrounding areas comfortably and efficiently during your stay in Morocco.
Fez, Morocco offers a variety of accommodations to choose from, depending on your preferences and budget. In this section, we’ll discuss the three main types of accommodations available in Fez: Riads, Hotels, and Hostels.
Riads are traditional Moroccan guesthouses, characterized by their elegant architecture and beautiful interior courtyards. Staying in a riad allows you to experience the rich culture and history of Fez. Some top choices for riads in Fez include Riad Tizwa Fez, which is conveniently located in the Batha neighborhood, making it easy for you to explore the winding medina streets.
For a more luxurious experience, you may want to stay in one of Fez’s top hotels. The Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace offers air-conditioned rooms and various amenities such as an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, and a sauna. Another option is the Nour Plazza Hotel, which features an outdoor swimming pool, private parking, a fitness center, and a shared lounge. Both hotels are known for their excellent service and comfortable rooms.
If you’re on a budget, consider staying at one of Fez’s many hostels. These accommodations often offer dormitory-style rooms and provide a more affordable option for your stay. A popular option is the Hostel Kasbah Boujloud, which offers both private rooms and dormitory beds. It is conveniently located near the famous Bab Bou Jeloud gateway and provides easy access to the bustling medina.
Each of these accommodation options has its unique charm, so carefully consider which type best suits your needs and preferences. By choosing the right place to stay, you’ll be well on your way to experiencing the wonders of Fez, Morocco.
FAQs on Best Things to Do in Fez
Is Fez Morocco worth visiting?
Yes, Fez is definitely worth visiting. As one of Morocco’s imperial cities, it is renowned for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. The ancient Fes Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a labyrinth of narrow streets, souks, and beautifully preserved historical sites that transport visitors to a different era within the medina walls.
Why is Fez famous?
Fez is famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture, vibrant souks, and rich cultural heritage. It is home to the University of Al Quaraouiyine, the world’s oldest university (continually operating). The city’s Medina, with its labyrinthine streets and stunning historical buildings, has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981.
Which is better to visit Fez or Marrakech?
Both Fez and Marrakech are fascinating cities with their unique charms and attractions, making it difficult to choose one over the other. Fez is known for its historical significance, well-preserved medieval architecture, and intellectual heritage. In contrast, Marrakech is famous for its bustling atmosphere, vibrant markets, and lively Jemaa el-Fnaa square. It ultimately depends on your personal preferences and interests when deciding which city to visit.
Is Fez the oldest city in the world?
Fez is not the oldest city in the world, but it is one of the oldest cities in Morocco, founded in the 8th century. There are several ancient cities around the world, such as Jericho and Damascus, that are considered older than Fez.
How many days do you need in Fez Morocco?
To fully explore and appreciate the beauty of Fez, it is recommended to spend at least 2 to 3 days in the city. This will allow you to visit the major historical sites, wander through the labyrinthine streets of the Medina, and explore the vibrant souks.
How do you spend a day in Fez?
To spend a day in Fez, start by visiting the Bou Inania Madrasa, an architectural marvel adorned with intricate tilework and woodcarvings. Then, explore the Dar Batha Museum to admire traditional Moroccan art and craftsmanship. Wander through the bustling streets of the Medina, stopping by the Al-Attarine Madrasa, the University of Al Quaraouiyine, and the Nejjarine Square. Finally, visit the Royal Palace of Fez and its surrounding area before exploring the various souks in the Medina.
Is it safe to visit Fez Morocco?
Fez is generally considered a safe city for tourists. However, like any other destination, it is essential to take necessary precautions and be aware of your surroundings. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, can occur in crowded areas, so it is advisable to keep your belongings secure and avoid displaying valuable items openly. Always follow local guidelines and advice to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
What is the significance of the Blue Gate in Fes Morocco?
The Blue Gate, also known as Bab Bou Jeloud, is a prominent entrance to the Medina of Fez, Morocco. The gate’s striking mosaic tilework features a blue side facing the outside of the Medina, while the inner side is adorned with green tiles, symbolising the colour of Islam. Passing through this ornate gate transports you into the heart of Fez’s ancient Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with rich history and vibrant culture.