Found in Northern Morocco near the Middle Atlas Mountains, Meknes is a wonderful city known for its rich history, impressive architecture, bustling markets, and pleasant locals. However, Meknes isn’t actually that popular.
More often than not, the “Imperial City” is simply seen as a stopover on the way to Volubilis, Morocco’s most famous Roman site. This is a real shame, as Meknes has so much to offer.
Founded in the 10th century, Meknes boasts a vibrant city jam-packed with centuries-old architecture, mosques, souks, and ancient Roman ruins.
In fact, it could be argued that Meknes should be one of Morocco’s most popular historic tourist destinations too. As a result, you simply have to visit during your time in Morocco.
To show you what this city has to offer, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do. If you need inspiration, stick around!
1. Visit The Mausoleum Of Moulay Ismail
The first tourist attraction on this list of Meknes things to do is the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. This mausoleum is an important historical location in Morocco. It is the final resting place of Morocco’s Warrior King.
Chosen by the sultan himself, this 18th-century mausoleum is incredibly interesting. Whilst it doesn’t look like much from the outside, the center of the mausoleum is beautiful.
Inside, you’ll find several courtyards, impressive mosaics, stunning fountains, and staggering marble columns.
2. Take A Look At Bab Mansour Gate
Bab Mansour Gate is another impressive piece of architecture found in Meknes. This monument was first built to act as the principal ceremonial entrance to Sultan Moulay Ismail’s Kasbah
Simply admiring the gate is all it takes, but learning more about its dark past is interesting too.
For example, it is worth knowing that Sultan Moulay Ismail executed the architect of this beautiful gate once construction was finished.
3. Immerse Yourself With The Locals At El Hedim
If you want to experience local culture and life in Meknes, you have to visit El Hedim.
Admittedly, this square isn’t as busy and chaotic as the main square in Marrakech but it’s still a lively and vibrant place to be.
Surrounded by historic landmarks, the main square in Meknes offers a bustling market, snack vendors, carnival games, and so much more. It’s probably the best place in the city when it comes to having fun and exploring.
4. Get Lost In Meknes Medina
A great way to explore Meknes is to simply wander through Meknes Medina, checking out everything the area has to offer.
Meknes Medina is essentially Old Town Meknes. This vibrant part of the city is bursting at the seams with local culture.
As you explore the narrow, twisting streets, you’ll come across local shops, souks, families, and local textile stalls. This is a great place to pick up a bargain souvenir. Most of the stalls in this area consist of handcrafted products and textiles.
5. Head To The Roof Of Medersa Bou Inania
Medersa Bou Inania is a stunning medersa hidden away amongst Meknes’ twisting souk streets. You’ll find this medersa in the middle of Meknes Medina.
Founded during the 14th century, this gorgeous building, also known as the Islamic school of learning is well worth visiting.
The architecture is unbelievable. It has been wonderfully preserved too, giving us the chance to take in the breathtaking tile decoration that still sits in place. The best views of the courtyards can be found on the rooftop.
6. Stop By Moulay Idriss Zerhoun
The next place you need to visit is Moulay Idriss Zerhoun. Easily one of the most popular tourist attractions in Meknes, Moulay Idriss Zerhoun is an important pilgrimage site for followers of the Islamic faith.
Split across two hilltops, this scenic site features a vibrant town that sits on Mount Zerhoun. Built in the 8th century, this sacred place is a peaceful and beautiful place to walk around. The atmosphere here is also very pleasant.
7. Take Part In A Local Cooking Class
If you consider yourself a big foodie, you should definitely take part in a local cooking class. Meknes has a delicious food scene that consists of a wide range of traditional Moroccan dishes.
Through various cooking schools and local families, you can learn all about Moroccan cuisine. During a cooking class, you’ll get the chance to learn all about local food.
You’ll visit the local market to pick up the ingredients before heading to a local home to learn how to make a variety of different dishes.
8. Walk Around The Old Prison
Interestingly, one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Meknes is the old prison. Known by the name Habs Qara or Prison de Kara, this prison has a rich and dark history that you should learn about.
As you walk around the former prison, you’ll learn all about how Sultan Moulay Ismail punished prisoners.
Eerie and slightly unnerving, this prison was once home to 60,000 people. Slaves, political prisoners, and prisoners of war were just some of the people kept here.
9. Ride Around The City In A Caleche
A fun activity you can do with your family or friends is explore Meknes via caleche.
A caleche ride is an entertaining way to see the city from a different perspective. For those that don’t know, a caleche ride is simply a horse carriage ride.
During one of these rides, you’ll be taken to all the best places in Meknes. You’ll also be taken to places that aren’t as easy to access on foot.
10. Pay The Museum Of Moroccan Art A Visit
Known locally as Dar Jamai, make sure you leave some time to visit the Museum of Moroccan Art during your vacation in Meknes. Built-in 1882, this museum was once the residence of the famous Jamai family.
Today, the museum is dedicated to arts, crafts, ironwork, and wood carvings. The museum also has a stunning Andalusian garden.
Exploring the museum gives you a chance to learn more about local cultures.
In this guide, we showed you 10 things to do in Meknes. Whilst there are more things you don’t want to miss, these are the best things you can do in the city.
Meknes might not be the most popular tourist destination in Morocco but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty to offer.
As you can see from our list, the city is loaded with entertaining sights, historic landmarks, bustling markets, and the most amazing architecture.
All you have to do now is decide where you want to visit first!