Immerse yourself in the enchanting realm of Fes: an extraordinary Moroccan city that holds UNESCO World Heritage status. Nestled within its ancient walls lies the largest and oldest medina in North Africa, a captivating tapestry of history and culture. Once Morocco’s capital, Fes remains a vibrant hub of tradition.
Delve into the heart of the labyrinthine medina, a realm of captivating chaos, where towers of exotic spices, timeless crafts, indulgent hammams, and bustling tanneries await. The past comes alive in every corner. Set aside a day or two to relish the finest things to do in Fes, and experience a journey through time and wonder.
1. Lose Yourself in the Fes Medinaxt Here
At the heart of Fes lies the medina (Fes el Bali), a marvel dating back to the 9th century. This sprawling treasure is the grandest and most ancient in North Africa and is adorned with UNESCO World Heritage distinction. The essence of its historical and cultural significance is unmistakable.
Immerse yourself in the captivating allure of the past, as you traverse the countless alleys within. Here, you’ll relish the world’s largest car-free urban expanse, an embodiment of Fes’s essence and a key attraction among the things to do in Fes.
The medina’s narrow streets can lead to getting lost easily—a situation we encountered a few times. Prior to leaving your riad or hotel, familiarize yourself with the signs to follow. Even Google Maps struggles in this intricate maze, so preparation is key.
Opt for a medina-located hotel if possible. After 7 pm, some medina gates close, potentially posing challenges if your hotel is outside the walls.
Pro Tip: Feeling lost? Seek guidance from shop or restaurant owners for directions. Keep in mind that some children might offer assistance with hidden motives, aiming to earn money through deceptive tactics.
2. Jnan Sbil Gardens (Bou Jeloud): Things to do in Fes
Amid the vibrant medina, discover a serene oasis – the sole public garden. Escape the haggling hustle and immerse in water delights, avian sights, lush flora, blossoms, and palm-fringed paths.
Unwind, refresh, and observe Fes locals relishing this retreat. The park welcomes visitors Tuesday through Sunday, from 8 AM to 7.30 PM, offering a charming addition to your “Things to do in Fes” list.
3. The fabulous Bou Inania Madrasa
One of the most captivating attractions in Fes is the Bou Inania Madrasa, an iconic religious edifice nestled at the heart of the medina. Dating back to the 14th century, this remarkable structure was initially established as an educational institution. However, today it stands as a mesmerizing testament to architectural brilliance, beckoning visitors from far and wide.
Immerse yourself in the splendor of the marble courtyard, a true masterpiece that greets you upon entry. Delicate wood carvings adorn the interior, showcasing intricate craftsmanship that transports you to another era. The mosaic tilework, predominantly adorned in various shades of green, weaves a tale of artistry that seems to have no end.
Continuing the chromatic narrative is the adjacent mosque, boasting a striking minaret in breathtaking green hues. This towering spectacle is visible across the medina, serving as a navigational beacon amidst the labyrinthine streets. Undoubtedly, the Bou Inania Madrasa reigns as the most resplendent architectural gem in the city.
To truly immerse yourself in the essence of Fes, this grandeur is an experience not to be missed. Witness firsthand the splendor of the Bou Inania Madrasa – an absolute must-do when exploring the enchanting city of Fes.
Due to its strategic location, exploring the medina offers convenient access to the Bou Inania Madrasa. Remarkably, it stands as one of the rare religious sites in Fes welcoming non-Muslim visitors. For an optimal experience, consider planning your visit during the early morning or late afternoon hours, allowing you to revel in the tranquility of this exquisite haven.
4. Take in the Smells of the Tanneries: Things to do in Fes
Exploring the renowned tanneries of Fes is an absolute must-do! Marvel at the sight of numerous earthen pits brimming with an array of vibrant dyes, meticulously employed to color animal hides. These tanneries stand as an intrinsic facet of Fes’ cultural tapestry and stand out as one of the paramount discoveries during any sojourn to Morocco. However, it’s crucial to be prepared for the pronounced aroma.
Local inhabitants may extend “complimentary mint” to combat the smell, although it’s wise to anticipate potential charges later. To navigate this, it’s advisable to carry your own mint leaves or a scarf. This captivating escapade undoubtedly ranks among the finest things to uncover in Fes.
An alternative approach to observing the tanneries involves locating a nearby rooftop terrace. This provides an opportunity to gain elevation and enjoy a bird’s-eye perspective of the scene.
5. Africa’s Oldest University: Kairaouine
An integral part of Fes’ attractions, the Kairaouine Mosque claims the title of the world’s oldest university and stands as Morocco’s second-largest mosque. This revered religious edifice holds immense significance, yet its interior is exclusively accessible to Muslims.
While non-Muslim visitors cannot enter the premises, you can catch a glimpse through several entry gates. Behold the captivating marble courtyard, ornate fountains, intricate arches, vibrant tiles, and masterful carvings.
Observe worshippers engaged in prayer within this sacred space, which retains its role as an operational university. This encounter undeniably ranks among the remarkable activities to partake in while exploring Morocco’s Fes.
6. Get a Fresh Orange Juice
Indulge in the delightful pleasure of Fes’ exceptional orange juice. Kickstart your day of exploration with a refreshing, budget-friendly glass of freshly squeezed juice. The ubiquitous orange juice stalls scattered throughout the town center are impossible to overlook. A true treat for your taste buds!
7. Al Atterine Madrassa
This madrassa may be small, but its beauty is so much more than its size. There is a wonderful courtyard in the center, surrounded by geometric patterned tiles that decorate the walls and floor. Marvel at the intricately wooden carved doors, which truly make you feel transported back to medieval Morrocco.
Don’t forget to look up at the beautiful minaret above! This oasis of calm, amongst the craziness of Fes, is located close to the Kairaouine Mosque and the Chouara leather tannery. A great thing to do in Fes if you have time! The madrassa is open from 8 AM – 6 PM (always check for religious holidays and events, as this can alter times). Entrance costs 20 Dhs (2 USD).
8. Sunset on a Rooftop
Fes boasts stunning earth-toned dwellings with flat rooftops, exemplifying captivating Moroccan architecture. This creates a terraced haven that’s truly unique. To savor the essence of Fes, seek out an exceptional rooftop café or bar, such as the renowned Cafe Clock.
Embrace a panoramic view of the city from above, an experience that ranks among the most distinctive things to engage in. As the day winds down after sightseeing, bask in the sun’s final glow as it sets behind this enchanting cityscape. Pure delight!
9. The Royal Palace (Dar Al-Makhzen)
Catch a glimpse of the resplendent façade of the royal palace. Continually frequented by the royal family and government, the interior remains off-limits to tourists. Nonetheless, the exterior’s captivating blue mosaic tile walls and magnificent bronze doors position it as a prime attraction in Fes.
Visitors can also leisurely explore the lush palace gardens adjacent to the site. Nestled nearby is the grand mosque Fes el-Jdid, adorned with an exquisitely embellished minaret that adds to the allure. This experience holds a prominent place among the remarkable endeavors in Fes.
10. Explore the Maze-Like Souks
The souks stand as the heart and essence of Moroccan cities, with Fes boasting some of the most impressive ones. Immerse yourself in a bygone medieval era of dusty, walled streets, where donkeys and carts are the sole modes of transport. Prepare for a sensory overload – the air resonates with sellers’ cries, spirited haggling fills the air, and fragrant aromas waft from every direction, while vibrant textiles paint a rainbow of colors.
Navigating Fes’ souks presents a different experience than Marrakech; the alleys are narrower, winding, and packed with twists and turns, resembling an intricate maze. For deeper insights into the heart of the city and its highlights, you might opt to join a guided tour. These bustling markets undoubtedly encompass some of the must-see spectacles in Fes.
11. Buy a Beautiful Moroccan Fes Carpet
Fes has garnered renown for its exquisite handicrafts, with a particular highlight being its splendid rugs. Throughout the primary thoroughfares of the medina, carpet merchants abound, each showcasing captivating Moroccan patterns.
- Where to Stay in Fes?
Embrace the chance to lodge in an authentic riad in Fes. These Moroccan guesthouses typically grace the older quarters, featuring serene courtyards or inviting pools. Amidst the hustle of Fes, they provide a haven of tranquility after your bustling days.
For optimal convenience, opt for a hotel or riad nestled in the heart of the medina. This ensures proximity to key attractions and helps avoid navigating unfamiliar alleys late at night.
- How to visit Fes, Morocco?
Fes enjoys excellent connectivity from various directions. Convenient routes lead from Marrakech, Rabat, and the enchanting blue city of Chefchaouen. If departing from Marrakech, a train journey treats you to the picturesque Rabat coastline. This railway line seamlessly extends to Fes.
Alternatively, consider commencing your exploration of Fes as the initial leg of an awe-inspiring Sahara Desert Tours from Fes. This extraordinary adventure promises to etch unforgettable memories in your heart.
- What is the best time to visit Fes?
Optimal periods to explore Fes are during the shoulder seasons, spanning March to May or September to November. During these months, you’ll relish pleasantly warm and sunny weather without the intensity of excessive heat.
Even the winter months offer delightful sunshine and present an excellent opportunity to discover other captivating regions across the nation.