Fez (Fes), the oldest and biggest of Morocco’s four Imperial cities “Marrakech, Meknes, and Rabat”, an incredible city of high Islamic civilization and the majestic Fez medina is a World Heritage Site “UNESCO”, It is popular for being home to the first university in the world al Quaraouiyine “al-Karaouine”. Fez is a city of old and new and really three cities in one, Fes el Bali, Fes el Jedid and Ville nouvelle (modern city). It’s time to visit this impressive city and wander in its streets, here is top tips and things to do in Fez Morocco.
“” The history of Fes is composed of wars and murders, triumphs of arts and sciences, and a good deal of imagination.
Walter Harris: Land of an African Sultan
Why, Should You Visit Fez in Morocco?
Even if you feel you’re getting used to Moroccan cities, Fes (Fez) is still bewildering in Morocco. The main layout is simple enough, with an old Fez Medina and New Town built by French protectorate in the 20th century! But here the old medina is actually two physically separate regions. Fes el Bali, the oldest part in the main stretch of the Sebou valley. And Fes el Jdid, the “new Fez city” established on the lip of the valley in the 13th century. The latter, dominated by a large precinct of Royal palaces and immense gardens, is quite easy to negotiate; Fes el Bali “old Fes”, nonetheless, where you’ll want to spend most of your time, is an unbelievable maze, narrow street, and souks “old market”, where you can find amazing things to buy in Morocco. And it takes two or three days before you even start to feel confident in where you’re going.
Where is Fez located in Morocco?
Fez is situated in the north-central of the Kingdom of Morocco and Atlas Mountain. Fes is a crossroads of Morocco that links the north by the south and east by the west. Fes is located around 170 km east of Rabat Capital of Morocco, 210 (130 miles) south of Tangier, 400 km (245 miles) north of Marrakech, and 260 from Casablanca. Fes was in the past century a Trans-Saharan Trade Route and it was the spiritual and economic capital.
15 things to do in Fes “Imperial” city of Morocco
03 Things to do in Ville Nouvelle of Fez ‘Fes’ Morocco, “Fez city”!
Most visitors arrive first in the ville nouvelle “Fez city” or “Modern city”: Where the railway station, bus station, tourist office, and most of the hotels are concentrated. There is little to see here, but it’s a good spot to get your bearings! Plan your exploration of Fez medina and Fes el Bali, and perhaps hire an official guide through your hotel or the tourist office.
The broad boulevard of Avenue Hassan II is the main axis of the Fez city, Where the most interesting cafes, restaurants, and shops are located. In the center of the famous Avenue Mohammed V, you can find the tourist office near the cinema “Rex”. This tree-lined avenue is at its liveliest in the early evening when the whole Modern city turns out for a promenade.
Must Read: 15 Best Cities to Visit in Morocco
Explore the 7 Golden Gates of Royal Palace “Dar el Makhzen”
From the tourist office on the place de la resistance, Boulevard Moulay Youssef in Fez city leads to the wide-open space of Place du Commerce, the getaway to Fes el Jdid. In front of this place, a wonderful 7 gates of the Royal Palace “Dar el Makhzen” of Fez called Golden Gates where you can make a stunning Photos.
Visit Mellah Jewish Quarter of Fez Morocco
In the far right corner of the square, a small gate marks the way into the crowded streets of the Mellah in Fez medina, the old Jewish quarter. Take a stroll down the grande Rue du Mellah, lined with shops selling household goods and food, and crammed with people, donkeys, trucks, and mopeds. At the far end, cross the main street then pass through the massive Bab Semmarin into the bustle of the Grand Rue de Fes el Jedid! Past piles of dates, figs, and prickly pears, boxes of juicy watermelons, and kebabs spluttering over makeshift grills.
Visit Borj Nord museum before a guided tour to “Fes el Bali” in Fez Medina.
After an unforgettable exploration of Fes el Jedid; then you can continue this travel in time and reach the top of the hill! Where the Borj Nord museum “Military Forts” located, by Taxi or with your driver if you will book this tour with a Transfer Company or travel agency and this is the safe way. This 16th-century fortress now houses an outstanding collection of arms from a 12-tonne cannon to a nine-barreled pistol. Personally, this is the most beautiful thing to do in Fez Morocco. From here there is a fine view across the rooftops of Fes el Bali, crammed into the valley below, with the roof of the Karaouine Mosque prominent in the center.
Must Read: Things to know about Morocco country
12 Things to do in Fez-el Bali of Fez Medina Morocco
The old city of Fez, or Fes el Bali, is one of Morocco’s major attractions. It is a unique legacy from the past, a living medieval city that has survived almost intact, and is now listed as a World Heritage site. Many of the inhabitants of Fez Medina lead a way of life that has changed little since the 14th century! When the city of Fez was the religious, commercial, and intellectual capital of Morocco.
Before plunging into the maze of streets and alleyways it’s best to employ a guide, as it’s all too easy to become lost. Licensed guides can be hired from the tourist offices found on Place Mohammed V in the Ville Nouvelle ‘Modern city’ and the Bab Bou Jeloud, or from your hotel or Riad.
Visit Bab Bou Jeloud The Blue Gate of Fez city
Start from Place Boujeloud, the square that lies at the junction of Fes el Bali and Fes el Jedid. The monumental blue gate leading into the old Medina is the Bab Bou Jeloud, a grand horseshoe arch flanked by two keyhole doorways. This Blue gate takes you to two main arteries of Fez medina ‘Fes el Bali’ 1st one is Talaa Seghira and 2nd one is Talaa Kebira, through an arch marked ‘Kissariat Serajine’. Follow the Talaa Kebira, and a few minutes’ walk will bring you to the Bou Inania Medersa, standing on your right-hand side.
Explore The Bou Inania Medersa
The Bou Inania Medersa, built in the 1350s, is one of the glories of Hispano-Moorish architecture in Fez and Morocco. As you leave the crowded street of Fes el Bali and enter the quiet courtyard you will find yourself bewitched by the serenity of the place. Polychrome tiles and a band of Kufic script adorn the lower walls! While above, the dark patina of aged stucco blends in harmoniously with the weathered cedar wood screens. The Muquarnas (stalactite work) above the windows is particularly fine.
In the upstairs, here you can see the tiny rooms where the theological students once lived; There is also a grand view of the Fez city from the rooftop.
The Zaouia of Moulay Idriss II
After a short escape in Souk el Attarin “spice market” in Fez medina where you can pick some souvenirs for your friends and family from Fez Morocco! Like cosmetic and herbal goods, potions, Moroccan crafts …etc. And just in front of you, you will see a minaret covered in white plaster and green faience towering above an ornate gateway; this is the Zaouia of Moulay Idriss II, the founder of Fes and son of the first Moroccan Arab sovereign. But entry is forbidden to non-Muslims, and you should also refrain from taking photographs. The Zaouia (monastery) dates back to the 9th century but was rebuilt in the 13th and 18th centuries.
Al Quaraouiyine “Al Karaouine” Mosque
At the end of the souk el Attarin, you approach the richest concentration of beautiful buildings in all of Fes and Morocco. Centered on the Karaouine Mosque, this one of the very oldest parts of the Fez city, its foundation dating back a thousand years or more. The Karaouine Mosque is a remarkable monument and rare pearl of architecture. Build during the late 9th century on the order of a woman from Kairouan (in Tunisia), the mosque has been enlarged and embellished over the centuries. Today it is the most impressive structure In Fez Morocco, capable of sheltering 20,000 worshippers, and Stunning in the luxuriance of its decoration.
University of al Quaraouiyine “al Karaouine” :
Al Karaouine mosque hold as well the oldest universities in the world, the university of al Quaraouiyine “al Karaouine”. From early times Fes has been not only in Morocco but in the world a center of Islamic learning! And the al Karaouine has been a focal point for both professors and students of religious law and theology. Although non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the Mosque itself.
Several interesting Medersas line the streets around the Karouine Mosque in Fes el Bali. The Medersa EL Attarin (dating from 1325), on the corner where the souk El Attarin meets the mosque, is smaller than its contemporary, the Bou Inania Medersa, but equally beautiful.
Place es Seffarin
Continuing around the Karaouine walls in Fez medina you soon find yourself in the open space of Place es Seffarin, the “square of the brass and copper workers”. The banging of hammers on metal is incessant here, punctuated only by the squeal of red-hot metal being plunged into the water to temper it.
Visit The Famous Leather Tanneries In Fez Morocco / Chouara tannery
For a stunning vivid look at medieval manufacturing methods in Fes Morocco, turn back sharp left from where you entered the square and head down towards another bridge. This is the tanners’ quarter, Where the Chouara tannery is located! And workers tramp the skins of animals “cow, goat…” in a makeshift hollow with tanning product and coloration. Once ready donkeys bring the skins to the leather workers through the narrow streets of Fes el Bali. The Moroccan tannery leather quarter is neither sweet-smelling nor uplifting; it is a true slice of medieval life.
For your safety, nobody isn’t allowed access to Chouara tannery, but this wonderful place of Fez city is surrounded by terraces belong to some leather stores. Where you can assist in this old-fashioned scene! The smell in this place is very unpleasant please bring with you a sprig of mint to hold it under your nose.
Place en Nejjarin and back to bab Boujeloud
Beyond the sanctuary is the Place en Nejjarin (Square of The joiners), the center of Fes’s cabinet and furniture making industry. The fountain built for the joiners, an exquisite example of Moorish decorative art, was recently restored using the ancient mosaic techniques.
Follow the street to the right of the fountain, which passes beneath a building, then turn left and follow the main thoroughfare of Fez medina (Rue Zekak el Hajer, then Rue Souikat ben Safi, and finally Talaa Seghira) back to the Bab Boujeloud ‘Blue Gate’.
Promenade in The Jnan Sbil Gardens :
Only 5 minutes walk from Bab Bou Jeloud in the direction of Fes el Jedid outside Fes el Bali, is the stunning and tropical Jnan Sbil Garden of Fez Morocco. There is the perfect and ideal place to relax after a long noisy day of exploration of Fes medina and Fez city. If time permits you can spend up to an hour between the Plants, fountains, Palms…
Dar Batha Museum in Fez Morocco :
The Museum of Moroccan art is housed in a converted mansion, the Dar Batha Museum, not far from Bab Bou Jeloud. You cannot visit the Royal Palace in Fes Morocco, and so the Palatial Dar Batha will give some idea of how royalty lived a century ago, when the palace was built. The large garden is surrounded by arcades and filled with cypresses, palms, jacaranda trees, and spindly cacti 10m (33ft) high. The ceremonial chambers are now exhibition rooms in which you can scrutinize everything from medieval Arabic astrolabes to local carpets and costumes.
Experience A Traditional Moroccan Hammam Spa in Fez :
If you researching things to do in Fez Morocco on Google search, you found always Moroccan hammam spa is the best attraction to do in Fes Morocco, and that’s right.
You have two ways to experience Moroccan Hammam Spa. First way if your budget is limited you can visit a local Moroccan hammam with a cheap ticket around 2 $; the second way, if you don’t have a problem with your budget book a Moroccan Hammam Spa in your Hotel or Riad if Your accommodation provides this kind of service. If not choose another establishment. Generally offers a Full body massage and scrub, water cure ‘Hot & Cold’, and more…
Take a Cooking Class :
If you are a traditional Moroccan food lover and interested to cook some rich Moroccan dishes like Tagine, Couscous, Bastila… you have just Book a Moroccan cooking class to enjoy this experience. In this class, you can make a tour in local market “souk”! In Fez medina with your Chef to buy some green ingredients and spices and what you need to prepare a savory Moroccan dishes.
What to Buy in Morocco (Shopping in fez Morocco)
Probably in this article you read about Leather Tanneries and Chouara tannery located in Fes el Bali in the medina that proves Fez is a big site of leather for centuries. A lot of handmade and workers make amazing artisan products like leather jackets, belts, handbags, shoes, wallets, Moroccan leather poufs…
Moroccan rugs are really the first-class purchase for tourists in Fez Morocco. You can find a lot of kind of Moroccan rugs in many traditional shops in Fez medina. The most famous are Berber rugs, Beni Ourain rugs, and Boucherouite rugs. The most amazing service many shops can provide for their clients is to customize their Moroccan Berber rugs. If the tourist clients don’t have enough time in Morocco the seller can ship them home.
Also, you can find stunning artisan products in Fes el Bali or Fez city based on different raw materials like Wood, Copper, Silver… in addition, you can find antique jewelry, Argan oil, essential oil, and more of handmade product.
Where to Stay in Fez (Fes) Morocco
Hotel in Fez Morocco
When it comes to hotels, Morocco is a bargain for the independent traveler. Accommodation ranges from the very cheap, unclassified hotels of the Medina to luxury in Fez city, five-star international establishments. The official grading system runs from one to five stars, with each grade (except five-star) subdivided into ‘A’ and ‘B’. If you are looking for European levels of comfort and service, then choose at least a three-star hotel.
Best Riads in Fez Morocco
Riad in Arabic is the garden, this name came from Volubilis the ancient Roman city near to Meknes. Riad in principle a Moroccan traditional residence with a huge courtyard contained fountains! With the expansion of the tourist sector in Fes Morocco, these riads have become like hotels and restaurants. The majority of these Riads are located in Fez Medina and have the advantage of being at the heart of things; where you’ll want to spend most of your time and where all the sights and markets are concentrated.
Fez Morocco map
Sincerely Maps don’t generally help, for the Fez medina and Fes el Bali is nearly very difficult to orient with a map! Because the structure of the medina is very complicated anyone can be easily lost even the autochthonous. Fez city is a maze of narrow streets and you can’t see every detail on the Map. An official guide is probably the best option. And you’ll be charged 30$ to 40$ no matter how many people in your group. If you don’t have enough money you have to provide a lot of effort to understand the Map and ask people where is the right direction? Don’t hesitate to ask people because Moroccan people are very helpful and they love to assist tourists.
Click on image to download a useful and helpful Map of Fes with a good resolution:
Fez (Fes) Morocco weather
Fez is situated between chains of Atlas Mountains impact by the Mediterranean and continental weather. In the third quarter of the year which is rainless and very warm, with a maximum temperature arrives until 47 °C (117°F). This climate can switch to fresh and rainy in winter except eastern region and southern region; The temperature is around 15°C (60°F) in the first quarter of the year and is the best time to visit Morocco and Fez. The Fez Morocco weather is comparable to southern of Spain if you visited it before like Seville.
Day trips from Fez
If you have enough time in Fez and Morocco you can explore more amazing places like Meknes the second imperial city of Morocco. Volubilis ancient Roman city, Chefchaouen blue city of Morocco personally I called it Santorini of Morocco and Ifran Switzerland city of Morocco.
Have you visited Fez this imperial city of Morocco? You want more tips for Fes visit and Morocco travel? Please feel free to drop me a message in the comments below!