The main points of interest in Fes – Morocco are all inside the Medina. The Medina is a fascinating place and fortunately 2-3 days is plenty to discover it. The Medina in Fes el Bali is basically the old town and most of the tourist action happens here. In Fes you will see donkeys carting goods up and down the narrow streets and find the best leather goods anywhere in Morocco.
If you prefer not to rush things, you can spend more time in town, but if you have only one week in Morocco then three nights in Fes will suffice. And, if you are on a business trip and you are a bleisure traveller then follow my instructions to make the most of your visit.
Fes Medina – Three Day Travel Itinerary
The best is to book a room in a Riad in the Medina (old town). This way you will never need to walk far and you will be at the center of all the action. It doesn’t matter which order you do the below, the important thing is you don’t miss them out! I can guarantee you will get lost at one point so consider yourself lucky if you’ve managed to tick them all off. (Click below images to enlarge)
Fes Top Things to Do – Video
Talaa Sghira and Talaa Kebira: these are the main arteries of the Medina in Fes el Bali. Most of the shops, cafes and restaurants are along these routes and it is impossible to miss them. Cars and motorbikes are not allowed so prepare for a lot of walking in the heat.
There is a steep hill at the centre of Fes and whichever way you go you will need to climb it at least twice. It is pretty much impossible to orientate yourself so just give yourself a day to find your feet. The important sights and things to do are at the centre of Fes, so from any gate just walk towards the hilltop’s direction.
Bab Boujloud: This is the main entrance gate to the Medina. If you park at the main car park outside the walls, the gate will be on your right. You can reach both Talaa Sghira and Talaa Kebira from here.
Religious Sights in Fes, Morocco
Mosque of al-Qarawiyyin: It is one of the major mosques in the Medina. Entrance is not allowed for non-muslims but you can peek inside through the arches.
Medersa el-Attarine: It is also a major religious site and for muslims only but you can peek through the doors.
Al Karaouin University: Dating back to 859 Morocco claims this is the oldest university in the world. This is disputed by the Egyptians so I will just say this is the oldest university in Morocco. Entrance is again only allowed to muslims but you can see the courtyard from the entrance gate. The great Jewish sage, Rambam (Maimonides) also studied here.
Medersa Sahrij: This Medersa has stood here since 1321. The medersa is famous for its white and green minarets on top of the structure. As with most medersas, the Sahrij Medersa has a paved courtyard and the interior has some of the most exquisite cedar wood and stone carvings.
Unique Points of Interest in Fes – Morocco
Moulay Abdellah Quarter: This is where most of the leather tanneries are – prepare to choke from the stink. The only way to see the tanneries is from atop of the surrounding buildings. Problem is, you can only enter the buildings through the ground floor shops and they will keep pestering you to buy something. If you don’t want to buy anything just give 10 or 20 dirham to the shopkeeper and exit.
Fondouk el Nejjarine: It is an 18th century roadside inn which now functions as a museum. Exhibits include traditional Moroccan wooden arts and crafts. There is also a rooftop cafe, providing an amazing vista of the surrounding area. I went up here on my second day in Fes and it felt so fascinating to emerge from the city. By then I felt slightly odd not having seen the sky in two days – surrounded by narrow lanes and walls closing up above my head.
The metal-workers district: Walking around in this district you can find the most interesting objects made from copper and brass. The best is that the craftsmen make them right in front of you. Definitely worth a visit.
The weavers’ district: Lo and behold, this is where you can buy all sorts of textiles and clothing, all hand-made right on site.
Bab Rcif: It is another gate in the Medina, surrounded by a major square. This is where the vegetable market is and during the evenings most locals gather here to catch up.
Hammams: the local bath houses can get pretty crowded with locals but if you are interested in mingling with them it is definitely worth an evening visit.
The Mellah (Jewish Quarter)
Walk over here from the Medina by crossing the main square and road just outside Bab Boujloud. There are various synagogues here open to the public for a 20 dirham fee. Beware that some of the teenage and middle age men might come up offering to show you the Mellah. Just say politely you are not interested – if you are lucky they will leave you alone. It is quite a hassle and can be very annoying when people are pestering you non-stop. Unfortunately it is something that most tourists just need to get used to.
Eating and Drinking in Fes – Morocco
Eat or drink at pretty much any of the restaurants and cafes in the Medina. They are all safe and have menus with the price – if they don’t just look for another place. These are family run places, often the mother and father cooking and the children serving up the food. I picked a restaurant near Bab Boujloud and also had dinner at another close to the Fondouk. All names and exact location duly forgotten.
I stayed at the Riad Tahrya for three nights. The staff were amazing and I wasn’t disappointed at all. I particularly loved sitting on the rooftop in the evenings, listening to the birds chirping away. Read the full review in my previous article.
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