The best 30 things to do in Fez
The best 30 things to do in Fez: Fez is a city with a long history. It is considered the religious and cultural capital of Morocco. Did you know that it is home to the oldest university in the world? You won’t run out of things to do in Fès! Its chaotic medina not only boasts souks selling a wide variety of products, but was also the center of culture until the middle of the last century, when the wealthiest young people were educated here. We tell you 30 things to do in Fez to make the most of Morocco‘s third largest city. We also show you the best districts and hotels to stay in Fez, so you can choose the one that suits you best.
To help you organize your Morocco tours to Fez, we’ve prepared this map. All the things to see and do in Fès that we’ve mentioned below are marked . You can click on the star next to the title to save the map to your account. You can then access it whenever you like via the Google Maps application.
Passing under the Boujloud Gate, a must-do in Fes:
The best possible entrance to the ancient medina of Fes is this monumental gateway, restored in 1913. Although surrounded by two high walls, it never had any defensive function, but is merely decorative. It has three arches and is decorated with blue tiles on one side, representing the color of the town. On the other hand, they are green, the color of Islam. If you look from outside the medina, you’ll see the silhouette of the minarets in the main vault, a very cool photo to take in Fès.
Apart from the gate itself, the surrounding area is the most touristy part of Fès. There are several panoramic terraces where you can enjoy a drink, and plenty of restaurants where you can stop to recharge your batteries.
Relax in the gardens of Jnan Sbil:
One of the quietest parts of Fès is this park, which was restored a few years ago. Although the area was created by the sultan in the 18th century. There are more than 7 hectares to wander through among numerous plant species of all kinds. In the center there’s a large pond with a few palm trees, as well as several canals scattered around the park (although we found them dry). There’s even a bamboo garden to transport you back to Asia. It’s a relaxing stop-off in Fez not only for tourists, but also for many local families.
Try to find the differences between Fès-el Bali and Fès-el Jdid:
The Fès medina is divided into two main districts: Fès-el Bali and Fès-Jdid. The first is the original medina, full of souks. The second area was created in the 13th century as an extension. Although Fès-el Jdid is not exactly a recent district, it is the most modern part designed for the daily life of the inhabitants.
That’s why the streets are a little wider and less labyrinthine, which is always appreciated. The best thing is for you to wander around the two medinas and see for yourself – getting lost can be a very interesting thing to do in Fès!
Fall in love with the gates of the Palais Royal, a must-see work of art in Fès:
One of the city’s icons is the magnificent entrance to the Royal Palace. Although the building itself cannot be visited, as it belongs to the king, the doors alone are well worth the effort. There are seven bronze gates of different sizes representing the seventeen days of the week and the levels of the monarchy.
They are surrounded by thousands of decorative tiles that form magnificent geometric patterns. This is one of the largest palaces in the country and, because of its size, it had to be built outside the old medina. It’s one of the most photogenic visits to make in Fez, and for good reason: it’s on the cover of the Lonely Planet guide to Morocco!
See the contrasting buildings of the Mellah, a curious thing to do in Fez:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: One of the oldest parts of Fès is the Jewish quarter. The name Mellah comes from the Arabic word for salt, which was an important bargaining chip. For many years, Jews traded jewels and precious metals.
Today, it’s still a commercial district, but much more modest. The buildings here are very different from those in the rest of the city. While the typical Arab courtyards are still inside the building, in the Mellah you’ll see wide lattice balconies on the facades. There’s something different to do in Fez.
Get to know the Jewish cemetery, something different to do in Fez:
In one corner of the Mellah lies a sea of white tombs. The Jewish cemetery has hundreds of historic tombs, including that of a 14-year-old girl who refused to convert to Islam and was murdered.
It’s a somewhat dangerous area when it’s dark, so avoid setting the sun while you’re still around. They’ll probably offer you the chance to become a guide, but you can enter perfectly well on your own by paying an entrance fee of 10 dirhams, which also includes access to the museum on the Jewish community of Fez.
Get lost in the Medina of Fès-el Bali:
The old medina is home to most of the things to see in Fès. Wandering aimlessly through its many souks is an excellent way to get to know the city. However, the idea of getting lost can be stressful, as the streets are very narrow and not at all organized. If Marrakech’s medina seems labyrinthine to you, you haven’t set foot in Fez yet! By the way, if you’re visiting both cities on the same trip, we’ll show you all the transport options between Marrakech and Fez.
With or without a guide?
The streets are narrow and difficult to navigate, even with a map. They’ll probably recommend the option of hiring a guide, but we think getting lost is part of the charm of the place. It’s a bit confusing to follow the directions on Google Maps, but you eventually get to the sites. We recommend that you take the main streets Talaa Kebira and Talaa Seguira and make detours from there, as it’s much easier than going through the small streets.
We also found that the guided groups were too numerous. They impeded the normal flow of traffic through the alleyways, and only had time to stop and take a photo at each monument.
If you still decide to hire a guide, we recommend that you do so privately to avoid the crowds and get the most out of the experience. Don’t fall into the trap of fake guides, one of the most common scams in Morocco.
Let your sense of smell carry you away to the henna souk:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: Among the alleyways of the old medina, you’ll find an area dedicated to the sale of cosmetics. It’s called the henna souk because it’s the most popular product. It’s used by most Arab women to dye their hair and make beautiful tattoos on their hands and feet. In addition to henna, you’ll find hundreds of creams, masks and natural products to make your own blends. They also sell natural medicines with healing properties. If you like cosmetics, a stroll through the shops is a fun thing to do in Fez.
Hold your breath at the Chouwara tannery, a must-see in Fès:
One of the must-sees in Fès is to see how the leather tanners work. The skins of various animals arrive here to be transformed into bags, backpacks or slippers, which are sold in the nearby souks.
They first pass the skins through a mixture of cow urine, pigeon droppings, salt and water to make them very soft. This liquid in the white part is the source of the tannery’s bad odor. As you enter, you’ll be offered a sprig of mint. Don’t underestimate it, as the smell is very strong and it will be good for you to have something more pleasant to smell. After leaving the skin there for several days, they color it with natural substances such as henna or saffron. What’s more, this space has been in operation since the 11th century!
There are several terraces from which you can watch the tanners in action. Each one corresponds to a store and, as a result, they’ll try to grab everything you need to get in and buy. Choosing a vantage point is a bit of a chore in Fez, but don’t feel obliged.
Keep an eye out:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: If you don’t intend to buy anything, take a good look around and go off on your own. A very nice guy accompanied us until he realized we weren’t going to buy. We told him we were leaving and he pointed out the wrong exit so we could go to another floor of the store. In general, Morocco is a safe country, but you have to be careful with this kind of thing.
Watch craftsmen at work in Place Seffarine:
This square is another step back in time in Fez. Metal craftsmen fashion pots, teapots or trays sitting on stools at store doors. The characteristic melody of the square is the clatter of hammers on metal.
Be much quieter on R’cif square:
If you’re looking for a much less crowded square, walk a few meters to R’cif. It’s a large space where daily life goes beyond shopping. Children play soccer, hawkers set up stalls and groups of friends chat. If you’re looking for a quiet place to relax just two minutes from the medina, follow the signs to this square.
Visit the Bou Inania madrasa, a beautiful place to see in Fès:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: This magnificent madrasa was built in the 14th century and served as both a Koranic school and a mosque every Friday. At the far end of the courtyard is a prayer room, making it one of the few religious buildings open to non-Muslims. It is meticulously decorated, with hand-carved wood and stucco down to the last detail. It’s the only madrassa in Fez with a green-tiled minaret. In fact, it’s perfectly visible from the Bab Boujloud gate.
Take a look at the Mulay Idrís mausoleum:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: One of Fez’s must-see holy sites is this monument dedicated to Mulay Idriss. He was king of Morocco in the 9th century, and on his death became the patron saint of the city and a very important saint throughout the country. The mausoleum was begun nine centuries later and is distinguished by its pyramidal dome, which can be seen from any vantage point in the city. Out of curiosity, you’ll find that some of the surrounding streets have wooden bars. These were put up to prevent Jews or Christians from entering the sacred area. Today, only Muslims can enter the mausoleum, but the central courtyard is visible from the gate.
Be amazed by the decoration of the Madrasa Al Attarine, a wonderful stopover in Fez:
Fès’ other great madrasa can also be visited, although it’s usually quite crowded as it’s in the middle of the guided group tour. It was built in the 14th century to accommodate 60 students, so it’s not very big. The decoration with carved wood and mosaics with Koranic phrases is spectacular. What’s more, it’s very well preserved, making it a must-see in Fez. We recommend going at midday or early to avoid the crowds.
Discover the world’s oldest university, transformed into the Al Karaouine mosque:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: The oldest university in the world is one of the most historic places to visit in Fez. Commissioned as a madrassa for learning the Koran in 589, it stands in the middle of the medina, transformed into a mosque. Although only Muslims can enter, its spectacular courtyard is visible from the outside.
Be amazed by the art of the Nejjarine Museum:
If you’re one of those who marvel at carved wooden doors, this is the museum for you. It has all kinds of handicrafts, from musical instruments and tools to door and window frames. Beyond the content of the exhibits, the building itself is well worth a visit. What’s more, it has a terrace overlooking the medina, with a cafeteria where you can enjoy a drink. It’s another very special stop to make in Fez to be amazed.
Look at, but don’t touch, the Nejjarine fountain:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: Next to the museum entrance is one of the most beautiful fountains to be seen in Fez. It was recently brought back to its previous splendor. The decoration with tiles and the details carved into the stone are spectacular. You’ll find that locals make normal use of the fountain, but it’s not advisable to drink unbottled water to avoid inconvenience.
Imagine the Cherratine Madrasa in all its splendor:
The Madrasa Charratine is another Koranic school to visit in Fez, although it is the least well preserved. It was created in the 17th century for over 200 students to live and train in. In addition to the central patio, you can climb to the upper floors to see what the rooms were like. It’s a curious visit to make in Fez, since the style is much more sober than that of other madrassas. Although it’s not the best, it doesn’t hurt to visit, as the ticket price is symbolic.
Discover the Andalusian mosque in the Andalusian Quarter:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: In the heart of Fes-el Bali, you’ll find the neighborhood where immigrants from southern Spain used to live. Around 10,000 families settled on the banks of the river in the 9th century. Here, you can find the entrance to the Andalusian mosque with its unique architectural style at the top of some stairs.
Get to know Chefchaouen, the beautiful blue city:
One of the most magical places we’ve ever visited is near Fès. The blue city in the middle of the Rif mountains is more charming in person than in photos. There’s a lot to do in Chefchaouen . Getting lost in its streets is a real pleasure!
Step away from the main street, where the souvenir stores are packed, and discover the solitary alleyways. It’s a tiring day trip, as the journey takes around three hours each way on fairly bad roads. We explain all the ways to get to Chefchaouen from Fès . But we think it’s well worth the effort – Chefchaouen is a unique place.
Step back in time at the Dar Batha museum:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: An interesting thing to do in Fès is to learn about its crafts. At the Dar Batha Museum you’ll find Berber carpets, jewelry, painted ceramics and traditional embroidery. As with most Moroccan museums, beyond the collection you’ll fall under the charm of the building. In this case, it’s a former 19th-century Moorish palace with a lovely garden.
Enter the Glaoui Palace:
Just outside the medina’s main gate lies this decadent but magnificent palace. Although it’s not very well preserved, you can get an idea of the luxury of the time. In fact, it’s run by a family who organize guided tours. On its walls, you’ll see paintings they’re selling to raise funds for their restoration. During the tour, you’ll see the different rooms, exquisitely decorated with tiles and cinema furniture.
Also worth a visit is the El Mokri Palace:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: Another ancient private palace that can be visited in Fez. It was constructed in 1906 for the Casablanca Vizier. Although its state of preservation is not the best, it is nonetheless a place full of charm. The rooms double as a riad. So if you want to sleep in a real palace, you already know that.
Have Fez at your feet at Borj Nord, something ideal to do in Fez at sunset:
Who doesn’t love a good view? If you go to Borj Nord, a military construction built in the 16th century to guard the city, you’ll have great views over the whole city. We think it’s an interesting visit to make in Fez to see just how big the medina is. It’s very quiet and close to the center of the medina. A 15-minute walk will get you there.
Discover rare artifacts at the Weapons Museum, a curious thing to do in Fès:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: Next to the Borj Nord viewpoint, there’s a very curious museum. It’s the kind of place you wouldn’t enter by name, but it’s interesting to see a vast collection of weapons from such a different culture. They have almost 800 pieces in several different display rooms. A very curious visit to make in Fez. There’s also a rooftop terrace with a beautiful view of the medina.
Get to know the other side of Fès at Ville Nouvelle:
Like all Moroccan cities, Fès also has a modern side. It was created during the French occupation in the last century and, as a result, this is where most of the wealthier citizens live. It looks like a completely different city with a much more European flair. The streets are wide and most of the restaurants are foreign. Here, you’ll find the stores of major international brands. It’s not worth spending much time in this part of town, but it’s worth getting to know it to see the contrast with the medina.
Stay in a good riad:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: Our visit to Fez would not have been the same had we chosen a hotel rather than a riad. These are typical Arab buildings, with rooms arranged around a main courtyard. The atmosphere is very authentic. What’s more, most of them are located in the medina, the best place to stay in Fez. We stayed at Riad Batchisarai, which is decorated with impeccable taste without being overcrowded, and has a terrace with a spectacular view.
Visit Meknes, Volubilis and Mulay Idrís in a day:
An hour from Fez lies one of the quietest towns we visit in Morocco. We hardly ever see tourists, and this is also reflected in the attitude of the locals. We were able to stroll through the stores in the medina without feeling at all overwhelmed by the vendors, as we did in Marrakech or Fez. Meknes is one of Morocco’s four imperial cities and has many monuments to see.
The Roman ruins of Volubilis are just a few kilometers from Meknes. To round off the day, you can also visit the holy city of Moulay Idriss, which until recently was off-limits to tourists. We recommend walking up its steep streets to the belvedere, where you’ll find some magnificent little houses. We think that devoting a day to this excursion is something we highly recommend in Fez. We’ll also give you transport options to get to Meknes on your own.
Get to know the area around Fès:
The best 30 things to do in Fez: To complete the list of things to do in Fès, we suggest you visit four nearby towns. Sefrou resembles a town from another era, with a medina divided in two by the passage of a river. It’s full of authentic corners where you can see the genuine rhythm of Moroccan life.
Bhalil is famous for its traditional houses built inside caves, where you can have tea for a tip. And don’t miss Ifrane, nicknamed “Moroccan Switzerland” for its all-European alpine-style houses. Before returning to Fez, you’ll pass through a large cedar forest inhabited by hundreds of monkeys. You can book an excursion to see all these towns in one day.