If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, don’t forget to include Fez in your itinerary! This charming city is a must-visit for any traveler looking to experience the rich history and culture of Morocco. With its narrow alleys, bustling markets, and stunning architecture, Fez is a city that will leave a lasting impression on you.
As the oldest imperial city in Morocco, Fez is steeped in history and offers a unique blend of past and present. From exploring the ancient medina and its labyrinthine alleys to visiting majestic palaces and religious landmarks, Fez has something for everyone.
In this latest Fez travel guide, we’ll take you on a tour of Fez’s best sights, sounds, and tastes. We’ll show you where to find the most delicious Moroccan cuisine, the best places to shop for souvenirs, and the most exciting cultural events to attend. So come along with us and let’s discover the magic of Fez together!
What is Fez and Why Should You Visit?
Fez: Morocco’s Cultural and Spiritual Center
Fez is the second largest city in Morocco, and it is often considered to be the country’s cultural and spiritual center. The city is known for its vibrant culture, rich history, and stunning architecture. Fez is also home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Al Quaraouiyine, which was founded in the 9th century.
Why Visit Fez?
Fez is a city that will transport you back in time. It is a place where you can wander through winding alleys, explore historic medinas, and discover intricately designed tile work and courtyard gardens. The city also has a vibrant food scene, with traditional Moroccan dishes served in family-run restaurants and cafes throughout the medina.
Getting to Fez: Transportation and Visa Requirements
If you are planning to visit Fez, you will need to fly into the Fes-Saïss Airport, which is located about 9 km south of the city. Many airlines have direct flights to Fez from major cities across Europe, including Paris, London, and Madrid. Travelers from other countries will need to check visa requirements before visiting Morocco.
Fez Travel Guide: Getting There
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Fez is by air. The Fes-Saiss Airport is located about 15 km from the city center and is served by several airlines. The nearest airport is Fès-Saïs International Airport, which offers flights to several European and African destinations, including Paris, Madrid, London, and Casablanca. Some of the popular airlines that fly to Fez are Ryanair, Air Arabia Maroc, and Turkish Airlines.
Fez is well connected by train to other cities in Morocco. The train station is located in the new part of the city, and it’s a short taxi ride to the old medina. The train ride from Casablanca to Fez takes about three hours, and the train from Marrakech takes about seven hours.
The train journey from Casablanca to Fez takes around 3 hours, while the bus ride takes about 4 hours. If you’re coming from Europe, you can take a ferry from Spain to Tangier and then take a train or a bus to Fez
Fez is also well connected by bus to other cities in Morocco. The bus station is located near the train station in the new part of the city. The bus ride from Casablanca to Fez takes about four hours, and the bus from Marrakech takes about eight hours.
Exploring Fez’s Medina: See in Fez el Bali
What is Fez El-Bali?
Fes el Bali is the old city of Fez, also known as the historic medina, and is the heart of Fez. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest car-free urban area in the world. The medina is made up of a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, so it is easy to get lost. But that is part of the charm of the Fez medina. Every turn reveals a new alley, a new courtyard, or a new shop selling traditional Moroccan goods.
Top Attractions in Fez El-Bali
Fez El-Bali is amongst the best place to visit in Morocco, it is home to many of Fez’s top attractions. Some of the must-see sights include Bab Bou Jeloud, a stunning blue and green gate that is the main entrance to the medina. Another attraction is the Bou Inania Madrasa, an Islamic school that was built in the 14th century. The El-Attarine Madrasa is another stunning attraction, with intricately designed tilework and a peaceful courtyard.
History of Fez’s Medina
The medina dates back to the 9th century when Fez was founded by Moulay Idriss II. Over the centuries, the medina grew and evolved, with new buildings and monuments added by different sultans and rulers. Today, the medina is a living testament to the city’s rich history and is still a vibrant part of Fez’s daily life.
Where to Stay in Fez: Hotels, Riads, and More
Fez has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from luxury riads to budget hostels. The best place to stay in Fez is in the old medina, where you’ll find many traditional riads and guesthouses. Here are some popular options:
Riad Fes Maya Suite & Spa
This luxurious riad is located in the heart of the old medina and offers spacious rooms and suites, a spa, and a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city.
This beautifully restored 14th-century riad offers comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and a peaceful courtyard.
This elegant riad is located in the heart of the old medina and offers luxurious rooms and suites, a swimming pool, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views.
Hostel Dar Jannat
This budget-friendly hostel is located in the old medina and offers basic but clean rooms, a rooftop terrace, and a shared kitchen.
If you prefer more modern and luxurious accommodation, Fez also has several hotels and resorts that offer top-notch facilities and amenities. Some of the best options are:
Alternative Accommodation Options in Fez
If you prefer to stay outside the medina, there are many other accommodation options available in the newer part of Fez, known as Ville Nouvelle. This area is home to many modern hotels and restaurants, but it is not as authentic as staying in Medina.
Top Things to See in Fez: A Comprehensive Guide
Fez is a city that rewards exploration, with its small passageway, hidden courtyards, and countless historical sites. Here are some of the top things to do and see in Fez:
The Medina of Fez: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The medina of Fez is the largest and oldest of its kind in the world, with over 9,000 narrow streets and alleys crisscrossing its labyrinthine layout. The medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to many of Fez’s historical landmarks, such as the Bou Inania Madrasa, the Al-Attarine Madrasa, and the Dar Batha Museum. You can spend hours wandering around the medina, getting lost in its souks and admiring its intricate architecture.
The Royal Palace of Fez: A Stunning Example of Moroccan Architecture
The Royal Palace of Fez, also known as Dar el-Makhzen, is a beautiful example of traditional Moroccan architecture. Built in the 14th century, the palace is a sprawling complex of gardens, courtyards, and pavilions, and is still used by the Moroccan royal family today. Although you can’t enter the palace itself, you can admire its imposing gates and intricate tilework from the outside.
The Bou Inania Madrasa: A Magnificent Islamic School
The Medersa Bou Inania is one of Fez’s most beautiful and well-preserved Islamic schools, with intricate tilework, woodcarvings, and stucco decorations. Built-in the 14th century, the madrasa is a testament to the golden age of Islamic scholarship and education in Morocco. You can visit the madrasa and admire its architecture and history.
The Dar Batha Museum: A Showcase of Moroccan Art and Crafts
The Dar Batha Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in Moroccan art and crafts. Housed in a beautiful 19th-century palace, the museum has a vast collection of ceramics, textiles, woodwork, and jewelry, as well as an extensive collection of traditional Moroccan musical instruments. The museum’s courtyard is also a tranquil oasis, with a beautiful garden and fountain.
The Chouara Tannery: A Fascinating Look at Traditional Leatherworking
The Chouara Tannery is one of the oldest and most famous tanneries in Fez, and a visit here is a must for anyone interested in unique leatherworking. The tannery dates back to the 11th century and still uses traditional methods to dye and process animal hides. You can take a guided tour of the tannery and see the workers in action, but be prepared for the strong smell!
The Mellah: Fez’s Historic Jewish Quarter
The Mellah is Fez’s historic Jewish quarter, located in the southwestern corner of the medina. The Mellah dates back to the 15th century and was once home to a vibrant Jewish community. Today, the Mellah is a fascinating district to explore, with its small streets, crumbling synagogues, and colorful markets. For those interested in exploring Top Morocco Jewish Heritage, the Mellah is a must-visit destination in Fez.
The Borj Nord: A Towering Fortress with Spectacular Views
The Borj Nord is a 16th-century fortress located on a hill overlooking Fez. The fortress was built by the Saadian dynasty and was used as a military stronghold and a lookout point. Today, the Borj Nord is open to visitors and offers spectacular views of Fez and the surrounding countryside.
Cultural Experiences in Fez
Fez is a city that is steeped in culture and tradition, and there are many ways to experience it. Here are some of the best cultural experiences in Fez:
The hammam is a traditional Moroccan bathhouse that offers a unique and relaxing experience. Visitors can choose from a range of treatments, from a simple bath to a full-body massage.
Gnaoua Music Festival
The Gnaoua Music Festival is an annual festival that celebrates the music and culture of the Gnaoua people, a sub-Saharan ethnic group. The festival takes place in June and attracts musicians and visitors from around the world.
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music is an annual festival that celebrates the music and culture of different religions and cultures from around the world. The festival takes place in June and features performances by musicians and artists from around the globe.
Getting Around Fez: Tips and Advice
Exploring Fez on Foot: The Best Way to See the City
The best way to explore Fez is on foot. The medina is a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, and many of the city’s top attractions are located within the medina. Walking is also the easiest way to navigate the Medina’s narrow streets.
Also, it’s important to note that Fez is a pedestrian-only city, and cars are not allowed in the medina, so you’ll need to park your car outside and explore the city on foot.
Getting Around Fez by Public Transportation
There is a small network of buses that run throughout Fez, but they can be crowded and confusing. Taxis are another option, but they can be expensive. If you are staying in the medina, it is best to walk or hire a guide to take you around the city.
Car-Free Fez: How to Navigate the Medina’s Narrow Streets
The Medina is the largest car-free urban area in the world, it is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways, and it can be confusing and disorienting for first-time visitors. One of the best ways to get around is on foot, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do a lot of walking. Visitors can also hire a local guide to help them navigate the medina and discover its hidden treasures.
If you’re planning to visit the Medina, why not consider a 3 Days Tour From Fes to Marrakech? This tour is a great way to explore Medina and other iconic Moroccan destinations, all while traveling with an experienced guide.
Shopping in the Souks
Fez is a shopper’s paradise, with markets and souks selling everything from spices and textiles to leather goods and jewelry. Visitors should be prepared to haggle, as bargaining is a common practice in the medina. Some of the best places to shop include the Souk Attarine, the Souk des Teinturiers, and the Souk el Henna.
When shopping in the souks of Fez, it’s important to keep in mind that haggling is expected, so don’t be afraid to negotiate prices. However, tipping is not a common practice in Moroccan markets, so it’s not necessary to do so. If you’re interested in learning more about tipping customs in Morocco, be sure to check out our guide to Tipping in Morocco for more information.
Fez’s Culinary Delights:
Moroccan cuisine is famous for its bold flavors, fragrant spices, and diverse influences. Fez is no exception, and the city is a foodie’s paradise, with a wide range of dishes to try and places to eat. Here are some must-try dishes:
Tagine is a traditional Morocco dish that consists of slow-cooked meat and vegetables in a cone-shaped clay pot. The dish is named after the pot in which it’s cooked, and there are many variations, including chicken, lamb, and vegetable tagines.
Pastilla is a savory pie made with layers of phyllo dough, chicken, almonds, and spices. It’s a popular dish in Fez and is often served as a starter or main course.
Harira is a traditional soup here that’s usually served during Ramadan. The soup is made with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, and a variety of spices and herbs.
This tea is a sweet, minty tea that’s served throughout the country. It’s made with gunpowder green tea, fresh mint leaves, and sugar and is often served with dates or other sweet treats.
Where to Eat
Fez is a paradise for food lovers, with traditional Moroccan cuisine served in restaurants and cafes throughout the city. Here are some of the best places to eat in Fez:
Café Clock is a quirky café in the heart of the Medina that offers a mix of traditional Moroccan and Western cuisine. The café also hosts cultural events and live music performances, making it a great spot to relax and soak up the atmosphere of the medina.
Restaurant Numero 7
Restaurant Numero 7 is a family-run restaurant that serves traditional dishes of Morocco made with locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant is located in the medina and has a cozy atmosphere, making it a great spot for a romantic dinner.
Dar Roumana is a fine-dining restaurant located in a beautifully restored riad. The restaurant offers a set menu of Moroccan and Mediterranean dishes, with a focus on fresh and seasonal ingredients. The rooftop terrace has stunning views of the medina and is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner.
Fez is a safe city, but it’s always a good idea to take some basic safety precautions. Here are some tips:
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Fez’s old medina can be busy and crowded, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings.
Morocco is a conservative country, and it’s important to dress appropriately, especially when visiting grand mosques and other important religious sites.
Use Licensed Taxis
Always use licensed taxis and agree on a price before getting in. However, if you do choose to Hire a private car with a driver, make sure to verify their credentials and agree on a price beforehand to avoid any surprises.
Fez is a truly unique and fascinating city that offers a wealth of experiences for travelers of all kinds. From exploring the winding alleyways of the medina to savoring the flavors of traditional cuisine, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this historic city.
By following this Fez Travel Guide, you can ensure that you make the most of your time in this enchanting destination. So pack your bags, book your flights, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in Fez!