Fes travel guide

Fez or Fes is Morocco's oldest imperial city. You can discover the labyrinths of Fès el-Bali and Fès el-Jedid. In the latter you will also find the royal palace and the former Jewish district. Fes is famous for its leather and carpet industry. There are also other crafts that have been carried out for centuries in this city, such as making mosaic and ceramics. There is also a lively copper, gold and silver trade. Farmers from the region sell their vegetables and fruits in the city.
The Ville Nouvelle (New City), lies more to the south. In Fès el-Bali, the souks are spread behind the Ech Cherabliine mosque. The location of each souk reflects the hierarchy that is determined by the value of the items traded.
In every district of Fes you will find several mosques. The friday prayer takes place in large and small mosques. Near the mosque you will find a fountain with a basin, cut from one block of marble. Believers need to clean themselves here. It's a compulsory preparation for prayer. The muezzin calls up to prayer five times a day.

medina fes

There is so much to see in the small streets of Fes!

  Average costs in Fes

Stay – Adventurers find plenty of cheap accommodations in Fez. From €7 ($8) you can spend the night in this imperial city in a dormitory. Do you prefer some more privacy? A budget single or double room starts at €15 ($17).
Don’t forget to also spend a night in one of the majestic riads! That’s already possible for less than €30 ($33) a night, just like a 3-star hotel.
Four stars start at €50 ($55) per night and five stars start at €80 ($90).
For an overview of accommodations and prices, I recommend to compare between Agoda and Booking.

Eat – There are incredible restaurants in Fes. Sometimes you have to look very well, because in the medina they are well hidden! For a main course you pay between 60 and 140 dirhams. For a dessert you pay between 30 and 45 dirham. Soft drinks and Moroccan tea costs between 10 and 15 dirham, freshly squeezed juices around 20 dirhams. If you go to expensive restaurants, the food is not necessarily better! Don’t forget to take a look at my blog post about great restaurants in Fez!

Transport – Fez is huge! If you want to explore the different parts of the city, a taxi is handy. Like in all of Morocco, you have two types of taxis; The grand taxi (long distances) and the petit taxi for closer destinations.
A petit taxi usually does the trick. From the gare central (train station) you can go to the old medina for about 50 dirham. If you take a taxi, keep in mind that you always have to haggle over a price first.
Are you also going to Chefchaouen? From the gare routière (bus station) just outside the medina, you can head there for 90 dirham (CTM bus) or 50 dirham (other, non-tourist buses).
By train you can also visit Meknes. This will cost you 20 dirham (second class) or 32 dirham in first class.

jnan sbil garden

The Jnan Sbil gardens. A beautiful, exotic garden just outside the medina.

  Saving money in Fes

Haggle – You have to do it everywhere in Morocco, and in Fes it of course is no different. On the market, in the taxi, in (some) shops, … Almost everywhere you go, you’ll have to propose a price yourself. Never agree with a suggested price. You can always get a cheaper price! In fact, you have to think that you have scored a nice deal, and the seller must think the same for himself. It can be annoying, but this is how it works in Morocco…

Avoid fake guides – Once you get completely lost while strolling through the medina, hordes of ‘guides’ will come to you to help you get back on track. Whatever they want to give, a guided tour or just bring you to a certain spot, it’s never free. Avoid them and ignore them if they bother you. With smartphone apps like Google Maps you’ll find your way back in no-time, even though locals keep saying the apps don’t work here.

Don’t drink alcohol – Alcohol is not forbidden in Morocco, but it’s sold at only very few places. Whenever you find some alcohol, it is mainly bought by tourists.
Prices of a beer soon rise to five euros ($6) or more. So instead, enjoy a nice mint tea for five times as cheap!

royal palace fes

The golden gates of the royal palace of fes are truly phenomenal!

  Things to do in Fes

(Also read this blog post about the 8 top attractions in Fez)

The medina – Hidden behind high walls lies a car-free maze, in which you must get lost. The narrow streets hide beautiful buildings, squares and a lot of secrets. There are many markets on a daily basis, and it’s also here that most of daily life in Fes takes place. Take a few hours to walk around here. It’s really worth it! Personally, I think this is Morocco’s most beautiful and impressive medina.

Jnan Sbil Gardens – The Jardin Jnan Sbil is right next to the medina. It’s actually a collection of different types of gardens and it’s the perfect place to escape the crowds of Fes. There is a lot of shade and the bright colors and delicious smells will instantly revive you!

Bou Inania medersa – A medersa or madrasa is an ancient Islamic school of learning. These schools are no longer in use, but you can visit them now. The beautifully decorated interior of the Bou Inania is decorated with mosaics, and the soft colors match perfectly.

Sidi Mussa Tannery – There are several Tanneries in Fes, but I think the Sidi Mussa Tannery is the most beautiful. From the surrounding buildings you get an excellent view of the stone baths in which colored liquids are waiting to provide a variety of leather hides with a new color. The tanneries can sometimes smell really bad, because the leather is softened with pigeons droppings. Yet, this is a sight in Fes that you should not skip.

Bab Mellah – The Jewish quarter is a bit outside the center of the medina, but the small town is definitely worth a visit.
In Bab Mellah you will find a picturesque synagogue. For a small fee you can go inside and you can spend a moment in this strange place of prayer. After your visit, you can climb upstairs. From there you get a nice view of the Jewish cemetery.

Gaze at the doors and gates – A lot of gates and doors in Fes look magical. As you walk through the medina you will see a lot of unique gates. There are also a lot of gigantic gates that you should not miss, such as the Bab Boujloud. Another monumental gate that you can admire are the golden doors of the royal palace.

Visit Chefchaouen – From Fes you can travel to the blue pearl of Morocco in four to five hours. If you have some time, I definitely recommend doing this. It’s a long drive, but the city is really breathtaking! Try to sleep here for one night.

ruins fes

Some ruins just outside the medina of Fes. From here you also get an amazing view over the imperial city!

   Avoid in Fes

Not bringing extra clothes – Fes is quite conservative. To view certain buildings or monuments you need to wear conservative clothing. Always put an extra cloth or garment in your backpack.

No haggling – Lower prices are always possible! Do a little bit of effort and you’ll always get a discount at markets, shops and taxi’s. Always ask for the price and then say your own price. From there the haggling begins…

Not taking a map – It’s impossible not to get lost in the medina of Fes. So always take a map with you to find your way back. The smartphone apps Google Maps and Maps.me work pretty well and help you get back home quickly.

Not booking a ticket to Chefchaouen in advance – Are you planning a side trip from Fes to Chefchaouen? Book your bus ticket in advance! These tickets are sold-out really quickly. Tickets from Chefchaouen to Fes are gone even sooner.

medina fes

The medina of Fes is a labyrinth full of shops, markets and people.

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