Meknes

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Meknes travel guide

Meknès is located in the middle of Morocco, not far from the city of Fes. It's one of Morocco's largest cities. The city is located on a plain not far from the Atlas Mountains and is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco, together with Fes, Marrakesh and Rabat. You can see the beautiful gates, the walls, the mosques and the phenomenal palaces that the sultan has built here. Whoever explores Meknès will see that there are three districts. There is the medina or the old city, the Ville Nouvelle or the new city and finally there is the Kasbah or the royal city. It houses the most beautiful buildings built under Moulay Ismaïl.

meknes medina

The medina or the old city of Meknes. It’s impossible to not get lost here!

  Average costs in Meknes

Stay – Meknes is the least crowded imperial city of Morocco. Yet there are a lot of beautiful riads and hotels where you can stay at.
I was incredibly happy with my stay at Riad Ritaj. I even thought it was the most beautiful riad we stayed in during my trip through Morocco. Per night I paid €54 ($60).
The cheapest riads or hotels cost about €20 ($22) per night for a double room. A 3-star hotel starts on average around €34 ($38). A 4-star hotel can start from €55 ($60) per night.
Compare prices, riads and hotels on booking and agoda. By comparing these two websites I found the biggest availability and the cheapest prices.

Eat – With the help of TripAdvisor, I found a lot of great restaurants in Meknes. In addition, the portions are often huge and prices are quite low.
A Moroccan tajine costs between 60 and 100 dirham, couscous about the same. An appetizer or dessert can already be served for 20 dirham per dish.
I can highly recommend Ya Hala and the Ritaj restaurant.

Transport – In Meknes itself there is no real form of public transportation, but fortunately there are hundreds of taxis that speed around the city non-stop. From the Al Amir train station to the Medina of Meknes you’ll pay between 7 and 10 dirham for a ride of about 10 minutes.
Once you reach the center of Meknes you don’t need any more transportation. Everything is close to each other.
To travel to other imperial cities, it is most comfortable to take trains or buses. From Meknes to Fes with the bus you’ll pay 15 dh, by train 20 dirham (second class) or 32 dirham (first class).
If you are also looking to do a trip to Volubilis and Moulay Idriss from Meknes, you should try and rent a grand taxi. For this you pay about 300 dirham (and there is room for 6 people). The taxi driver will give you enough time to discover both sights and return to Meknes.

meknes to moulay idriss

An excursion from Meknes to Moulay Idriss is a must do!

  Saving money in Meknes

Haggling – Actually this is a tip to save money anywhere in Morocco. Haggling is a typical thing in Moroccan culture, and you have to do it almost everywhere. Are you planning to buy souvenirs or anything else from a market? Then start negotiating immediately! Don’t give up too soon. You’ll be amazed about how much you can deduct from the original price.

Don’t stay too long – Meknes is very small. Often it’s visited as a day trip from Fes because you can see everything in one day. If you also want to visit Moulay Idriss and Volubilis, I recommend to book two days.

Share the grand taxi – Are you planning to rent a a grand taxi (mercedes) to Moulay Idriss and Volubilis? Or maybe to Fes? There is place for six people in the car, so if you’re with a group you can divide the price.
The sooner you get to where the taxis stand (near the medina), the more likely you’ll find some extra traveling companions.

sahrij swani meknes

Sahrij Swani, just next to the royal stables. Very popular amongst the locals.

  Things to do in Meknes

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail – The mausoleum where the great ruler Moulay Ismail is buried is one of the few religious buildings that you can also enter as a non-Muslim. The stately interiors and exteriors are amazing! All those beautiful details!

Bab Mansour – Morocco has a lot of great and stately gates, and the Bab Mansour is definitely one to see. The thick wall around Meknes is richly decorated with this gold-colored gate that also reminded me of some kind of triumphal arch.

The El-Hedim square – Right across the Bab Mansour you’ll see the El-Hedim square. The beating heart of Meknes. During the day there is already a lot to see, but it’s only when the evening falls that the animation and attractions in this square really get to another level.
Cobras, ostriches and a lot of human artists provide a crowded square, while the terraces of the many restaurants and cafés are packed.

The souk – Besides the El-Hedim square you will find the big souk of Meknes. I think it’s one of Morocco’s most beautiful souks. The fragrances of all kinds of foods are not to be missed while you walk between spicy herbs and dried fruits, chopped animal heads and carcasses where the blood is still dropping from.

Trip to Moulay Idriss and Volubilis – From Meknes you can easily go to Moulay Idriss and Volubilis. With a taxi, this trip costs you approximately 300 dirham (€30 – $34).
Moulay Idriss is a berber village in the mountains, and it is really lovely to see. There are beautiful views and here you can definitely experience a more authentic experience Morocco!
Volubilis is an ancient settlement of the Romans, which has been preserved surprisingly well.

Kara prison (prison de kara) – Under the beautiful Bab Bansour lies a huge prison hidden. Christians, Portuguese and Spaniards were detained during the reign of sultan Moulay Ismail. It’s very cool in this prison, but also nice to visit for a while.

el-hedim square meknes

The El-Hedim squre is the beating heart of Meknes. Once it has cooled down a bit, there’s a lot going on here!

   Avoid in Meknes

Very long stays – Although Meknes is another imperial city, there is really not much to do. A day trip to the city is actually more than enough, but if you want to see Moulay Idriss and Volubilis, perhaps two days is a better choice.

Take a taxi from the central station – There are two train stations in Meknes. Don’t get off at the central station, but at the Al Amir station. This one is much closer to the medina of Meknes. This saves you money and a lot of time.

No adjusted clothing – Legs and shoulders must be covered to see certain sights. Always take an extra garment to cover up things when you are sightseeing.

No haggling and not asking for prices – Wherever you go in Morocco, you have to haggle to get better prices. The cost of almost anything is almost always negotiable. Especially with taxis or in markets. You can reduce the price significantly.
Always ask for prices, especially if you are going to drink something. Sometimes the price gets three times as expensive as the actual cost…

Accepting all help – If you look lost, a helpful person will quickly come to help you get back on track. However, you are expected to give you some money to thank this helpful man. Find your own way, or do it using an (offline) app on your smartphone.

bab mansour gate meknes

Right next to the Bab Mansour gate you’ll see another gorgeous gate!

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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