Are you planning a trip to Fez in Morocco? Here is our first-timers’ comprehensive guide to Fez that includes everything you need to know to spend your dream trip in Morocco including where to stay in Fez, how to get around the city, the best things to do in Fez, and many more. Keep reading!
Due to the current health situation, there might be travel restrictions for visitors to Morocco. Make sure to check regularly for changing travel guidelines on the government websites. You can also take a look at Flatten the Curve website for information on travel restrictions about Morocco.
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Table Of Contents
Fez, Morocco at a Glance
Located northeast of the Atlas Mountains, Fez (also spelled Fes) is one of the important imperial cities and former capital of Morocco. Interestingly, Fez is the second-largest city after Casablanca as it hosts more than 1,2 million Moroccans. The medieval city consists of two Medina quarters Fes El-Bali and Fes El-Jdid and the new district Ville Nouvelle (New City).
Fes El- Bali and Fes El-Jdid districts are listed as UNESCO World Heritage centers. Both Medina quarters are home to most of the city’s monuments and historical remains- madrasas, fondouks, tanneries, palaces, residences, mosques, and fountains. Although Fez isn’t the capital of Morocco anymore, it still retains its importance as the spiritual and cultural epicenter of the country.
The Best Time to Visit Fez
Like most cities in Morocco, Fez is known for the scorching summer days and the dreadful winter nights. So, choosing when to visit Fez can have a huge impact on the overall of your trip. The summer months starting from early June to late August are to avoid as it can be quite hard to explore the sites outdoors.
However, Spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) seasons are considered to be the best time to visit Fez. The tempetures are not too high for outdoor sitesighting and not too cold for a night out. Also keep in mind that August and Septeber are a high-season in Morocco which means that prices are higher than the usual.
Another less recommended time to visit Morocco is during the month of Ramadan (2022 dates: April 02– May 02). During the whole month of Ramadan Muslims around the world fast from dawn to sunset with extra prayers and worshiping. Therefore, tourists visiting Morocco in Ramadan might face multiple challenges including closed shops, attractions and food places.
How Many days to Spend in Fez
Before visitng Fez, you need to know how many days you need spend to get the most of your visit to this beautiful city. Based on our and many travelers experience, 2 days are a good amount of time to explore the city preperly. You can also allow an extra day to visit some of the aatracton located outside the Fez such as the Roman remains.
How to Get Around Fez
Before jumping to the best and recommended things to do and see in Fez, I want to show you how to get around the city. Like other imperial cities in Morocco, Fez Medina quarters is like a maze made of narrow streets and tiny neiborhoods which makes it a bit hard to navigate without help.
Lukcily, Fez Medina is a car-free zone so you will be exploring on foot. Other far neighberhoods such as New Fez and Borj Nord can be easily reached using public transport. There are public buses that run regulary between diffeent areas of the city but they are not recommended. Instead, take the red Petit Taxi.
Where to Stay in Fez
To find a hotel in Fez, you need to decide which district in Fez you want to be. There are two different options when it comes to neighberhoods, the old Medina Fes El-Bali and Ville Nouvelle the modern part of the city. If you are coming for a short trip only, Fes El-Bali is the best place to stay for the lively and historical vibes. Being in the old Medina also means being close to all attractions and sites in the city.
Plus, Fes El-Bali is home to some beautiful Riads (traditional boutique hotels), my favorite accomodation in Morocco. Riads are only found in the imprerial cities in Morocco, so if you visit Fez I recommend you stay in a Riad rathen than a normal hotel.
However, the modern neighborhood Ville Nouvelle is much easier to navigate by car and easily accessed from different parts of the Medina. You can also make use of the train station there. It also features multiple hotels and accomodation options that suits different needs and budgets.
Unmissable 5 Things to do in Fez, Morocco
Now that we’re all set with the important things to know before exploring Fez, it’s time to discover the top things to do in the city. The list includes unmissables things to do in both Fes El-Bali and Fes El-Jdid districts. Enjoy!
1. Explore The Old Medina
Hidden inside the medieval high walls of Fez is the chaotic Old Medina (Fes El Bali). A lively place to get close to the culture and the history of Fez and Morocco. The Old Medina consists of labyranth-like streets and alleys that most people find it hard to navigate.
Getting lost while finding your way out is very common. If it happens to you, don’t panic and ask shop keepers to show you the way out. After all, getting lost is a part of the Old Medina experience. Plus, Fes El Bali is where all the traditional Moroccan handicrafts, spices, leather goods are sold.
Pro Travel Tip: It is highly recommended to book a tour to explore the Old Medina and the sites around it. It will help you lean more about the history behind it and easiy navigate the mazed streets and alleys
2. Marvel at Bab Bou Jeloud (The Blue Gate)
Before getting to the Old Medina take a moment to marvel at Bab Bou Jeloud (also called the Blue Gate). Bab Bou Jeloud is one of the many gates found in Fez. The gate was buit by the French colonial governement in 1913 to serve as a main gate to Fez El Bali. Bab Bou Jeloud amazingly imulate the Moorish architeture while featuring vibrant blue-ish tiles and motifs.
3. Go Back in Time in Bou Inania Madrasa
Bou Inania Madrasa is another stop in the Old Medina. Founded by the Marinid sultan Faris Abu Inan in the . 14th century. Madrasas are a type of religious edutional institutions that were popular in Morocco during the Marinid dynasty.
Madrasa Bou Inania is a live example of how complex and advanced the architecture was. The excellent work that has been done in this iconic landmark can be seen clearly in the wooden carved sealings, elborate green Zellij artwork and its tall Mosque Minaret that is visible from the entrance of Bab Bo Jeloud. Bou Inania Madrasa is certainly a must-see thing in Fez.
Opening times: 9am-5pm (except during prayer times)
Entrance fee: 20 MAD ($2)
4. Al Qarawiyyin University and Mosque
Being the oldest university in the world is only one reason to make it an unmissable places to see in Fez. Al Qarawiyyin is also the second-largest mosque in Morocco. Unfortunately, only Muslims are not allowed to enter the mosque and the university but tourists can get a glimpse the courtyard, the fountains, and interior marble from the rooftops of the cafes nearby.
5. Chouara Tannery
Fez is home to three tanneries where leather good has been produced to centuries. Chouara tennary is the oldest and biggest one in Morocco. Located in the Fes El Bali, Chouara is an important part of Fez culture and history and that’s why it’s a must visit. However, the experience will certainly shake your smell sense as the smell is quite unbearable. To get an exclusive view of the tanneries find a shop with a rooftop looking down to the tanneries but you will probably pay a tip for the service.
Pro Travel Tip: Be ware of shop owners and guide that will try to offer you tea or show you directions for free then ask you to pay a tip.
Food in Fez
My favorite part of traveling the world is being able to discover the heritage and culture through local food. Morocco is a rich country when it comes to many things especially food. The menu is very long and confusing, make sure to check our Moroccan food guide before you visit Fez.
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