For more information about things to do in Fes follow this article, Emblematic city of Morocco, Fez has everything to seduce. And this is not new. Since its creation in 789, it was proclaimed official capital on many occasions, mainly in the Middle Ages and in the nineteenth century, but currently, it is its status as a cultural and spiritual metropolis that makes it shine and reinforces its glory. located 180 kilometers east of Rabat, this sublime, colorful city steeped in history, which has always retained its traditional dimension, is spread over 3 areas: the medina, the royal enclosure and the new town. wondering what to see and do in Fez? follow the guide, we will reveal the must-see places of this city with indescribable charms and reveal some tricks to help you enjoy your visit to Fez
Top visits in Fez: our favorites
You may not find in Fez the modernity of Casablanca, nor the bling-bling aspect of Marrakech, because Fez has kept its traditional and spiritual values. Its fortified Medina, steeped in history, is a perfect illustration of this. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, it remains one of the most sumptuous and best preserved in the Arab world, hosting the city’s main cultural institutions.
To visit Fez without wandering and getting lost in the alleys of its Medina would be a real pity, because nothing could match the pleasure of strolling through the medieval alleys, dotted with fountains, small palaces and riads, and contemplating the magnificent architecture of the Bou Inania Medersa.
You can also admire the Karaouyine mosque, one of the most ancient and glorious in the Muslim world, or explore the Bar Batah museum, dedicated to the arts and traditions of the city.
During this escapade in the alleys of the souk of the Medina, you will discover the work of several craftsmen of this city, like that of the carpenters, the saddlers, and the leatherworkers, which will not fail to impress you.
What to do in Fez? At the end of the day, we advise you to go through the northern gate of the Medina and climb to the heights of the Merinid tombs, from where the panoramic view of the city is simply breathtaking. It is also the ideal spot to admire the magnificent sunset.
The tanners’ district
Here, it is another original show orchestrated in the manner of a ballet that is offered to visitors. It is the work of leather, an ancestral art that has crossed time, which is anchored there and remains one of the unchanging features of Morocco; still on the agenda.
In this district to visit in Fez, you will have the opportunity to attend the various stages of manufacture of this material: drying of skins, tanning, coloring in basins, until the leather takes its final form of babouches, bags or anything else that we meet in the shops of leather goods.
This unforgettable visit will not leave you insensitive, if only because of this rather unbearable smell… It could take away all the charm of the visit of this district, although when leaving the workshop, a mint drink will be offered to you to chase away the unpleasant smell a little.
We also advise you to plug your nose with fresh mint leaves!
The Medersa Bou Inania of Fez
Built under the Merinides dynasty in 1350, this Koranic school is well worth a detour if you plan a visit to Fez. In fact, it is one of the only religious monuments to welcome all publics.
In the center of this monument with an Arab-Moorish architectural design is a beautiful central courtyard paved with marble slabs and framed with carved wooden moucharabiehs. The courtyards on either side were used as classrooms while the students lived upstairs.
In the past, this religious boarding school was governed by a rather draconian internal regulation, so, for example, during the period of exams, the boarders were only served bread, olives, and water as food.
This theological institution is the most important in the city, and in addition, the Friday prayer is held in the adjacent mosque. Moreover, it is the only religious school that has a beautiful minaret with green tiles overlooking the city, and that you can see as soon as you enter the medina by Bab Bou Jeloud.
The Royal Palace
It is one of the oldest palaces in Morocco and certainly one of the most valuable. Built in the fourteenth century, it is also called Dar El Makhzen. Because of its large size of eighty hectares, it was built outside the old medina, and today it is located near the Mellah, the Jewish quarter. A new medina was therefore created, as the name suggests, Fez el-Jdid, in order to meet the needs of the palace.
Visits are not accepted, as is the case with most Moroccan mosques and palaces, but we recommend that you go and see this palace, even if you are simply going to contemplate from its immense esplanade the majestic doors of various sizes that lead to the palace.
There are seven gates that symbolize the seven days of the week but also embody the seven levels of the monarchy.
These gates are all made of bronze, lined with a myriad of tiny ceramic tiles, where two colors dominate: blue, the symbol of the city, and green, the emblematic color of Islam.
Dar Batha Palace and Museum
It was Sultan Hassan I who built the Batha Palace, because this monarch wanted to bring together the two cities that make up Fez, namely Fez-el-Baki and Fez-el-Djedid. This palace was later converted into a museum of crafts, where one could find pottery and ceramics dating back to the thirteenth century, but also embroidery, jewelry dating from the medieval period. Most of the ceramic objects are colored with the famous blue tint of Fez, a color obtained from cobalt.
The museum has an Andalusian-inspired garden, where you can stroll at your leisure among the orange trees and holm oaks. This stroll will be an enchanting interlude for a few minutes away from the cacophony of the medina.
Take advantage of this visit and take pictures of the sumptuously decorated gates and the huge padlocks used to close the doors at night.
Other sights and things to do/see in Fez
The Jnan Sbil garden
This small botanical park is a real green lung of the city, which is mainly frequented by locals. Jnan Sbil created in the 18th century by the sovereign Moulay Abdallah is also the oldest public garden in Fez.
Although it was abandoned for a long time, it was restored to its former glory after major rehabilitation work was undertaken in 1999.
Now, locals and visitors alike can stroll through the shady paths of this magnificent garden, lulled by the murmur of the water.
The garden contains more than three thousand plant species spread over about seven hectares, through different themed gardens. A real little paradise of serenity.
The Marinids or Merinids are a dynasty that ruled Morocco between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. They settled in Fez for a period and created Fez El-Jdid. They had left their footprints all over Morocco and especially in Fez.
It is here, therefore, in this imperial city of Morocco that you can find the remains of the Marinid tombs located at the highest point of the city.
Although the site itself is of little interest, we still recommend that you make a small detour during your visit to Fez.
Indeed, these tombs are located on a hill and offer a breathtaking panoramic view of the Medina and the surrounding mountains.
The Seffarine square
It is also another place not to be missed, because there you will discover one of the faces of the craft industry of this city. What to see on this place of Seffarine? Here, you will meet many craftsmen who shape the copper to make teapots, trays, perfume burners.
But there are also boilermakers whose work consists in making pots, buckets and various utensils.
Museum of Arms
This museum, inaugurated in 1963, contains an important collection of weapons from various periods of history. It is located in Borj Nord, a military citadel dating from the 16th century which offers a sensational panoramic view of the city of Fez.
In its display cases are weapons from India, Europe and Asia, although the largest and most impressive part of the collection is made up of acquisitions of Moroccan origin.
This is the case, for example, of the 5-meter long cannon that was used during the Battle of the Three Kings, and which is considered one of the museum’s masterpieces.
In addition to the complete collection that illustrates the development of weapons manufacturing techniques throughout history, the museum offers a splendid view of the old city from its upper terrace.
If you are a food aficionado, it might be time for a little culinary escapade. This is a great way to end your visit to Fez! It’s not about eating but about taking cooking classes. Indeed, different brands, such as Café Clock, offer courses to teach how to prepare tagines and other refined dishes. This course will start with the acquisition of ingredients at the souk, an activity in which you will be called to participate and everything will end with a tasting in due form.
What if it rains during your visit to Fez? What to do when the weather plays tricks on you? Discover our selection of the best activities to do when it rains in Fez.
See the Palace or the Kasbah Glaoui
This palace, which was built at the dawn of the 19th century, served as the residence of a pasha of Marrakech when he went to Fez. Left abandoned since 1950, it was partly rehabilitated by a visual artist. He presents his works there, which gives it an enigmatic side squat of artists.
The owner will show you the main courtyard and its huge Andalusian-inspired living rooms, the well-maintained bathroom which dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, the kitchen with its gargantuan pots before accessing the courtyard of the harem located at the back.
There are a number of fondouks that are located along the main axes of the ancient city of Fez. Formerly, they were a space of commercial exchange. They consisted of buildings that fulfilled multiple functions. They served as accommodation for passengers from Fez, and they were also used to store goods for commercial or industrial use.
The fondouk which, in the past, was a caravanserai hosts today, countless workshops like the Fondouk Bou selham. Or the Fondouk kaat smen located in talaa kbira near bab boujloud which is specialized among others in the trade of olives, honey and where there are also workshops of crafts.
What to do in Fez as a couple
Fez, the emblematic city par excellence, lends itself wonderfully to a romantic getaway, as it is friendly, welcoming and steeped in history. For a romantic getaway, we have a few suggestions, which we hope will be your guide to an idyllic stay.
The Medina, an enchanted interlude
The Medina offers an ideal setting for a romantic stroll through the maze of its alleys, in its intoxicating and fragrant souks, such as that of El Attarine, or the souk of Henna. A small escapade out of time that you will finish in front of a tasty Pastilla with pigeon, one of the culinary specialties of the region.
Admire the Bab Boujloud gate
Also called “The Blue Gate”, it is considered one of the most magnificent monuments to contemplate in Fez. You can’t miss it, especially since it is located near other famous monuments such as the Bou Inania Medersa or the Batha Palace.
Visit the New Town
The Avenida Hassan II with its countless bars, terraces, and ice cream parlors is certainly the perfect place for a romantic stroll. It is also the ideal place to enjoy a mint tea or a coffee. Or perhaps to wander through the gardens located in the heart of this large boulevard, and recharge your batteries while admiring the two statues of lions.
In the Ville Nouvelle, there are Moroccan and international restaurants, especially Italian. A large majority of the region’s inhabitants have a more Western culture and many choose fast food.
The Andalusian district
This neighborhood, which is located in the medina of Fez el-Bali, is also worth a visit, and offers you the opportunity to discover, together, the Spanish Fez. This Andalusian part of the city is distinguished by the originality of its religious monuments and the craftsmanship of its residents.
One of the architectural marvels to be contemplated in this area is undoubtedly the Andalusian Mosque, which is over eleven centuries old. It is also the ideal place to start your investigation of this historic neighborhood, walking through its alleys and visiting some of the medersas that were built at the dawn of the 14th century.
What to do and see with your family and children
- Fez is a remarkable city that will fascinate the most demanding visitors, even your children. If you are with your family, there are so many ways to discover Fez that you will surely find one that will meet your desires and those of your kids.
- Visit the medina with your children, and wander through its colorful and fragrant souks. Let your children negotiate their first memories and encourage the complicity they will build with the merchants. This is a very popular game in the souks of Fez, which your children will certainly enjoy. They will simply love it. Let them discover the history by passing through the multiple doors that grow all over the artisanal city.
- Visit the tanneries that develop a real festival of colors and smells not always … pleasant. To help you bear it, you will be offered mint sprigs. The tanneries are surrounded by stalls with terraces; from there, your children will be able to discover the hard work of the craftsmen. They will surely marvel at the skins that are transformed into leather bags or coats.
- Take them to Jnan Sbil Park for a total immersion in a green paradise. This park contains about three thousand species of plants spread over 7.5 hectares in different thematic gardens. Help them identify some of the trees that abound in this beautiful space. It is also an opportunity for them to let off steam and recharge their batteries.
- Visit the Abdeslam Moqri Palace which has three gardens with fountains, paddling pools, small streams, benches and a wonderful variety of trees and flowers. In addition, this place offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Fez.
- Visit the medersas. These popular Quranic schools are found everywhere. Let your children admire their walls decorated with beautiful mosaics, where suras from the Koran are inscribed.
- One of the most magnificent is certainly the Médersa Attarine. It stands out mainly by the grace and harmony of its architecture.
What to do for free in Fez
Fez, with its various monuments and attractions, its souks, its culture and customs offers an unparalleled spectacle where it is difficult to remain indifferent, insensitive. But what to do in Fez for free or almost. In any case, Fez remains affordable.
Visit Souk el Henna
This souk, which is located in a small, very welcoming and shady square, offers a somewhat special, original image compared to other souks.
You can find different henna products, but not only. You can also find natural cosmetics such as black soap and grandmother’s remedies.
Visit the gardens of the medina
A huge green space called Bou Gardens Jeloud. There is a lot of vegetation, fountains, bridges. These public gardens offer a timeless setting conducive to walking and daydreaming far from the din of the medina. The entrance is free.
Going to the Fez-el-Bali side
Take the time to wander, to wander endlessly in the mazes of this ancient city. Let time flee, and let yourself be carried away by a total immersion in the unequalled atmosphere of this medina. There are of course some must-sees. On the way to the Rcif square, the most spacious esplanade of this emblematic medina and where the vendors are concentrated in the morning, don’t miss the district of the carpenters and cabinet makers, around the Nejjarine square. The spectacle of these craftsmen is well worth the detour.
What to see in the evening/at night in Fez
To entertain you in the evening, we suggest these few addresses that we have appreciated very much:
- Café Clock 7, rue derb El-Magana Fez. This is a rather special Riad-bar located in the heart of the medina, with a multilingual staff and a mostly Anglo-Saxon clientele. Depending on the evening, to entertain its customers, the bar organizes concerts, cinema sessions or conjurer shows. All this takes place in a traditional house with countless esplanades and discreet, veiled lighting.
- LA MEZZANINE, Avenue Moulay Hassan Fez. It is a coffee bar that distinguishes itself by a very trendy decor, far from the Moroccan classic. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the veiled light shows are designed with a lot of know-how. The staff is very welcoming and the electro music that furnishes this place is a real invitation to delectation.
- CAFÉ EL KHMISSA, Rue Talaa Kebira Fès. It is a very appreciated café-restaurant where different concerts are organized. The atmosphere is friendly and it is not surprising to see musicians and customers on the terrace around a drink. Moreover, it is one of the few addresses to offer alcoholic drinks in the heart of the medina.
- MB-LOUNGE BAR, 12, Ahmed Chaouki Fez. A very select lounge bar, with its huge leather sofas. It is a perfect place to have a drink in the city in a very lively atmosphere.
- FEZ LOUNGE, street 95, Zkak Rouah, a small and discreet street between talaa Kbira and talaa Sghira.
- This lounge bar in the heart of the medina is quite pleasant, although the lighting is a bit too muffled. They serve alcohol or milkshakes with some tapas, sausages or fish Briouates. If you wish, you can even dine and enjoy Moroccan cuisine for a very affordable price.
Is it better to visit Fez or Marrakech?
It is difficult to answer this question, because there is no such thing as a perfect destination, there is always the other side of the coin. How can we help you in this case?
What we can already say is that it all depends on your objectives, your ambitions and your dreams. If you are looking for authenticity, originality, a destination off the beaten track, perhaps, in this case, Fez lends itself best. Moreover, you have certainly seen, detected here, that the medina of Fez is extraordinary, authentic, where you can meet real craftsmen. There are also beautiful Riads, even if they are not enough. But the quality is there.
Now if you are looking for nightlife, trendy and cozy bars (there are a few in Fez) then, in that case, it would be better to visit Marrakech, but maybe, you will not discover the deepest Morocco.
So everything is relative and depends on your choices. Fez is a more peaceful city, less tumultuous, while in Marrakech, also a beautiful city, there are too many things to see, but too many people.