Thank you to Riad Myra and Top Desert for hosting me. As always, all opinions and recommendations are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.By now, you probably know I got to spend two incredible weeks in Morocco this summer. After spending time in Essaouira, Marrakech and the Sahara Desert, we arrived in Fes. We stayed in the cutest, most charming riad, took an amazing day trip and found all the color in the city. These are the top things to do in Fes, Morocco and where to stay to elevate your experience to another level!
Fes Resources & Recommendations
- Riad Myra– The cutest Moroccan riad we stayed in
- Skyscanner– Compare and find the best prices on flights
- Allianz Travel Insurance– Protect yourself and your trip-get a free quote!
- Lonely Planet Morocco Travel Guide– The best (and my personal favorite) guidebooks out there
What to Do
Explore the Medina
Exploring the medinas is one of the biggest things to do in Morocco and the Medina of Fes is no exception. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, it houses the University of Al-Karaouine, the oldest university in the world, and is believed to be the largest car-free urban area in the world!
Faded Rainbow Street in Fes
Like all good medinas, it was full of color. We were particularly excited to see Rainbow Street but we were disappointed to find it like this. Thinking it might no longer be maintained, we asked and were told that it fades frequently due to so much traffic and they would be repainting it in a couple of weeks (after we left, of course). 😩
TIP: To see what it looks like in all its glory, click here.
The second-rated top thing to do in Fes was to tour the Bou Inania Madrasa. One of the very few religious places in Morocco that can be accessed by non-Muslims, it shows off the Marinid architecture.
The Madrasa dually served as a congregational mosque and an educational institute. It is the only madrasa with a minaret and you can see that minaret peeking through the arch of the Bab Boujloud.
TIP: The entry fee is 20 MAD (or 2 USD) and we were there for under 10 minutes. This was, for the most part, all we could see. The draw is most likely due to the fact that non-Muslims can enter.
Anyone who knows me well knows my favorite thing is shoes with purses coming in at a close second. How cool are these colorful traditional Moroccan leather shoes and bags we saw while exploring the medina? 😍
Speaking of leather shoes and bags, I’m betting they were made here at the Chouara Tannery. Built in the 11th century, it is the largest of three tanneries in Fes.
It’s really cool to see how they dry out the leather and use different dyes mixed in water for the pigment. Typically poppy is used for red, saffron for yellow, cobalt or indigo for blue, and henna for orange. Interestingly enough, it is all done manually without any use of machines!
TIP: While I would advise against visiting most tanneries (especially in the Marrakech-this very scam in the Marrakech Souks happened to us), I highly recommend this one in Fes. It was free and guided by friendly employees who didn’t hound you or expect you to buy anything. Also, when they give you mint leaves to sniff while you are there, don’t look at them like they are crazy and refuse them. They do that because the tannery STINKS and you will be quite appreciative of those mint leaves!
Also known as the “Blue Gate of Fes”, the Bab Boujloud is one of the main entrances to the Old Medina. Adorned with ceramics of traditional Moroccan patterns, the exterior side of the gate is blue, the color of Fes, and the interior side of the gate is green which is the color of Islam.
TIP: There are many cafes right inside the gate. Sit and have a cup of mint tea or enjoy a tagine and people watch!
Jardin Jnan Sbil
Between the Old Medina and the Royal Palace is the oasis of Jardin Jnan Sbil. Developed in the 19th century and spanning 18.5 acres, it is one of the oldest gardens in Fes. It was a surprisingly tropical paradise right in the middle of a busy, arrid city!
TIP: Closed on Mondays. It’s free to walk around and it’s a great place to sit, cool off and refresh.
The Bab al-Amer is also one of the gates of Fes and was constructed in 1276 as an entrance to the Fes Jdid (one of three areas of New Fes) which extended out from the Old Medina.
It is also located right across the street from the Dar al-Makhzen, the royal palace which is not open to the public.
Borj Sud & Borj Nord
Left: Views from Borj Sud Right: Views from below Borj Nord
Both the Borj Sud and the Borj Nord were built by the Saadi Dynasty to monitor and protect the city. Unfortunately, Borj Sud was closed by the time we arrived in late afternoon, but our taxi driver stopped briefly for us to get photos from right outside of it and then he took us to a location he liked for views just below the North Tower.
TIP: Taxis are cheap and negotiated ahead of time. Moroccans are very friendly, but very few of them speak English. Our driver was very appreciative of my friend speaking French with him and therefore almost took on the role of a tour guide. We got much more than we bargained for on that cab fare. So don’t be afraid to practice your foreign language skills!
You might also like: OUZOUD FALLS: THE PERFECT MARRAKECH DAY TRIP + WHERE TO STAY
Day Trip to Volubilis & Meknes
On our second day in Fes, we took a day trip to Volubilis and Meknes with Top Desert. After an incredible glamping trip in the Sahara Desert with them, we were so impressed we booked this second tour!
Left: Decumanus Maximus (city’s main street) Right: Arch of Caracalla
Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a partly excavated Berber and Roman city near Meknes. It was under the rule of many different regimes (Romans, French, native tribes) over the years and was devastated by an earthquake in the mid-18 century. Because of this, it wasn’t identified as the ancient city of Volubilis until later in the 19th century.
Left: Interior of the Basilica Right: Interior of the North Baths
Volubilis is around 39 miles northwest of Fes, but because of the terrain, it takes about 1.5 hours to get there by car.
The history, age of Volubilis (developed from the 3rd century) and the views of the land were what made this ancient city a site to definitely see!
Meknés, the least well-known of the four imperial cities (Fes, Rabat, and Marrakech are the other three), is a former military settlement founded in the 11th century and a bigger city than one might think. With a current population of around 632, 000, it was at one time the capital of Morocco from 1672-1727.
I loved all the tagines I found in the Meknés Medina. All that color is just so pretty to me and is what I looked forward to finding in each medina of every city we visited!
I enjoyed walking all the way around Agdal Pond which is nearly 10 acres in size and was used to irrigate the gardens and to entertain the Sultan.
I’m not sure what chemicals they put in the water, but it’s aqua-green color was pretty against the blue-purple sky that day!
TIP: This would be a great place for a picnic lunch under the shade of the trees!
Where to Stay
Conveniently located in the heart of the medina, Riad Myra is an oasis in the middle of all the busy. The shops are only steps away and the public transport pickup area is a little further out, but still close.
Here, guests can stay in a traditional Moroccan riad and eat traditional Moroccan food all while enjoying fantastic service in a charming atmosphere.
Our Room-The Zouakee
We stayed in The Zouakee, one of their corner comfort rooms and it was huge!
The beds were super comfy and the headboards were beautiful. In fact, all of the traditional Moroccan decor really made it quite the experience.
We even had the cutest window looking out into the courtyard!
The highlight of our stay was the phenomenal food. Breakfast every morning was served in the courtyard of the lobby. Eggs cooked in tagines, freshly baked Moroccan donuts, and fresh fruit were all delicious.
However, by FAR the best freshly squeezed OJ we had in all of Morocco was here at the Riad Myra. They also had an amazing homemade vanilla yogurt and I might have just had two jars of it one morning!
Since breakfast was so good, we decided to try dinner at the hotel one night. You order ahead of time either the night before, at breakfast or sometime during the day to let them know what time you would like to be served in the lobby.
We both ordered the Vegetable Pastilla that consisted of zucchini, carrot, potato, and cauliflower in a phyllo dough. Let’s just say it was on the level with the OJ and the yogurt…absolute perfection! We both ate every bite even though it was gigantic and we were quite pleasantly stuffed afterwards!
As you can see, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Riad Myra and our time in Fes as well!
Relaxing, colorful, easy. Fes is the kind of city where you just wander. And wander. And wander. When you’re all done taking it in, head on back to the Riad Myra where you can indulge in true Moroccan luxury!
Have you been to Fes? Do you have anything to add to my list? I would love to hear how you explored the city!
‘Til next time…
Leave a Reply - I Love Comments!
Wow!!!! The colors in these photos is incredible! I love the Faded Rainbow Street, though it looked anything but faded to me! I’d love to shop there. And the tanneries! They look so interesting. I’m glad you warned us about the scams. That’s good to know. My daughter and I have wanted to go to Fes for years — basically based on a throwaway comment on an episode of Gilmore Girls. If we do, I’ll pretty much copy your itinerary and stay at this Riad. It all looks amazing!
Hi Juliann-Ha! Yes, Rainbow Street was QUITE faded so can you imagine being there in person when it was freshly painted (2 wks after we left)? The vibrancy?? Haha…Gilmore Girls, never watched an episode just because at the time I had so many other shows going. Never thought about it much really until one day when I realized Lauren Graham was sitting next to me getting a pedicure. I don’t get starstruck but I was hoping no one would start up a GG convo! LOL! Definitely visit Fes, its medina, tannery and Riad Myra! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Been loving your Morocco posts, especially this one as we didn’t get a chance to go to Fes ourselves when we were in Morocco. It looks like such a colorful city! Also Riad Myra sounds amazing. I honestly love the riad culture in Morocco and think a good riad can totally make a trip. An egg in a tagine sounds amaaaazing for breakfast. And a Moroccan donut!!! Omg. I wonder if they have gluten free donuts… haha
Hi Sarah-Good question on the donuts, not sure! I usually know because my best friend is gluten-free due to Celiacs so I’m always on the lookout. But I forgot to do that this trip! Riad Myra is amazing and I, too, am a riad lover!! Thanks for reading and so glad you like my Morocco posts! 🙂
Kimberly Erin Davies says
All of these places are just so colourful! Especially your riad and its pool area. I love all the colours, very charming indeed. I would love most to visit the Chouara Tannery, I have seen images of that online for years, and it looks like a really unique thing/experience to see/have.
Hi Kimberly-The tannery was really cool. I had never visited one before and it was quite interesting but stinky! LOL! Riad Myra is just gorgeous! Thanks for reading! 🙂
I love your colorful pictures, Heather! Especially those from the market. Interestingly, Bou Inania Madrasa reminds me of the palace I visited in Zaragoza, Spain – which also has some Muslim influence. I heard about how bad it stinks in tannery. Great tip on the mint leaves!
Hi Cat-Thank you so much! Fes was extremely colorful! As many times as I’ve been to Spain (a lot), I haven’t been to Zaragoza! Need to get there. Yes, the tanneries stink. So badly. Mint leaves=lifesaver! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Ashley Hubbard says
Fes looks absolutely beautiful and colorful! Your riad looks amazing as well – looks like you stayed at so many amazing places in Morocco on your trip – I can’t wait to go myself!
Hi Ashley-yes, Fes was so colorful and pretty and the riad was absolutely amazing! Definitely go if you can and thanks for reading! 🙂
Fes looks amazing, Thanks for introducing me to this beautiful place in Morocco. Very informative post. This is really helpful for my travel in Morocco, would definitely include Fes in my itinerary.
Hi Jithin-Hope you get to go soon, thanks for reading! 🙂
Echoing what others have said, your posts on Morocco are wonderful and giving me some serious inspiration! It really does sound like we need two weeks in Morocco, even though we realistically would have closer to one. I didn’t realize how colorful Fes is — especially the Faded Rainbow Street. The art on the walls still looks incredibly vibrant, even if it was faded when you were there! I’m glad you found amazing tour companies to explore the country with and I’d be inclined to use them too. And Riad Myra looks like a fabulous place to stay!
Hi Julianne-Yes, two weeks in Morocco would really allow you to see so much! Only because the desert takes at least 3 days by itself! And Fes is so beautiful and colorful! I agree with you that although faded, Rainbow Street was still quite colorful and Riad Myra was just simply amazing. Can’t wait for you to get to go. Let me know how goes if you do and thanks for reading! 🙂
The colours and architecture of Morocco are simply beautiful. I love the advice to visit the tannery in Fes over other areas. We had almost visited Morocco when travelling to Spain a few years ago and the over exuberance of people in the market kind of scared us away. It seems like Fes is the perfect location for us to visit.
Hi Joanne-I hear you…it can be overwhelming and there is some hounding that happens. It didn’t happen in Fes as much as other places which was nice. If you get a chance, definitely check out Morocco. If you enjoyed Spain, Chefchaouen is a great city to visit. It’s the “blue city” and it’s probably the most colorful and has a LOT of Spanish influence. I was able to communicate with our taxi driver because he and I both spoke Spanish! I will post on Chefchaouen soon. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Just when I wanted to ask if the tannery had a stench, you wrote that they gave you mint leaves! But this one in Fes is so beautiful, that I guess is still well worth visiting. The riad you stayed at looks lovely- I like their tile work (currently renovating our kitchen, tiles are all that I see ;)) and homemade vanilla yoghurt for breakfast? Ok yes please! My husband and I were thinking lately of visiting Morocco, so if we decide to go anytime soon, I might have some questions for you. 🙂
Hi Anja-Haha, yes that tannery stinks but yes it’s worth visiting. It’s very colorful and so neat to see the process in action! Riad Myra is absolutely beautiful and the food is incredible so definitely try to stay there. Feel free to ask me any questions you have! Thanks for reading! 🙂
All I want to do is shop and eat – looks like Fes has got that covered! The vibrant colors would be amazing to photograph and experience – my hubby would love it! I really would love to visit Morocco!
Hi Andi-It’s definitely colorful! If that’s your thing (and it’s mine!) you definitely need to go to Morocco! Thanks for reading! 🙂
So beautiful! How does Fes compare with Marrakech? I feel like maybe it’s a bit less chaotic and touristy? I’d love to hear your input!
Hi Brianna-I would say that’s a fair statement. There are definitely still tourists there, but I found there were far less than in Marrakech. The tannery is better, but there are definitely perks to Marrakech. Depends on what you’re looking for but it would be hard for me to pick one over the other just for apples to oranges reasons. If you do the desert then you can start in one and end up in the other! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Astrid Vinje says
I would love to visit all those medinas! We like visiting local markets and see how people trade in different countries.
Hi Astrid, I like doing that too! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Renata Green says
These colors just blow me away. It’s amazing that they still work at these old dyeworks – I just wonder what sort of dye they are using. I’ve been to Morocco only once and it was a very touristy trip. I’d love to go back to experience the more…Moroccan side of it – and I need to brush up my Arabic badly 😉
Hi Renata, Haha brush up on Arabic…I would have to learn it first! The tanneries were pretty amazing, thanks for reading! 🙂
Mel Butler says
I have been to Morocco but not to Fes, it is definitely a place on my bucketlist to head to sooner rather than later. You have some great tips and suggestion here like wonder around the Faded Rainbow Street wow that just look so colourful and beautiful. I also loved where you stayed at the Riad Myra just stunning looking place.
Hi Mel-Riad Myra was stunning! Imagine how awesome and vibrant Rainbow Street is now that it isn’t faded! Hope you get to go soon and thanks for reading! 🙂
Melody Pittman says
Morocco looks so amazing, definitely a visual and sensory delight with the amazing colors and fantastic smells. I would include visiting Fes to my itinerary when I go there for the markets and food. Though I haven’t been, I see so many similarities to Istanbul. Thanks for sharing part of your fantastic trip, which I’ve enjoyed every word of!
Hi Melody-Interesting, I didn’t know Fes resembled Istanbul so much. Will have to look into that for sure, thanks for the heads up and thanks for reading! 🙂
Lara Dunning says
I was in Fes 20 years ago and saw many of the sites you’ve listed. We had such a great experience there and I’d love to go back and see it with more mature eyes and stay at the Riad. I so agree about the OJ. Morocco has the best OJ I’ve ever had.
Hi Laura-Definitely go back! It is so pretty and Riad Myra is flat out awesome! The OJ though….it is SO the best! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Carmen Edelson says
Omg those rainbow streets are calling my name! I didn’t know this existed! You are truly a gifted travel photographer by the way. Looks like you experienced some great food, especially vegetarian meals!
Hi Carmen-Thank you so so much, I truly appreciate that! I love travel photography so much! I definitely had some great food and yes even vegetarian (although I’m not vegetarian). Thanks for reading and for your compliments! 🙂
Fes city is one of magical sites in Morocco everything was really amazing.
Hi Niki-Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed Fes too! Thanks for reading! 🙂