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 Marrakech-big scam, trust me), 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…