I knew very little about what to see in Fez before traveling, however it was a destination in Morocco that caught my attention. We flew from Seville Airport and the Strait of Gibraltar in between, we arrived in just over 1 hour. I thought I would fall asleep during the trip, since I had been rattled by a previous trip, but the views from the sky awaken even the most lazy.
Fez is world famous for its walled city, the oldest and largest in the world. It was also Morocco's first imperial city and a pioneer in Muslim worship. While parts of the city have adapted to modern life, the same is not true of the Fez el-Bali Medina. But that is what gives it that charming touch and why everyone wants to know it.
I am going to tell you what to see in Fez, so you do not miss anything of this city that surely will not go unnoticed in your memories. Before reading, I will invite you to watch the video we made about the most important places to see in Fez.
The Fez El-Bali Medina is the largest pedestrian zone in the world. It was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1981. It has approximately 9 thousand little streets in which it is impossible not to get lost, and I would even say that it is mandatory to get lost in its alleys to know how people live in the Medina. It is one of the most chaotic places to see in Fez but that most caught my attention.
In order not to have a bad time I recommend you to use the GPS on your cell phone to try to find your way around. Although this is not 100% safe because at times the signal disappears and you have to improvise how to continue walking.
During the day there are many people and a lot of tourism so it is not dangerous at all. As everywhere we have to be careful with our belongings since the streets are narrow and it is impossible not to bump into people. At night I would recommend that you do not try to go out and be adventurous, as the streets are more desolate and you can get lost.
Be careful with false guides, because while you are walking they will tell you that the street has no exit, that where you are going at that time they have already closed the door and many other excuses. What they are looking for is to accompany you to where you have to go so that later you give them a tip, and some of them can get angry if it is not the money they expect.
What is the best way to get around the Medina of Fez?
I think the best way to see everything there is to see in the Medina is through a free walking tour, or a private tour, although they are more expensive. We did a Free Tour in which we spent 5 hours touring every corner of the Medina, with the best explanation of each place in Spanish. I think it was the best choice because as we stayed 2 days in Fez, we avoided wasting time trying to find our way through the labyrinths of the Medina.
Bab Bou Jeloud or Blue Gate is the main entrance to the Medina Fez EL-Bali, the oldest and most charming area of the city. Outside is blue (color of the city) and the inside is green (color of Islam).
Entering through this door the road forks to the left with the Great Slope (Talaa Kebira) and to the right with the Small Slope (Talaa Seghira). These are the two main commercial arteries of the Medina.
The area where the Blue Gate is, is always crowded both day and night. For this very reason, it is a fairly safe area to be in. 3 days tour from Fes to Marrakech
The Bou Inania Madrasa was built in the 14th century, and functioned as both a mosque and a school. The Madrasahs were a seminary where they housed students. The entrance fee is 20 Dirham and as we went with the Free Tour it cost us 15. The Islamic decoration inside is incredible. Tiles, wood and the muqarnas arches give it a wonderful decoration. You can go upstairs and see the rooms where the students were housed. Also from the top the view of the inner courtyard is very nice.
One of the most traditional squares of the city is the Seffarine. In this place are the artisans cauldrons, and you can see them working in this place. The objects they make are very sought after by tourists, as souvenirs or utensils for their homes. They work all kinds of metals and especially copper.
It is a very typical place in Fez and another of the many where you can see people exercising their profession. It is located between the souk of the dyers and tanners.
The Mausoleum of Mulay Idris II is dedicated to the former king of Morocco and founder for the second time of the city of Fez. Thousands of Muslims come from all over Morocco to the Mausoleum to get his blessing. It is the most sacred place in the Medina, and began to be built in 1717 to be completed in 1824. It is said that 500 years after his death, an incorrupt body was found in the place where his tomb was. Everyone thought it was the body of Idris II, so the Mausoleum was founded around his tomb.
Although the entrance is forbidden to non-Muslims, you can see the interior and the tomb of Mulay Idris II by approaching the door.
Here are the guilds that work the leather. It is possible to climb to the terraces from which you will have the best views of the leather workers. To get to the terraces, you have to go through several stores, obviously that sell different types of products made of leather. It is not necessary to buy anything, nor does anyone tell you anything if you leave without having even seen their products.
The smell in this area of the city is quite nauseating, but it is a place you have to see in the city of Fez.
Another impressive site to see in Fez is the Royal Palace. Built in the fourteenth century is one of the largest and oldest palaces in the kingdom. Such is the magnitude and extent of this palace, which makes us understand why it was built outside the medina. This led to the emergence of a new medina called Fez el-Jdid, near the Jewish quarter. 80 hectares form the area of this palace, totally forbidden to tourists who are sometimes not even allowed to take pictures.
The Moroccan monarchs stay there when they go to Fez for bureaucratic reasons. The only thing that is allowed to visit are its spectacular 7 massive doors covered in bronze in one of its entrances. These represent the 7 days of the week and the 7 grades of the monarchy.
How many days to stay in Fez
How many days to stay in a city is the big question we always have when organizing a trip. I think that for the things to see in Fez staying 2 days is more than enough. In that time you will be able to see everything the city has to offer and you will be able to soak up and learn about its culture. Obviously that will also depend on each person and how you want to travel, but 2 days is a reasonable time to see everything.
Where to sleep in Fez
There are many options for accommodation in Fez. My recommendation is to stay in a Riad, which are old houses with an inner courtyard and a fountain, which were renovated into hotels. If your question is whether or not to stay inside the medina, I would answer that it is a nice experience to see what it is like to live inside it. Although I think it would also be nice to see what it is like to be in the more modern part of the city, so if you could divide your nights of stay between different hotels inside and outside the medina, it would be great.
We stayed at the Riad Dar Anebar in the middle of the Medina. It was an amazing stay as the hotel staff was super friendly and attentive. The breakfast and dinner are amazing as is all the food in Morocco. It has a terrace from which you can see the whole medina. If I were to return to Fez I would choose it again to stay.
How to get from the airport to the center of Fez
Upon arrival you will surely wonder how to get to the center of Fez from the airport. You have 3 options and each one has its pros and cons. Remember that no vehicle can enter the Medina because its streets are narrow, so you will be dropped off at one of its gates.
Going from the airport to the center of Fez by bus:
This is the cheapest option of all, the one we chose. Although we do not regret it, I tell you our experience so that you can take it into account when choosing your transportation to the center of Fez.
The bus stop is just outside the airport. You have to cross the parking lot and you will see a sign that says Bus, as it is diagonal to the only exit of the parking lot.
When we left the airport, we asked a policeman where we could take the bus. When he finished explaining to us, we saw him leaving, missing it by a few minutes. To our surprise there is only 1 bus that goes from the airport and leaves you at the train station. And I say to our surprise because we were waiting more than 1 hour and a half for him to return. viajes por marruecos
The cost of the ticket is 4 Dirham per person, almost 50 cents. The bus is in a decadent state, few seats, broken, and more than one hole in the floor. As if this were not enough, shortly after leaving the airport, the driver had to stop the bus to make people get off if they got in the back of the bus without paying. Tours Marruecos The trip takes at least 1 hour and drops you off at the train station.
I don't know if I would choose it again to go from the airport to the center of Fez. Maybe if I hadn't had to wait so long. Although it lacks any possible comfort, for the price difference between it and the cabs it is worth it.
Going to the center of Fez by Taxi:
The price of a cab from the airport to the center of Fez is between 120 and 150 Dirham. As soon as you leave the airport you will see many offering to take you. My recommendation is to go to the bus stop, where you will find more people waiting. That is where a person, who manages the logistics of the cabs, comes and tries to get several people together offering them a lower price since it is a shared trip. If you choose this option, try to haggle a little on the price, and keep in mind that they will take you to the train station. In any case ask for the price up to the entrance of the Medina.
Hire a private transfer from the airport to Fez:
This is another option available, and you can have it already booked before traveling so you don't have to worry about anything. You can book your transfer and just think about enjoying your trip. A transfer from the airport costs approximately $27 for 4 people.
Traveling to other cities in Morocco from Fez
From Fez it is possible to visit other cities in Morocco such as Rabat, Marrakech or White House. For which there are also different means of transport. You can do it by train, bus or cab. From Fez we continued our journey to Rabat. We chose to travel by train to Rabat and we made no mistake in selecting that option. The trains are very nice, modern and punctual.
Although you can also travel by bus which is not bad at all, it takes almost twice as long as the train as they stop in many places.
Fez is a different city, and the Medina Fez El-Bali is a world apart. I'm not saying it's ugly, but it's different. There is a lot to see and it is worth to know it and get lost in its narrow streets, to be able to soak up its culture.