Fez Travel Guide

Photo of Fez

Fez Overview

If Marrakesh is the tourist capital and Casablanca the commercial centre then Fez (or Fes) is by far and away the spiritual heart of Morocco, the most ancient of all the imperial cities and a place where the expression where time has stood still has never rang truer. In the heart of the country and bordered by the Atlas Mountains this medieval and spiritual centre has been astounding visitors for over 1000-years with its blend of Muslim customs stemming from both Spanish and Arab East influences.

 
The main focal point of this fascinating destination is the famed medina, Fes el-Bali (Old Fes), an amazing spiders web of over 9,000 narrow and winding alleyways full of highly acclaimed attractions and a bundle of hidden treasures. No amount of planning can prepare the traveler for the never-ending souks, age-old cafés, iconic mosques, medersas and customary tanneries that they are likely to stumble across within minutes of landing in the city. The biggest issue faced by visitors is negotiating the streets and attempting to see everything. With playing children competing for space with donkey carts and the sights, sounds and smells of the bazaars spinning travelers dizzy, a lifetime can be spent in the Medina and at least four days are required to appreciate its true charm. Nevertheless, dont neglect the chance to explore the French-styled Ville Nouvelle, take part in a vibrant festival or shop until the heart is content, and should it all become too much to handle, simply take a seat and watch as a world of century-old traditions unfold before the eyes.
 
One thing is for sure, as a popular destination, there is no shortage of ways in and out of Fez. Local taxis are forever on hand for trips to nearby Meknes, the capital city of Rabat and the ancient Roman town of Volubilis. For those with extended stays in the country, trains run regularly to the ever popular tourist haunts of Casablanca, Marrakesh and Tangier.

Things to do in Fez

Sightseeing in Fez- At over 1000-years-old and one of the finest preserved medieval cities known to man, the streets of Fez are an absolute minefield of historical sights and tourist attractions, many of which are squeezed into the narrow lanes of Fes el-Bali, more commonly known as the Medina. Not to be missed are the landmark ancient medersas (Muslim theological universities), including those of Medersa Bou Inania and Medersa el Attarine. Fes is also famed for its tanneries, or Chouara, and from the rooftop of Tarrasse de Tannerie hoards of leatherworkers can be seen carrying out their time-honoured work. Other sights to add to the list are the Kairaouine Mosque and Bab Boujeloud, the latter being the main entry into the Medina and a hive of activity around its cafés and street stalls. 

 
Museums & Galleries in Fez
Dar Batha Museum - Once a 19thC palace founded by Sultan Moulay al-Hassan I, today the fine edifice houses displays of artefacts salvaged from the medersas, Berber musical instruments and ancient astronomical pieces.
Fondouk el-Nejjarine - The Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts houses a host of interesting and detailed carvings. Check out the mosaic fountains in the outside courtyard.
Museum Belghazi - Four exhibitions of jewellery, weapons, embroidery and writing apparatus/manuscripts. Check out the Medina views from the rooftop terrace. 
 
Fez Souks (Markets) - Shopping in Fez and negotiating the souks is something that even the most determined traveller may never come to grips with as the narrow lanes criss-cross in a bustling and boisterous maze. Hawkers come in bucket-loads so shop with patience and a sense of humour and be as hard as possible when bargaining.
Souk el Henna - Just off Talaa Kebira, this is the oldest market in Fez full of shaded stalls offering henna and unusual cosmetics as well as a large selection of cheap ceramics and pottery.
Chemmaine Souk - Not far from Kairaouine mosque, what was once the centre for candle buying is now a hotbed for velvet ceremonial outfits and colourful fezzes.
LMarqtane - This former slave market is the best spot for finding bargain second-hand clothing.
Qbieb Naqes - Interesting street chock full with local food stands.
Achebine Souk - This is one of the most interesting souks, made up of a large bird market and abundance of tasty food stands. There is also one medicine shop, a remnant of the original marketplace.
 
Fez Festivals
National Festival of Amazigh Culture - Festival held in March celebrating and showcasing Berber culture through song, dance and exhibitions.
Festival of World Sacred Music - June welcomes the arrival of spiritual musical performances from classical European to Japanese drumming to American gospel influences, amongst others.
 
Fez Nightlife - Proud of its Islamic faith and long religious traditions, Fez is not the place to come looking for a late-night, booze-filled party and bars serving alcohol are often hard to come across. That said, there is still plenty of fun to be had sat in the Medina and around Souk el-Henna, where cafés stay open late, serving fresh juices and mint tea. Those on the look out for a beer will find bars serving alcohol at the large chain-hotels.
 
Bars & Cafés in Fez
Fez Lounge - Stylish café-bar and shisha lounge that attracts a vibrant party crowd, especially at weekends.
Hotel Batha - The Churchill Lounge and Le Consul Bar at this hotel are busy Medina bars popular with an expat crowd.
Sofitel Palais Jamai - The terrace-piano bar at this hotel is a sophisticated spot for drinks and sunset views over the Medina.
 
Restaurants in Fez
Café Clock - British run café cum restaurant serving a blend of Moroccan and Western cuisine and hosting regular cultural nights.
Kasbah - Lively 3-floor joint serving good value kefta, brochettes and tajines on Bab Boujeloud.
La Maison Bleue - Romantic restaurant serving tasty tajine, couscous and bstilla (pigeon pies) accompanied by soothing Gnaoua music.
Thamis - Street side restaurant on Bab Boujeloud whipping up great Moroccan vegetable dishes. Always busy as there are only 2 tables.

Hotels in Fez

Budget Hotels Fez

Hideout Hostel - Brand new 40-bed hostel with rooftop bar and BBQ in the heart of the Medina.
Hostel Fes - HI hostel in the city centre with a friendly atmosphere and helpful staff. Tel (212) 535 624085.
 
Midrange Hotels Fez
Dar Hafsa - Refurbished 19thC home offering 4 comfortable ensuite rooms. The entire house is also available for rent for up to 9 guests. Tel (212) 535 636702.
Dar Seffarine - Excellent range of rooms and suites located in the Medina. Rates include breakfast. Tel (212) 671 113528.
Riad Attarine - This cosy Medina guesthouse offers 5 charming rooms set around a pleasant courtyard. Tel (212) 535 635045.
 
Luxury Hotels Fez
Riad Fes - Classy boutique hotel and bar boasting impeccable service. Tel (212) 535 947610.
Sofitel Palais Jamai - This 5-star hotel with views of the Medina is a legend amongst Moroccan hotels. Tel (212) 535 634331.

Fez Weather

Fez Travel Resources

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This page was last modified on 26 Mar 2011 by NomadJack