Fez is the oldest imperial city in Morocco. Its medieval town (medina) is the world’s largest car-free urban area filled with narrow alleys, a maze of corridors, historical sites, mosques, souks, people, and hard-working donkeys carrying all sorts of goods.
Founded on the Jawhar River, sandwiched between the Middle Atlas Mountains and Rif Mountains in northeastern Morocco, Fez or Fes, is 336 miles from Marrakech and 130 miles from Rabat, the capital. And it’s only 47 miles from Meknes. Fez has long been the cultural, educational, gastronomical, and religious center of Morocco. If you’re considering a visit to Morocco, add Fez to your itinerary. Here are 5 things to do in Fez:
1. Join a walking tour of Fez Medina
Imagine walking through 9,000 narrow alleyways in an ancient walled city. You must join a guided walking tour of Fez Medina if you want to avoid getting lost in the labyrinth of alleys and passageways.
The lifestyle for the locals in Fez Medina (Fes de Bali) has stayed almost the same since the olden days. Donkeys are still being used for transportation, and a large number of artisans learned the crafts from parents or grandparents. However, most of the younger folks are moving away from working in the shops and workshops.
Most guided walking tours take around four to five hours, going through attractions like the madrasa, mosque, fountain, and a traditional souk. The highlights are:
- The University of al-Qarawiyyin founded in 859
- Madrasa Bou Inania madrasa (school) started in the 1300s
- Zaouia of Moulay Idriss II Mausoleum
- The shops and artisan workshops in the souk
2. Visit Chouara Tannery
The 11th-century tannery, Chouara Tannery, is still in operation today. It’s free to visit, and after your visit, you’ll have a chance to buy the leather goods like handbags, pouf ottoman and the handmade pointy Moroccan slippers called Babouche. These goods are made from camel, goat, cow, and sheep hides.
You can view the ancient grid stone wells filled with colorful dyes from the two-level balcony.
3. Take a food tour with Moroccan Food Tour
Fez is Morocco’s culinary capital, and the best way to discover the local food is through a guided food tour. Moroccan Food Tour offers a three and a half to four-hour walking tour with six tasting stops where you’ll have the opportunity to discover more about Morocco’s food culture, history, and traditions.
The most popular and must-try food in Fez is pastilla. It’s a pastry made of flaky pastry dough filled with shredded chicken meat, roasted ground almond, sugar, and cinnamon. Guests will have ample opportunity to drink Moroccan mint tea on this food tour.
4. Explore Volubilis
Take a full-day tour from Fez to the Roman ruins in Volubilis. The Roman ruins in Volubilis are over 2,000 years old, showcasing what used to be the forum, cathedral, Arch of Caracalla (Triumphal Arch), baths, olive oil press, gates and more. The fascinating things to see in Volubilis are the well-preserved mosaic floors and the stork nest on top of one of the columns.
5. Experience Moroccan lifestyle in a riad
A riad is a traditional home or palace that has been converted to a guesthouse. The main feature in a riad is a courtyard with a fountain in the middle of the house. Luxury riads usually have an in-house hammam spa, a rooftop terrace, and restaurants. For your exceptional Moroccan experience, check out these five riads:
- Riad Anata
- Riad le Calife
- Riad Fes Baraka
- Riad Myra
- Riad Farah