Dar Al-Makhzen (Royal Palace) Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

11 Fascinating Things to do in Fes, Morocco

Fes, also spelled Fez, (multiple spellings are quite common in this city) seems, at first glance, to be quite similar to other large cities in Morocco. And it is fairly large – with over 1.1 million people calling it home, it is the second-largest city in Morocco. It has a centrally located “medina” (which is a word used to describe a walled old city with maze-like streets), pretty doorways, souks selling a variety of souvenirs, a royal palace, and several lush gardens.

But once you spend some time in Fes, you’ll begin to see some distinct differences. For starters, the medina of Fes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is free of pesky cars or motorbikes. In fact, it is believed to be one of the world’s largest car-free urban areas. But you’ll still have to get out of the way of the occasional donkey cart barreling through. 70,000 Fasis (people from Fes) choose to live in this confusing, ramshackle area of the city. It will have you feeling like you’ve transported back in time.

Read on to discover the best things to do in the fascinating city of Fes, Morocco!

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Dar Al-Makhzen (Royal Palace) Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Fes, Morocco Travel Basics

Currency in Morocco

The currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (Dhs). At the time of writing the conversion rate was about 10 Dhs to $1 USD. We’ll be referring to costs in Moroccan Dirham so keep in mind that if we say something costs 100 Dhs, that’s just about $10 USD.

Languages Used in Fes

There are a number of languages in Morocco but the two official languages are Modern Standard Arabic and Amazigh (Berber). The second language for most Moroccans is French. You’ll also find that many people speak at least a little English.

Learn a few phrases in Arabic to get around! “Al Salam Alaikum” (pronounced sall-em wall-a-come) is a nice way to say “hello”. “Shukran” (pronounced shoo kran) is “thank you”. “Ma’-Elsalama” (pronounced ma sell lem-a) is “goodbye”. And “La” is “no” – use it when approached by touts! If you would prefer to speak in French, “Bonjour” is “hello”, “Merci” is “thank you” and “S’il Vous Plaît” is “please”.

Religion in Fes

While Islam is the primary religion in Morocco, Fes is considered to be a Jewish City. It was home to Morocco’s original segregated Jewish Quarter, established in 1438, and an area that you should explore during your visit.

In general, non-Muslims aren’t allowed to enter mosques around Morocco. In Fes, there are several beautiful mosques that you can peek into from the front doors. But unless you are Muslim, you will be denied entrance. As with most conservative countries, most women choose to cover their knees and shoulders when venturing out of the house. Many also cover their hair. Foreigners will probably feel more comfortable if they avoid tank tops and shorts.

Is Fes Safe?

While the maze of alleyways in the old city may make you feel a tad uncomfortable after dark (especially if you are a woman traveling alone), you’ll find that most people in Fes are incredibly friendly and harmless. Of course, you should keep your wits about you as you would in any large city.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Dried fruit, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Best Time to Visit Fes

Fes has a reasonably temperate year-round climate but you’ll find that summer can be incredibly hot. June through September see average temperatures ranging from 82°F – 95°F. Spring and fall are the most pleasant seasons to visit Fes with temperatures in the mid-70°s. Clear skies and sunshine will allow you to take advantage of your hotel pool. You can sit outside at one of the many terrace cafes. 

The winter months of November through March are the coldest of the year with average temperatures in the 50°s. February sees the most rain so either avoid visiting during that time or bring an umbrella. 

Getting to and Around the City

  • Fès–Saïs Airport (FEZ) is the international airport servicing Fes and the surrounding area. You can find cheap flights on Ryanair from many European cities to and from Fes throughout the year.
  • ONCF trains depart frequently throughout the day to and from Fes. It is easy to book tickets at the train station or on the train directly. Opt for first-class or arrive at the train early unless you want to stand for the duration of the ride.
  • If you choose to hire a private taxi to Fes, it will run you about 1400 Dhs from Casablanca and 2500 Dhs from Marrakech.
  • You’ll find taxis in Fes are far more accommodating about giving rides on the meter. The flag drop will start at 1.5 – 3 Dhs depending on the time of day and then add a few dirhams each kilometer traveled. You shouldn’t pay more than 15 Dhs to travel from the Marriott to the old medina. Sadly Uber is not yet available in Fes.
  • Download an offline map via Google Maps. Navigating the medina is incredibly challenging if you get off the main street and Google Maps is surprisingly accurate.
  • You don’t need to hire a guide. Most of the foreigners that we encountered during our stay in Fes were a part of a tour group. But it’s easy to navigate the medina with a map and hit all of the highlights of Fes if you follow our guide!
  • You’ll probably want at least 2 days in Fes to fully explore all the sights of the medina.

The 11 Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco

1. Stay in a Former Palace

The renovated Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace is a former palace and serves now a gorgeous 5-star hotel. It offers guests the royal treatment while visiting Fes. Located in a peaceful area outside of the hectic medina, you’ll be just a short taxi ride away from all of the tourist attractions in Fes. And with a helpful and attentive staff attending to your every need, you’ll have all of the amenities you could ever wish for right at your fingertips.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Marriott Jnan Palace, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Spacious rooms with beautifully designed modern decor and large windows provide the perfect place to relax and unwind after a busy day of shopping in the medina. You’ll love the massive and luxurious feather bed. The large windows providing natural light to wake you up in the mornings.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Bedroom, Marriott Jnan Palace, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Enjoy a cup of coffee on your private balcony while gazing out into the courtyard and botanical gardens below. 120 organic olive trees in the garden are hand-picked and harvested for the olive oil that is used in the restaurants in the hotel!

When you’re not exploring the city of Fes, you can make use of the amazing amenities at the hotel, including a giant pristine outdoor pool, a state-of-the-art fitness facility, and a spa where you can unwind in the sauna or the traditional hammam. Or just relax in the beautiful garden or lounge in the lobby with a cup of piping hot mint tea.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: L'Herbier de Atlas, Marriott Jnan Palace, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

2. Take a Walking Tour of the Old Medina

The Old Medina of Fes is a maze of small alleyways jutting off of the main street that runs down the center. The medina is on a slope. The best way to tackle a walking tour is to start at the top and make your way to the bottom. Then, hail a taxi to head back home. Unlike other medinas in Morocco, this one is only for pedestrians so you don’t have to worry about making way for motorbikes.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Bab Boujloud, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Have your taxi drop you off at Bab Boujloud, the impressive archway that leads into the Old Medina. Stop here and snap a few photos before heading inside. Immediately, you will join the crowd of tourists and locals making their way through the narrow streets. You’ll feel overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of this ancient wonderland!

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Moroccan sweets, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

3. Visit the Bou Inania Madrasa

Your first stop in the Old Medina will be a turn-off of the main street to visit the Bou Inania Madrasa (entrance fee: 20 Dhs for adults, 10 Dhs for children 12 and under). Built in the 14th century, this gorgeous former Islamic university has a large central courtyard surrounded by stunning hand-carved plaster, large intricate doors, and ornate lattice screens. It operated as a school until the 1960s when restoration work began which allows the public to enjoy its original beauty.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Bou Inania Madrasa, Fes, Morocco

Along the way, you will pass by a few beautiful mosques. Non-Muslims cannot enter the mosques in most of Morocco, including Fes but you can peek your head in or take a photo from right outside. Zaouia de Moulay and Al Quaraouiyine Mosque are two that are worth stopping along the way to take a look at.

4. Tour the Al-Attarine Madrasa

Similar to the Bou Inania Madrasa, the Al-Attarine Madrasa (entrance fee: 20 Dhs for adults, 10 Dhs for children 12 and under) also consists of a large courtyard surrounded by intricate carvings and impressive doorways. The black and white tile on the ground is an interesting contrast to the stone and marble facade.

5. See the Coppersmiths and Tanners Hard at Work

Check out how the Moroccan souvenirs that you’ve been eyeing in the souk are made! First is the coppersmiths in the Place Seffarine where shop owners are pounding designs into copper and buffing them smooth.

And then the Chouara Tannery which is the most iconic site in Fes. It is the oldest tannery in the world and it smells terrible so be sure to grab some mint to rub under your nostrils on your way in. It’s quite impressive that all of their leather dying is still done entirely by hand!

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Chouara Tanneries, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Finally, you’ll pop out at Place R’cif where you can cross under the arch and hail a taxi home. If you haven’t had enough of the medina, turn around and go back through the way you came but be ready for an uphill climb.

6. Dine on the Delectable Cuisine

The food in the Old Medina of Fes is absolutely incredible! There are a lot of restaurants to choose from but these four were our absolute favorites:

  • The Ruined Garden – this darling garden setting is like an oasis in the middle of the hectic medina. Try the cauliflower salad and the kefta meatball tajine, you won’t be disappointed! Reservations are recommended for dinner during peak season.
  • Fez Café – with a rotating menu that changes daily and a large selection of wine, it is a must-try restaurant while visiting Fes. Sit in the courtyard to enjoy the lush vegetation and the fresh air.
The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Courtyard of Cafe Fez, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys
  • Café Clock – this darling restaurant has quaint seating areas in creative nooks throughout the house. If the weather is nice, be sure to head all the way to the roof for spectacular views of the city and colorful cushioned seating. Have mint tea and the tapas platter for an afternoon snack!
The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Moroccan salads at Cafe Clock, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys
  • Chez Rachid – offering the best location for people-watching in the old medina and serving up a delectable chicken, almond, and plum tajine, this is a must-visit restaurant in Fes!

7. Snap a Photo of the Golden Doors at the Royal Palace of Fes

The Royal Palace of Fez (Dar al-Makhzen) is not open to the public but the massive golden doors at the entrance are reason enough to visit. Have your taxi drop you here as this will be the start of your walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. While gated, the guards will allow you to enter the courtyard to snap photos.

The Royal Palace was built in the 1960s and if the brass doors are any indication of what the interior of the palace is like, we have no doubt that it is stunningly beautiful!

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: The Most Instagrammable Places in Morocco: Morocco Instagram Spots: Dar Al-Makhzen (Royal Palace) Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

8. Stroll Around the Jewish Quarter

Head through the “Mellah” or Jewish Quarter to the Jewish Cemetery (entrance fee: 10 Dhs/person) to see the rows of whitewashed above-ground graves. You can also catch a few of the cemetery from above on the roof of the Synagogue Ibn Danan (entrance fee: 20 Dhs/person).

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Jewish Cemetery in the Mellah of Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Cross the street to see the Bab Lamar gate at the entrance to Alaouites Garden. Don’t spend too much time here, it is less of a garden and more of a public toilet. A more impressive park in the area is Jardin Jnan Sbil where you’ll find cobblestone footpaths through lush greenery, and even a small lake offering beautiful reflections on clear, sunny days.

9. Get a History Lesson at the Museums

There are several amazing museums to explore in Fes but these three were our favorites:

  • Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts – this museum is truly stunning and not-to-be-missed! Not only are the traditional wooden artifacts spectacular but the ornate 4-story building that they housed in is a wonder all on its own. Head to the rooftop cafe for views of the medina below! While most museums in Morocco only include descriptions in French and Arabic, this one offers English as well. (Entrance fee: 20 Dhs/person. Open all days from 10:00 – 17:00)
The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Nejjarine Museum, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys
  • Batha Museum – this former palace became a museum in 1915. Museum rooms surround a beautiful sunken garden with raised walkways in the center. The artifacts aren’t nearly as interesting as the garden area. (Entrance fee: 10 Dhs/person. Open Wednesday through Monday from 9:00 – 17:00, closed Tuesdays) 
  • Borj Nord Museum – this fort was established by the Saadi dynasty in the 16th century and is now open to the public as a Weapons Museum. The spectacular views of the city alone make a visit worthwhile. (Entrance fee: 20 Dhs/person. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 – 12:00 and 14:00 – 17:00, closed Mondays)

10. Shop in the Souk

Morocco is world-renowned for its leather goods, spices, ceramics, colorful blankets and rugs, and metal lamps. While you’ll find many similar souvenirs in almost every souk in Morocco, the souk in Fes sells leather goods that are actually hand-made at the tannery in the medina! You can feel the difference in quality here and you will have the opportunity to see products being made in their small workshops.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Rainbow Street in the Medina, Fes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Fes is the best place to stock up on gorgeous bags of all sizes. Check the stitching and the lining to make sure they’re high quality and ask if the bag is made of goat, cow, or camel. Leather cushions referred to as “poofs” are also popular to purchase in Fes.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Shopping Guide for Morocco What to Buy and How Much to Spend: Leather Poufs in the Medina

Haggling is expected and welcomed in all of Morocco so when shopping in the souk you should never accept the first price offered. Don’t take the negotiations too seriously and be sure to have fun with it. And be willing (and able) to walk away. My advice is to counter with a price that is half of their initial offering and plan on meeting somewhere in the middle. So about 3/4 of their initial asking price.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Shopping Guide for Morocco What to Buy and How Much to Spend: Ceramics in the Medina

11. Take a Day Trip to Meknes

Located only about 45 miles west of Fes, the Imperial City of Meknes is like a tamer version of its larger and more touristy neighbor. Highlights include an ancient medina with winding alleyways, plenty of beautiful architecture, horse-drawn carriage rides, and less hassle in the souks. It’s worth taking a day trip to see it for yourself!

TIP: We wouldn’t recommend making this day trip on a Friday as the medina will be closed.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Horse Carriage Ride, Meknes, Morocco

Trains depart from Fes to Meknes every hour. You’ll pay 32 Dhs for first-class tickets (we recommend first class as the slightly higher prices come with an assigned seat and more legroom). The trip only takes about 40 minutes and trains in Morocco are impressively on schedule.

From the train, take a taxi to the Prison de Kara (entrance fee: 10 Dhs/person. If you would like to hear stories of the prison while you wander, hire a guide for 20-40 Dhs).  Explore this enormous and creepy underground prison for slaves that were forced to build the Imperial City. There are no cells as they were chained to the walls by night.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Kara Prison, Meknes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Once you are finished, cross the street to hire a horse-drawn carriage to take you on a tour of the city in a carriage fit for Cinderella! They’ll take you by the entrance to the Royal Palace, stop at several impressive gates, let you tour the immense granaries and stables that once housed 12,000 horses (entrance fee: 10 Dhs/person), and finally back to where you started.

The trip should take about 45 minutes and cost anywhere from 120-180 Dhs depending on whether or not you choose to negotiate. If you find an English-speaking guide they will give you tidbits of history along the way.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Royal Stables, Meknes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

Before you leave, check out the Madrasa Bou Inania (entrance fee: 10 Dhs/person) which is very similar to its namesake in Fes but has a second floor to explore.

The Best Things to do in Fes, Morocco: Fes Tourist Attractions: Madrasa Bou Inania, Meknes, Morocco by Wandering Wheatleys

And stop for a mint tea in Lahdim Square which is teaming with snake charmers, games, performers, and food stalls. Finally, head back to the train station and back to Fes.

We hope you fall in love with the fascinating city of Fes!



  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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11 thoughts on “11 Fascinating Things to do in Fes, Morocco”

  1. Never have I ever considered going to Morocco, until now. Can’t wait to spend our 2-3 days in Fez, appreciating the history, food, and culture. Thank you.

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