Fes is the oldest city in Morocco and an absolute must see. With the largest tannery in Africa and a sprawling Medina packed with over 9700 streets, it’s definitely worth exploring for a couple of days. But what should you see and do? Where should you stay? And what should you be aware of? Here are my top tips for how to make the most out of 2 days in Fes. Well, if you can afford more days, I feel 3 full days would be great!
⋙ How did we get to Fes?
We took the bus from Chefchaouen from 1115am for about 5 hours with one stop-over! The trip was so long – imagine Irman was not next to me the entire journey.
Of course, everytime we arrive a new city, we settle our admin esp when we need to buy the next ticket out to another city. Cos the tickets are limited plus we are kiasu! Then again, I didnt get to sit next to Irman!
⋙ Where did we stay for 2 nights in Fes?
We checked in Riad Des Remparts de Fes. Just a distance away (5 minutes walk) from the Medina.
Our room was at level 2, just right infront! I think we were the only guests!
Awed by their rooms!
Us on the last day, before we head back to Casablanca. Yes, we are the kind that will clean the room before we check-out because we are responsible travelers! Or maybe cos we Xin Jia Po ren! HEE
⋙ Getting around Fes…
A lot of the sites and attractions around Fes are very walkable. Especially in the Medina, which is good because walking is your only option there. The Medina is very hilly with plenty of steep spots so take your time to explore! As much as you can, do plan your stopping points over in Fes in your maps.me so as to not be lost and fall prey to locals who may offer their help when they noticed that you are lost. However, 95% of them will expect some form of payment at the end! Be wary of that yeah!
⋙ What to do in Fes?
1. Get lost in the medina
A word to the wise: if you are not with a guide, you will likely lose your way. There’s nothing terrible about this, as Moroccans are friendly and will help you– but they might ask to be paid for it. As you walk in the medina, buy souvenirs to take home or just stroll and visually browse through the different stalls. Wondering what to buy? Pottery, lanterns, leather, rugs, slippers, argan oil and spices are all great choices.
PS: We were exploring the medina on the first day we arrived in Fes. As we were walking around after dinner, trying to look for Tannery #64, we bumped into Yousof. He brought us through different alleys (mind you, it was getting darker). I started to hint to Irman – “I don’t have a good feeling about this”. Come one, what are the odds – anything can happen in the dark along these alleys. Damn I should have invested on a pepper spray! Well we were wrong! Yousof was trying to bring us to a textile/rug/carpet shop! They were selling hard on us (plus, we were tired). In the end, we left the shop but agreed to meet Yousof the next day at 8am. We realised he is a nice man after all. Paisey. After a good night rest, we waited for Yousof at 8am outside our riad but he didn’t appear. Turns out that during winter, the locals tend to set their watches/clocks an hour behind causing him to misread the timing, only to realise that we have left the riad. We waited for 25mins though! We had faith in him. We just had to leave as we wanted to see the Doors of the Royal Palace as early as we could!
Medina in Fes
2. Visit the Doors of the Royal Palace (Dar el Makhzen)
If the primary goal of your two days in Fes is getting beautiful photos, the Royal Palace of Fes is a must-stop. One of the few attractions outside of the medina, it’s also one of the most picturesque places in the city. We mistakenly thought that the Royal Palace is within medina – thinking we can just walk over. We gave up after a while and took the taxi over.
The Royal Palace isn’t open to visitors as it still serves as the official residence to the King of Morocco whenever he visits Fes. You can enjoy the architectural masterpieces that are the front gates. No kidding, the three sets of brass doors gives you the perfect background setting to make your new profile photo!
Tip:The place gets busy quickly so unless you visit Fes in the winter, make sure you get there first thing in the morning. We had a good 30 minutes to ourselves there until a bus of tourist came by!
How can you not come by to see this…
Slanted – donch care…
Again, if only we brought our droneeeeeeeeeee
3. Visit Tannery #64
Visiting the Tanneries is one of the most popular things to see in Fes. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And if you have the time, visit Tannery #64! We bumped into a local, Maher, who brought us all the way to the entrance of Tannery #64. In these tanneries, just like the ancient process, they use natural dyes from flowers to dye the leather. The same system people used to dye the leather 1000 years ago is still used today. The tannery consist of numerous large stone vessels, filled with different colored dyes and white liquids. And since it’s a thousand years old process, everything is natural. The tanneries in Fes are as rare as ‘rare’ experiences come. This is where you can watch animal hides be stripped and dyed. The stripping of their hair is done via natural ammonia (in short, they use pigeon poo) which leaves an interesting smell lingering in the warm air. This area is not for the faint of heart! It’s not the most pleasant smell, but you’ve probably smelled worse at some point in your life, no? After all this experience, we wouldn’t leave this place without buying something right? We bought two belts – one for Irman and one for my dad.
I think I can smell it now…. Just by looking at this pic 🙂
Tip: The tannery has this pungent smell of carcass so shopkeepers will offer you fresh struck of mint to hold under your nose. A lot of them may ask you to pay for it later so have that in mind before accepting it. If not, bring essential oils and have them to your nose as much as you can! I always have my Young Living Peppermint with me y’all!
4. Awed by Bou Inania Madrasa
The Bou Inania Madrasa is a prime example of Marinid architecture. Built around 1350, it is the only Madrasa in Fes that also have a minaret. It’s also one of the very few religious buildings in Morocco that are open to non-muslims! It used to be a Quranic School where on the first floor there were rooms for students coming from the other parts of Morocco. It is within the Medina, we happened to walk by it and saw the entrance. Paid the fee – no regrets!
Spot the minaret…
I just wanna go travelling again… covid-19 pls be gone!
Look how huge the Madrasa is…
As I wait for Irman to finish his video recording… Sis lepak one corner yeah…
5. See the Blue Gate – Bab Bou Jeloud
No one visits Fes without passing by Bab Bou Jeloud at least once. It is virtually impossible, as the gate (bab in Arabic) serves as an excellent navigation point for the lost wanderers trying to find their way through the busy streets of the Fes medina. Its glittering mosaic tiles and grand archway have made it one of Morocco’s most famed gateways and a sight you definitely won’t want to miss as you discover the city of Fes!
The Magical Historical Blue Gate — Point of Entry to the Souk
Tip: Bab Bou Jeloud is a great landmark to use as a guide. Mark it on your map and try to have a general idea of its direction. No matter how lost you are, all streets going west will end up at Bab Bou Jeloud (or somewhere around it).
6. Have a rooftop lunch date!
After all the walk, it’s time for lunch and we decided to splurge a little (since the trip is ending soon) for a fancy lunch, up on the rooftop, no less!
Restaurant name: Les saveurs de Riad Fes Maya
Address: Avenue Ben Mohamed El Alaoui, No 12 Derb Debbagh Bourjouaa, Fes 30120 Morocco
Not so fancy like in Paris, but we love it here in Fes!
I can have tajine all day long! I love the food here in Morocco!
7. Drop by to see the Al Quaraouiyine Mosque
This one is almost impossible to get into, but we couldn’t just skip it. It’s believed that the University of Al Quaraouiyine is the oldest university in the world. Todau, it is a mosque. Unless you are a Muslim (who speaks Arabic or French to prove it to the guards) the chances are you won’t be allowed inside. You can still marvel and take photos of the stunning mosque interior from the entry gate, though. Better than nothing yeah?
You can admire the institution’s simple yet beautiful design, decorated with Andalusian art bordered with Kufic calligraphy!
The university doubles as a functioning mosque!
8. Hike up the Merenid Tombs on a Hill to have a panoramic view of Fes, for another breathtaking sunset
About a thirty-minute walk from the Blue Gate are the Merenid Tombs. The old, crumbling structures date back to the 14thcentury but little is actually known about them. While the ruins are cool to see, the highlight here are the views over Fes old town and the Medina. I recalled how we were rushing over to the top just to see the sunset – we literally climbed vertically running panting all at once! But it was all worth it!
We saw people at the top, and we just went straight up when in fact there was a proper route to the top! But who cares!
Huffing and puffing for this view!
And you can hear the adzan (call for prayer) being played from one mosque to another so clearly!
9. Try the Camel Burger at the Cinema Cafe in Fes!
Since it was the last night for us here in Fes, Irman been wanting to try the Camel Burger. So we went around searching for camel burger and found one in Cinema Cafe!
Ordinary burger though…
But right before this dinner, we bumped into Yousof (remember the local whom we suppose to meet at 8am?). He waited for us till 7pm, right outside out riad. We wanted to go back our riad just to use the toilet – good thing to ensure riad is near the medina. We thought he wanted to explain to us what actually happen. In actual fact, he was wondering if we could pay him for his time! Knowing us, we just paid him in coins – all 24 dirhams!
In Casablanca, we didn’t do much. The city itself did not have too much to offer, but we had come especially to visit the Hassan II Mosque. And we are very happy that our hotel faces it too! The Hassan II mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world with a capacity of 25000 worshippers. Very photogenic, especially around sunset! All the marble, wood carvings, and mosaics will make any photographer’s heart skip a beat. So even though Casablanca doesn’t deserve a prime spot on your to-do list, the mosque is a sight by itself – and one of the few mosques in Morocco you can visit as a tourist!
One thing is for sure: the minaret (the tower on top) is the tallest minaret in the world!
An impressive example of Moroccan and Islamic artisanship, with Moorish influences!
The mosque is built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean!
With that, this sums up our entire trip to Morocco! And we definitely want to revisit this country again some day!
Hi, we are Irman and Nadzirah. We love to travel around the world, especially together. Needless to say, together we find ourselves in pretty exciting experience as we travel round the world. Well, this blog is not just about travelling but to document every snippets of our life together from being just friends, to lovers to travel partners, to home owners and to many more milestones to come!