Another step further before we realize: it’s a bit of a mission just to get out of here. Anyone who has ever set foot in the narrow streets of the medina (old town) of Fez knows what we are talking about. The Fez Medina is the most winding labyrinth we have ever been to.
Fez (or Fes) is one of the four royal cities of Morocco and rightly one of the most popular travel destinations in the country. In our opinion, a stay in Fez should not be excluded on any trip to Morocco. In this blog article we will show you the most beautiful sights in Fez and tell you our tips for a tour of the oldest medina in Morocco.
1. Fez Travel Guide: Sights, Attractions and Highlights in the Medina of Fez
Fez is different from Marrakech. More original, more authentic, more exciting. That atmosphere and vibe, which Marrakesh seems to miss – you will find it in Fes! Fez was without a doubt one of our favorite places on our trip to Morocco.
The heart of Fez is its medina, i.e. the old town. The Fez medina can be a little overwhelming, as it was for us. At first we weren’t sure: should we like it or hate it here? Sometimes we were fascinated, then disgusted, sometimes excited, sometimes horrified. Smells, tastes, noises – nobody here is spared from their overwhelming senses.
We would not say that Fez is beautiful in the classic sense – certainly not. But the medina is a spectacle that will linger in your memory. The following highlights in Fez are ones you shouldn’t miss. We have combined them into a small tour so that you can find your way around more easily.
Would you prefer to be accompanied by an experienced guide? We can totally understand! On a private tour, your guide will take you to the main sights of Fes and of course share a lot of knowledge with you.
You can book the tour here: Private tour of Fez
Bab Rcif: The eastern entrance to the Fez medina
We start our tour on the lively Place Rcif. Here is the city gate of the same name, the Bab Rcif. It is the eastern entrance to the Fez medina. At this point in time, it is hard to imagine that hundreds of thousands of narrow streets are hiding behind such a large square.
Locals come together at Place Rcif at any time of the day. Families sit together in groups, eat, drink, the children play – in short: the square is a place where people can meet. There is a lot going on, especially in the evenings.
The Fez tanneries: Chouara Tanneries
Once you walk through the gate, you head north to the notorious tanneries of Fez. “Always follow your nose,” it says. And it’s true. In the Chouara Tanneries from Fes, leather is tanned by hand using the traditional method. And that means: The workers stand in large vats and process the animal skin – an unimaginable workplace!
The closer you get to the Tanneries, the stronger the smell becomes. It is almost certain that someone from the surrounding leather shops will give you a handful of fresh mint. (Your olfactory nerves will thank you.) Almost every leather shop has a terrace from which you can see the tanneries from a bird’s eye view.
Our self-appointed guide takes us straight into the action. And here you are hit with the reality: it is loud and incredibly dirty, the sun is burning, animal skins are everywhere, water is splashing from all sides. The worst, however, is the unbearable stench. Our tip: try not to touch anything and hold your breath as much as possible.
If you feel overwhelmed and disgusted quickly, then watch the tanneries from a safe distance on one of the terraces. No need to pay admission. It is hoped that afterwards you will buy a bag – Arab sales strategy. We still gave our self-appointed guide a small tip.
Medersa Attarine: Former Koran school
In many Moroccan cities, former Koran schools are among the most beautiful sights – including Fez. The Medersa Attarine is located directly in the medina and is definitely worth a visit. You can walk to the Medersa from the tanneries in just a few minutes.
The Medersa Attarine dates back to the 14th century. It is inconspicuous on the outside, but all the more impressive on the inside. Here you will find a wonderful mix of Moroccan tiles, mosaics and carvings and a calm, tranquil atmosphere. Our tip: It’s best to find a time slot between the large travel groups. We waited a bit and had the Medersa Attarine all to ourselves – priceless.
You can visit the Medersa Attarine regardless of your religion (this is not always the case in Morocco). Also worth seeing is another Koran school in Fez, the Medersa Bou Inania. Unfortunately, it was closed during our visit.
Information about visiting the Medersa Attarine
Entry: 20 Dirhams
Opening times: 9 am to 5 pm
Kairaouine Mosque (= Qarawīyīn Mosque)
The Kairaouine Mosque is right next to the Medersa Attarine. It is also a university that was founded back in the 9th century and is therefore the oldest university in the Islamic world.
If you are not a Muslim (like us), you will unfortunately be denied access to the mosque. However, you can take a look inside through one of the many gates. Incredible but true: 20,000 people find space here.
One of the employees also offered to take a few photos with our camera. At least we could then guess what we missed from the snapshots.
The souks (markets) in the Fez medina
We continue through the souks (i.e. the markets) of Fes. At first glance, the Fez medina looks like a single, all-encompassing souk. However, the individual souks are – at least to a certain extent – structured by themes. Sometimes fruits and vegetables are for sale, sometimes it’s handicrafts (e.g. lamps and accessories), sometimes spices.
Are you looking for a souvenir or a new favorite piece at home? Then you’re in the right place here in the souks of Fez. We bought a beautiful, oriental lamp for our apartment and were even led by the shop owner into the associated “factory”. We were really lucky because it was really exciting to see how they worked there. On Place Seffarine you can watch how metal and copper accessories are made, for example.
If you like oriental interiors like we do, the Fez Medina will be like a little paradise for you. By the way, we found the most beloved spice seller (as seen in the photo) on our way from the Kairaouine Mosque to the west.
Our tip: Don’t forget to negotiate! In Morocco it is customary to pay about half or a third of the dealer’s starting bid.
Bab Bou Jeloud: The western entrance gate to the Fez medina
Our discovery tour ends at Bab Bou Jeloud, the famous, magnificent Blue Gate. It is arguably the most beautiful and well-known city gate of Fes and one of the most important sights of the city.
The name “Blue Gate” is a bit misleading: the mosaic of the Blue Gate is only blue on the outer side. On the other side, it is actually green. The gate is just over 100 years old and therefore relatively young.
While we both don’t have claustrophobia, the moment we could see the sun again, was a really big deal! Never been happier to see the sun! Oddly enough, the area behind the gate is called “Place of the Lost Tourists” by locals. Well, there is some truth about it.
2. Food and Drinks in Fez: Tips for Restaurants and Cafes
We love Moroccan cuisine and Fez is definitely a good place to try all kinds of dishes. If you have a vegetarian diet, we can highly recommend the HappyCow app. Here are a few restaurant tips for Fez:
The Ruined Garden: The name says it all: You’re seated in the garden of an old backyard – a unique vintage ambience! Creative, Moroccan cuisine is served. Also suitable for vegetarians.
Café Clock: An institution in Fez and one of the most popular meeting points in the medina among western tourists. The small oasis is hidden in a back yard and is perfect for taking a break from the hustle and bustle. The Café Clock is located near the Blue Gate.
Café Restaurant Al Oud: Small, cozy restaurant in the middle of the medina with excellent cuisine at reasonable prices.
Yalla Yalla: Small street food restaurant opposite the Blue Gate. Perfect for a quick lunch.
3. Where to Stay: Hotel Tip for Fez
In Fez, we stayed in the wonderful Karawan Riad, which to this day, still leaves us a little speechless. Not exaggerating, but this riad is the most beautiful place we have ever stayed. The riad was bought by two French couples years ago and renovated with their own hands for 10 years.
There are no classic rooms, there are suites – each of them is furnished according to a specific theme. The furnishings were collected by the owners from many countries around the world. We have never seen so much attention to detail in a hotel.
One of the highlights of the Karawan Riad is its rooftop terrace, from where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Fez medina at breakfast. The only downside: the Karawan Riad is relatively expensive. But if you want to treat yourself to something special, we can wholeheartedly recommend this hotel.
You can book the hotel here: Karawan Riad
4. Extra travel tips for Fez: Transport, Security & more
Local transport: How do I get from A to B in Fez?
Depending on where your accommodation is located, most places can be easily reached on foot in Fes. There are taxis in Fes for other routes. Here, people primarily use the so-called Petits Taxis (small taxis), which fit snugly into the narrow streets of Fes, unlike the Grands Taxis (large taxis).
It is best to insist that the taxi driver turns on the taximeter. If the driver refuses, it is best to ask the next one. Usually a trip within the city shouldn’t cost more than 30 Dirhams.
Travel guide for Morocco
If your trip not only takes you to Fez, but also to other parts of Morocco (which we very much hope), we can highly recommend the Rough Guide to Morocco. The Rough Guide travel guides are known for their detailed and well researched information.
The new edition of The Rough Guide’s Morocco travel guide was published in 2019 and is therefore quite up to date. Our verdict? It’s perfect for all those travelling on their own!
You can buy the guide here: The Rough Guide Morocco
Security in Fez
If you are currently planning a trip to Morocco, then you have probably come across the issue of security. The good news is that we experienced Fez to be no less safe than other large cities in Morocco and we ourselves had no negative experiences. But of course, it is always advisable to be a bit more cautious in Morocco and therefore also in Fez.
The medina is narrow and bustling. Pickpocketing can happen, so we would recommend that you carry valuables close to your body. We would keep evening walks in the medina to a minimum. As it’s a little hard to feel safe in the dark alleys, where an assault could occur (rarely, but still).
Again: nothing happened to us and we wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Fez. We even felt more comfortable in Fez than in Marrakesh. The chances of you being ripped off by a dealer and paying too much are much higher than something else happening.
Disclaimer: Invitation & Affiliate Links
We were invited by the Karawan Riad for two nights. This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, then we will receive a small commission. This will not change the prices for you at all. A million thanks from the both of us!
Have you ever been to Fez or have other sightseeing tips? How did you like it? We look forward to reading your experiences in the comments below!