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Fès: Sights and tips for the oldest medina in Morocco

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One more step and then we realize: We won’t get out of this anytime soon. Anyone who has ever set foot in the narrow streets of the medina (old town) of Fez knows what we are talking about. The medina of Fès is the tangled labyrinth we have ever been to.

Fès is one of the four kingly cities of Morocco and rightly one of the most popular travel destinations in the country. In our opinion, a stay in Fès should not be missing from any trip to Morocco. In this blog article we will show you the most beautiful sights in Fez and give you our tips for a tour through the oldest medina in Morocco.

1. Sights and Highlights in the Medina of Fes Fes is different from Marrakech. Original, more authentic, more exciting. The flair that many miss in Marrakech – you will find it in Fez! Fès was without a doubt one of our favorite stops on our trip to Morocco.

The heart of Fès is its Medina, i.e. the old town. The medina of Fes will overwhelm you – just like us. At first we weren’t sure: should we like it here or hate it? Sometimes we were fascinated, sometimes disgusted, sometimes excited, sometimes horrified. Smells, tastes, sounds – probably nobody here is spared from overtaxing the senses.

We wouldn’t say that Fez is beautiful in the classical sense – definitely not. But the medina is a spectacle, that you won’t soon forget. You should not miss the following highlights in Fès. We have combined them into a small tour so that you can find your way around more easily.

You would prefer to be accompanied by a experienced guide. ? Can we understand well! On a private tour, your guide will take you to the most important sights of Fès 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 Gate to the Medina of Fes We start our tour at the lively Place Rcif. Here is the city gate of the same name, the Bab Rcif. It is the eastern entrance gate to the medina of Fès. At this point it is hard to imagine that there are hundreds, even thousands of narrow streets behind such a spacious square.

Locals gather 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 to get together. There is a lot going on here, especially in the evenings.

The Tanneries of Fez: Chouara Tanneries Once you have walked through the gate, you will head north, to the infamous tanneries of Fès. “Always follow your nose,” they say. And it’s true. In the Chouara Tanneries of Fès, leather is tanned by hand using the traditional method. And that means: The workers stand in large vats and process the animal skins – an unimaginable workplace!

The closer you get to the tanning district, the more beastly will smell. It is almost certain that one of the dealers from the surrounding leather shops will wait for you on site and hand you a bundle of fresh mint. (Your olfactory nerves will thank you.) It’s like this: 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 directly into the action beforehand. And this is where the impressions are finally overturning: It is loud and incredibly dirty, the sun is burning, animal skins everywhere, water sprays from all sides. The worst thing, however, is the unbearable stench. Our tip: If possible, don’t touch anywhere and hold your breath as best as possible.

If you get disgusted quickly anyway then watch the Tanneries from a safe distance from one of the terraces. You don’t pay admission. It is hoped that you will buy a bag afterwards – Arabic sales strategy. Nevertheless, we gave our self-appointed guide a small tip.

Medersa Attarine: Former Koran school In many cities in Morocco, former Koran schools are among the most beautiful sights – see above also in Fes. The Medersa Attarine is located directly in the medina and is definitely worth a visit. From the tanneries you can walk to the Medersa in just a few minutes.

The Medersa Attarine dates from the 14. Century. From the outside it is inconspicuous, but inside it is all the more impressive. A beautiful mix of Moroccan tiles, mosaics and carvings awaits you here, along with a calm, tranquil atmosphere. Our tip: It is best to find a time window 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 not always the case in Morocco). Another Koran school in Fès, the Medersa Bou Inania, is also well worth seeing. Unfortunately it was closed during our visit.

Information about visiting the Medersa Attarine Entry: 20 dirhams

Opening hours: 9 to 14 Watch

Kairaouine Mosque (=Qarawīyīn Mosque)

Right next to the Medersa Attarine is the Kairaou a mosque. It is also a university, which was founded in the 9th century and is therefore the oldest university in the Islamic world.

If you are not a Muslim or If you are a Muslim (like us), you are unfortunately denied access to the mosque. However, you can take a look inside through one of the many gates. Strange but true: 20.000 People find space here.

One of the employees also offered to take some photos with our camera. At least we could guess from the snapshots what we missed.

The souks (markets) in the medina of Fès We continue through the souks (ie the markets) of Fez. At first glance, the medina of Fez looks like a single, all-encompassing souk. However, the individual souks are – at least to a certain extent – ​​structured thematically. Sometimes fruit and vegetables are for sale, sometimes it’s crafts (e.g. lamps and accessories), sometimes spices.

Are you looking for a souvenir or a new favorite piece to take home? Then you are in the right place in the souks of Fès. We bought a beautiful, oriental lamp for our apartment and were even taken to the associated “factory” by the shop owner. We were really lucky there, because it was really exciting to see how people worked there. For example, on Place Seffarine you can see how metal and copper accessories are made.

If you like oriental interiors like us are standing, the medina of Fes will be like a little paradise for you. By the way, we found the loveliest spice seller you see in the photo on our way west from the Kairaouine Mosque.

Our tip: Don’t forget to negotiate! In Morocco it is customary to pay about half or a third of the dealer’s first bid.

Bab Bou Jeloud: The Western Entrance Gate to the Medina of Fes Our discovery tour ends on Bab Bou Jeloud, the famous magnificent Blue Gate. It is probably the most beautiful and best-known city gate of Fès and one of the most important sights of the city.

The name “Blue Gate “ is a bit misleading: the Blue Gate mosaic is only blue on the outside. On the other side it is green. The goal is just good 30 years old and therefore relatively young.

Honestly: Neither of us have claustrophobia, but in that The moment we can see the sun again, we’re both really happy. Curiously, by the way, the area behind the gate is called “Square of the Lost Tourists” by locals . Well, there’s some truth to that.

2. Eating and drinking in Fès: tips for restaurants and cafes We love the Moroccan cuisine and Fès is definitely a good place to sample your way through all sorts of dishes. If you are vegetarian, we can highly recommend the HappyCow app. Here are a few restaurant tips for Fès:

The Ruined Garden: The name says it all: You are sitting here 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 places in the medina among western tourists. The little oasis is tucked away in a backyard and is perfect for taking a break from the hustle and bustle. Café Clock is located near the Blue Gate.

Café Restaurant Al Oud: Small cozy place in the middle of the medina with excellent cuisine too cheap prices.

Yalla Yalla: Small street food place opposite the Blue Gate. Perfect for a quick lunch.

3. Where to stay: Hotel tip for Fès We stayed in Fez in the wonderful Karawan Riad and are still a a bit speechless. Without exaggerating, this riad is the most beautiful accommodation we have ever stayed in. The Riad was bought by two French couples years ago and built with their own hands 10 Renovated for years.

There are no classic rooms, but suites – each of them is equipped according to a specific theme. The pieces of furniture were brought together 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 roof terrace, from which you enjoy a breathtaking view of the medina of Fez while having breakfast. The only downside: the Karawan Riad is relatively expensive. If you d But if you want to treat yourself to something special, then we can wholeheartedly recommend this hotel to you.

Reading tip: We also have our own review Written about the Karawan Riad.

You can book the hotel here: Karawan Riad

4. More travel tips for Fès: Transport, Security & Co Local transport: How do I get from A to B in Fez? Depending on where your Accommodation is located, you can easily walk most of Fes. For further distances there are taxis in Fes. Here the so-called Petits Taxis (small taxis) are used. Unlike the grands taxis (big taxis), they fit better in the narrow streets of Fes.

You’d better insist that the taxi driver read the taximeter turns on. If the driver refuses, it’s best to ask the next person. Usually a trip within the city costs no more than 30 Dirham.

Travel Guide for Morocco If your travels take you not only to Fès but also to other parts of Morocco (which we really hope) then we can offer you the Stefan Highly recommend Loose travel guide. Loose travel guides are characterized by the fact that they are quite detailed and very well researched.

The new edition of Stefan Loose’s Morocco travel guide was published in 2019 and is with it pretty up to date. Our conclusion: Perfect for all individual travelers!

You can buy the travel guide here: Stefan Loose Morocco

Security in Fes If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, you’ve probably already made plans addressed the issue of security. The good news: We haven’t found Fez any less safe than other major cities in Morocco, and we haven’t had any negative experiences ourselves. The bad news: Of course it is advisable to be a little more careful in Morocco and therefore also in Fez.

The medina is narrow and bustling. Pickpocketing can happen, so we would recommend carrying valuables close to your body. We would reduce walks in the medina to a minimum at night. Quite apart from the fact that you don’t feel comfortable in the dark alleys, an attack can (rarely, but still) happen.

But again: Nothing happened to us at all and we would have no qualms about going back to Fes. We even felt more comfortable in Fez than in Marrakech. The probability that you will be ripped off by a dealer and overpaid is many times higher than that something actually happens.

Transparency: Invitation & Affiliate Links We were invited by the Karawan Riad to the accommodation costs for two nights.

This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you ever been to Fès and do you have any other tips for sights? How did you like it? We look forward to your comments with your experiences!