Fez is an ancient Moroccan city, having served as the country’s capital multiple times in its history. Founded by the first sultan of the Idrisid dynasty in 789, it is famous for its traditional artistry and culture.
The city is divided into three sections, the original old town of Fes el-Bali, the 13th-century Fes el Jdid (New Fez), and the 20th-century Ville Nouvelle. A visit to Fez promises a unique experience filled with historical landmarks, art and artisanal crafts. There is plenty to explore and discover in this remarkable city!
There are plenty of best things to do in Fes, from wandering through the souks of the old medina, to viewing the world’s oldest University and an Islamic school, to visiting the Tanners’ Quarter and rug shops, there is much to explore.
Outside of the medina, visitors can check out the Royal Palace and drive up to Borj Nord for a panoramic view of the city. The local cuisine combines Mediterranean, Arabic and Berber flavors and spices, and features dishes like Tagine and mint tea.
Whether it is sightseeing, shopping or eating, Fes is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
27 Best things to do in Fes, Morocco
1. Fes Medina
The Medina of Fez is one of the best things to do in Fes because it is an incredible display of history and architecture. Dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, the medina is a walled city with madrasas, mosques, fondouks, palaces, and other monuments from the Marinid rule.
During this period, Fez became the capital of the kingdom and replaced Marrakesh. Out of the many monuments in the medina, the most important are the Bou Inania Madrasa, the Zaouia Moulay Idriss II shrine, the University of Al-Karaouine, the Al-Attarine Madrasa, and the Dar al-Magana clockhouse.
The clockhouse is particularly impressive as it contains a weight-powered water clock from 1357. All of these monuments offer a glimpse into the past of Fez, and provide a unique insight into the culture and history of the city.
2. Bou Inania Madrasa
Medersa Bou Inania is one of Morocco’s most beautiful medersas, buit by Sultan Abou Inan. Constructed between 1351 and 1358, the medersa stands today as a stunning example of Merenid architecture and used as an educational institute and mosque.
Its interior and exterior designs feature ornate carvings and green tiles, along with a beautiful courtyard, cedar beams, and an elegant minaret.
Although originally built as a theology building, the medersa is now a congregational mosque, with an oratory, mihrab, and imam facing Mecca to lead prayers.
Restored multiple times, the Medersa Bou Inani is one of the best things to see in Fes for tourists, and a testament to the beauty of Merenid architecture.
3. Bab Bou Jeloud
The Grande Porte Bab Bou Jeloud, or the Blue Gate of Fes, is one of the most iconic entries to the old medina of Fes el-Bali. It is a gateway between two different worlds, the bustling 21st century and the winding alleyways of the medieval city.
The Blue Gate of Fes’ exterior is decorated with blue mosaic tiles, which represent the city of Fes, and the reverse side is green, the color of Islam.
Once you pass through the gate, the hustle and bustle of the city fades away and the winding alleyways of the medina beckon. Inside the gate, you will find several eateries, as well as Tala’a Sghira and Tala’a Kbira, the two main alleyways into the medina.
4. Al-Attarine Madrasa
The Medersa el-Attarine is one of the best things to do and see in Fes to witness its stunning beauty. The Medersa el-Attarine is a stunning Marinid-era madrasa situated in the medina of Fez.
Commissioned by Sultan Ya’qub Abu Said Uthman II in 1325, the madrasa is well-known for its intricate tile work and carved stucco decorations. The prayer room’s entry wall has a beautiful example of skilful tile cutting featuring the word Allah in calligraphic script.
Specialized techniques of tile cutting such as taqshir and peeled work are also used to add to the stunning visuals of the Medersa el-Attarine. The courtyard is the most decorated area, while the student accommodation is almost ascetic in comparison.
5. Jnan Sbil Gardens
Jnan Sbil Gardens is an oasis in the bustling city of Fez. Built in the 18th century by the then sultan Moulay Abdallah and opened to the public in 1917, this 7-hectare park features 3,000 species of plants and trees, as well as fountains and shaded walkways.
With sections representing different geographical regions such as Andalusia, the park offers a refreshing escape from the medina’s hustle and bustle, and from Morocco’s scorching summer sun.
There is even a small lake with an islet and a water wheel for visitors to enjoy. Jnan Sbil is a tranquil spot for locals and tourists alike to relax and appreciate the beauty of nature.
6. Funduq al-Najjariyyin
The Nejjarine Place is an architectural site that consists of both a funduq and seqqaya. The funduq is a large rectangular building with a symmetrical façade and a huge 5m by 3m portal.
Inside, there are two floors of bedrooms and galleries that surround a courtyard. The fountain is a rectangular pool located opposite the funduq and is adorned with a pointed horseshoe arcature, ceramic marquetry, and two demi-columns.
Built almost one century apart, these two structures constitute a single social and civic entity and in 1998 the funduq was converted into a museum of woodwork.
7. Marinid Tombs
The Merenid Tombs, also known as the Marinid Tombs, are an enigmatic site located on a hill overlooking the city of Fez. Built during the 14th century Merenid Dynasty, the tombs are shrouded in mystery and have become a popular tourist destination in Fez.
With stunning panoramic views of the city and rolling hills, visitors can explore the ruins and enjoy the sunset over the bustling medina.
Although little is known about who is buried there and why, the mystery only adds to the allure of the tombs and visitors keep coming back for more.
8. Sahrij Madrasa
Sahrij Madrasa is a 14th century Marinid-era madrasa located in Fes el Bali, near Al Andalus Mosque. Connected to a smaller madrasa, the Sba’iyyin Madrasa, the Sahrij Madrasa remains a popular historical site and exemplifies the grandeur of Marinid architecture.
The prayer hall is located on the south side of the courtyard and is adorned with zellij tiles, carved stucco, and carved wood. A passage to the west provides access to another courtyard with latrines.
9. Zaouia Moulay Idriss II
Situated in the city of Fez, the mausoleum of Zaouia Moulay Idris II is a popular destination for Muslim pilgrims. Built during the time of Moulay Ismail, the mausoleum has a mosque and a tomb used for funerals.
Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to enter the shrine and its grounds, however they can still admire the beautiful architecture from outside. Wooden bars are used to separate the ‘holy district’ from the rest of the city and offer protection.
Pilgrims come to the mausoleum for a variety of reasons, including the hope of gaining good luck or becoming fertile. The fourteenth century shrine surrounds the mausoleum and is open twenty-four hours a day.
10. Borj Nord
Borj Nord, or Burj al-Shamal, is one of the best things to do and see in Fes because it is a 16th century fort, offering stunning views over the city.
It was originally founded by the Saadi dynasty, and now serves as the Museum of Arms, housing up to 5000 pieces from 35 countries ranging from prehistory to the 20th century.
Its collection includes many Moroccan arms and an enormous Saadian cannon used during the Battle of Three Kings in 1578.
11. Borj Sud
Borj Sud is a 1582 AD fort located in Fes and is less visited than Borj Nord. It was built by the Saadi Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, similar to Portuguese forts, and is situated on the hills overlooking the old city.
It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 and is known for its beautiful views of the city from atop the hills.
12. Place Seffarine
Seffarine Square is located in the medina of Fes, and dates back to the Middle Ages. It is known for its coppersmiths, who have been based here since at least the 16th century.
It is home to the Saffarin Madrasa, the Qarawiyyin library, the Saffarin Hammam, and the Madrasa Mohammadia.
The square underwent several renovations throughout the years, most notably during the French protectorate period in the 1930s and 1940s. Additionally, more recent renovations in the 2010s have given the square its present-day appearance.
13. El Glaoui Palace
The Glaoui Palace in Ouarzazate is a captivating hidden gem that is an ode to the ruling family of Southern Morocco. It has been recently refurbished with some help from the government and still holds its original intricate tile work.
You can explore the expansive visiting hall, rooms with tiled walls, and the charming garden. For a more immersive experience, consider taking a tour guided by someone who knows the history of the palace.
Although the majority of the palace can be explored, some areas are not open to the public.
14. University of al-Qarawiyyin (Mosque)
Al-Qarawiyyin is a famous university & mosque in Fez, established in 859 AD, by Fatima Al-Fihri. It was the first degree-issuing institution on the planet, providing classes in Islamic sciences, mathematics, astronomy, and foreign languages.
The Qarawiyyin Project aims to continue the legacy of dedication to Allah Most High set by these pioneering Muslim women.
15. Chouara Tannery
Chouara tannery is one of the best things to do and see in Fes because it is an iconic sight in Fes medina, unchanged since the 11th century.
Natural dyes like indigo, poppy and saffron are used to create leather goods like babouches and poufs. Bargain hunters can find designer copies at La Belle Vue de la Tannerie.
The shop employs skilled tailors to make higher quality items from Moroccan hides. Visitors should bring mint to combat the strong smells and be prepared to haggle.
16. Andalusian Mosque
The Andalusian Mosque is one of Morocco’s oldest mosques, built by Maryam bint Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Fihri in the 11th century.
It is an architectural jewel with its white minaret, marble and onyx patios, library, indoor fountain, and its big portal decorated with pieces of zellige & cedar wood canopy.
It is part of the Medina of Fez which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
17. Dar Batha
Dar Batha Museum is a stunning display of Fassi craftsmanship, from carved wood and zellige to coins and carpets. The museum’s most famous collection is its ceramics, especially its famous Fez blue.
Its astrolabes, astronomical instruments invented by the Greeks and perfected by Arab scholars, add a final surprise for visitors.
18. Royal Palace of Fez (Dar el Makhzen)
The Royal Palace of Fez, also known as Fes Dar el-Makhze, is a grand former residence of the sultan spanning an area of 80 ha, protected by high walls. You can only view the ornate main entrance from the outside.
Built in the 13th century, it is a popular attraction on most tour itineraries, and is situated at Place des Alaouites in the Fes el Jadid quarter.
Nearby is the Jewish Quarter, or Mellah, where visitors can explore the distinctive architecture, gold souk, antique shops, cemetery and museum housed in a former synagogue.
It is best to visit early in the morning to beat the crowds and take photos only of the gates, as other photos may result in your camera being confiscated.
19. Palais El Mokri
Dar Moqri is a grand building in Fes el-Bali, constructed by Si Tayeb El Mokri around 1906 on the former home of the king’s grand vizier.
The site consists of two grand residences, a large terraced garden, and a totally separate palace, Riad Driss Moqri.
Covering an area of 2.5 acres, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of this era’s domestic architecture in the city.
20. Souk el Henna
Souk el Henna is a historic market located in Fes that is renowned for its traditional offerings, such as natural remedies, black soap, and henna and kohl cosmetics.
Dating back several centuries, the market has grown from selling only henna and medicines to a variety of more sophisticated products, such as fine ceramic utensils.
Despite being somewhat off the beaten path, it remains a popular destination for tourists looking to experience the culture and traditions of Fez.
21. Bab Makina Plaza
Bab Makina Plaza in Fes is a beautiful square that is surrounded by high walls. The plaza is a time capsule to the ancient era on quiet days, but when there are music festivals held in the evenings, it comes alive with vibrant lights, popular music, and large crowds.
If you want to experience the plaza in its full glory, it is advisable to secure tickets in advance for the Bab Al Makina-Fes Sacred Music Festival or any other events happening in the plaza.
22. Ibn Danan Synagogue
Ibn Danan Synagogue is a 17th century Jewish place of worship situated in Fes el-Jdid, in the Mellah district. The synagogue was restored multiple times throughout its history before it was officially reopened in 1999.
It is adorned with an impressive mosaic of ornaments, including a spectacular Torah Ark surrounded by plaster work and Moroccan-style tiles.
It also boasts a Mikveh, used for the reconversion of Anusim (Jews who were forced to leave their religion during the Inquisition) and their descendants. Although rarely used for religious purposes, the synagogue is visited by groups of Israeli tourists.
The building was on the verge of collapse until 1996, when it was renovated and returned to its former glory.
23. Moroccan food & drinks
Fez is renowned for its delicious food and drinks. From street vendors to Riads, you can find a variety of dishes and drinks to suit your palette.
From tagine, a slow-cooked stew traditionally served in a cone-shaped clay dish, to pastilla, a pastry filled with shredded pigeon meat, there are plenty of savory options.
Sweet options include almond briwat and sugercane juice. Mint tea is the country’s national drink and is a central part of Moroccan culture. Wherever you choose to eat in Fez, you’re sure to have an unforgettable culinary experience.
25. Sunset on a Rooftop
Visiting Fes was an incredible experience. From the rooftop terraces of the traditional riads, you could witness a breathtaking stormy sunset. The sky was painted with gray clouds and vibrant rainbows, while thunder and lightning illuminated the horizon.
Adding to the magnificent scenery was the comforting smell of traditional Moroccan mint tea being served in the terraces. It was an incredible sight to behold and a memory that will stay with me forever.
Shopping in Fes is an experience like no other. With bustling souks and vibrant bazaars, you can find everything from traditional textiles & hand-crafted jewelry to fresh produce & spices. There are also a range of modern stores and malls to explore, offering fashion, electronics, and more.
When in Morocco, carpets are a must-have item. You’ll find carpets of all shapes and sizes, from traditional Berber designs to colorful modern pieces. It’s important to remember that haggling is an essential part of the experience.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate for the best price possible. You’ll be sure to find a great deal if you take the time to look around and bargain.
27. Volubilis, Moulay Idriss and Meknes Day Trip from Fez
You can take a tour of Meknes, Morocco’s first Islamic city and second imperial city. You will visit the most important monuments such as Bab El Berdaine, Palais Dar El Makhzen, Bab El Khémis, Bab Mansour, the Sidi Saïd mosque, Golf royal, and Jardin Lahboul.
You will also have a chance to eat the locals’ dishes. You will then be taken to the best preserved Roman ruins in North Africa, Volubilis, where you can see the Capitoline Temple and the Arch of Caracalla.
Lastly you will visit Moulay Idriss, the once rival of the Muslim Empire, before your guide drops you off at your hotel or train station/airport.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Fes Morocco worth visiting?
Absolutely! Fes is an enchanting city, with an ancient medina, captivating souks, delicious Moroccan food, traditional hammams, and cultural sites such as the Merenid Tombs. Fes is truly a magical destination that should not be missed.
What is Fes known for?
Fes, also known as Fez, is a city in Morocco known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, including the famous Fes el Bali (Old Fez) and the Bou Inania Madrasa, as well as its traditional leather tanneries and bustling souks (markets).
How many days in Fes is enough?
Fes is an amazing city with lots to see – from its ancient medina full of winding lanes and colorful markets, to its beautiful mosques and palaces. But if you’re short on time, three days is probably enough to explore the city and get a flavor of Fes.
Is 2 days in Fes enough?
Two days in Fes may not be enough to explore all the city has to offer. From the ancient medina to the tanneries, mosques and souks, visitors can easily spend days uncovering the city’s hidden gems. For a truly immersive experience, make sure to plan enough time to truly explore Fes.
What are the best things to do in Fes at night?
When in Fes at night, some recommended activities include exploring the bustling night markets, experiencing traditional Moroccan music and dance performances, and visiting the beautifully lit historic sites such as the Bou Inania Madrasa and the Royal Palace.
Is Fes, Morocco safe?
Yes, Fes is generally a safe city for visitors. Crime is relatively low, and the locals are very hospitable and welcoming to tourists. It is important to still take basic safety precautions, such as avoiding walking alone at night and being aware of your surroundings.
See more: Where to Stay in Fes First Time
So there you have it, the best things to do in Fes, Morocco for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.