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Best Things to Do in Fez

Fez, often referred to as the cultural and spiritual heart of Morocco, offers a captivating blend of historical richness, vibrant markets, and stunning architecture. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, or simply someone seeking an authentic Moroccan experience, Fez has something to offer. Here’s a guide to the best things to do in this fascinating city.

Wander Through the Medina of Fez

The Medina of Fez, known as Fes el-Bali, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s largest car-free urban areas. Lose yourself in the labyrinth of narrow alleyways, bustling souks, and historical sites. The medina is a living museum where you can discover traditional Moroccan life.

  • Al-Qarawiyyin University and Mosque: Founded in 859 AD, it’s considered one of the oldest universities in the world. Non-Muslims can’t enter the mosque, but the university library is open to the public and worth a visit.
  • Bou Inania Madrasa: This 14th-century religious school is an architectural gem with intricate tile work, carved wood, and stunning stuccos.

Visit the Royal Palace (Dar el-Makhzen)

While you can’t enter the Royal Palace, the majestic gates (Bab Bou Jeloud) are a sight to behold. The golden doors and the intricate tile work offer a glimpse into Moroccan craftsmanship. The surrounding area is lush with gardens and offers a serene escape from the bustling city.

Explore the Mellah

The Mellah, or Jewish Quarter, is a testament to the diverse cultural history of Fez. Wander through the narrow streets, visit the Ibn Danan Synagogue, and explore the Jewish Cemetery. The Mellah also offers a different architectural style compared to the rest of the city, with its distinctive balconies and wrought-iron windows.

Discover the Chouara Tannery

One of the oldest tanneries in the world, the Chouara Tannery offers a unique (and pungent) glimpse into traditional leather production. From one of the surrounding terraces, you can watch workers dyeing and drying leather in vibrant vats of color. Remember to bring a sprig of mint to counteract the strong odors!

Relax in the Jnan Sbil Gardens

Escape the hustle and bustle of the medina with a visit to the tranquil Jnan Sbil Gardens. These beautifully maintained gardens feature fountains, palm trees, and a large pond. It’s a perfect spot to relax and enjoy a picnic or simply take a leisurely stroll.

Experience Traditional Moroccan Cuisine

Fez is renowned for its culinary delights. Don’t miss out on traditional Moroccan dishes like tagine, couscous, and pastilla. For a unique dining experience, try a meal in a riad, where you can enjoy authentic food in a traditional Moroccan house.

  • Cafe Clock: A popular spot for both locals and tourists, known for its camel burgers and cultural events.
  • Restaurant Dar Hatim: Offers an authentic home-cooked meal in a beautiful setting.

Shop in the Souks

The souks of Fez are a treasure trove of handmade goods, from intricate carpets and textiles to spices, pottery, and jewelry. Bargaining is a part of the shopping experience, so be prepared to haggle for the best prices.

  • Souk el Henna: Known for its henna, pottery, and beauty products.
  • Souk Attarine: Famous for its spices and perfumes.

Take a Day Trip to the Surrounding Areas

Fez is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding regions. Consider a day trip to the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis, the holy city of Moulay Idriss, or the picturesque town of Chefchaouen, known for its blue-washed buildings.

Attend a Festival

Fez hosts several festivals throughout the year that celebrate its rich cultural heritage. The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, held annually in June, attracts artists from around the globe and offers a unique blend of traditional and contemporary performances.

Stay in a Traditional Riad

For an authentic Moroccan experience, stay in a riad, a traditional house with a central courtyard. Many riads in Fez have been beautifully restored and offer a peaceful retreat with stunning architecture and personalized service.

  • Riad Fes: A luxury riad with exquisite decor and a rooftop terrace offering panoramic views of the medina.
  • Riad Laaroussa: Known for its warm hospitality and beautiful setting.

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