While a number of places in Morocco have my heart, Fes might be my favorite city there. It’s impossible not to feel drawn in by its amazing atmosphere and the onslaught of smells, tastes, and sights. If you only have a few days here, you’ll most likely want to choose four or five things you for sure want to see for sure, and then you have the extra time, you can visit some of the other things to do in Fes.
Here are my recommendations for a great time in this incredible city!
For more information on what to see in Morocco, check out this article on the best things to do in Morocco!
Things to do in Fes
If you can, stay near the medina. There are plenty of hotels that are located just outside and that offer easy access to the heart of the city. In terms of things to see in Morocco, you can’t miss Fes!
Known as the resting place of the Marinid Dynasty in Morocco, these stunning tombs overlook the city. You’ll find locals gathering here during the evening for a stunning sunset over the top of the medina–including popcorn sellers! Not much is known about these tombs other than they were probably built in the 14th century. Regardless, they’re the perfect place to take photos and see local life!
The Blue Gate is well-known as the entrance to the Fes medina. Make sure to look behind you in order to see that the other side of the gate is actually a green color! Once you pass through it, you’ll find that traffic almost all but disappears–no cars are allowed in the medina, making it the perfect way to escape Morocco’s busy traffic. Although it looks old, it was actually built in 1913–young by the standards of Morocco!
Formerly the royal palace in Fes, Dar Batha is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Known as the first museum in Morocco, it features stunning blue pottery that the area is famous for, and extensive gardens that were first opened to the public in 1917. Pottery isn’t all that there is to see here–make sure to check out the collection of over 6,000 pieces including tiles, carpets, astrolabes, and more.
Bou Inania Madrasa
If you plan on searching for one particular thing in the media, the Bou Inania Madrasa might be it. With carved cedar beams, beautiful tilework, and perfectly-applied stucco, this spot is a can’t miss on your Fes trip. It’s also one of the few religious buildings in Morocco that allows non-Muslims inside, and it gives you a glimpse of the sheer power the sultans had in the 1400s.
Al Attarine Madrasa
This building is the ideal place to learn about Marinid art and culture. From the incredible courtyards laden with precise tilework to the carved doors, this is the best way to get a glimpse into what life was like in old Morocco. Known as the “madrasa of the perfumers” due to its close proximity to the spice markets in the medina, it offers some surprising calm in the midst of the chaotic city.
While there are three main tanneries in Fes, the Choara is the best-known. It’s also where I purchased my favorite, custom leather jacket that I still wear all the time today! All you have to do is enter into a shop, where they will take you above to see the tanning process at work. Be warned–it can be a bit smelly, so feel free to take the mint that they give you to sniff at instead!
You can read more about the Chouara Tannery here!
Palais Royal Dar Makhzen
Featuring three sets of gold-colored doors, this royal palace was most likely first built in 1276, and then later modified for other dynasties. You can find it at the center of the medina, and it is still one of the palaces that is still in use by the King of Morocco today. While it is not open to the public, the exterior is definitely worth checking out. Must be nice to be king!
This delightful museum hosts armory from various periods of Moroccan history. It has recently been updated and is in great shape, with also a number of stunning views on the fort’s walls overlooking the city itself. It has up to 5000 pieces in its collection from all over the world, which makes it a fun spot to compare weaponry from several different cultures and time periods. I really enjoyed an afternoon here before heading to the Marinid tombs.
Al Quaraouiyine Mosque
This might be one of the oldest universities in the world (the people of Fes say that it is!). There is so much history here dating back from 859 and it is still in use to the present day. While you can’t go inside, you can get a quick look through one of the doors. Be on the lookout for the heavy knobs that line the walls and doors leading to the university–they were created so the blind could find their way there.
You shouldn’t miss the Jewish Quarter in Fes–if you can’t find it. Mellah is located in the labyrinth of the medina, and you might need to pull it up on Google Maps (or just get lost, that’s fun too!). Established in 1438, it was meant as a safeguard for the increasing Jewish population as they escaped from Europe and pledged allegiance to the Moroccan sultan. While it was mostly abandoned during World War II, much of it has been restored, especially the beautiful synagogue.
My article on the Mellah of Fes gives you more information and tips for when you want to visit!
Looking for a short hiking day trip? You can easily take a tour to the north of Fes for some beautiful trails (did you know that Morocco can be green during certain months?) and a chance to meet some of the Berber people. I absolutely recommend some day trips out of the city. Not only does Morocco offer such a varied landscape, but it’s also a great opportunity to see what life is like in more rural regions.
As far as Morocco attractions, you absolutely cannot miss the Fes medina. Personally, I say ditch your map (including your cell phone), and wander around the medina for a day or two. If you want to feel as though you have stepped back in time, there is no better place to do so. All of Fes’ best restaurants, sights, and more are located here, as well as most of what you will want to see. Get lost, and fully immerse yourself in the smell of the spices, tanneries, and more!
Make sure to check out my Fes itinerary so you know where to stay and eat in Fes!
Whether you choose to take a hammam in Fes or Marrakech, is it definitely an experience you won’t want to miss. I recommend doing it after your time in the desert–it’s the perfect way to wash off some of the sand that never seems to go away. You’ll strip down to your bikini bottoms and have some attendants scrub you down with black soap and hot water. Your skin will feel like a newborn baby’s afterward.
Tazekka National Park
Originally only 580 hectares of land, this national park has now expanded to over 12,800 hectares since 1950. Located in the Middle Atlas Mountains, it’s the perfect day trip for those who need to get out in nature after spending too much time in the medina! It has a large cork production zone and is a favorite spot among bird watchers. Only 30 minutes away from Fes, you can hire a private taxi for a few dollars to take you there for the day.
Go to a belly dancing show
One of my biggest achievements in life is going to a belly dancing show and being asked by a belly dancer to accompany her as her dance partner. Not only is it a great way to enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner, but it transports you back to the palaces of sultans living their best lives. You can find several throughout the medina, or choose to attend one in Marrakech instead.
I have a full Morocco itinerary if you want a day-by-day guide of what to see, where to eat, and what to do while you’re here!
Najjarine Square and Museum
Once a place where traders shared their goods with each other and buyers, the Najjarine Square and accompanying museum is a stunning piece of architecture featuring wooden carvings from the 18th century. You can see traditional musical instruments, craftsman’s tools, and much more–all in a space surrounded by gorgeous wooden beams and decorative pillars.
Only 30 minutes away from the main city of Fes, Sefrou offers an adorable little medina that was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, and a delightful cherry festival. Once home to a large Jewish population, much of Sefrou is being restored since it received World Heritage status. For those looking to experience a functioning Moroccan town with few tourists, this is the day trip for you.
After a long day of exploring everything there is to do in Fes, you’re going to want to relax. Moulay Yacoub is a spa village known for its hot baths and rich with sulphur. Known as a popular retreat for sultans jealous of the Roman-style baths, this spot is still frequented by tourists and locals alike looking to take a soak for the small price of eight Moroccan dirham.
I hope this list helped you decide which things to do in Fes, Morocco you’ll want to put on your list! Let me know which were your favorites in the comments below!
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Want more information on Morocco? Check out these articles:
- The Ultimate Morocco Itinerary
- The Best Things to See on Your Trip to Morocco
- Best Things to Do in Casablanca, Morocco
- Best Restaurants in Rabat, Morocco
Looking for some places to stay in Fes? Check out these deals!