48 Hours in Fes: Make the most of your visit with our city guide
"A little imagination goes a long way in Fes" - Tahir Shah
Fes, a city in northern Morocco, is a mainstay on the country’s tourist trail – and for good reason. The city’s sprawling medina, cultural activities, and position between the countries’ capital – Rabat, and the tourist capital of Marrakesh, make it perfect for a stop while exploring the country.
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Where to stay in Fes
Hint... find a riad!
As with much of Morocco, the maze of alleyways around the city’s medina are full of riads and a quick search on airbnb shows something to suit every taste. Their location around the medina make them a perfect place from which to set off exploring, while their shaded courtyards and near-constant supply of green tea make them the perfect refuge from the chaos outside.
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See the city’s tanneries
Nestled in the heart of Fes’ medina are the city’s tanneries, and no visit is complete without paying them a visit. Surrounded by leather shops on every side, the tanneries deal in a huge variety of leathers, from the more mundane to the more surprising camel leather. Be prepared to haggle for anything, and bear in mind that you will be bombarded with people offering to take you to see them from the balcony of their shop, usually with a handful of mint in their hands to counteract the smell. However you end up seeing them, be wary of overly pushy locals who see tourists as an opportunity to line their pockets and be prepared to argue if something doesn’t feel right.
Explore the medina
Fes’ medina is big, and there is usually something interesting around every couple of corners. From the blue gate run what the locals call the two ‘main’ paths that will take you through all of the little markets, each specialising in their own products - from clothes and spices to perfume and ceramics. The medina is also home to the Fes museum, but honestly our advice is to just get lost. Wandering around the maze of streets without a real destination is where you’ll often find the real Morocco that only locals see.
Climb for a unique view
Sitting above is the city lies the ruined remains of an old Catholic convent. While not much is known about the history of the place, the lady who ran our riad mentioned that it was one of the few places in Morocco that provided an unobstructed view from above a medina and it didn’t disappoint. It is a fair distance uphill so probably best to grab a taxi there, but the view makes the downhill walk a lot more worthwhile.
Caffeinate yourself at Café Clock
Being a tea-drinking country there are few places that make a quality brew, but Café Clock may be the best cafe in Fes. Down an alleyway opposite an art street, the café’s diminutive entrance opens up into a relaxing courtyard to sit and re-caffeinate before heading back into the medina. That said, if you’re up for trying something a little different, be sure to try out their camel burgers!
Check out a traditional Mederssa
The big frustration for tourists visiting Fes – and Morocco in general – is that so many of the incredible buildings are only open to Muslims. This is especially true in Fes where the absolutely stunning Al Quaraouiyine remains off-limits for most tourists. Thankfully, one of the main drags through the medina has a couple of Mederssa’s, such as the Mederssa El Bouanania, that are open to all.