Finally made it to Morocco!! It has been on my list for years, but it has been a little tricky to get to or add on to trips. It’s so close to Europe — right across from Spain — and we were already heading to Mallorca, so I convinced Chase to hop from Barcelona to Fes for a few days!! We chose Fes because we heard that it is one of the more authentic places you can visit in Morocco. It’s an amazing country and we loved experiencing this magical corner of it.
Below is a rundown/little guide from Fes, with pictures below.
GUIDE to FES!
Transportation: First off, we took a taxi from the airport into town. Just make sure you follow the signs out to the actual taxi area, and have Moroccan cash (dirhams) on hand. Be sure to get a price quote before you get in. FYI- Taxis from the airport to the city center will cost around 120 MAD (~$12) or to old town (Medina) 150 MAD (~ $15)! It helped a lot here to have that in mind as some drivers were telling us it was twice as much.
Once you arrive in Fez, the best way to explore is on foot—and cars aren’t allowed within the medina anyway! Outside the medina, you can use a “petit-taxi” – their little red cabs.
Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace: The first night we stayed at this lovely Marriott resort, as we had flown in during the middle of the night and it was nice to be able to just go straight in a cab to a hotel and get a good night’s rest after all the travel. But, the other nights we stayed in a classic Riad in Old Town- highly recommended for the experience.
Riad Layalina – there are endless options for riads to book into in the old town, but after looking at a few we went with Riad Layalini and LOVED it. It is a great price, charming place, amazing food and service, and location. Highly recommended, but it seems like there are plentiful amazing Riads so you have options!
Try the traditional Moroccan breakfast: krachel-moroccan sweet rolls, baghrir-moroccan pancakes, etc! You’ll see plenty of bean dishes and interesting different things at breakfast!
Moroccan Cooking class!! We signed on to take a cooking class with Lahcen Beqqi who has been doing this for years — he took us all through the Souk (Market) in Old Town to buy the ingredients for our meal – then we went back to a Riad and did all the prep, cooking, ending with the meal! This was such a fun first day to feel local and totally integrated in the culture! I loved that he showed us how to pick the freshest of every vegetable at the market, measure the spices, and truly had us do all of the work in the cooking class- we learned a ton and had so much fun! We made tagine, eggplant done a few different ways, couscous, meatballs, and maybe our favorite…date walnut coconut balls for dessert! Alongside we had fresh Moroccan bread and fresh Moroccan mint tea.
Made in M-Fes! – Cute little gem right in the Medina. It’s a perfect place to stop in for a bite while wandering the crowded streets. It has AMAZING tagines, fresh mint tea, fresh blended juices, batbout (like Moroccan sandwiches), etc. We loved this spot!
Le Tarbouche Fes – Cool little Moroccan fusion type place with a great location also right within the Medina. They have some fun and different spins on all the food you’ve been eating! I liked the tabbouleh, chicken almond pastilla and the avocado milkshake is a must!!!
Cafe Clock – Absolute must to stop and eat here. It’s a hidden gem, tucked in an alleyway off a main road where an ancient water clock lines the facing wall (hence the name). It is a 3 level amazing place full of music, culture, and amazing food. Try anything and everything. Famous for the camel burger (!!) and the date shake was our favorite food memory of the trip!
Les saveurs de Riad Fes Maya
Chez Rachid tasty tagines for a good price
Dar Roumana – Mediterranean cuisine with seasonal, local ingredients made by a French chef.
Restaurant 7 – French cuisine in a pretty atmosphere.
Chez Rachid at Bab Boujeloud – Eat with the locals at this hole in the wall café just inside the blue gate.
Riad Rcif – Traditional homemade Fassi-Moroccan food, done upscale. Reserve ahead for a table on the terrace at sunset. Yummy pastilla!
Riad Salama – Moroccan food in lovely courtyard.
I love that the main “sight” here is the Medina – the entire winding, enchanting old town which is still very much in use and feels straight out of what you’ve dreamed Morocco is like.
When you stroll beneath the famous blue gate of Bab Boujeloud, you are suddenly taken 1,000 years back in time. The busy crowded roads filled with restaurants and markets turn onto quiet narrow alleys where kids are playing, locals are walking, and donkeys are loading supplies through the medieval city. This is the oldest part of Fez, Fez el-Bali. It’s the biggest car-free urban space and the main attraction of the city.
It is definitely easy to get a little lost wandering this ancient labyrinth old town, so just buy into the fact that you will be turned around a few times, but enjoy it :) There are always people to point you back. Our favorite parts of our time there were getting lots and turning onto random little side streets, finding little gems, shopping, watching people in their day to day life, mosques, or sudden bustling squares. No matter which part you’re in, you’ll find beauty! In the Medina there are homes, mosques, schools, businesses and palaces…all next to each other! It is so beautiful and a little different on each street. It is considered the best preserved historic town in the Arab/Muslim world, which you will see as you stroll.
The famous Fez tanneries should not be missed. Definitely go to the Chouara Tannery…there are 2 others that people will try to lead you to which are fine, but Chouara is the biggest and most interesting. Make sure to have few bunches of fresh mint before going up to the viewing decks…The tanneries all had them and handed them to us since the smell above is intense from the tanning process in the old clay vats!
Go to a Hammam (A Traditional Moroccan Bath) – After a couple of days in Fez and all the travel to get there, there is nothing like scrubbing yourself clean. Most riads offer a more upscale experience, but things are still very reasonable here! We did this at the beautiful spa of the Riad Fès – Relais & Châteaux hotel. Fair warning that a Hammam is intense and maybe not as relaxing as a massage or other spa treatment with all the scrubbing etc, but it is very cleansing and cool to experience!
Stroll the Talaa Kebeera Market – Talaa Kebeera is the largest “street” in Fez. It begins just after Bab Boujeloud and goes on through the most of the medina. All different sights, souks, and shops are located just off this main road. You can always weave on and off it. It is crowded, but a total taste of Fes!
Medersa Bou Inania– one of the best examples of the Merenid architecture in the 14th century.
The al-Kairaouine mosque and university was founded in 859 AD by Fatima al-Fihri. Oldest university in the world! Note that this is still an operational religious site, and non-Muslims cannot go inside…however it’s cool to see the outside and you can look inside! It’s also right nearby the Chaouara Tannery, so combine the two sights.