Welcome to Morocco’s second biggest city and its first capital, Fes.
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Location: 4 hours north of Marakesch.
When to visit: Any time of year. Spring is cool and considered an off season (when I visited). Fes was rainy for almost our entire first day here. It was beautiful and clear our second day.
How many days: I felt a day and a half here was not long enough- I recommend 2-3 full days at the least. This is the type of town I personally would have loved getting lost in for days upon days.
Parking: There is lots of street parking and parking lots outside of downtown. The streets are narrow and cars cannot drive around Downtown Fes. We were however able to find street parking in the more spacious Mella, or Jewish Quarter.
Things to Do
Iconic Blue Gates
These gleaming gates mark the downtown Fes entrance. Each of the four imperial cities in Morocco has a different color, and Fes is blue. Marrakech is red and Rabat is white. I love learning fun facts like this on walking tours.
Our Riad had beautiful views, as did some of the carpet shops that encouraged us to take in the sweeping city landscape from their balconies.
Speaking of Riads, it is an absolute MUST to stay one at some point during your Morocco journey! These past converted homes make for the most unique accommodation and surely are an experience in and of themselves. We highly recommended our stay at Riad Dar Mansoura in downtown Fes providing us an absolutely exceptional location, DELICIOUS homemade breakfast each morning, and the absolute kindest service. They also connected us with our amazing tour guide for the day, Azdine (who we could not possibly recommend more!)
The classic rainbow street is unfortunately closed both due to Covid and from having many of the colors washed away from the rain, but from exploring you can still find yourself down some alternate rainbow walkways.
Explore the best overview of Fes here. We accessed on our own as a group of three with a car, and two locals were the only other people up here. We felt totally safe. There are solo female travelers who have reported feeling unsafe due to robbery and muggings not being uncommon here due to the remoteness of the location. If you are uncertain, I HIGHLY recommend booking a short tour as this was not a site to miss.
I highly recommend doing some of your own research to learn about the history and mystery behind the tombs.
We were warned to take a scarf with us due to the foul smells, but we didn’t find them so displeasing as compared to the many meat markets we passed. Many travel writers discuss shop workers charging you for a mint leaf, but it was included in our walking tour with ___ which I HIGHLY recommend. It was set up by our Riad.
According to a Tannery employee, more than 600 people are usually working at a tannery though this may have changed due to Covid circumstances. When an item is sold from a tannery shop, the profit is split between all who were involved in creating it, including those who are stomping the dye pools. Speaking of the dye pools, wonder how they get their colors?
Mellah, Jewish Quarter
Oldest Temple in Morocco
Mellah Medina is definitely more spacious than downtown Fes. The strip of shops did not span nearly as long, and we didn’t feel quite as pressured to buy.
Truly hope you enjoy your future trip to Fes, or that we have inspired some wanderlust. Tips or questions? Drop a comment!