Fez is one of those most spectacular museum cities in the world. It is an exotic, mysterious and mesmerizing labyrinth. Although sometimes it can also be very overwhelming. Passing through one of the doors is as if time has deformed, although the millions of parabolic antennas installed in almost every roof remind us that we are in the present days and not in the eighth century.
The call to prayer throughout the city, mixed with the strong perfume of aromatic species, the leather and the grills generate an incredible experience that we will never forget. Fez is a city to walk among crowded passages, illuminated by the rays of light that flow through the roofs, where the cries of “be careful!” of donkey drivers are commonplace.
Triumphal Arrival in Fez Morocco
The moment we crossed the blue door of Fez, we realized that this city is magical. It does not look like anything we’ve seen. Not even in Morocco. No trip to that country would be complete without visiting this ancient city.
When crossing the blue door or Bab Bou Jeloud, the adventure begins. A few steps away: the butchery of the Medina, with that characteristic smell. Hens and chickens waiting to be consumed by the highest bidder. While several kittens await their deserved reward in the form of discards of fish or chicken.
The areas near the blue door are the recommended places to stay overnight. It is not recommended to wander through the depths of the Medina at dusk. So if you decide to stay in the Medina, we recommend you do it in the vicinity of the blue door.
How to get to Fez from Rabat, Marrakech, Chefchaouen or Tanger
From Rabat, Marrakech o Tanger, Fez is very well connected by train. On this website you can find more information. The train leaves you in the modern station of Fez located in the Ville Nouvelle and from there a taxi to the Blue Door should not cost more than 12 Dh.
To go to the cities of the Rif like Tetúan or Chefchaouen the only way is by bus. The station is close to the Atlas Square in the south of the Ville Nouvelle. On this webpage you can find more information about schedules and prices. In high season, it is recommended to buy tickets in advance, in particular Tangiers, Marrakech and Chefchaouen.
From Marrakech to Fez
- Timetable: 06.45 – 08.45 – 10.45 – 12.45 – 14.45 – 16.45 – 18.45.
- Travel Time: 8 hours.
- Price (1st class): 311 Dh.
From Rabat to Fez
- Timetable: From 06.13 one every hour.
- Travel Time: 3 hours.
- Price (1st class): 127 Dh.
From Tangier to Fez
- Timetable: 08.15 – 10.30 – 12.50 – 18.40 – 22.50.
- Travel Time: 5 hours.
- Price (1st class): 164 Dh.
CTM buses. Going to the northwest of the country there are three buses to Tangier (115 Dh, 6 hs) and the following ones go to Chefchouen.
From Fez to Chefchaouen
- Timetable: 08.00 – 10.00 – 11.00 – 16.00 – 16.15.
- Travel Time: 4 hours.
- Price: 75 Dh.
- Return (Chefchaouen – Fez): 10.45 – 13.15 – 15.00 – 15.15 – 18.00.
Accommodations in Fez Morocco
We stayed at the Riad Dar Broj. The Riad is beautiful, with beautiful views of Fez (on the terrace). Breakfast was great. Staff very helpful and very friendly. They even arranged a taxi from Merzouga to Fez for a reasonable price.
Here is a link to other amazing accommodations in Fez Morocco.
How to not to get lost in the Medina of Fez?
If you never get away from the main arteries of the Medina (Talaa Kebira and Talaa Seghira) then it is impossible to get lost. Do not forget to download the map of Fez on Google Maps. While GPS does not work optimally in the Medina, it can be a great help in some situations.
Is it necessary to hire a guide to walk around the Medina of Fez?
If it is for fear of getting lost, then it is not. If you follow the easy tips I give you above then it is impossible to get lost. If you think a guide will take you to hidden places. I do’t think so. The tour that we present below (the one of Fez: Day 1) is the classic (that all the guides do).
Another issue to consider before hiring a guide is that even if you swear and tell him that you are not interested in buying anything, he will take you to see leathers, carpets and handicrafts. The prices in these cases increase, since the sellers have to pay a commission to the guide.
If you still feel that you need a guide. Pay them at the end of the tour! It is not unusual that once the guide has already been payed, he loses all the enthusiasm to explain things to you.
What to see in Fez Morocco in three days
Fez Morocco, Day 1
Walk through the Medina. The Medina of Fez is immense. At least it is recommended to devote a whole day to discover it.
Bab Bou Jeloud in the west, is the main gate to the Medina, with two main streets descending to the heart of it. At the moment you enter, on your left you have Talaa Kebira (Great slope), and to the right Talaa Seghira (Small slope). Both converge near Nejjarine Square, continuing towards the Kairaouine mosque, the heart of the city. The main attractions are a small part of the charm of the Medina although a bit of random exploration is highly recommended to discover the magic of Fez.
This route goes from the blue door or Bab Bou Jeloud to the Kairaouine mosque.
1. The blue door or Bab Bou Jeloud, built in 1913. As soon as you cross it you will see a tumult of people and much activity. The cafes and restaurants in the area are excellent for taking a break and dining in the evening.
2. First take Talaa Kebira Street. This part of the Medina is a producers’ market. You will see live chickens strolling down the street waiting for someone to buy them and the cats waiting for their rewards in the form of chicken giblets.
3. At the end of the producers’ market stands the Medersa Bou Inania, a merenid time building.
4. Following down Talaa Kebira you begin to see the old Fundouqs.
5. Approximately 400m from the Medersa Bou Inania, you will see the green minaret of the Chrabliyine Mosque. Going down, past the shoe and leather vendors, you will find a small entrance to a square full of trees that has 6 Henna Sokos.
6. Leaving the Sokos of Henna by the same road you entered, turn left. After 50 meters you will reach the an-Nejjarine Square, where artisans now create bright thrones for weddings.
7. From the an-Nejjarine Square, continuing south, the lane leads between stalls full of candles and incense at the entrance of the newly restored Zawiya Moulay Idriss II. Non-Muslims can not enter but we can see inwards.
8. Then, it is easy to return by Talaa Kebira. Follow the lane to the east until you find the Medersa el-Attarine. When you leave the Medersa, turn left (south) to find yourself in front of the great Mosque and Kairaouine University. The university is one of the oldest in the world. Again, non-Muslims can only look through the front door.
9. Continue until the sound of the metallurgical workers take you to another small and attractive square, Seffarine Square.
Fez Morocco, Day 2
Morning: Tanneries of Chaouwara. One of the most emblematic places of the city, especially for its unmistakable smell. All the shops in the area have a terrace that allows you to watch the action from above. It is convenient to arrive in the morning which is when the wells are full of colored dyes.
Fès el-Jdid (New Fez). Only in a city as old as Fez can you find a neighborhood called ‘New’ because it is only 700 years old. In the new Fez you will find: Dar el-Makhzen royal palace (not open to the public), which can be seen from outside with its imposing gates, surrounded by fine zellij and carved cedar wood.
Then you can take a tour of the Mellah (Jewish quarter), along with the Jewish Cemetery and Habarim Synagogue. In the 14th century Fès el-Jdid became a haven for the Jews. About 200 Jews remain there, but all have left the mellah to move to the Ville Nouvelle.
Gardens of Bou Jeloud. These gardens have been providing welcome green space for over a century. They are a good break halfway between the Mellah and the blue gate Bab Bou Jeloud.
Afternoon: Borj Nord. Walk to this viewpoint for one of the best views of the city.
Further up, the tombs of the Merenids, are quite ruined, but the views of Fez are spectacular and worth climbing.
Walking 10 minutes downhill you can return to the Medina.
Night: Coffee clock. In the heart of the Medina, it is the perfect place to take a break with a tea or some bite of the varied menu that includes the famous camel burger. It is also vegetarian.
Fez Morocco, Day 3
Side trip to Volubilis, Moulay Idriss and Meknes, in the next post.