Fez is one of the imperial cities of Morocco, located on a plateau between the Rif and Middle Atlas mountains. It is the religious and cultural capital of the country, as well as its most important centre for traditional craftsmanship.
It is frequented by tourists from all over the world for its medieval medina, which is the biggest and most beautiful in Morocco. It is also an ideal place for buying crafts due to the wide range on offer and their high quality.
Getting to Fez
By car, the best and fastest option from Tangier is by the A1 toll road to just outside Rabat, and then the A2 motorway to Fez. The trip takes about four hours.
If you do not have a vehicle, the best option is to travel by train. The train station Fès-Ville is located at the northern end of the city, in the new city. There are regular train services connecting Fez with nearby cities such as Marrakesh, Casablanca, Oujda and Tangier.
The city's Fez–Saïss Airport is 15 kilometres away and connects the city to major European cities. The best option for getting from the airport to the centre is by taxi.
What to see in Fez
Fez is made up of the ancient medina, the Colonial City and its new neighbourhoods.
The Medina of Fez is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has retained its authenticity and original character for more than 1200 years. Its wealth is the result of the mixing of various civilizations: Arabic, Andalusian, Berber and Jewish. Stroll through its charming narrow streets, better explored with a guide who can explain the city's history. Walking around at night is not recommended, since the area is not very safe after dark.
The old city is made up of the neighbourhoods of Fez Jdid (New Fez) and Fez el Bali (Old Fez).
Fez Jdid is home to the Royal Palace, or Dar el Makhzen, with its large square and huge, beautifully-decorated doors. It is closed to the public but it is well worth a visit just to see its door. Next to the Palace is the Jewish Quarter, a business and tourist area. Of interest are the Synagogue Museum, Dar Batha, with its Moroccan Art Museum, Maimonides' old House, the Jewish cemetery and the Derb Lihoudi.
Fez el Bali is the ancient medina of Fez which you can visit and walk around its labyrinth of streets. Be careful not to get lost though! Here you will find the Bou Inania Madrasa, a fine example of 16th century Marinid architecture, with a beautiful courtyard and details and ornaments wherever you look. It is well worth visiting for its breath-taking beauty. The Zaouia Moulay Idriss II, dating from the 11th - 15th centuries, is a shrine to honour Moulay Idriss II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828, and one of the founders of Fez. Many people come here to pray and it is decorated in a truly spectacular manner.
The Qarawiyyin Mosque deserves special mention. Built in the 10th century, it is one of the oldest and largest in Morocco and the oldest centre of religious teaching. It resembles the Alhambra in Granada and is closed to non-Muslims.
include the Andalusian Mosque, which is one of the most renowned works of Moroccan art, the Al-Attarine Madrasa, which is considered the most beautiful madrasa in Fez and one of its finest monuments, and the tanners' quarter, a unique place full of dyeing vats and leather drying in the sun, with a strong smell.
The main streets are in the European neighbourhood. The train and bus stations are found here, as well as the most modern buildings in Fez. The main avenue is Hassan II, with its enormous fountain and numerous trees. It is a very lively area at any time of day, with bars, restaurants, cafes, terraces, shops and hotels.
Shopping in Fez
Fez is paradise for shopping for crafts. You can see the craftsmen scattered throughout the souks deep in work. If you visit the city in December or January, you should visit the Crafts Fair, where the best traditional items made of wood, silver, tin, leather, textiles, gold, etc. are on display.
The best area for shopping is, or course, the medina of Fez, which is itself a large market. Near the Mausoleum of Moulay Idris, there is a huge market where you can find anything. Be ready to haggle and bring cash since most places do not accept credit/debit cards. It is also important to bring dirhams, since not all establishments accept euros or other currencies. We recommend changing your money at banks, ports, train stations, airports or at your hotel.
In the new area of the city there is a modern shopping centre called Borj Fez. Here the prices are fixed and there are crafts stores but the style is more European. There is also an area on Hassan II Avenue where you can buy crafts at very reasonable prices.