Fez (فاس) (French: "Fès") is a city in Morocco famous for being home to the world's oldest university (Qarawiyyin University), dating to 859, and the world's oldest continuously-operating library, dating to 1359. It has an ancient World Heritage listed walled city, which many compare to the walled city of Jerusalem.
Fez is the medieval capital of Morocco, and a great city of high Islamic civilization. Fez has the best-preserved old city in the Arab world, the sprawling, labyrinthine medina of Fes el-Bali, which is incidentally also the world's largest car-free urban zone. Transport of goods is provided by donkeys, carriages, and motorbikes.
The city has just over 1 million inhabitants.
The main street is the Talaa Kbira, which runs from Bab Boujeloud to the Kairouine mosque in the heart of the medina. The Talaa Sghira also begins at Bab Boujeloud and eventually merges back into the Talaa Kbira. Once you get into the narrow, windy heart of the medina, you can also find your way out again by constantly heading downhill, which will eventually lead to the Place R'cif, a dropoff for buses and taxis, where you can get a petit taxi out of the medina.
For more detailed tours and directions, look for the book Fez from Bab to Bab (Hammad Berrada). It has a complete map of the medina and several well-described walking tours. It can be found in most bookshops, both on the Talaa Sghira or at the large bookstore on the Avenue Hassan II in the ville nouvelle. However, be discreet taking out your map or you will have many offers from false guides.
- 1 Fès-Saïs International Airport (FEZ IATA) (15 km from the city), ☏ . It has a few cafes, ATM and car rental agencies. There is a Maroc Telecom shop selling SIM cards. The two ATMs at the airport charge a fee of about 30 dirham, so it is better to just exchange €5-10 and get money for free at ATMs in the city.
- Royal Air Maroc offers daily flights from Casablanca London-Gatwick and Paris-Orly to Fes-Saiss airport.
- Jetairfly flies to Charleroi and Brussels twice weekly.
- Ryanair offers flights from Girona (Barcelona), Madrid, Seville, Alicante, Frankfurt (Hahn), Düsseldorf (Weeze), Milano (Bergamo), Pisa, Bologna, Rome (Ciampino), Charleroi (Brussels), Eindhoven, Marseille and London Stansted to Fez, though not on a daily basis.
- Transavia flies from Paris-Orly.
- Easy Jet flies from Paris-CDG.
- Air Arabia Maroc flies to/from Amsterdam, Brussels, several airports in France, Barcelona-BCN as well as domestically to/from Agadir, Marrakech and Errachidia
Getting there: If you do not have too much luggage, you can take the bus. The #16 local bus costs 4 dirham (as of Apr 2019), 40-min ride. It goes from the airport to the main train station. The stop is about 100 m right and then 100 m left out of the airport, follow the road, you will see a bus sign. No timetable is available, but it goes about hourly between 06:00-23:00.
If you go from Fez to the airport, the bus stop is on the left of the entrance to the train station. The stop isn't marked, but look for a crowd of people with suitcases to the left of the train station. You can buy a ticket in advance at the cash desk at the bus stop. Allow plenty of time, as departures can be erratic.
A shared taxi from the bus stop at the airport should cost around 10-20 dirham (per person) depending on your negotiation skills (as of Apr 2019). Many taxis will stop if they see people waiting at the stop; just bargain hard.
If you are up for a local challenge after your journey, choose a taxi. There is a fixed price for a taxi: 120 dirham from the airport to the city (including the medina and the train station). There is a taxi stand directly outside. An usher will help you to get one, but make sure you confirm the price before you get in.
- 2 Train Station Fès-Ville (At the northern end in the Ville-Nouvelle. a petit taxi between the train station and Bab Boujeloud costs about 20 dirham with taxi meter. Insist on using the meter, if necessary, say "khdm l-koontoor" (work the counter) to the taxi driver.).
From specific destinations:
- Marrakech – There are regular train services along the Marrakech–Oujda and Tangier–Oujda train lines. There are 8 arrivals daily from Marrakech. The train takes about 7¼ hr (although delays are frequent) and costs exactly 295/195 dirham (first class/second class).
- Casablanca – The trip takes 3½–4½ and runs hourly throughout the day; the cost is 165/110 dirham (1st class/2nd class) in high-speed double-decker trains.
- Tangier – There are five trains per day arriving after 4½ hr at a cost of 165/110 dirham (1st class/2nd class).
- Rabat – It takes about 2½-3 hr, and costs 75-105 dirham.
- 3 CTM terminal (in place Allal el-Fassi in the Atlas neighborhood of the ville nouvelle, 7 km from the medina). Has taxi stands nearby.
- 4 Gare Routière. The old bus terminal, is just outside the old city on the north side, near the Ain Zleten entrance to the medina and Bab Boujloud place. Grands taxis (inter-city taxis) can also be obtained here.
From the Gare Routière, you can leave by bus for almost any direction in North Morocco. Buses are usually crappy (old, rusty and without lights), with the exception of CTM company, which offers European-quality service, for a double the price of the Moroccan standard, but usually including the 5-10 dirham required for transporting luggage (malletas), and not being overcrowded. People usually come to the station in the morning to book their ticket for the afternoon or the day after and collect stickers for luggage, so beware about showing up at the last minute and not finding place.
At the station, touts will try to sell you tickets for Chefchaouen if you look like a tourist. Avoid them.
- CTM leave for the main destinations (Marrakesh, Rabat, Tangier, Tetouan, Oujda, Nador). Going from Fez to Rissani (Merzouga is another 30 km taxi ride after Rissani) there is one CTM bus a day, leaving the Fez bus station at 20:00.
- Other companies serve these and additional cities (Meknes 13-15 dirham), and towns and villages in north and center Morocco; departing hours are shown over the counters, but may change from one day to another, so ask the employee.
While the gare routière covers more routes more cheaply, many visitors prefer CTM for its reliability and cleanliness. Most CTM buses leaving Fez start from the Gare Routière and make a stop in the CTM terminal after 30 min in the town traffic. CTM bus coming into Fez, at the contrary, will leave you at the CTM terminal.
Fez is about 4 hours drive by car from Casablanca. The stretch of toll highway from Rabat to Fez is in superb condition.
Traveling by grand taxi (inter-city taxi), though more expensive than trains, is viable for tourists. Seats in a taxi are sold individually, in order to travel in relative comfort, you may need to purchase more than one seat. A ride between Fez and Casablanca costs approximately 60-80 dirham per seat. Grand taxi fares are regulated and it is worth checking the official rates with the tourist board, as some drivers or hotels will quote inflated prices.
There are a couple of grand taxi stations:
- Grand Taxis (next to the train station).
- Grand Taxis Azrou/Ifrane (next to the CTM station). Ifrane: 28 dirham/seat.
By private taxi or using a touristy transport agency [dead link], you will mostly be overcharged: about 1600 dirhams from Casablanca airport to Fex for up to 3 passengers.
Ignore the travel guides that tell you that you will get lost in the medina and that you must hire a guide. One of the easiest ways to get around is to use the red taxis to take you to the nearest gate (bab) and then walk from there until you get your bearings. Gates are all around the city and taxis are cheap. A rough map of where the sights are will help, and a GPS navigation app doesn't hurt either, although GPS readings are sometimes unreliable inside the medina. Be prepared for some wrong turns and confusion your first time in the medina.
On the other hand, if you have a bad sense of direction, are particularly worried, or want to make sure you see all the main sights in the medina in a limited time, a guide can be a good way to make sure you won't get lost. If you do decide to hire one, be sure to arrange a licensed guide through your hotel or the tourism office - they will be able to give you an accurate history and will make fewer shopping stops. The faux-guides in particular will simply take you from shop to shop where you will be pressured to buy goods, which will cost you extra because the seller will be obliged to pay the guide a hidden commission.
There are several well-marked trails through the city: follow the green (Andalusian palaces and gardens), orange (walls and fortifications), or blue signs and you will not get lost in all the narrow twisting streets.
Within Fez, ride in the petits taxis (local taxis) rarely cost more that 15-20 dirham. However, the medina of Fes el-Bali is only accessible from a few points by car. Bab Boujeloud and nearby Place Batha are popular drop-off points, as is Place R'cif; for parking there is spaces at Ain Zleten on the northeast edge of the medina. Another open air parking is situated near Hotel Batha (price 20 dirham/day).
- 1 The Tanneries (Quartier des tanneurs). In the midst of the maze-like medina are the colorful leather-dying pits. Any number of young boys will offer to guide you to them: just listen for "you want to see the tanneries?" The tour is free (though it is appropriate to offer 1-5 dirham to your "guide").
There is no chance of getting to see the tanneries by yourself, instead, be prepared for physical abuse for even trying! However, just 10 m left of the entrance is a leather shop that offers views to the tannery free of charge and you can see it all from the balcony. Expect to be pressured into buying goods from the shop in return.
It is possible to get into the tannery itself, hang around near the entrance until someone offers to take you in for 10 dirham. He will get you past the entrance and then you can wander in among the workers. A word of advice: wear closed shoes and maybe bring a mint leaf to sniff if you have a weak stomach.
The tanneries in the medina features leather-making techniques unchanged since the Middle Ages. Men walk the narrow paths between huge vats of lye and colorful dyes, water wheels creak as the leather is rinsed, and buildings facing the tannery are covered with pelts hanging to dry. Visit early in the morning before the sun hits the tannery and the stench sets in.
- 2 Bou Inania Madrasa. 9AM–6PM. A breathtaking 14th-century religious college. The best example of Islamic architecture a non-Muslim can see in Fez, with wooden walls elaborately carved with geometric patterns and Arabic calligraphy, and a beautiful minaret. In the courtyard there is a portico with a still-functioning mosque, separated by the rest of the courtyard by a small moat. 20 dirham.
- 3 Al Attarine Madrasa, ☏ . 08:00-18:00. Built by the Marinid sultan Uthman II Abu Said in 1323-5. 20 dirham.
- 4 Sahrij Madrasa (near Al Andalus Mosque). Commissioned in 1321 by the Marinid Sultan Abu al-Hassan. 20 dirham.
- 5 Andalusian Mosque. Dates back to the inception of the city in the 9th century, with the completion of the foundation in 859-860. This makes it one of the oldest mosques in the world. The mosque had been renovated and expanded several times since then. Today, it is one of the relatively few remaining Idrisid-era establishments and the main landmarks of the city. Off-limits to non-Muslims.
- 6 Borj Nord. Tu-Su 09:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00. One of the two fortresses overlooking the old city and contains an armaments museum. The view from the hills surrounding the old city is spectacular. The fort houses the Museum of Arms. Entrance 20 dirham, 10 - audio guide.
- 7 Borj Sud. Southern fortress, a counterpart to the Borj Nord. The interior is not open, but like the Merenid Tombs it has spectacular views of the medina from the other side. It is a short walk (uphill) from Bab Ftouh.
- 8 Merenid Tombs (Marinid Tombs) (next to the Merenid Hotel). The ruins of 14th-century tombs, on a hill with excellent panoramic views over the medina and the wider city, as well as the olive tree lined hills surrounding the city. A nice place for some peace and quiet, a sanctuary from the bustle of the rest of the city—though you may still see the occasional tout.
- 9 Moulay Idriss II shrine (off the Talaa Kbira near the Souk Attarine). The tomb of Fez's founder. Entrance is limited to Muslims, but the view from just outside its doors is still well-worth hunting down.
- 10 Al Quaraouiyine mosque and library (Al-Karaouine). A large religious complex that has evolved since the 9th century into a famous center of learning. Non-Muslims cannot enter, but the courtyard and the prayer hall are partly visible from the mosque's doorways. (Doors are more likely to be open on Fridays.) Its historic library is housed in an annex on the south side of the mosque, off Place Seffarine.
- 11 Mosque and Mausoleum of Sidi Ahmad al-Tijani. Sidi Ahmad al-Tijani is the founder of the Tijaniyya Sufi order. He was born in a Berber family in Aïn Madhi in Algeria, and died in Fez at the age of 80.
- 12 Nejjarine Museum (Funduq al-Najjariyyin), Al-Najjariyyin square, ☏ . 10:00-17:00. Museum of wooden arts and crafts. Many historic items presented in beautiful and spacious Fondouk. The museum has a nice rooftop cafe. 20 dirham.
- 13 Dar Batha Museum, Rue de la Musée. W-M 09:00-17:00. A former royal palace, commissioned by the Alaouite Sultan Hassan I and his successor Abdelaziz in the 19th century. It was converted into a museum in 1916. 10 dirham.
- 14 Synagogue Ibn Danan (in the Mellah, the historic Jewish quarter southwest of the medina. Once you're nearby, locals will offer to show you the way to the synagogue, but will expect a tip in return). A synagogue dating from the 17th century, with a Jewish cemetery nearby. There aren't set opening times, but the guardian will let visitors in for 20 dirham each and give a brief tour of the inside. 20 dirham.
- Berber Pharmacies (in the Medina). They usually have hundreds of jars of twisted root and twig neatly lined up along the walls.
- 15 Garden Jnan Sbil, Avenue Moulay Youssef. 09:00-20:00. The oldest garden in Fes, created by Sultan Moulay Abdallah in 18th century. It features 3000 plant species, some of them are quite rare. Free admission.
- 16 Glaoui Palace, 1 Rue Hamia Douh. 09:00-17:00. A beautiful run-down palace. No fixed price, approx. 25 dirham per person which occasionally includes guided tour.
- 17 Cherratine Madrasa. The last major madrasa built in the medina, dating from 1670. It's less ornate than the older Marinid madrasas but larger and the dormitories of its upper stories can be visited. 20 dirham.
One of the most fascinating activities to do in Fez is a trip in the medina (Old City). The medina is so complex to navigate that sometimes it is easier to simply lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of the various markets, and find your way out once you have had enough of all the sights, sounds, and smells that will overwhelm your senses. You will eventually find your way out via lots of dried fruit, leather goods, ceramics, textiles and food stalls!
Get a shave in the medina, nowhere is it cheaper than here, and they really pay attention, even trimming your hair.
Make sure you find an opportunity to escape from the bustle of the streets and see the medina from one of its rooftops - some shops and restaurants have rooftop terraces (see the food section below for some useful tips). The views are particularly spectacular during sunset and after dark.
- 1 Sofitel Palais Jamai terrace. Terrace has an incredible view over the medina if you are willing to pay 30 dirham for a glass of tea in order to access it. This is particularly worthwhile if you can time your visit to coincide with the call to prayer, as you can hear multiple minarets from the terrace.
- Arabic Language Institute in Fez, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers high quality three-week and six-week courses in Arabic, both Modern Standard Arabic and the Moroccan colloquial language. The Institute can also arrange accommodation with a Moroccan host family for their students if required.
- Subul Assalam Centre for the Arabic Language (SACAL), Meknes way, Lotissement Al Hadika, Lot no. Q4/008, ☏ , email@example.com. Offers courses in Modern Standard Arabic, Moroccan Colloquial Arabic and a series of English language courses on Islam and Morocco.
Some may consider Fez to be the handicraft capital of Morocco, but in reality the quality and value of its wares can be hit and miss. Leathergoods, copper and brassware are the bargains, although you may also find good prices on drums and other musical instruments.
As a rough guide, you can expect to pay:
- Leather satchel: 200-400 dirham depending on quality
- Drums: 30-150 dirham depending on size and quality
- 10-20 dirham for a full size tagine dish, plus an extra 10 dirham if it's been glazed or decorated.
If you are interested in the cobalt-blue ceramic, you might go to the potteries where they make it. It is interesting to see them shape the clay into a tagine in 45 seconds. From Bab el-Ftouh, it is a 5-dirham taxi trip. Ask the driver to take you to "Les potteries de Fez". There are 2 big "factories" which both show you the whole process if you want or you could just see the exhibition (and buy). Bargain really hard, prices seem to be fixed, but they are not.
Bargaining is a way of life that has survived for centuries, and shows no sign of changing. Moroccans even bargain among each other for everything except perhaps their utilities. Don't believe anyone (and you will hear it all the time) who tells you prices are being "regulated". Every other souk claims to be a "Government Regulated Co-op".
There is a single, genuine government-regulated fixed price shop in the Ville Nouvelle where all prices are posted, the goods are of decent (if not amazing) quality, and the single bored cashier will just stare incredulously at you if you attempt to bargain with him. Ask any hotel manager or petit taxi driver to take you to the "Artisana." All products sold in Artisanas come directly from the artists who made the products.
- Made in M, Talaa Kabira. Unique boutique to find good quality articles as leather, passementerie, ceramic, parfums and argan oil.
The markets near the 'main' gate of Bab Boujeloud (near to Hotel Cascades) are full of yummy food. It is worth just wandering through them, buying random bits of food. Street food is very cheap and is often safe. Restaurants, even cheap ones, will often be up to twice the cost of street food, and the quality can be the same. In the medina is difficult to find cheap food other than in the Bab Boujeloud area. There are only a very few tourist restaurants where you will get ripped off and some food stalls down in the food market near the R'cif place.
- 1 Bouanania, Rue Talaa Kebira (near Bab Boujloud). Enjoy lunch on the terrace or a leisurely dinner on the carpet-adorned second floor. The service is very friendly and more than willing to fire up the grill to make you the first brochettes of the day. Tagine, couscous, and other staples are well-done. around 40 dirham, but prices are negotiable down to 25 dirham..
- 2 La Kasbah de Fes, Rue Serrajine (near Bab Boujloud). Friendly service, a solid selection of inexpensive Moroccan staples (excellent vegetarian tagine) and a couple of lovely high terraces overlooking the Gate on one side and the medina on the other. It is a comfortable atmospheric place to chat to other travellers and its a welcome haven from the bustle of the crowded streets of the medina. Street food is allowed to eat at the terraces. You pay only the service for the drink.
- 3 Medina cafe, 6 Rue Mernissi (near Bab Boujloud). Tasty and cosy café-style restaurant, however it can get too touristy. Food is fine, specially the "boricuas" (deep fried thin dough layers wrapping meat-chicken-rice fillings). Mains starting at 60 dirham.
- 4 Mezzanine, 1Ave Moulay Hassan (in front of the Jnaj Sbil Garden, less than 50 m from the place Boujeloud), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Set over three floors, with an additional outside patio, Mezzanine offers both a cosy lounge bar for a quiet cocktail tapas as well as a comfortable larger seating area for dinners and parties.
- 5 Cafe Clock, 7 Derb el Magana، Rue Talaa Kebira (near Bab Boujloud). Magnificently restored house in the old medina turned into a cafe. The people are friendly (and speak English) and the food is excellent. Ask to be seated on the terrace, and listen for the call to prayer coming from several minarets in the area. Bring a camera, especially during the day.
- 6 Chez Maimonide. Located in the home of Maimonides, the famous Jewish philosopher and rabbi. This restaurant, however, is run by the Muslim family that now lives there, and is non-kosher.
- 7 Le Palais de Fes (Also known as Dar Tazi (Place R'cif).). A rooftop restaurant over a carpet shop, Dar Tazi offers Fez's best pastilla and other traditional dishes. The stairs up are steep and narrow, but the food and view are well worth it. 350 dirham.
- 8 Palais des Merinides (Talaa Kbira). Table d'hote menus with basic Moroccan specialties in a very grand setting. Mediocre quality, but fabulous surroundings.
- San Remo. Fed up with couscous and tajine? Then you could try this Morocco owned Italian restaurant in the new part of town. Just opposite the police station, it offers a lovely Italian deli and numerous pasta and pizza dishes for a decent price.
- Dar Saada Restaurant. Located in the centre of the medina, this restaurant is a favorite of Travel and Leisure magazine and is worth the indulgence.
- L'Ambre (in the heart of the medina). An elegant and superior dining experience in all of Morocco. Serving up Moroccan cuisine with innovative twists, food is served in one of three rooms, including a spectacular terrace.
Almost all drinking establishments in Fez are hotel bars. The rest are local bars that women and anyone without a good command of Arabic might be uncomfortable entering. In bars of either type, prostitutes are frequent but mostly ignore western travellers. Fes is a much more traditional town than Casablanca or Marrakesh, and it is illegal to drink in public. Purchasing alcohol or seeming intoxicated are sure to draw stern looks from passersby.
- 1 The Bar at Hotel Batha, Place Batha. In the rear of Hotel Batha are two bars - the first is more of a lounge, with comfortable leather chairs and fireplaces. It is definitely the more stately of the two options. In the rear is a night-club type bar that is mostly empty and rarely open.
- Restaurant International (the car park at Av. Abdellah Chefchawni). This little place is easy to overlook, but the fact that the outer windows are mirrored should be the first indication it will not be at the top of any tourist routes. The crowd here is all local, and foreigners might expect a few stares and side looks. They serve the basic selection of beer, as well as some of the best spaghetti and pizza in town. Three stories, but avoid the middle one - the band is usually blasting bad synthesizer-Arabic music. Also avoid the basement, unless you are looking for prostitutes.
- 2 The White Souk / Marché Centrale (on Blvd Mohammed V). A good place to find alcohol if you prefer to drink at home. There are two brick-and-mortar liquor stores on either side of the Souk, and many of the vendors inside keep discreet stashes for thirsty foreigners.
- 3 Mezzanine. Set over three floors, with an additional outside patio, Mezzanine offers both a cosy lounge bar for a quiet cocktail tapas as well as a comfortable larger seating area for dinners and parties. Fully wifi d, Mezzanine transforms from a day time lounge into one of Fez most cosmopolitan dinner, music and venues with its resident DJ. Open from 12:00 until 02:00 non stop. Enjoy a cocktail, beer or wine on the terrace. It is really unique
- L'Alcazar Bar, Riad Fes, 5 Derb Ben Slimane Zerbtana. After a high-energy day in the Medina, L'Alcazar Bar is a comfortable oasis of relaxation and refreshment. A stylish lounge area where stunning design is combined with a warm atmosphere exuding an oriental yet contemporary feel. The lounge bar and fumoir feature a vast choice of cocktails, malt, cognac, wines but also a selection of cigars.
Most visitors to Fez will want to stay in the Fez El Bali (Old Fez, or Medina) as the main tourist sights are located there and where many local residences operate as guesthouses. Also, the new town is quite a distance from the medina, so you will be relying on taxis to take you in and out every day.
- Camping Diamant Vert, Rue Ain Chkef. Decent amount of shade, French toilets and (sometimes warm) showers 25 dirham a person, 15 dirham per tent. Free access to the swimming pool..
- HI youth hostel (Albergue Juvenil), 18 Rue Abdeslam Serghini, ☏ . Clean, bright, friendly and well placed in the ville nouvelle. Unfortunately there is a debilitating 10PM curfew and a five hour lockout Dorms/twins with shared bath from 45/55 dirham, plus 5 dirham surcharge for non HI members..
- Hotel Cascades, 26 rue Serrajine (near Bab Boud Jeloud - main gate in the Medina), ☏ . The owner is hospitable and the rooms are clean, noisy and simple. Shared bathrooms on the first and second floor, free hot shower on the first. In the same price-range as the youth hostel with a better location (with views on the Bab Boulejoud and over the medina) and no lockout, and therefore attracting a clientele of young backpackers and solo tourists looking for travel companions. Staying on the roof-terrace which also has a restaurant (breakfast 25 dirham, mains 50 dirham) is cheap, although could be the 05:00 calls to prayer waking you up, 06:00 light and summer midday-heat. single 70 dirham, double 160 dirham, bed on roof terrace 40 dirham, breakfast 25 dirham.
- There are a few more hostels near the main gate walking down any of the two parallel main streets, but not many of them. Try to arrive well before dark. The streets beyond the two main ones can be frightening at night.
- Hotel Rex, 32 Machra bel Ksiri (apparently near place Atlas but not easily found), ☏ . 100 dirham.
- Hôtel Royal Urban Concept, 36 Rue du Soudan, ☏ . Big rooms, slightly antique feeling, hot water only in the morning. 378 dirham.
- Hotel Volubilis, 42 Abdellah Chefchaouni, ☏ . Bed bathrooms (cold shower, just over the toilet). 80 dirham for a double, 120 dirham for apartments for 3-4 people.
- Dar Bouânania. Riad-style, wonderfully decorated rooms, nice roof-terrace, wifi and very welcoming staff. double 250-400 dirham.
- 1 Riad-Boutique Borj Dhab Fez, 10, Derb Borj Dhab, Qalqliyine, R'cif Médina,, ☏ . Spa, free breakfast, wifi. Lots of Moroccan decor. 332 dirham.
- 2 Dar Nour Fes, ☏ . Delicious free breakfast and rooftop seating where you can look out on the medina. 332 dirham.
- Riad Jamai, 31 Oued Lahriqi Sidi Boujida, ☏ . A traditional riad that has been restored to its former slendour, with extremely helpful and welcoming staff. The rooms are large and comfortable and the breakfast will keep you going all day. The location is in a residential local area of the medina, a good walk from the main attractions, but near a gate (bab) for a short taxi ride to the busy medina. Its location ensures a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the main medina, whilst also providing local amenities for fruit and vegetables and everyday Fes life. €50-110.
- Dar El Menia (in the heart of Fez (Fes) Medina). This 14th-century dar, or courtyard house, has been completely restored using local craftsmen, techniques and materials and provides the perfect luxurious base to begin exploring the Medina of Fez. It's next to Talaa Kebira, the Medina's main street, so it offers easy access to all major sites of interest. Dar El Menia is run and owned by an Englishman, Graham Coules. The Dar El Menia website also has information regarding desert tours, cooking schools, cafes/restaurants and nearby sites of interest. Rooms €40-75.
- Dar Anebar. Beautiful riad decorated in a traditional Moroccan style, but including a host of modern amenities. This place is really the best of both worlds: if you stay in the Dar Anebar Annex, you can enjoy the elegance of a riad, while still having access to the convenience of free wifi, hot showers, and French toilets. Also great location, just minutes from Bab Guissa During the off-season, double rooms in the annex are only €65 per night..
- Dar Bennis. A traditional 18th-century house (riad) in the Medina for vacation or holiday rental for up to five people. This website also has lots of information about Fez museums, architecture, restaurants, real estate and monuments. from €80 for entire house.
- 3 Hotel Batha (near Bab Boud Jeloud beside Post Office). The outside of the hotel is great but the room are very basic and old. Just around the corner towards the Bab Bajeloud is an internet café run by a couple of very nice guys who speak English and will be more than willing to give you some insights on the best places to visit and explore in the city. About 520 dirham for double room with bathroom. The price is very high for the quality. The price for the internet café is 10 dirham/hr.
- Dar Bensouda, No.14 Zkak El Bghel, Quettanine., ☏ . Lovely riad transformed from a traditional palace with two courtyards and a swimming pool. Friendly and helpful English-speaking staff. from €66.
- 4 Riad Verus Dorm, Derb Arset Bennis, Douh, Batha, Fes Medina (Derb Arset Bennis), ☏ , , email@example.com. Check-in: 13:30, check-out: 11:30. Single-sex dorm rooms in a beautiful riad. Includes hot showers, fresh linen and soft towels, free Wifi, air-con and heating, flat screen TVs. Large breakfasts, plenty of chill out spaces, large terrace with incredible views over the Medina, night club, VIP pod, fun lively atmosphere, sheisha pipes, cooking classes, yoga. Quote Wikivoyage in your reservation for a 10% discount. English, Spanish and French spoken. dorm 225 dirham.
- Dar Othmane, No.76 Farrane Couicha, Chrabliyine., ☏ . Lovely family-run guesthouse in the heart of the medina, beautiful courtyard, roof terasse for relaxed evenings, 4 en suite rooms (single, double, triple),the souk is around the corner, Bab Boujiloud about 10 minutes walk. Friendly and helpful English-speaking staff. from US$40 per person in a double.
- Dar Fes Medina, 3 Lot Benjelloun, Ziat, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Built in 2008. The Guesthouse features easy access and Moorish decor. from US$75 per person in a double.
There are beautiful, comfortable guest-houses ("riads") in the medina of Fes el-Bali. They are expensive by Moroccan standards but offer luxury for about the price of a North American chain hotel. Some Moroccan proprietors prey on Westerners' culture-shock to direct business toward favored or overpriced services, so it is worth doing your research before going.
- Riad Arabesque, ☏ . Traditional hotel. 1000 dirham.
- Riad Fes (2001), 5 Derb Ben Slimane Zerbtana, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Riad Fes is renowned for its luxury, impeccable service and fine restaurant. Its Andalous pavilion and lounge have brought an even more vibrant edge to Fez’s most stylish Riad. With spectacular views of the Medina and the Atlas Mountains, Riad Fez is ideal for those travelling for business or pleasure.
- 5 Riad Numero 9, 9 Derb Lamside (in the heart of the medina), ☏ . Intimate boutique hotel. Franco-Mediterranean cuisine. What sets this establishment apart is the interesting decoration which is a juxtaposition of French and English vintage and Asian contemporary. The panoramic view from the rooftop terrace is one of the best in the medina. €100-200.
- Riad Tizwa, 15 Derb Gurebba, Batha, ☏ . Riad Tizwa is Morocco's first recognised environmental riad (by Clef Verte) a traditional Moroccan home in the heart of the medina. Five double bedrooms and English speaking staff makes for good service. Easy to find in the best area of the old town of Fes, the riad has wonderful freshly made breakfasts, a lovely roof terrace to relax on, and nice touches like handmade soap, rose petals, and a great selection of tasty Moroccan food.
- 6 Riad Verus, 1 Derb Arset Bennis (Batha), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 15.00, check-out: 11:30. Riad Verus is the brainchild of Nor and Nora. Between them they speak 7 languages and are very tourist savy and will bend over backwards to ensure you enjoy your stay and are safe.All rooms have wifi, air con, heating and are ensuite. The Riad has been beautifully restored with original mosaics, cedar wood designs and specialist plastering and meets all the new legal safety requirements for Hotel operation. The riad has a large salon, coffee bar, restaurant, chill out pod, amazing 360 degree panoramic views of the Medina from their roof terrace is very cool. The location is excellent, parking close by, around the corner from Ryad Sheherazade in the trendy neighbourhood. Breakfast is instagram worthy and guiding offered by the team of carefully chosen fun official guides. They also have a dorm room for €25 a night en suite for the budget traveller who wants to stay in style at an affordable price and meet other like-minded people. from €80. Dorm €25.
- [dead link] Riad Yacout. A fassi house in the medina restored on the norms and of tradition by the artisans of Fez.
- 7 [formerly dead link] Riad Kettani, 3 Derb touil, Derb Jamâa (close to the tanneries in the medina), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Riad in the Medina. Has Hammam. €100.
As of May 2019, one traveler has confirmed two cases of bed bug infestations: one at Riad el Mizan and another very close by at Dar Naima. These are highly unlikely to be isolated incidents. Also, see the general information on riads.
Fez is somewhat safe, but crowded. Take standard precautions regarding wallet, purse, etc.
If you hear "Belek! Belek!" behind you, stand aside because a heavily-laden donkey is bearing down on you!
Appear to know where you are going, even if you don't, or you will get offers from false guides. False guides are not dangerous but they can be exasperatingly tenacious. Best technique is to not even acknowledge their presence. That is rude and they won't be pleased, but it is better than to have them walk with you for half an hour. If you have to ask directions ask someone that is obviously busy in their own business or a shopkeeper behind a counter, and try to appear as sure as you can of the way you are going ("This way to Bab R'cif, right?"). Getting caught with a faux guide will cost you, but it will cost the faux guide more: they can receive up to 2 days imprisonment if they get caught. Police are often in plain clothes, so be wary! A useful strategy with false guides is to say all the lines they have been taught before they have said them to show you know what you are doing; they all say the same thing so just learn it and repeat.
Due to the maze like alleyways in Fes El Bali (Medina) touts will often attempt to mislead visitors by saying this road is closed further down, then offer to take you to a different direction, obviously with intention to turn quick profit out of the unsuspecting foreigner. This is especially endemic around the tanneries. It's best not to take advice from any locals in touristy areas.
As elsewhere in Morocco, lone women usually experience harassment in alleys.
You should also beware of hustlers (aka con-artists); Fez has far more of them than almost everywhere else and they use more sophisticated techniques. An example of a prominent and rampant scam occurs where you come into Fez by train or bus (even the bus driver) and someone talks to you saying he is coming to visit his relatives, and is actually a respectable outsider (e.g. an owner of a hotel). He will then ask you to come eat with his relatives (their "cousins" or "brothers") and when you get there they will spend most of the time trying to suggest accommodation, offering you tours where they gain commission from all the (especially Carpet) shops, and even organize expensive desert excursions that are actually just you driving in circles just outside the city for three days. Note, especially refrain from handing over your credit card in such situations, you will not get it back. Coming in by plane is the easiest and hassle free way of coming to Fez: there are no touts at the airport and the prices of the taxis are fixed by the government.
There are many other scams and annoyances trying to get you into a shop/restaurant/hotel with various degrees of lying in the stories people make up. If in doubt, be independent and look for yourself e.g. whether the hotel you want to go to is indeed closed or under construction.
This is unfortunately one of the sad things about Morocco, that you get to distrust every one, even those people who are genuinely friendly and hospitable, because sometimes this is only a façade.
A decent number of restaurants in the medina offer wifi.
SIM cards offering 4G service and one week of data up to 1 gigabyte (abbreviated Go, as in French gigaoctet) are available in many stores. In 2017, a SIM card by provider INWI (there are others) can be obtained for 30 dirham. Keep the credit-card-sized card the SIM comes in, it may have a PIN number you'll need to set up the service.
For some visitors, Fez requires a real change of outlook or it will be a very high-stress trip. Shopkeepers and guides are very assertive and you will have to get used to saying "no" a lot. On the other hand, they can be genuinely warm and friendly even while trying to sell you something, an idea that is pretty alien to some.
Non-Muslims are not allowed to visit mosques, although they can visit the medrases (religious schools).
- A visit to the ancient Roman site of Volubilis is a must. This crumbling yet spectacular city has stunning mosaics on offer, and you can easily spend a couple of hours ambling through the ruins.
- Meknes is worth a visit, if only due to its calmer and less crowded medina, which has ample shopping opportunities.