Fes in a day – my top 5
If you’re passing through the city of Fes – perhaps on your way to Marrakech – then you might be limited on time for visiting all the major attractions of the city.
Therefore, it would be advisable to restrict your activities to one area of town in order to get the most out of your day – here is my area suggestion and the top 5 things to do there.
Note: if you’re not short on time, check out my list of recommended extras at the end of this article – plenty to fill another couple of days!
Fes el Bali
This is the area that I recommend visiting in Fes. It has lots of things to do within a relatively small radius. Here are my top 5 suggestions in order of preference:
1. Watch people dyeing at the Chouara Tannery
Dyeing not dying! As in, watch craftsmen add dye to leather goods, NOT watching people’s lives come to an end. Okay, so the play on words was deliberate, but it got your attention right?
Now that I have your attention: please visit a tannery in Fes! It’s such a cool and unique thing to do. You can watch as the tanners treat the leather hides in a step by step process, using different vats of liquid for different purposes (i.e. to make the skins softer and therefore easier to remove the hairs, or to promote the absorption of the dye).
Two such tanneries in Fes el Bali are Sidi Moussa and Chouara. I visited the latter and had a great experience. From the viewing platform you can even see the hills on the outskirts of the city.
This experience was so cool it features in my Moroccan Adventures YouTube video! Click here to view it.
2. Drink Mint Tea (smoking shisha optional)
My favourite culinary experience in Fes was not actually to do with food (that’s a first)! Instead, it was the quality of the mint tea that really got me hooked! Although, looking back, it probably did have heaps of sugar…
Regardless of the sugar content, the mint tea in Fes is made with plenty of the freshest mint leaves from surrounding farms, and you really should try some whilst in the city. My personal preference was the rooftop terrace of Hotel Cascade, but you’ll be able to find it almost anywhere.
Smoking shisha apparently goes hand in hand with drinking mint tea and is therefore offered at many cafes. Obviously this is down to personal preference whether you partake or not, but I’m just making you aware that it’ll likely be an option.
3. Blue Gate
The iconic blue gate is the gateway (funny that) to Fes el Bali – the main ‘old town’ area of Fes. It’s nice to swing by and admire for a few minutes, but not really much else. As I said, these suggestions are for a 1 day whistle-stop tour of Fes so no hanging about!
4. Bab Bou Jeloud Mosque
A stone’s throw from the Blue Gate is this unassuming mosque. Not very attractive from the outside but once inside it opens up into a large courtyard with pretty arches, pillars and decorated walls.
Note: because it is primarily an active place of worship, be respectful towards worshippers and adhere to any dress requests that are made of you prior to entering.
5. Relax in the Jnan Sbil Gardens
If you finish all of the above and feel like something a little more relaxing, take a stroll through these well kept gardens. They feature fountains, flowers, benches and plenty of shade (a life-saver in the summer!).
More on Morocco: Best side trips from Marrakech.
➲ Palais Royal Dar el Makhzen (Royal Palace. Can’t go inside but gates are worth the views from outside)
➲ Kairaouine Mosque (Morocco’s 2nd largest mosque & world’s oldest university)
➲ Maze of Fez (rug shop)
➲ Aben Danan Synagogue (place of Jewish worship)
➲ Souk el Henna (covered marketplace)
➲ Nejjarine museum (specialising in wooden arts and crafts)