Fez is the historical capital of Morocco and has one of the country's most impressive and elaborate medinas. It's authentic and traditional atmosphere attracts travelers from all over the world. It's fun to wander the city's elaborate alleyways, sample the food, and soak up the sights and smells. In Fez's median you'll find donkeys, carts, spices, and pottery. You'll find traditional foods, locals bartering for goods, and religious buildings that date back hundreds of years. The medina is also the world's largest car free urban zone.
Fez is located near the Atlas Mountains and has a Mediterranean climate. Winters can be cool and rainy while summers are hot and dry. Winter highs are typically in the high 50s Fahrenheit and summer highs can climb into the high 90s.
Fez is really about atmosphere. You should allow yourself plenty of time to get lost in the medina. Simply wander, with no real destination in mind, and you'll be surprised at what you see and find. If you're looking for specific attractions in Fez, there are also a good number of options. Be sure and visit Bou Inania madersa which is the historic religious college. It dates back to the 14th century and is an excellent example of Islamic architecture. Also don't miss the Merenid Tombs, which provide a breathtaking view of the the medina and sprawling city of Fez. Other sights include the Qaraouyine library and mosque and the al-Tijani mosque. Also be sure and visit a Berber Pharmacy and chat with the owner who will offer all kinds of information.
Fez has three main areas - Fez el-Bali (the Medina), Fez el-Jdid, and Ville Nouvelle. The medina is easily entered by the main gate of Bab Bou Jeloud on the western side. Fez el-Jdid is similar to the medina in that it has many tiny shops and markets, but the streets are much wider and the atmosphere is slightly different. The main sight in this neighborhood is the Royal Palace and the 14th century mellah, or Jewish Quarter. Ville Nouvelle is west of the medina. This area was built by the French and has large central squares, wide tree-lined streets, and busy cafes. There are many university students in the area and the shops are modern and contemporary.
It can be difficult to find affordable accommodation inside the medina, but if possible, persevere. You'll appreciate the convenient location and enjoy the evening ambiance that staying inside the medina offers. If not, stay just outside the gate for easy access at a lower price.
Most of your time in Fez will likely be spent exploring the city's vast medina. Visit the shops, chat with the locals, and sample the food that is available. Also make sure you visit the tanneries. The leather making techniques have not changed since the Middle Ages and the experience is truly unique.
Food and Dining
There are many wonderful restaurants within the medina. Some are more expensive and are obviously designed to cater to larger tour groups, while others are more reasonably priced with food that is equal or better in quality. There are also many great food stands where you can pick up a quick snack or breakfast. There are a decent number of markets located near the medina's main gate of Bab Boujeloud. They're fun to explore and you can pick up any number of snacks. Also make sure you start your morning with a mint tea. This is definitely the best way to begin your exploration of Fez.
Taxis are probably the best way to travel around Fez outside of the medina. Do negotiate the price hard and don't be afraid to let taxis go on if they aren't offering you a fair price. Technically you should insist they use the meter, but you'll be hard pressed to find a taxi driver who will actually do this. It likely isn't worth the time and effort, but do make sure a fair price is agreed upon before you sit down in the car. Be particularly diligent if you're traveling from the bus station to the medina, when taxi drivers are likely to charge you unfairly high prices.
Once in the medina you can walk everywhere. No cars are allowed so walking is really your only option. It's easy to get lost in the medina, but that is part of the fun. There are gates around the city where you can enter the medina and these gates will also help you get your bearings. It can also be helpful to pick up a map in advance just in case you do get lost.
Just Get Lost
By Bryan on Oct 28, 2011 in Entertainment
The best way to enjoy the huge medina of Fez is to just wander and get lost. Every now and then you will see some arrows and signs on the walls telling you which way to go, but they are not always frequent or helpful. Getting lost will allow you to experience the culture and food and ambiance. If you want to find a specific location such as the tanneries or the entrance gate, you can always ask someone or consult your map. It's very safe, there will always be other people around to help you find your way or at least point you towards a taxi to take you back to your hotel. Just enjoy the experience!