This is your ONE STOP travel guide to two days in Fes, with an in-depth self guided walking tour and map of the Fes el-Bali Medina & Souq. You are welcome!
Getting around Fes is no easy task, but we have laid it out step by step. We even stayed in Fes longer than originally planned, just to map out this awesome self guided walking tour for other travellers. If you want to know how to get to Fes, where to stay and eat in Fes, the best things to do in Fes and how to spend two days in Fes… it’s all here!
On day one in Fes take our self guided walking tour through the Medina, complete with directions and a little overview of each location. We also share links to Wikipedia or the Lonely Planet if you like to dig deeper into the history side of things. On day two in Fes, find some off the beaten path destinations and more unique things to do outside the medina. From the Marinid Tombs, to Fes el-Jdid or the Bou Jeloud Gardens.
But what you’ll love the most is our guide to visiting the Chouara Tannery. Not only will you visit the shop balconies for a birds eye view, but we tell you exactly how to get up close and personal on the ground floor.
We share the mistakes we made, so you won’t find your self in the same situation. We recommend a cooking class, a sunset lookout, a stunning riad to stay at, the best restaurants and a detailed guide to getting to Fes by train, bus or plane!
This thorough guide is your essential handbook for an independent visit to Fes. We hope you enjoy exploring the Fes el-Bali Medina on this self guided walking tour as much as we did!
Table of Contents
Where is Fes & What is it Known For
* This post may contain affiliate links that may earn me a small commission should you decide to click through and make a valid purchase (at no extra cost to you). Thanks for your support!
Fes, is Morocco’s second largest city and the capital of the Meknes region. It’s located inland at the northern end of the country, and a five to six hour drive north from Marrakech. Or just over two hours east of Rabat and five hours south of Tangier.
Known as Morocco’s cultural capital, it’s a MUST visit for anyone looking to explore Morocco. The Medina, or Fes el-Bali, is not only the biggest Medina in the world, but also the oldest. This makes it a highlight on any Morocco itinerary.
The fondouks or workshops in Fes are unique. This is the place to go if you want to see craftsmen creating products from wood, ceramic, leather and metal. See artisans hard at work, developing their craft in small street side workshops. Not to mention, the must-see riads, madrasas, mosques and museums, which make it a truly special place to visit.
And of course, Fes is probably most famously known by international travellers for the tanneries. The infamous pictures – clusters of vats, where animal hides are cleaned and dyed in preparation for the leather works.
Fes is one of a kind, but sometimes it’s not kind to travellers. In which case we’re here to help you with tips and a self guided walking tour of Fes to help you out!
When is the Best Time to Visit Fes
July and August in Fes is hot and humid. Getting around can be hard going, we know because we visited in July. So we recommend that you plan a visit either side of the summer holidays. Ideally, February to April which is Spring, and September to November in the Autumn months.
Thereby you’ll be making the most of the milder weather, while at the same time avoiding the peak of the international and domestic tourism summer season. Temperatures in winter average around highs of 18°C highs to lows of 5°C. And in summer, temperatures soar to highs of 40°C and lows of 18°C.
How to Get to Fes
As mentioned above, Fes is a two to six hour drive from most of Morocco’s major cities. These include, Marrakesh, Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier. And given that most travellers include Fes within a larger itinerary of Morocco there are numerous ways of getting there.
Below is a list of possible transport ideas to help you get to Fes…
Flying Direct to Fès–Saïss
If Fes is to be your first destination in Morocco, then flying direct is easy. The international airport Fès–Saïss (FEZ) is only 17km from the city centre.
Both Ryan Air and Air Arabia Maroc provide direct daily flights to Fes from various international destinations within Europe. With Ryan Air, offering the most extensive list of direct flights. However flights from Asia and the United States will require a stopover.
To get from Fès–Saïss airport to the Medina, take bus line 16 which makes a stop at the Blue Gate – Bab Boujloud. This is the cheapest option to get to the city and you can buy tickets on the bus. Alternatively, catch a collective or shared taxi, take your own taxi or book a private transfer here.
Driving and Parking in Fes
If you are looking to self-drive through Morocco, then you’ll be glad to know that the highways are reasonably easy to drive and navigate. We met many van-lifers and travellers with rental cars driving through Morocco. We always recommend the booking platform Qeeq… who from our experience offer the best discounts.
Keep in mind, that the major cities of Morocco are going to be a little more stressful! And if you’re staying in the car-free Medinas you’ll need to do your homework on where to park. Several large carparks are situated outside the Fes Medina at main babs or gates. So depending on the location of your accommodation, check google maps for the nearest park.
As a main point of reference, Parking Bab Boujloud at the main entrance and top of the Medina is a good place to start. Here you can park your car or campervan throughout the day and night for a few Euros.
Taking the Train with ONCF
One of the best ways to travel to Fes is by train, which is operated by ONCF. And multiple trains run daily from Marrakech to Fes. In fact, this train is probably the quickest and cheapest way to travel between Marrakech and Fes. Stopping in Casablanca, Rabat and Meknes on the way, the trip takes just under seven hours. In terms of cost, one way tickets range between 150 MAD and 320 MAD depending on the time of year and ticket class that you book.
We travelled from Marrakech to Fes on the ONCF train in 2nd Class. It was comfortable but certainly cosy when all eight seats were full. We recommend that if you have a lot of luggage and prefer more space then book the 1st Class seats. But generally speaking, we highly recommend the train as a quick and efficient means of travel.
Currently the high speed train Al Boraq, only runs between Casablanca and Tangier, but there are also plans to extend it to Fes in the near future. This will make travel not only quicker but also easier in the North of Morocco.
Bus with CTM or Supra Tours
The bus system is another alternative and common mode of transport in getting to Fes. Particularly if you’re coming from closer destinations such as Meknes or Chefchaouen. You’ll find several carriers but the most popular and efficient from these nearer destinations is CTM.
However if you are travelling from Marrakech we recommend the train or Supra Tours bus. CTM tickets from Marrakech cost approximately 170 to 240 MAD and the journey can take between eight to ten hours depending on your ticket selection. While Supra Tours, run a better timetable and ticket rate, at 200 MAD with a travel time of six and a half hours.
Where to Stay in Fes
We loved staying in the Fes Medina… if you travel to Morocco you want an experience to remember. Am I right?
Well then, you absolutely must stay in the Fes Medina in a riad or dar. It doesn’t get much better than that. We made an extensive research of the best riads in Fes and these are the top two that we found –
- Dar Seffarine – this is my top choice for exquisite detail and authenticity. The owners Alaa and Kate have created a unique space, elegantly paying respect to Moorish architecture. Near Seffarine Square, it doesn’t get much more in the heart of the busy Medina than this.
- Riad Tizwa Fes – the lovely team of Riad Tizwa will make your stay the best. Riad Tizwa is my second favourite place to stay in Fes. You’ll love this boutique riad, including the design and traditional Moroccan finishes.
A Map of Fes Medina
Click this interactive map to zoom in and out of the destinations listed here below on our guide. Follow the routes in our recommended order for the best walking tour of Fes!
Day One in Fes – A Self Guided Walking Tour in the Medina
Following are the top sites we recommend you visit within the Fes Medina. They are listed below in order of our recommended route.
For the purpose of ease, we recommend that you read through our list of top things to do and see in Fes. At the same time, identify the key places that you want to visit. Then read on to the highlighted text boxes. These will help you navigate your way around the busy Medina to your points of interest.
Beginning our Self Guided Walking Tour of Fes
This self guided walking tour of Fes covers approximately a 4km round trip. Which you could finish in three to four hours if you wish. However, if you like to take your time and include a little shopping, it could take you most, if not all of the day. Based on this, the start time is entirely up to you. Though we would suggest you start early to beat the rush, as most guided tours of the Fes Medina start around 10am. Also, keep in mind that the first site Bou Inania Madrasa opens at 9am.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
We start this tour at (#1) Bab Boujloud or the Blue Gate on the western side of the Medina. For those driving there is a large carpark close by Bab Boujloud. For those taking a Petit taxi or collective, it is a very well-known point that all drivers know well.
#1 Bab Boujloud or the Blue Gate
The Blue Gate or Bab Boujloud is at the highest point of the Medina and one of the most popular entrances to Fes el-Bali Medina. It’s a key landmark and also the start and finish point of our self guided walking tour of Fes. We recommend you flag it on Google Maps!
Admire the gate, get a photo in front and then get moving… you have a lot of ground to cover!
🚶Walking Tour Directions
Bab Boujloud is located on the western corner of the Medina, entering into a small square. From here the road divides, Tala’a Kebira to the left, and Tala’a Seghira to the right. It’s important to note that these are the two main streets running through the Medina. They both run downhill from west to east, meeting again near the Al Qarawiyyin University.
#2 Rainbow Street
Rainbow Street may be a hit or miss, sadly it was a miss for us. Everything we’d read prior, described a beautiful brightly coloured street. In our case… the paint was faded and the empty street didn’t resemble the images we had seen online. So if it’s a no show for you too, then onto the next!
🚶Walking Tour Directions
As you enter the Bab Boujloud you’ll be facing east. Continue straight along Tala’a Seghira and the road makes a turn to the right, then left. And only 140m or a two minute walk from Bab Boujloud, is our first stop… this is (#2) Rainbow Street, SO keep a look out to your left.
#3 Bou Inania Madrasa
Originally completing construction in the year 1355 AD, the Islamic School Bou Inania Madrasa has undergone several renovations over time. The most recent renovation was funded by the Moroccan government and took place in 2017, along with the renovations of six other similar institutes.
This is one of two Madrasas on the tour. And as they are small and rather popular, it’s a good idea to visit early.
This gives you a great opportunity to really appreciate the architecture and the stunning craftmanship used in its construction. From the marble floors, the detailed and delicate mosaic tiles, the elaborate stucco and ornate wood work.
The Bou Inania Madrasa was my personal favourite given the fact it was less frequently visited. It is also however a little erratic with timings. The Madrasa is supposed to be open seven days a week between the hours of 9am to 6pm, but I advise that this is subject to change. The price for entry is xxx
🚶Walking Tour Directions
Moving on from Rainbow Street, continue down this alley way, as this will connect you to Tala’a Kebira, which is the other main street in the Medina. When there, turn left towards (#3) Bou Inania Madrasa and (#4) Water Clock.
The Bou Inania Madrasa is just metres away, and will be on your left and the (#4) Dar al-Magana – Water Clock directly opposite on your right.
#4 Dar al-Magana – Water Clock
This one is free to see! And you’d be forgiven for walking right past the Water Clock or Dar al-Magana and not noticing it. It really doesn’t look like a clock at all in fact!
Built during the same time and opposite of the Bou Inania Madrasa, the Water Clock is certainly worth a minute or two of your time.
Construction was completed in 1357 AD, but sadly it no longer works. Though, not for lack of trying. Attempts to restore the clock have been unsuccessful due to a lack of instruction handed down through history.
Look up and admire the intricately carved wooden panels on the façade of the clock. You’ll notice 12 small windows, and large cedar beams which protrude from above and below. These lower beams once had brass bowls attached which have been removed for restorations. And when the clock functioned, metal balls would drop from the corresponding window into the bowl, which would subsequently chime the hour.
My Free Range Family Travel Tip: Don’t forget to look up in Fes!
#5 Place Nejjarine or Square & Carpenters Souq
The small Nejjarine Square is connected to the Nejjarine Museum and is also where you’ll find the intricately tiled Nejjarine water fountain. There are several small cafés if you wish to stop for a mint tea.
Just off the square you’ll find a small street that has several carpenters’ workshops. Feel free to wander these couple of small alleys as you watch the craftsmen ply their trade. Then loop back to the Square before visiting the Nejjarine Museum & Fondouk.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
From the Bou Inania Madrasa and Water Clock you have a long 1 km walk to the next stop. Continue back towards the east, or down Tala’a Kebira, and stop off at small shops and fondouks of interest along the way.
Then turn right into Derb Zkak lahjar, and make a quick left onto Derb Dermami. This will lead you to (#5) Place Nejjarine, the Carpenters Souq & (#6) Nejjarine Fondouk.
#6 Nejjarine Museum & Fondouk
The stunning Nejjarine Fondouk or Museum, commissioned in 1711, was originally an Inn and trading centre. It catered for travellers and traders visiting Fes as part of the working caravans. Impressively, the riad style Fondouk was used for both storage and accommodation.
With its grand front gates and large internal courtyard, caravans were able to bring their goods directly inside by camel and carriage. From here traders would unload their wares using the internal hoists and store them in the provided spaces. All the while providing room for the travellers and their animals.
In the 1940’s the Nejjarine Museum served as a police station to the French. And more recently in 1990, renovations saw the Fondouk reopened in 1998 to the public as a private museum. The Museum showcases Morocco’s history of woodwork, art and craft. Over the three floors you’ll find rooms displaying the tools and equipment that have been fundamental to the wood trade in Fes. And don’t miss a visit to the roof-top terrace, as the views over Fes el-Bali Medina are worth it.
You’ll find Nejjarine Fondouk, open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, for a fee of 20 MAD per person.
#7 Henna Souq
This is one of the oldest Souqs in Fes – the beautiful Henna Souq. Originally, it was solely used for selling henna, natural medicines and cosmetics. It’s more or less the same today, only some stall holders now include ceramics, antiques and other tourist collectables to their stalls.
This small courtyard is in a very picturesque location, shaded by a large central sycamore tree. It’s also the entrance to the Maristane Sidi Frej, an old psychiatric hospital built in the 13th century.
There was something peaceful about the Henna Souq that I personally enjoyed… some calm among the chaos of the Fes Medina. It won’t cost you anything to visit, and vendors will call out trying to encourage you to try their products. This is a good place to learn more about henna, or if your prefer smile, wave, say thank you and move on.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
After you have checked out the Nejjarine Square and all there is to see here, walk away from Fondouk and fountain. And at the end of this small street turn left up Derb Sidi Moussa street. Following this, make a quick right just before entering back onto Tala’a Kebira. This is the entrance to the (#7) Henna souq.
#8 Zawiya or Mausoleum of Moulay Idris II
The Zawiya or Mausoleum of Moulay Idris II is a key monument to Moroccan history. Let me explain why…
Leader Moulay Idris I, is the direct descendant of Prophet Mohammed. And following his death, his son Moulay Idris II rose to power, ruling from 807 – 828. All though it was Idris I who originally established Fes, it was Idris II who reestablished Fes as the capital some 20 years later. Many in fact consider him as the main founder of Fes.
In early history the Zawiya and surrounding area was a mosque, and only later became recognised as the mausoleum and shrine of Moulay Idris II.
So the story goes… the mosque underwent renovation in 1437, at which time a body, believed to be that of Moulay Idris II, was discovered. Following this discovery, the Zawiya then became noted as the shrine and Mausoleum of Moulay Idris II, some 600 years after his death.
Therefore, the area surrounding the mausoleum is considered to be one of the holiest places in Fes. Which through history was a space known among muslim, to be a place of refuge and sanctuary. These areas are marked by low horizontal wooden beams that you need to lower your head, in order to pass under.
Non-muslims are not allowed to enter the mausoleum or mosque. However, you can walk from the main entrance and around the exterior, to admire the architecture and history.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
Exit the Henna Souq to the left of the hospital entrance, this is the opposite end that you entered from, and brings you back to Tala’a Kebira.
Turn right into the Attarine Market. Follow the alleyway towards the (#8) Mausoleum of Moulay Idris II. Go under the low wooden beam mentioned above, veer right and you’ll find yourself at the gorgeous decorative doors. Continue this path following the exterior wall to circumnavigate the Mausoleum and Mosque. In doing so you’ll pass by the various copper cladded entrance doors including the intricately carved western entrance that leads into the Sanctuary.
#9 Al Attarine Madrasa
The Al Attarine Madrasa is an Islamic school located in the heart of the Fes Medina, right next to the Al Qarawiyyin Mosque & University. It was built between 1323 and 1325, by the Marinid Sultan Uthman II. It takes its name from the spice and perfume souq in front of which it’s located.
As this is no longer an operating madrasa, non-muslim have access to both its impressive courtyard and the rooms upstairs where students were once housed. You also have access to the roof top where you can get a glimpse of Al Qarawiyyin Mosque & University. Entrance is 20 MAD per person.
This is quite small when compared to other madrasas you may visit in Morocco. However, what it may lack in size, it makes up for in detail.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
From here you can either follow the walls all the way around and back to Tala’a Kebira. Wherein you will then need to turn right and continue down to (#9) Al Attarine Madrasa.
Alternatively, once you have reached the back of the Mausoleum. Take one of the two smaller alleys on your right, which will also lead you down to (#9) Al Attarine Madrasa.
#10 Al Qarawiyyin University & Mosque
The University Al Qarawiyyin, (or al-Karaouine) both mosque and madrasa, was founded in 857 to 859 by Fatima al-Fihri. This legendary woman, yes woman, immigrated to Morocco with her family from Tunisia. As the daughter of a wealthy merchant, she used her inheritance to build the facilities, in order to give back to the community.
UNESCO and the Guinness book of records consider this to be the oldest university in the world. Or the oldest continually running higher education institute.
As it’s still an operating mosque, non-muslims are not able to enter. However, you can wander around its exterior, admiring the various gates while appreciating this piece of history.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
Your next stop and right beside the Al Attarine Madrasa is the (#10) Al Qarawiyyin University and Mosque. As mentioned the interior is not accessible to non-muslims, however a walk around the exterior of this historical building in the heart of the medina is well worth it.
#11 Place Seffarine
This small, but at times bustling square is home to numerous coppersmiths. Place Seffarine is a great place to take five after you have emerged from the hustle and bustle of the central Medina. Grab a mint tea, coffee or orange juice, sit back and enjoy watching the craftsmen at work, while the general life of the Medina unfolds. Also, look out for the al Qarawiyyin Library which is located here.
Say hello to the infamous coppersmith and admire his copper works. If you see him at work, banging away at a bowl or plate with his hand tools, you’ll wonder how his hearing is still intact. But hear you he does! Then he’ll proceed to proudly show you photos of himself taken in his youth, learning the trade of which he is now an artist.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
After you’ve strolled around the university your next stop is (#11) Place Seffarine or the coppersmiths square. This is a short two or three minute walk south east. So walk in the direction of the nougat street stalls and follow this street down, around and veering towards the left.
Spend some time interacting with the locals in Seffarine Sqaure, then it’s time to make your way to (#12) Chouara Tannery.
#12 Chouara Tannery
The tanneries of Fes, for most travellers are one of the main attractions in visiting the Medina. They have been around since the city was born.
Over time and for various reasons, many tanneries have moved beyond the city. Today only three remain within the Medina. These are Sidi Moussa, Ain Azliten and Chouara. However, it is Chouara Tannery which is the most photographed and largest of the three. Read on for how to get the best out of self guided tour of the tannery.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
From Place Seffarine, keep Qarawiyyin Library on your left side, and walk away from the square. On your right is Derb Machatine, turn down this alleyway and continue along until it becomes Derb Chouara. Congratulations… you have made it to the (#12) Chouara Tannery! Be prepared for the touts and don’t let them walk with or ‘guide’ you anywhere!
How to Visit Chouara Tannery
Returning to the Chouara Tanneries over several days we did our research on how best to visit. This is what we learnt…
The majority of people visit as part of a tour, and that means overlooking the tannery from a shop balcony. In this instance your guide organises everything. You’ll be given a bunch of mint by the shop owner or guide, to dull the pungent smell of the tannery. Next you are walked up several flights of stairs to the store viewing platform to catch a birds eye view of the tannery.
But our mission was to see the tannery from the shop balconies AND from the floor. We wanted to see if it was possible to do it without a guide, and at the same time without upsetting anyone, or being taken advantage of by touts.
The Upper Tannery Experience – The Shops
There are a few shops who offer this balcony experience and they are generally referred to by their shop number.
We visited shops number 10 and 64 (I think). Basically, as you walk by you’ll either be greeted at the front door or accosted on the street by one of the staff. Whatever you do, we recommend that you agree a price before entering – 10 MAD per person is a fair price.
From the front door you’re guided up three or four floors. Each jam packed with a myriad of leather goods on display. From the top floor you’re lead out onto the balcony, given a brief spiel on the tannery and then left to take your photos and watch the men at work. The balcony view is supposedly free if you buy something.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
Shop 10 – Walking along Rue Chouara you will see signs for Shop 10, for a view of the tannery from their balcony.
Alternative Shops – Continue along Rue Chouara and you’ll find other shop balconies. After Shop 10 we took the first right into an alleyway. We followed this to the VERY end (a dead end) and visited another balcony.
The Lower Tannery Experience – The Vats
Now for those of you who are keen to get a closer look, this IS possible. Read the Walking Tour Directions below.
Here on the tannery floor, you’ll be shown around the main tanning vats. This is a great opportunity to see some of the other activities in the process. Including the drying racks, the trimming and cleaning processes, through to how the hides are softened after they are dyed. For a tour of the tannery we paid 20 MAD for two adults, the kids were free.
We must stress that if you do this, you must agree a price with the tannery ‘security’ before you go too far. These self-appointed ‘security’ guys will happily tour you through, but you don’t want to end up trying to haggle a price after the fact.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
Tannery Ground Floor – On Rue Chouara, before Shop Number 10 look for a white arch. This will lead down to the tannery ground level. Towards the bottom you will start to see some of the workshops connected to the Tannery. Then at the bottom you will find the entrance, where someone will undoubtedly approach you. Don’t pay more than 10 MAD per person for a tour!
Self Guided Walking Tour Tips for Fes
- You won’t need a guided tour to get around. If you’re not in a hurry and not concerned about getting a little lost you will be absolutely fine.
- Don’t pull out a paper map too frequently as you’ll attract unwanted attention.
- Don’t panic if you get lost.
🚶Walking Tour Directions
This brings you to the end of our self guided walking tour of Fes. From here it’s up to you if you wish to explore more or part take in a little souq bargaining. To find your way back to Bab Boujloud, first head back to (#9) Al Attarine Madrasa. Which will connect you back to Rue Tala’a Kebira, which you can follow all the way back to (#1) Bab Boujloud.
Alternative Route – Walking back along Rue Tala’a Kebira, look for Zkak Rouah street on your left. This will lead onto Rue Tala’a Seghira the other main route back to Bab Boujloud.
Sunset View Option – Make your way up to (#13) Marinid Tombs. It’s north of the Medina, but an easy walk or taxi if you wish.
Day Two in Fes – Other Places to See
If you’re lucky enough to be staying in Fes for two days then you must check out these locations…
#13 Marinid Tombs
At the end of the day, don’t miss the 20 to 30 minute walk up to the Marinid Tombs lookout. These ruined tombs are a necropolis dating from the Marinid Dynasty in the 13th to the 15th Century. From up here you’ll have an incredible view of the Fes Medina in it’s entirety, from East to West.
#14 Place R’cif & Bab R’cif
This is another popular square and gate into Fes el-Bali, perhaps lesser visited by tourists. The square is a very communal area, so a great place to people watch while grabbing a snack or two from the various vendors.
The nearby R’cif Mosque is special in that its minaret is one of the tallest in the Medina.
#15 Fes el-Jdid & Sights
Fes el-Jdid is the second Medina in Fes. Built in the mid 13th century, it was originally built as a Citadel alongside Fes el-Bali to house the capitals government. The new Medina also included a Royal Palace, military and residential housing, and a new Jewish quarter or Jewish Mellah.
Unfortunately entry into the palace is not allowed. However the impressive front gates are worth a look and make for an impressive photo.
A stroll through Fes el-Jdid and its Jewish quarter is definitely worth it. Especially if you’re looking for a little break from Fes el-Bali. It’s not as frequented by tourists, but a hub for local residents for shopping and general daily life. With its wider streets and unique architecture it makes for a nice change.
While there make sure to check out Ibn Danan Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery.
#16 Jnan Sbil Gardens
These gardens are a short stroll from Bab Boujloud and can be a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Fes el-Bali. This space is popular in the later afternoons in summer with local families and can get very busy. It’s a nice spot to pick up a coffee, then head with a book or laptop.
#17 Take a Cooking Lesson
If you’re a foodie or one who likes to dabble in the kitchen, then this is a must. It’s also a great excuse to buy that tagine! Then when you return from your Moroccan holiday you’ll be able to show off your new found ability to cook Moroccan cuisine.
We did a cooking class at Bab Sahra and enjoyed every minute of it. Start the lesson with a visit to the local markets to buy the produce. Then head back to the beautiful purpose built kitchen to cook up a storm. And the best part of all, is that the class ends with a Moroccan feast!
Read our full review of Bab Sahra Cooking Class Review here.
A Registered Guided Walking Tour in Fes
If you get to this point, and you’ve decided that perhaps a self guided walking tour in Fes might be a little out of your comfort zone. Well don’t stress as we have selected the below registered guides to help you out.
It’s important when selected a guided walking tour in Fes that your guide is registered. In other words, he needs to be wearing an official lanyard around his neck.
We tried both a guided walking tour in Fes one day, and then decided to explore by ourselves on two other days. This gave us greater freedom to explore the tanneries at the ground level. But also to see for ourselves what navigating the Fes Medina is really like.
In short, I believe it’s possible for anyone to get around the Medina, it’s not overly scary, and with Google Maps and our guide here to help it’s definitely doable.
And hey you’ll never know till you try!
Places to Eat in Fes
As you can imagine Fes has no shortage of restaurants which cater to everyone’s needs and budgets. For this tour we have concentrated purely on places along the walk. Thereby not complicating your journey in the many side roads and alleyways of the Medina.
Breakfast and Snack Food
To start with, let’s look at snacks for both the walk and possibly a breakfast on the go. Moroccan bread such as m’semen, beghrir & harcha are just some of our favourites. These breads are generally for breakfast but we enjoyed them all day long. Batbout are also great as an all-day snack or meal that you can have with Nutella, honey or our personal favourite honey and cheese. They are great to grab on the go and cost very little.
For the breads, you will find small stalls throughout the Medina. However the man we used every morning during our five days in Fes, was near the Blue Gate. Enter the square via Bab Boujloud, then take the first street to your left that connects to Rue Tala’a Kebir.
Here at the top of Rue Tala’a Kebira is a small fruit and vegetable market. In this area there are a few bread stalls as well. If you have kids we recommend grabbing a few things from this part of the Medina to sustain hungry tummies throughout the day.
Read our complete post on our favourite street food that we recommend you try while travelling in Morocco.
For Lunch or Dinner
One of our favourite places to eat was Le Tarbouche, it’s perfect for both lunch and dinner. The restaurant has cool vibes, it’s small but cozy and right on Tala’a Kebira. There is a large timber and glass façade giving you great views of the foot traffic, as well as a tiny street terrace.
The staff were friendly, the menu perfectly varied and the food delicious. A combination of dishes from chimichangas to a pastilla or tagine, there is something for everyone. What’s best are the prices and great reviews on Trip Advisor.
For a typical Fes meal – try pastilla. This a meat dish sweetened with sugar and spices in a crispy pastry. It’s delicious and needs to be tried atleast once.
Fes is home to the original Clock Cafe which has now expanded with restaurants also opening in Marrakech and Chefchaouen. This is a very popular restaurant and is near the Water Clock after which it was named, on Rue Tala’a Kebira. It’s easy to find on Google maps, just look for the street signs to help you further find the alleyway and entrance.
This funky restaurant cafe, stretches across several floors of a traditional dar or riad. The large tiered roof top terrace provides great views over the surrounding area. And the interior is an eclectic mix of fixtures and fittings from traditional to modern, but all with a Moroccan feel.
The menu has a wide selection of options from Western to traditional Moroccan meals. In addition to excellent food, Café Clock also hosts cinema nights, cooking classes, jam nights, live music, and storytelling. So check out their website to see what’s on when you’re in town, but at the time of writing this was the weekly schedule for Fes.
- Story telling – Monday and Thursday 7pm
- Jam session – Wednesday 7pm
For a traditional Moroccan meal you HAVE to check out Bab Sahra. This restaurant has recently opened after an extensive refurbishment of the riad. Set over two floors, this restaurant is nothing short of a palace. With the addition of a roof top terrace that provides quite possibly the best views over the Fes Medina and up towards to Marinid Tombs.
The owners started the renovation work in 2019 and over a three year period have painstakingly refurbished the riad tile by tile. Using traditional techniques, local craftsman restored marble floors and fixtures, hand cut mosaics, intricate wood paneling and doors. It’s a true masterpiece of Moorish style architecture.
And the same quality seen in the restoration of the riad, is likewise reflected in the menu. A delightful selection of traditional Moroccan cuisine. The chicken, lemon and olive tagine is to die for!
They also have a wonderful team and have a purpose built kitchen, which is set up for traditional cooking classes. We thoroughly recommend this experience if you are staying in Fes for a couple of days… read above for more!
Is it Safe to Visit the Fes Medina
Fes’s Medina, like many others in Morocco, has its fair share of touts and opportunists. However, you may find those in Fes can be a little more insistent and possibly even at times aggressive. We recommend that you read this section so that you’re up to play on how to keep safe in Fes. Below we have listed just a couple of points that we thought were worth a mention.
Getting Lost in the Fes Medina
Fes is the biggest Medina in the world, and as such within the myriad of alleyways you will likely find yourself getting a little lost. Further adding to the Medina challenge, not all map apps are 100% accurate nor available when deep in the Medina. In which case, the best thing to do when this happens on your self guided walking tour of Fes is not to panic.
It’s important to remember that all roads will either lead back to the major arterial roads Rue Tala’a Kebir or Rue Tala’ Seghira, or an exterior bab or gate. The best thing to do is to keep moving and don’t look like you are lost. If however, you wish to ask for directions, it’s best to approach a shop owner, or an elderly person as it’s likely their help will be more genuine.
A really helpful piece of information we were given is that hexagon shaped signs are dead end streets. While square signs are through roads. This helped us out when we did get lost and were trying to get back to main roads.
If you’re approached by someone in the street who offers to show you the way, be aware that they most likely will expect to be paid. They may also lead you via a friend’s shop, in which both circumstances can end with paying something for their guidance.
Avoiding the Touts at the Chouara Tannery
If you decide to do a self guided walking tour of Fes, you will be approached by touts. As for the tannery shops, you will find that as you get close, touts will start to approach you. They’ll tell you all sorts of stories – that other tannery shops are closed, or you’re heading in the wrong direction. In turn, they’ll offer you a view from their balcony. When we visited the area surrounding the Chouara Tannery we were looking to explore and see what was about. And of course the narrow alleyways did lead to other tannery shops. So our advice here is don’t be in a rush to pick the first shop.
Stop, chat, wander further, don’t rush to make a decision, or be afraid to take the narrow alleyways. AND follow your nose!
Agree a Cost Beforehand
Travel safety 101 in Morocco… always agree a cost beforehand! This covers anything from a meal, drink, haircut, tour, or view from a tannery balcony. Particularly when costs are not displayed or given. It’s important that you agree a cost before any service is given, or item is consumed. If a cost is agreed beforehand then this is generally honoured.
If you’re told “as you like” or “a small tip… as you wish,” still push for a cost and if not, then make to walk away. At this point, you’ll probably be given a cost which you can then bargain with if you wish. This will save you both the embarrassment and the likelihood of being well over charged.
You’ll be approached by many touts in the Medina, this is a given. They’ll ask you to visit their shop, or restaurant, offer you tours, ask if you want directions, or even hash. Unfortunately, your “no” is not always heard the first or second time. We found that the best response is to remain polite and simply say no thank you in Arabic – La, Shukran! Which you may need to repeat once or twice.
Occasionally, this message may still be ignored, and from time to time, their replies may even get a little nasty. But we recommend just keep walking and eventually your persistent companion, will give up and move on. It’s not a nice experience and by no means justifiable. But at the same time, with a little empathy, you begin to consider it must be a difficult way of making a living and possibly supporting a family.
This is not something we personally experienced in Morocco, but we heard stories. We generally abide by the following points.
- Be aware of your surroundings in busy parts of the Medina.
- Try where possible not to give anyone an opportunity – i.e. don’t leave anything unattended.
- Keep two wallets – one secured away in a bag or locked in your accommodation with extra cards, drivers licence and passports. The second with you, carrying only one card and the cash you’ll need for the day.
- We also recommend keeping a few smaller notes in a zip pocket – 10 or 20 dirhams for a tip or tannery visit for example.
Other items that may be helpful are; anti-cutting or slashing back packs, chain wallets that allows you to connect the wallet to yourself, non-scannable wallets or sleeves so that your cards can’t be read, body straps or belt bags bags that allow you to keep your valuables less exposed.
Check out our blog for more information on keeping safe in Morocco (post coming soon).
More on Morocco
This brings us to the end of our guide to two days in Fes and self guided walking tour. We hope that it answers all your questions and gives you the confidence to explore the Medina independently.
Fes Medina is big, of that there is no doubt, but despite this it’s not as scary as you might thing. We recommend that you throw yourself into it… explore, get lost and find your way again. This is what makes the experience even more exciting. If you have any more detailed questions related to this self guided walking tour of Fes, please feel free to get in touch or to drop a question below.
And while you’re here don’t miss our other in-depth guides to Morocco –
- Things to do in Essaouira
- Things to do in Chefchaouen
- Things to do in Tangier
- Things to do in Marrakech
- Two Days Guided Tour of the Atlas Mountains
Pin or save this two days in Fes post, with self guided walking tour for your visit to Morocco!
We now travel full-time and have plenty more itineraries and guides to share on all the destinations we visit. Sign up to follow our journey! (And don’t worry we won’t spam you with unnecessary emails.)