Things To Do In Fes, Morocco

Experience The Cultural Heart of Morocco


The northern Morocco city of Fes (also spelt Fez) is known as the spiritual and cultural centre of the country. At one time, the city was the capital of Morocco, taking over the title from Marrakech, over 570km to the south. That was way back in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Today, Rabat is the seat of government and Morocco’s administrative centre, but Fes retains its crown as Morocco’s cultural capital.

Fes is also Morocco’s second-largest city after Casablanca and visitors taking a tour of Fes have a wealth of sights to savour — everything from stunning architecture and colourful bazaars to the world’s oldest university still in operation. It’s no wonder Fes carries the nicknames “Athens of Africa” and “Mecca of the West”.

Here are some highlights of things to see and do in Fes, Morocco.


  • Medina of Fes: Thought to be the biggest pedestrianised area anywhere in the world, the Medina of Fes is a World Heritage Site and a natural attraction for visitors to the city. This old, walled part of Fes is the place to enjoy strolling past all kinds of merchants, selling everything from spices to perfumes — and take in the historical essence of this exuberant metropolis of 1.4 million people.You can also dine at one of the many local restaurants, savouring kebabs and other types of Moroccan fare as you watch the world go by. UNESCO says the medina “preserves, in an ancient part comprising numerous monumental buildings, the memory of the capital founded by the Idrisid dynasty between 789 and 808 AD.”
  • University of al-Qarawiyyin: You can visit the world’s oldest university, which traces its origins back over 1,000 years to 859. It is still handing out degrees today, attracting students from all over the world at what is now a state university with an emphasis on legal, religious and language studies. The university also incorporates a mosque and library that are only open to Muslim students.  Combined, they represent the spiritual, educational and cultural heart of the city and, indeed, the entire country.
  • Bou Inania Madrasa: For a small fee, you can visit this Islamic boarding school and marvel at its traditional architecture and intricate wood carving and classic Zellige tilework as you wander around the beautiful courtyard and take in the exquisite scenery. All told, this building encapsulates the height of Morocco’s design, creativity and beauty and is a place is not to be missed when you’re in Fes.

Other places you can visit in Fes include the city’s famous leather tanneries. Watch out for pushy guides on the streets who may offer to take you, as all you need to do is enter one of the many leather shops in the city, which have balconies offering views of the tanneries. Also, take a walk, of about half an hour from the central medina, to the ornate Bab Al Amer Gate. Don’t overlook the spectacular Jnan sbil Gardens with their fountains and river — a great place to relax after a day’s sightseeing in this most magical of Morocco’s cities.

If you have time to head outside the city, you can visit the ancient Berber city of Volubilis and its spectacular Roman ruins — showing the Roman empire’s ultimately doomed attempts at taking over this part of North Africa that ended in the third century AD. The city is now a World Heritage site and you can spend an hour or two among the crumbling structures that once held so much promise for the ambitious Roman emperors.

Experience the magic of Fes and wider Morocco on an unforgettable trip organised just for you by the experts at Desert Majesty. Get in touch now and we’ll tell you more.

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