Famous for its vibrant souks, medieval architecture, mosques and gardens, Fes is one of Morocco’s famous cities. Whether this is your first trip to Morocco or you’ve been here a few times before, a 48-hour stay in Fes opens up tons of new and interesting things to do. While it’s almost impossible to experience everything, even if your trip lasts a week, this itinerary is designed to allow you to visit the Fes’s most famous attractions, alongside some of the lesser-known sites. Read on for suggestions on how to make the most of your time in Fes.
Things to know before traveling to Fes, Morocco:
Language – Moroccan Arabic and Berber are the most widely spoken languages in Morocco. Their second language is French and in cities like Tangier and Chefchaouen they are fluent in Spanish due to their proximity to Spain. English is emerging, especially in major cities, so you can get by without learning the language. However, speaking at least some Moroccan Arabic or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by locals.
Currency exchange – The official currency of Morocco is the Moroccan dirham. Currency can be changed at banks, Bureau de Change at the airport, authorized money changers and some hotels. Credits cards are commonly accepted in most mid-range to high-end restaurants and hotels in major cities. You may also use debit cards, but watch out for ATM fees and foreign transaction fees, which can be very high per transaction.
Clothing – Unlike any other Muslim countries, Morocco has no practical rules and regulation when it comes to clothing due to their close proximity to Europe. However, it is advisable not to show too much skin. Modest dress is best for men and women. For women, avoid revealing clothes so you won’t get unwanted attention. Jeans and shorts not higher than mid-calf, knee-length skirts partnered with T-shirts or blouse are acceptable. For men, loose cotton shirts, T-shirts and pants are okay. Lastly, while visiting places of worship, you should be fully clothed.
Getting there – The best option if you are flying from outside Morocco and Europe is to book a flight that arrives early in Mohammed V International Airport (CMN), which is located approximately 30 minutes south of Casablanca. To get to Fes from Casablanca, take the train at Casablanca Airport, which stops in Rabat after an hour and stops again in Meknes, an hour before arriving in Fes. If you are coming from other parts of Morocco like Tangier and Marrakech, we would recommend taking an overnight train.
However, there is a small number of international flights that serve the airport in Fes:
Royal Air Maroc offers daily flights from Casablanca London-Gatwick and Paris-Orly to Fes-Saiss airport.
Jetairfly flies to each of Charleroi and Brussels twice weekly edit
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 to Fez.
Easy Jet flies from Paris-CDG to Fez.
The airport in Fes is about 15 km from the city. If you do not have too much luggage, you can take a bus. The No 16 local bus is now an “airport shuttle” that costs 20 Dirhams (2.10 USD) for a single trip. Keep your eyes open since the bus is not clearly marked as bus 16 (it is a new bus, made by Volvo, with a printout on the right side “Fez – Airport”). It runs approximately every 30 minutes until 7:30PM (after 7:30PM you’ll need to take a taxi). It will take you to the train station and the ride is about 25–30 minutes. The ticket can be purchased on the bus.
Accommodation – There are many types of holiday accommodation in Fes, from luxury hotels and picturesque B&Bs (riads) to cheaper accommodation like hostels. Riads are the most common type of accommodation because of its unique architecture and decoration promising a one of a kind Moroccan experience. Most riads in Fes are centrally located near souks and Medina, locations that give you better access to tourist attractions and food choices.
Hotels to consider in Fes:
Getting around – The city is quite compact so visitors can easily explore Fes on foot. If you are short on time or you prefer less time walking, you may take taxis, which are generally inexpensive. Remember to negotiate the fare with the taxi driver before you get in.
Detailed itinerary: 48 Hours in Fes, Morocco
Your adventure in Fes starts today! Depending on your time of arrival, you can either take it easy and soak up the atmosphere in Fes, or you can begin your tour of its famous attractions. Check into your preferred accommodation and hit one of the many restaurants in the city. Then, avail a half-day tour of Fes’s fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys. Visit some of the historic attractions of the city like Al Quaraouiyine Mosque and university, one of the many Medersas (Koranic schools) and Dar Batha Palace. In the afternoon, explore the souks of Fes and learn about how local crafts are made. Some of the best buys in Fes are leather wear, pottery, wood carvings, carpets and handicrafts.
On day 2, after having a filling breakfast, set out for the day to visit Ain Nokbi, the Potters’ Quarter of Fes. Morocco, particularly Fes, is famous for its traditional arts and crafts. Here in the Pottery Village, you will be able to see first-hand the process to create pottery. You may also visit Chouara tannery, the largest ancient leather tannery in Fes. Make sure to head up to the terrace overlooking the tannery pits.
In the afternoon, go on a mouth-watering culinary experience by joining a food tour. There are plenty of gourmet tours offered in Fes, which will make you feel like a local. Tours will introduce you to iconic Moroccan dishes and traditional Moroccan street food. If you are into complete cultural immersion, join a traditional Moroccan cooking class with a local family. This tour allows you to get to know Moroccan traditions first hand. For tour options, visit Plan-it-Fez’s official website.
After a whole day of adventure, go to a Hammam (traditional Moroccan bath) for a relaxing bath experience. Ask your hotel receptionist on where to find a local Hammam and do not forget to bring your own toiletries to the bathhouse.
Have you been to Fes or anywhere else in Morocco? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: The Medina of the historical town of Fes in Morocco in North Africa (Amnat / Bigstockphoto)