Destinations Fez

Fez: City Overview

Fez bahia riad

Fez is located in the northeastern region of Morocco with a population of 1.1 million as of 2014. There are several spellings of the name including Fez (Arabic) or Fès (French) and was the capital of Morocco until 1925 and is now the administrative centre of the Fès-Meknès region. The city has been referred to as the “Mecca of the West” and “Athens of Africa”.

Fez has existed for thousands of years with its amazing architecture and historic Medina which is listed as a World Heritage Site. The city is home to the University of Al Quaraouiyine which was founded in 859 and is the oldest continually operating university in the entire world. The university is located just northeast of the city.

As you stroll the walled streets you will discover ornate carvings and mosaics everywhere and witness the procession of mourners entering the tomb of Moulay Idriss II, the founder of Fez. 

You will realize that many areas of this fabulous city have come to a total halt in time. Look around and you will feel its rich past.

That said, there are many modern comforts for visitors such as five-star hotels and restaurants. Fez offers an incredible blend of old world and the new modern city.

Heritage:

The Imperial city of Fez has been in existence for well over 1,200 years and as you walk inside the ancient walls, you will see and feel its ancient history. Fez had the strongest connection to the past out of the four ancient Moroccan cities. You’ll Discover the 14th-century mosque which is nearby the Moorish estate that was constructed in the 1700s.

Traveling To Fez:

Most visitors arrive in the Imperial City of Fez at Fès-Saiss Airport which is just south of the city  You can get a direct flight out of Stansted Airport and many other European cities. If you are nearby Casablanca, grab a national flight that will take a mere 45 minutes to arrive in Fez. 

To get to the centre of the city from the airport, you can get a shuttle bus that departs every half-hour and takes approximately 40 minutes. You can opt to get a taxi which will cost approximately MAD120 or £8. Fez is also connected to other destinations by the Moroccan train service. You can travel to Marrakech, Rabat, Tangier and many other destinations.

Where To Hang Your Hat:

When you book your stay in Fez, if you can, book a room in the world famous Medina of Fez. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you will discover many wonderful places to visit as well as many accommodations to call home while you are here. 

There are many places to stay that will fit any budget along with many riads that are located all over the city if you want to experience real Morocco.

Riads are traditional Moroccan house or palace that are located around courtyards with trees and fountains. They range from very inexpensive and welcoming to luxurious.

Welcome To Luxury:

Fez is a place of great luxury and opulence. The wonderful riads and luxurious 5-star hotels will provide you with incredibly beautiful facilities and the very best services. 

Whether you are staying at a palace, an ultra-modern hotel, or a traditional riad, you are going to love your stay. You will be greeted with warm welcomes and exquisite surroundings.

Places To Visit & Things To Do:

The Medina in Old Fez is the oldest car-free area throughout the city. You can easily become lost roaming the twisting streets, but it’s also the only way to really appreciate the true heritage of Fez. Not to worry, you will find someone to help you get back on track!

Cycling:

Surrounded by the impressive Zalagh and Tghat mountains, Fez is a wonderful place for cyclists to get around and enjoy the scenery. You will be surrounded by wild lavender, olive groves, and pine trees while exploring areas that are untouched by tourism. 

Hiring bikes are one of the most popular ways for Moroccans to get around and there are many places that offer tour guides that will provide you with information about the area. 

You will discover green valleys, cedar forests, and hot springs. There are many different trails that cater to beginners or those more experienced in cycling.

Rafting & Kayaking:

Take a day from touring and enjoy some time on the river. There are several rivers that are on the outskirts of Fez that offer white water rafting. If kayaking is for you, paddle through the most incredible scenery of lush landscape and wildlife. 

There are many experienced companies that you can hire to arrange your trip. You will travel through towering gorges that have been shaped by the river over thousands of years. 

Discover open green plains that are home to small traditional villages of the Amazigh. Bring your camera along and take photos of stunning bright coloured birds and other wildlife that call the river home.

Places For Your Family To Enjoy:

As you visit various places throughout the city, you will learn about local culture and have a lot of fun along the way.

Spend a day on one of the local farms that are located in the mountains. You can help bake bread, rolling couscous, and even squash grapes! Visit ancient Medina and create your own drum at a Foundouk and then be taught how to play it correctly by one of the local drummers. 

Your children will have a wonderful time learning new crafts including making their own jewellery or pottery Moroccan style!

Shopping:

Fez is a fascinating city that has stayed away from over-development like Marrakech and Rabat. It is truly a city that cherishes its past. While roaming around the city, you will discover its rich culture.

While in Medina, you will discover the countless souks that have increased over the centuries and many of these stalls have remained the same for many generations.

Visit the tannery in Moulay Abdellah where they have been making leather goods for centuries, and take a look at the Chouara Tannery by the Oued Bou Khareb, you will enjoy bold colours and amazing scents that waft through the air.

Leather goods are offered by the many vendors surrounding the tannery. For other great gifts, visit the Souk el Hanna for food, jewellery, ceramics, and textiles. This is a shopping experience you will fall in love with.

Fez is a place that honours its culture in celebrations with their many festivals including the Festival of Sufi Culture, the Cherry Festival, and the incredible Fantasias that differentiate Fez from other places in Morocco. You will depart from Fez with a lifetime of wonderful memories.

Places For Food & Drink:

Enjoy traditional Moroccan cuisine and drinks. Mint tea is the most popular and classic refreshment in the city and you can order it just about everywhere. 

Enjoy cafes around the stalls or indulge in famous Moroccan street food. Dishes such as pastilla, couscous, tajines, méchoui, have not changed in hundreds of years.

If your taste is a little less traditional, there are many restaurants that serve European food, vegetarian dishes, and even a few American fast food chains that your kids will love.

Cultural Festivals:

Fez loves to celebrate their long history and culture and their festivals are their passion. You will have a great time if you visit the city during one of their festivals.

There are Four Moussems held in and around the city each year. Moussems are the gathering of many tribes from all over Morocco and parts of Northwest Africa. They are similar to fairs with cultural, social, and economic affairs.

Moulay Abdallah ben Brahim is celebrated in May. Sidi Lahcen ben Ahmed is celebrated in August and two differents moussems are celebrated in September: Moulay Idriss II and Moulay Idris Zerhoun.

You will enjoy traditional entertainment that is vibrant and full of amazing colours. These festivals are extremely popular events for tourists.

  • The Cherry Festival:

This festival is held in June on the slopes of the Middle Atlas. Enjoy music and markets along with a brilliant procession of Torchlight bearers. The festival also has sports competitions and the election of Miss Cherry.

  • The Tissa Fantasia:

Held in October, this is a horse festival that is amazing to witness with hundreds of thoroughbred Arab-Berbers. The Arab stallions and Barbary mares are put through their paces over a period of 10 days. If you love horses, you must book your stay during this festival!

  • The World Sacred Music Festival:

This is considered one of the most important music festivals worldwide. It has been recognised for its encouragement of diverse cultural and religious dialogue.

The festival is held each May and draws many musicians, scholars, and religious leaders. Different musical and cultural traditions are brought together through performances, workshops, shows, and exhibitions. It offers free concerts and the celebrations last late into the evening hours. 

This is a week-long event that is a must to visit for those looking for the spiritual aspect of Morocco.

Hammams:

Fez is home to more than 250 hammams throughout the city. They are wonderful places to escape from a long day of sightseeing and just exhausted from touring. 

Several hotels have their own spas and are a lot like those in Europe. These hammams are a great deal, less expensive than their counterparts in Europe as well. You can ask an attendant at the hotel you are staying at to accompany you, they will be glad to join you and guide you through the traditions of the culture.

Retreats:

There is absolutely nowhere else in Morocco that is more deeply embedded in their historic roots. There is an air of mystery that has drawn those looking for peace and harmony to this place of minarets and ornate archways. 

Travellers have walked these ancient streets for decades, it is a destination for relaxation and learning. You will become inspired and find how to reconnect with yourself.

While visiting here, you can practice yoga, spend your time meditating, indulge in a hammam treatment, and take in the peace of this amazing city. Escape the world of hectic and come to the heart of one of the best places on earth.

Other Explorations:

While Fez offers fabulous culture and many wonders, there are amazing adventures awaiting you outside the city. Sahara tours will transport you to the Erg Chebbi dunes that are breathtaking and captivating while you look at this beautiful, dramatic area.

If you would like to embark on an adventure that lasts a day or two, travel to traditional towns that have their own uniqueness for a lifetime experience. Instead, you might want to visit the splendid Tazekka National Park and the ruins of Volubilis.

There are so many adventures awaiting you both in the city and out in the country. There are many trips that are a great deal shorter and perfect for families with younger children. You are welcome to hire local drivers to bring you around and guide you to great places that will be incredibly enjoyable.

Whatever your particular interests and tastes are, Fez has you covered. The next time you book your holiday adventure, come to Fez. You will have a fabulous time, meet many wonderful, friendly people, and return home with a basket load of great memories!


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