We get the feeling that Fez is a love it or hate it kinda place. And we most certainly loved it. Although visitors of Morocco usually flock to Marrakech, we found Fez’s authenticity to be rather charming and that there were plenty of things to do in Fez that teach you about its history and culture.
The city is filled with history, culture and beautiful architecture. We’d like to imagine that what we saw in Fez el Bali, the ancient walled city, is the same Fez el Bali hundreds of years ago. However, it seems like the city is beginning to transform, with stunning riads to rival Marrakech & fancy cafes dotted around.
But never fear. The UNESCO-listed medina still remains a raw & dark place with crammed streets filled with locals, tourists, merchants & donkeys. You’ll see camel heads hung on butcher stalls, heaps of fish in boxes, shops bursting with traditional lanterns and gorgeous Berber rugs hung all around.
Top Things To Do In Fez
1.) Medersa Bou Inania
Medersa refers to any type of educational institution, however, Medersa Bou Inania is now solely used for religious purposes. It was founded in AD 1351–6 & has been recognised as a marvel of Marinid architecture.
Medersa Bou Inania is truly a prime example of the amazing architecture Morocco has to offer & should be top of your things to do in Fez. The detailed zellij tiles & beautifully carved cedar wood surround you. You can’t help but look at the detail & wonder how it’s possible for people to be so talented. With a small entrance fee of 20MAD per person, you’re sure to visit more than once.
2.) Chaouwara Tanneries
Probably the most iconic attraction in Fez. Here you’ll see the natural process of producing leather. A process that can be traced back centuries. Hides are soaked in cow urine, quicklime, water & salt to break down the tough leather and to remove any remaining flesh & hair. The hides are then soaked in pigeon shit to soften the leather. They are then dyed with natural ingredients: poppy flower for red, saffron for yellow, henna for orange and cedar wood for brown. The leather is then left out to dry under the sun.
The only way to see the tanneries from above, is to stand on the terrace of the surrounding leather shops. This is when the fun starts. There are so many leather shops & every shop owner will tell you that they are No.10 (based on the Lonely Planet tip) and you will feel ambushed. They each show a different vantage point of the tanneries so you just have to pick a shop & go for it.
We didn’t find the tanneries to be that pungent but we can imagine it’s a different case in the summer. They do offer mint if it’s too overwhelming.
3.) Get Lost in Fes El Bali
The Medina of Fez is a labyrinth of over 9,400 narrow, winding alleyways. So narrow that there is no space for any vehicles, making Fez El Bali the world’s largest car-free urban zone. As you can imagine, it’s very easy to get lost in & Google Maps isn’t always able to say you here. It’s all part of the fun though.
If you want to shop in Fez, this is definitely the place to go. There is no shortage of rugs, leather goods, lamps, jewellery, pottery & Moroccan slippers. You’ll even spot craftsmen working away in their shops. We spent 4 days in Fez & spent the majority of our time aimlessly wandering around the maze. It’s an absolutely fascinating place.
We didn’t have the time to visit these next 2 things to do in Fez but we certainly will next time.
4.) Borj Nord
Borj Nord is a fort built in the late 16th century by the Saadi dynasty to watch over the city. What attracts us to this attraction is the fantastic panoramic view of Fez. However, if you’re in need of more motivation, Borj Nord is a museum that displays a variety of the country’s weaponry. The museum is also a short hike from the Merenid Tombs.
5.) Dar al-Makhzen / Royal Palace of Fez
Although the royal palace isn’t open to the public, you can still marvel at its beautiful architecture from the outside. There are 7 grand golden gates at the entrance & zellige tilework. We think it’d make a great photo for all you Instagrammers!