Fez is the third biggest and former (medieval) capital of Morocco founded by Idris I in 789. Fez has the best-preserved old city in the Arab world. But although the city is very attractive for tourists, infrastructure is not necessarily prepared for tourism, especially English speakers.
How to get there
The airport is located about 15km from the city. Once you land on the airport,take a ‘local bus’ (number 16) if you don’t’ have too much luggage, or you can choose a ‘taxi’ to take you to the city. You can get there by train too. The train station Fès-Ville is found at the northern end if the Ville-Nouvelle. There is regular train service along the Marrakech to Oujda and Tangier to Oujda train lines. There are 8 arrivals daily from Marrakech. You will travel for eight hours and fifteen minutes. If you decided to go with a car, Fez is about 4 hours drive from Casablanca. The stretch of toll highway from Rabat to Fez is in excellent condition. You can also take a bus; the old bus terminal (Gare Routière) is just outside Bab Mahrouk on the the north side of the old city, near the Ain Zleten entrance to the medina and Bab Boujloud place.
Nearby places to see
Don’t miss the Bou Inania madersa. This is a breathtaking 14th-century religious college. Perhaps this is the best example of Islamic architecture you can see in Fez. The religious college is built with wooden walls elaborately carved with geometric patterns and Arabic calligraphy, and a beautiful minaret. In the courtyard there is a portico with a mosque, separated by the rest of the courtyard by a small moat.
Let yourself wander around the old town in Fez. This way you can get to see the view from the hills surrounding the old city. There are two fortresses overlooking the old city, the Borj Nord which contains an armaments museum, and the Borj Sud, which is being developed for tourism.
See the Merenid Tombs next to the Merenid Hotel, from where you can have a look over the medina and the wider city, as well as the olive tree lined hills surrounding the city, and sanctuary from the bustle of the rest of the city.
The Sofitel Palais Jamai terrace has an incredible view over the medina, but in order to enter here you will have to pay about 30 dirhams for a glass of tea, which is some type of a ticket.
The Moulay Idriss II shrine is the place where the tomb of Fez’s founder and is limited to Muslims, but the view from just outside its doors is worth entering this place.
Things to do
One of the most fascinating activities to do in Fez is a trip in the medina (Old City). The old town is complex to navigate and sometimes it’s easier and better to lose yourself (this way you can see the most of the place). The Berber pharmacy in the Medina has hundreds of jars of twisted root and twig neatly lined up along the walls.
Quartier des tanneurs in the medina features leather-making techniques unchanged since the Middle Ages. Men walk the narrow paths between huge vats of lye and colorful dyes, water wheels creak as the leather is rinsed, and buildings facing the tannery are covered with pelts hanging to dry.
Fez is the handicraft capital of Morocco. Here you can get leather goods, copper and brass ware, but you may also find good prices on drums and other musical instruments.
Most visitors to Fez will want to stay in the medina as the main tourist sights are located there. But the city offers hotels for good prices out of the medina, except the new town is quite far from the medina so you will be relying on taxis to take you in and out every day.
Best season to visit
The best time to visit Morocco on the tourists themselves and what they plan to see. For Fes, the best time to go is April to early June, and September through November. The climate is mild and the number of tourists is lower. The excellent cultural festivals take place during the busy summer months. The weather in Morocco is hot and sunny for most of the year. During summer months it gets terribly hot especially in Marrakech, Fes and southwest Morocco, towards the desert.