Africa,  Travel

A Virtual Tour through Fes, Morocco

Take a virtual tour through Fes, Morocco with me! You may not be able to travel to Morocco right now but you can still enjoy a virtual tour through photos and stories that will (hopefully!) inspire a future trip.

Colin and I visited Fes in Morocco back in February. I really enjoyed our entire trip to Morocco and Fes was certainly a highlight. In order to best explore Fes and the dizzying alleys of the medina, we signed up for a guided walking tour. We ended up on a six hour private tour with an awesome guide for just $25 each!

Before I lead you around Fes, I’ll start with a few basic questions!

FAQs about Fes, Morocco

Where is Fes? 

Fes is located in the north of Morocco, a few hours inland from the coast. Morocco is in North Africa, just across the ocean from Spain.

Is it worth going to Fes?

I would say so! Fes was one of my favourite stops in Morocco and a great place to really experience the culture and learn more about Moroccan traditions, history and religion. It’s completely different than experiences you might have elsewhere in Morocco.

What is Fes famous for?

Fes is most well known for its giant medina, that encompasses over 9000 streets and alleys. It’s one of the largest medinas in the world and one of the largest pedestrian-free zones. The Fes medina is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fes also used to be the capital of Morocco. It’s no longer the capital, but it is still a significant city and considered of religious importance. Fes is also well known for its leather tanneries inside the medina.

Is Fes, Morocco safe?

I felt quite safe travelling through Fes. We walked around the medina and outside the medina walls in the day and after it got dark. However, I was always with Colin when walking around, and have heard that women travelling solo in Morocco may have a different experience. I also want to note that Colin is white and I am half-white, but white passing, so that affects our experience. We obviously stood out as tourists, and privileged ones.

How many days do you need in Fes?

I would say two to three nights would be the perfect amount of time in Fes. I would highly recommend doing a guided tour to get a great sense of the city. You could use your additional day to explore the medina independently and do some shopping, or take a day trip farther out of town.

How do you get to Fes, Morocco?

We arrived in Fes via bus from Chefchaouen. The ride was about five hours long. From Fes, we took the train to Marrakech, which was about seven hours long. You can also arrive directly to Fes by plane as the city does have its own airport. Many people also take a private transfer to Fes from Marrakech, stopping in the mountains and desert along the way.

Join me on a virtual tour of Fes, Morocco! Check out the leather tanneries, the biggest medina and the Royal Palace! #fes #fez #morocco #africa #northafrica #travel #traveltips #virtualtravel #travelguide

Okay, now that you know a bit more about Fes, we can get started with our tour.

The first stop on our tour is the riad where Colin and I stayed during our time in Fes. A riad is a traditional Moroccan B&B. The homes are gorgeous, often a few floors built around a central courtyard. We only stayed at riads during our time in Morocco and loved the experience. The homes were beautiful, the prices were affordable, the breakfasts were delicious and the hospitality was outstanding.

Our riad in Fes, Riad Taryana, was right in the heart of the medina. But like many riads, it was tucked away on a quiet alley so that there was no noise. My favourite part of our riad was the intricate and beautiful decor covering every wall, door or beam. It was like staying overnight in a palace or museum!

Breakfast at our riad in Fes, Morocco
Enjoying breakfast at our riad

our riad in Fes, Morocco

our riad in Fes, Morocco
Colin and I working on the balcony!

Next, our tour is heading to Le Tarbouche where Colin and I had our first dinner in Fes. This restaurant was super cute, with just a few tables and a couple of nosy cats popping in (this is a common occurrence in Morocco). Tagines became our go-to order in Morocco, clay pots holding delicious stews with meat and vegetables, but we went a bit outside the box at Le Tarbouche.

I wanted to try pastilla, which is a pastry covered in icing sugar but stuffed with savoury filling. I had read about pastilla before coming to Morocco and when I saw it on the menu, I knew we had to give it a try. To be honest? It wasn’t my favourite! I usually like my sweet and savoury to be combined but this tasted a bit off to me. Colin was a bigger fan so I got to eat more of his chicken.

Trying pastilla at dinner at Le Tarbouche

Next up: the Royal Palace. Our guide, Kamal, picked us up for our full day walking tour. While we did do quite a bit of walking, a few of the itinerary stops required us to take a car. The first was for the Royal Palace.

Morocco has many royal palaces so the king can bounce around. As Fes is often thought of as the religious capital of the country, the king resides here when he needs to discuss matters of religion. Unfortunately, the palace is not open to visitors, regardless of if the king is in or not. But tourists still flock there to admire the beautiful doors.

Royal Palace in Fes, Morocco

Royal Palace in Fes, Morocco

Royal Palace in Fes, Morocco

Next we’ll journey to Mellah, the Jewish quarter of Morocco. These days, Morocco doesn’t have a very large Jewish population. And the Jews who do live in Fes don’t live in the Mellah area anymore. But back during the Spanish Inquisition, Morocco offered Jewish refugees a safe haven.

They purposely built Jewish homes right next to the Royal Palace, so that the Jews would be guaranteed protection.

Mellah, Jewish area in Fes
Walking the streets of Mellah
Mellah, Jewish area in Fes
The Royal Palace (green tiles) right next to a Jewish home (wooden balcony)

Now, let’s hop back in the car and drive up to Borj Nord, a fortress with a beautiful view over all of Fes, Morocco. From there, our guide Kamal pointed out different sites of interest. We also had a great view over the 9000 streets and alleys that make up the Fes medina.

View of Fes medina from Borj Nord

View of Fes medina from Borj Nord

View of Fes medina from Borj Nord

Our next stop is a pottery co-op where Colin and I got to witness the process of artisans making clay pottery and mosaics. A guide took us around the co-op and showed us the different stages of pottery, from sculpting on the wheel and drying out in the sun to chiseling and painting. He also showed us how the clay they use in Fes is different to clay often used in pottery, making it impossible to scratch or break. He demonstrated this by jumping up and down on a clay plate!

It was super cool to see the pottery artisans in action and to walk through their beautiful showroom. Of course, I wanted to buy everything. I loved the idea of having a beautiful clay bowl at home. But the prices were way out of our budget. Instead, we settled for a small tile to remember our time with. It now sits proudly on our mantle!

Pottery co-op in Fes, Morocco

Pottery co-op in Fes, Morocco

Pottery co-op in Fes, Morocco

Pottery co-op in Fes, Morocco

Let’s return to the medina and continue our exploration of Fes on foot. Our first stop was a quick visit to a metalsmith who had a small stall in the middle of the medina. Kamal told us this was the man who did all of the metal work on the Royal Palace we had seen earlier.

He showed us pictures of him working on the palace and then let us watch as he etched the most intricate design into a new piece of metal.

Metal worker in the Fes medina

Alley of the Fes medina

Another thing Fes is well known for is its cedar wood. Kamal led us down an alley where woodworkers were busy chiseling away at cedar and making the most impressive wooden creations.

Cedar wood carving in Fes medina

We’ve now arrived at one of my favourite stops in the medina, Al-Attarine Madrasa. This gorgeous building was once a school. Kamal pointed out where the teacher would lecture from and the dormitories upstairs where the students would sleep.

The entire building was covered in the most intricate design. I loved admiring the tiles and the beautiful carvings. What a gorgeous place to go to school!

Al-Attarine Madrasa in Fes, Morocco

Al-Attarine Madrasa in Fes, Morocco

Al-Attarine Madrasa in Fes, Morocco

Al-Attarine Madrasa in Fes, Morocco

Al-Attarine Madrasa in Fes, Morocco
Checking out the dorms upstairs!

Another thing Morocco is well known for? Carpets! The Berber people are indigenous to North Africa and are well-known for the beautiful carpets and blankets they create. Many tourists come to Morocco just to buy a handmade Berber carpet.

Kamal took us to a carpet factory where we got to see the weaving up close. The salesmen there did an entire presentation for us, laying out various carpets and blankets on the floor to show us the colours, sizes and patterns. I felt bad that we couldn’t buy any, but would love to return and buy a rug in my more wealthy future!

Berber carpet factory in Fes

Berber carpet factory in Fes

rooftop view from Berber carpet factory in Fes
The view from the top of the Berber carpet factory

Now let’s visit a traditional Moroccan home that was built in 1312. It was so cool to stand on 700 year old floors! The home is now a silk shop, with the most beautiful colours of silk thread.

Silk factory in a Moroccan home from 1312

Silk factory in a Moroccan home from 1312

Silk factory in a Moroccan home from 1312

Here’s the stop you’ve been waiting for. One of the main reasons why people come to Fes is to visit the leather tanneries. The tanneries are where leather is dyed. As we approached, the strong smell of leather making began to take over. When we got to the tanneries, we were given mint leaves to hold up to our noses so the scent wouldn’t bother us too much.

Our guide explained that they make leather from sheep, goat, camel and cow skin. They dye the leather with natural products like saffron, henna, indigo and poppy. We watched as men moved the leather pieces from different vats of dye and laid them out on the surrounding rooftops to dry.

We were then shown around the leather shop. I was very tempted to pick up a purse or a pouf, but the budget would not allow. Another thing to add to the wish list!

Leather tanneries of Fes, Morocco

Leather tanneries of Fes, Morocco

Leather tanneries of Fes, Morocco

On the way to our final stop, we passed by a public bakery and Kamal took us in. He explained that many families don’t have their own oven. So instead, they bring their dough to the public bakery where it is cooked for them to be picked up at the end of the day. Each family marks their dough with a special sign so they can tell whose is whose.

Public bakery in the Fes medina

We’ve reached the last stop on our virtual tour. Welcome to the silk shop! Moroccan silk is very special because it’s made from agave, instead of silk worms. This also makes their silk vegan! We watched as artisans worked on the loom and got to touch the incredibly soft and beautiful silk.

The colours were so vibrant that I couldn’t resist and paid a little too much for a scarf. And even though I’ve already ripped a tiny hole in it, I’m still very happy with my souvenir from Fes, Morocco!

Silk shop in the Fes medina

Silk factory in the Fes medina

And there you have it! A virtual tour of Fes. I hope you enjoyed seeing a little bit of this Moroccan city and I hope it inspires you to book your own trip to Fes, once it’s safe to do so.

We really enjoyed going on a guided tour of the city and having someone lead us around the medina. Colin and I don’t often do guided tours but in a place like Fes, I think it’s really worth it. Otherwise, we would have been wandering around lost and likely would have missed out on a lot. This was definitely the part of our Morocco trip where we learned the most and felt like we made the most of our time.

Yes, there are lots of opportunities to buy something on the tour but we never felt pressured. Everyone we met was very genuine and more interested in sharing their work over a cup of mint tea than forcing us to buy anything. That being said, if you are in the market for pottery, rugs, leather purses or silk scarves, this is definitely the city to do your shopping!


Would you visit Fes, Morocco? 

 

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FES ITINERARY! Join me on a virtual tour of Fes, Morocco! Check out the leather tanneries, the biggest medina and the Royal Palace! #fes #fez #morocco #africa #northafrica #travel #traveltips #virtualtravel #travelguide

What should you do in Fes? Join me on a virtual tour of Fes, Morocco! Check out the leather tanneries, the biggest medina and the Royal Palace! #fes #fez #morocco #africa #northafrica #travel #traveltips #virtualtravel #travelguide

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