THINGS TO DO IN FES: A SCAVENGER HUNT IN THE MEDINA OF FES

Lost in the Medina, one of the things to do in Fes

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Things to do in Fes: a scavenger hunt to discover the amazing spots hidden in the maze of streets in the most chaotic medina in Morocco.

If I close my eyes and think of Morocco, Fes is the first thing that comes to my mind.

The old medina of Fes, also known as Fès el-Badi, is the greatest example of Morocco’s essence: a chaotic maze of little streets that would test even the ultimate traveler’s sense of direction.

Forget maps, Google Maps, the ultimate app, compasses or North stars. You will get lost anyway in the medina of Fes with no idea where you are going. But this is the most exciting part of a trip to Morocco!

You haven’t really experienced Morocco if you haven’t got lost in the medina of Fes!

There is also a new part of Fes, just like in most cities in Morocco that are divided into “Ville Nouvelle” (the new city) and old medina, enclosed by fortified walls with doors of different sizes to let people in and out.

My friend Erika and I started exploring Fes right from Ville Nouvelle.

As I said, getting lost will be part of your trip to Fes, but I will try anyway to help you at least plan your visit to this city by showing you my itinerary through the things to do in Fes.

THINGS TO DO IN FES: OUR ITINERARY.

THINGS TO DO IN FES: VILLE NOUVELLE.

ROYAL PALACE.

The Royal Palace in Fes, or Dar el-Makhzen, is the first stop on our itinerary.

The Royal Palace in Fes

It’s a complex of palaces and gardens built in the 14th-century that is used today by the King of Morocco when he visits Fes.

The Royal Palace in Fes is one of the buildings that flourished under the Moroccan royal dynasties. Fes is in fact one of the four imperial cities in Morocco, together with Rabat, Meknes and Marrakech, and also the oldest one.

Unfortunately the Palace is not open to the public so we just take a look outside at the stunning decorations of the brass doors.

Decorations of the Royal Palace in Fes

We leave now the Royal Palace and head to the Mellah, the Jewish district of Fes.

MELLAH: THE JEWISH DISTRICT OF FES.

We go for a short walk through the Mellah, where we can see the Jewish cemetery and the Habarim synagogue which today is a museum of Jewish historical items.

Nearby there is also the Ibn Danan synagogue.

But it’s now that the real fun starts! Let’s walk through a gate to get to the hustle and bustle of the medina of Fes, UNESCO world heritage site since 1981.

THINGS TO DO IN FES: THE MEDINA.

Planning an itinerary inside the medina of Fes is impossible.

So just walk through one of the gates and wander around. Get lost. Turn around. Browse the markets. Sit down and get some mint tea and “gateaux marocains”.

Walking around the medina of Fes is incredible and the perfect way to really fit in with the local lifestyle.

You will meet men dressed in their traditional rope with a baggy hood chatting with the souk vendors.

A man dressed in his traditional rope in the souk of the Medina of Fes

Women rolling out sheets of warqa (local phyllo pastry) on the street.

A woman rolling out warqa in the medina of Fes

Mules carrying goods and cutting your way.

A mule in the souk in the Medina of Fes

Guys offering you a tour of the tannery, or “hashish hashish hashish” or a Berber wedding.

A tannery in the souk of the Medina of Fes

Craftsmen pounding copper and brass to shape their products.

Souks packed with people and lamps, mirrors, carpets, spices, leather products, animals, snails, creepy cow’s feet, camel’s heads, slippers, glasses, shoes. The list is endless.

Then all of a sudden everything stops. Pause. Like somebody used a magic wand and time froze. What’s going on? You start hearing a chant with words you don’t understand. It’s the call to prayer coming from the loudspeakers of the minarets.

This happens five times a day to summon Muslims for their mandatory prayer.

Then everything goes back to normal and time starts over. Men chatting at the market. Mules cutting your way. Vendors shouting. Craftsmen pounding copper and brass. Tannery, “hashish hashish hashish”, and Berber wedding.

Experiencing local everyday’s life is absolutely amazing!

But in addition to all this, there are also beautiful points of interest inside the medina of Fes.

Since I can’t plan an itinerary for you I made you a scavenger hunt instead!

I will point out for you some places in the medina of Fes, and you will get a point for each one of them that you can find!

FOUNTAIN IN PLACE NEJJARINE.

You will realize soon that there are many public fountains in Fes.

So if I tell you “find a fountain in the medina of Fes” I would make it too easy for you. I will give you then a specific one to find: the fountain in Place Nejjarine, one of the most beautiful fountains in Fes.

Amazing stucco decorations and tiles, plus a nice jug for thirsty locals and tourists.

Fountain in Place Nejjarine

Drinking tap water from this jug is so tempting but I think I’ll pass. Thanks anyway!

PLACE SEFFARINE.

Toc-Toc-Toc-Toc-Toc.

Finding Place Seffarine is super easy.

If you want to get there you just have to follow the hammering sounds.

Place as-Seffarine literally means “Square of the brass workers“. In fact, you can see here craftsmen pounding copper and brass all the time.

Brass workers in Place Seffarine

But this square was like a funny nightmare for us.

Every time we think we have finally found the way out of the labyrinth of the medina, here it comes again: the hammering sounds. The clear sound that tells us that we are going back there again, to Place Seffarine!

We officially became the laughingstock of the square. Every time the craftsmen see us coming back they would giggle and say “ENCORE???”. Which can be easily translated with: “You are here again dumbasses?”.

KAIRAOUINE MOSQUE.

Once again, if I simply tell you “find a mosque” I would make this scavenger hunt too easy for you. Just half point.

But if you find Kairaouine Mosque, well you score 2 points!

Yep, because Kairaouine Mosque is not only a mosque but also a university!

Kairaouine University, founded in 859, is the spiritual heart of Morocco and one of the most important religious and educational centers of the Muslim world.

Besides, according to Guinness World Record, Kairaouine Mosque and University is the “oldest learning institution in the world“.

Karaouine Mosque in the medina of Fes

I still had no idea that the entry to the mosques was for Muslims only. So curious about this place I get close to the entrance.

My advise? Kids, don’t try this at home!

Me outside Karaouine Mosque

ONE MEDERSA OF YOUR CHOICE: EL-ATTARINE OR BOU INANIA.

Well I don’t want to make this game too hard for you. Finding just one is enough for me to give you a point.

A medersa, or medrasa, is a Koran school where Muslims learn the principles of the Islamic religion.

The main ones in Fes are Medersa el-Attarine, built in 1325, and Medersa Bou Inania, a medersa with its own mosque and minaret.

PLACE R’CIF.

Place R’Cif, a square that sounds more like a sneeze than a square, is a huge area inside the medina of Fes.

Place R'cif

In the square there is the Friday Mosque with its minaret, one of the tallest minarets in the city.

Congratulations! You completed your scavenger hunt! How many points did you score?

Obviously I wanted to play this game with you just to help you discover the city in a different way and to suggest you the best approach to visit Fes. Forget planning and organization; explore Fes in a free and casual way.

Before I say goodbye, let me give you some useful information and travel tips for your trip to Fes.

USEFUL INFORMATION AND TRAVEL TIPS.

HOW TO GET TO FES FROM CASABLANCA.

You can take a direct flight to Fes or Casablanca.

If you land in Casablanca, I suggest you take a train to Fes after visiting Hassan II Mosque and walking around the city center of Casablanca.

Read my post about things to do in Casablanca for more information.

Click here for the train schedule from Casablanca to Fes.

The train takes about 4 hours, so I suggest you take the train at night in order not to waste a half day traveling.

Watch out because it might get cold inside the train in wintertime. So don’t forget to bring a little blanket or a warm jacket for your train ride.

HOW TO GET AROUND.

You can take a taxi to get around Ville Nouvelle.

Just don’t forget to haggle for the taxi ride. This doesn’t mean taking advantage of the taxi drivers. It’s just the way it is in Morocco; bargaining is part of their culture.

However, inside the medina you can only rely on your legs since it’s entirely pedestrian, except for mules and some sneaky motorbikes.

WHERE TO EAT IN FES.

Being a food lover, I’m definitely including some foodie information among my travel tips!

Actually in Fes, just like in Morocco overall, the food is great everywhere.

Maybe pick a restaurant with a terrace for a good view over the city during your lunch or dinner.

Restaurant with a terrace in the medina of Fes

Some local dishes that you have to try are: vegetarian couscous, mixed meat brochettes, the amazing local bread, beans and vegetables, and the usual mint tea.

While you are waiting for your food they usually bring you some tasty olives. But please forgive us, we ate them all before taking the picture!

WHERE TO STAY IN FES.

We stayed at Barcelò Fès Medina and we highly recommend it.

It’s an amazing four-star hotel with a reception open 24 hours, and this was essential for our late arrival.

We are definitely not travelers who usually stay in four-star hotels but since they are so cheap in Morocco we decided to spoil ourselves a little after a long day of travel.

Have a look anyway at deals on places to stay in Fes.

Booking.com

Now we go back to Fes station and head to Rabat, the beautiful capital city of Morocco.

If you know other things to do in Fes or any other place to include in the scavenger hunt in the medina of Fes, please leave a comment. I would love to go back to Fes to find it and to start a new exciting game!

See also:

CASABLANCA: THINGS TO DO IN ONE DAY

RABAT: THINGS TO DO IN ONE DAY

MARRAKECH: A 4 DAYS ITINERARY

TANGIER: THE PERFECT ITINERARY FOR ONE DAY

CEUTA: A LITTLE PIECE OF SPAIN IN MOROCCO

CHEFCHAOUEN: THINGS TO DO IN THE BLUE PEARL OF MOROCCO

Back to:

TRAVEL TO MOROCCO

Things to do in Fes | A scavenger hunt to discover the amazing spots hidden in the maze of streets in the most chaotic medina in Morocco. #Fes #FesMedina #FesThingsToDo #TravelBlog

17 Replies to “THINGS TO DO IN FES: A SCAVENGER HUNT IN THE MEDINA OF FES”

  1. Ohh I’m crazy about fountains and food when I travel 😀
    Food looks amazing, but I never consider that place for my bucket list, but looks quite interesting and I think I could give it a chance 🙂

  2. It’s always fun to get lost in a new city and see what you discover. I like that inside of the medina it is completely for pedestrians. It’s really fun to discover a new place on foot.

  3. I have learnt so much by reading this post. As a person who is really keen to visit Morocco, I am hungry for as much information as possible. The detail you have included here outlining some fascinating facts about this amazing city is so interesting. The history and culture here is just so great. Just love your idea of having a scavenger hunt and the challenge to try not to get lost here. It would be so much fun and I do hope to visit here soon. Great photos as always. Thank you for making this so interesting as well as entertaining – I had a huge laugh when I read about your ‘encore’ moment!

    1. Thank you so much Nicole! Morocco’s culture is so unique, definitely something you have to experience. I really hope you will visit soon, I’m sure you will love it. Feel free to ask me anything 🙂

  4. When I went to the medina in Medina, Morocco 30 years ago, it was actually a little dangerous to get lost in the medina. I’m glad that isn’t the case in Fes. I love the fountains and the pretty tiled mosaics. I didn’t know that you couldn’t go into a mosque unless you were muslim. Thanks for letting me know. I’m sure that I would have been as curious as you.

    1. Thank you Nicole! Wow, I can’t imagine how Morocco could have looked like 30 years ago. Sometimes women might feel unsafe walking around the medina but it’s always so crowded that I never had this feeling.

  5. I’ve wanted to visit Morocco for quite some time and I sure learned a lot by reading this post. The history and culture of the city are fascinating and your pictures make me want to pack and visit right away! Thank you for sharing this lovely writeup.

    1. Thank you so much Daniel! Yes the history and culture of Morocco is so fascinating! I hope you go there soon 😉

  6. Fes looks amazing. I’ve wanted to visit it ever since I watched The Gilmore Girls for the very first time. It was the place Rory wanted to go to.

  7. Fes is such a cool city. I loved exploring the Medina as well!

  8. I have been to Morocco recently but never in Fes. I wasn’t able to buy scarves in the medina of Marrakesh as I didn’t like the too pushy attitude of some vendors but I found some great shops and did my shopping there.

  9. We had an amazing time in Fes, and did everything you mentioned! The medina is amazing, but the tannery was a bit too much for me, and I could only take 5 minutes before having to leave!

  10. I remember this from Gilmore girls. Omg I always wondered what was she taking about? This place looks peaceful and serene. What a wonderful post.

    1. Thank you so much Diana 🙂

  11. I visited Morocco last year but unfortunately did not get a chance to visit Fes and must say I’m so sad now after reading this post . Like Marrakesh the Mediena in Fess’s is a great place and there are such great shops selling all sorts of things . The architecture is quite similar to the what they have in the capital as well. I loved the food in the country and surely Few has some great food to offer as well. The garden looks stunning and must say your photos are great.

    1. Thank you Amar! I hope you’ll make it to Fes one day 🙂

  12. Mdina looks gorgeous. Very impressive with all that antiquity. No doubt now that summer is here the walls proposal relaxed shade. Rare to find any visitor destination that you can have to yourself.

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