Fes. The second stop during our 2 week trip through Morocco. We spent two nights here (which was perfect) and it was here that we had our first real experience with the chaotic hustle and bustle of an African city.
We loved Fes, although Leah fell pretty ill, that meat we ate at the side of the road stall bussing from Chefchaouen to Fes wasn’t the best decision ever, but hey shit happens…literally 💩 All jokes aside, the city is epic, Leah definitely thought it was as magical as Marrakech and as beautiful and Chefchaouen, and as for me? Well being a boy I think everything is pretty cool until it proves me otherwise. So..
Here’s how we conquered 36 hours in Fes.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Flying ✈ – We caught a direct flight from Lisbon to Fes. It was actually the first ever flight of this route run by TAP Portugal, a story for the grand kids I tell ya. You’ll find while searching through Skyscanner (the best place to find cheap deals) that many European cities fly direct to Fes so if you’re coming from abroad, this is travel made easy. Within Morocco, most domestic flights will get you to Fes too. Marrakech – Fes being a pretty common route.
Bus 🚌 – As explained in our “first timers guide to Chefchaouen, Morocco” & How you can experience 3 days in magical Marrakech, busses are the easiest and cheapest option while travelling around Morocco. But remember…they’re definitely the least comfortable. If you’re going to bus anywhere in Morocco, the CTM or SUPRATOURS busses are the way to go. By using the busses, you can reach Fes from just about any city in Morocco. We caught the CTM bus from Chafchaouen to Fes and although it was uncomfy as hell, the 7Euro ticket made it a well worth the experience…an experience on bumpy AF roads with no air conditioning, but hey, welcome to Morocco!!
Transfer/Taxi 🚖 – This is a good option for those who are coming from somewhere reasonably close to Fes. I’d say the distance from Fes to Chefchaouen (the blue city) is the furtherest you’d wanna go without it becoming too expensive. We paid 160€ from Fes to Chefchaouen upon our first arrival in Morocco, which I know sounds like a lot but we missed the last CTM bus for the day and didn’t have another option. If you’re a nervous traveller, you have a bigger budget or you’re within a couple of hours from Fes I’d recommend this, it’s deff the most comfortable and probably the quickest way to get around. Tangier Taxi is a good website to book private transfers at a set price and with door to door service.
WHERE TO STAY
Riad Anata – We were lucky enough to get invited to stay at Riad Anata for our 2 night stay. The coolest little oasis to escape the chaotic Fes Medina, this trendy wee place was run by two chicks and a top bloke chef. The rooftop terrace was absolute vibes, chilling on the sun loungers or kicking back in the hammock, winning at life this place felt like a real space to relax and enjoy. Honestly wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else, check out the photos below and the link HERE.
Booking.com have all the coolest Riads in Fes, so if Riad Anata is full or not what you’re after, there’s other epic ones to choose from so go take a look.
What’s a Riad? A Riad is a large traditional Moroccan house which is built around a courtyard and has been converted into a hotel. These are wicked and you can find them in all the cities across Morocco. I definitely recommend staying in one during your trip to Morocco.
WHAT TO DO
Sniff your way to the tanneries – Sniff you ask? Well you’ll know what I mean when you get there. There are tons of tanneries around Morocco, but one of the biggest areas are in Fes. It’s here that the men work there asses off in the roasting sun to bring to you some of the finest leather goods in the world. From the terraces above you can look down and see the men skinning, cleaning and dying the leather before it goes to the drying process. This was the most interesting part of Fes and I could have stayed and watched for hours. We ended up at shop 64 with Mohommed (he has a glass eye if anyone else ever comes across him) and were there for an hour while he explained the whole process. Go and see him if you can find your way through the tiny ass alleys, he was friendly and didn’t pressure us to buy anything (though if we had a bigger budget we would have). Don’t forget the mint, the smell is pretty damn strong I have to say.
See The Blue Gate – A big ass blue gate, bigger than your average one, marks the entrance to the old town medina of Fes. It’s a good place to start your day as it’s the entrance to the souks and leads all the way to the tanneries. You have to be fearless for a photo here as you stand on the chaotic roads and get that perfect snap.
Cruise the souks – Most people would say “get lost in the medina” but we were actually quite supriesed how well our compass worked as we wandered around. Souks being shops or stalls, for food and clothes, were crawling inside of the Medina, with so much so look at and watch out for, its not the most relaxing experience thats for sure. Start at the Blue Gate and choose either side. Cruise up one side and back the other. So much going on, so many things to see even the odd donkey & cart getting jammed in amoungst it all. If you’re shopping, remember to barter your way to a good price.
Visit the two Madrasas in Fes known as the Al-Attarien madrasa and the Bou Inania Madrasa – Not usually my cup of tea but I must admit they even had me enjoying the architecture inside. A Madrasa as far as we know is an old place of education, so like a school, a college or a university now turned museum. With thousands of different tiles on the walls, carvings and high ceilings, it’s worth the visit and Leah with her design eye was absolutely frothing. Both of them offering similar styles, the 20 dirham entry fee is a well worth it to see the beauty of these century old buildings.
Walk around and around and around the Medina – Most of the above can be done from just wandering around the Medina until you come across these hidden gems. With so much to look at and so much going on, you’ll always come across something special to remember. Seeing the animals always had us stopping to take photos, but there’s tons of random stuff like this that you’ll see along the way too.
Unfortunately for us, we only had one full day to enjoy Fes and with Leah having to rush to find toilets all the time, we thought it was best to just chill and relax at our Riad for our arvo. Make sure you find time to do this because the Riads do a good job of making you feel on holdiay.
Got more time? Head to the Royal Palace Door, the Karaouine Mousque (similar to the Madrasas) and the Mermaid Tombs for sunset.
WHERE TO EAT
We ate some epic Moroccain food with great scenery too. Below is a list of the top places to eat so check em out
Breakfast & Dinner at your Riad – A must if you’re staying in a Riad. The chef at Riad Anata cooked us traditional Moroccan dinner on our first night, along with breaky each morn. This was better than we could have asked for and right at our door.
Cafe Clock – This place was so dope. Live music some nights, story telling on others, it was a little adventure in itself along with great food to match. Try the camel burger because…when in Morocco.
Made with M – A chill cafe, great coffee and fresh juice. Something too freshen you up while walking through the souks
The Ruined Garden – Fully booked for both nights we were there so this place must be a winner!
Fes Cafe – A bit more of a fine dining buzz in amongst some gardens, feels like you’re somewhere far from the madness of Morocco.
Chez Rachid – For that authentic Moroccian experience YUM.
BEST PIECES OF ADVICE?
Here are some useful tips & tricks that might help you along the way:
- When bartering with store owners, offer a price 1/3 of the original
- Get used to saying “NO THANKYOU” as the haggling can sometimes feel overwhelming
- Before buying something at the first shop you see, have a look at a few others. You’ll see differences in both quality and prices
- You can buy a local Moroccan simcard from any store that says “TELECOM MAROC”
- You will inevitably get lost in the medina but thats half the fun. Maps on iPhone don’t even show the little streets
- Before jumping in a taxi, agree to a price with the driver first
- Woman dress appropriately – I always had my knees and shoulders covered but I did see people with shorts & singlets
- Take toilet paper everywhere – most toilets (even in the restaurants) had none
- Hand sanitiser is your new friend
- If you’re experiencing tummy cramps etc – cumin and honey does the trick…sort of…well it helps a bit
- Enjoy every single part of the experience. There’s nothing quite like it!
So Fes, thanks for the culture shock we well and truly wanted and although Leah wasn’t 100%, we both still loved it and will be back one day for sure.
Bryn | FREE & ADDICTED
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