Marrakech, And Why You Should Go to Fes Instead

Whether you want a holiday where you can lounge on paradise beaches or explore the sweeping expanses of desert land, partaking in dune activities, Morocco has it all! A superb tourist destination and one that is sure to impress every traveller. It has stunning mountains, beautiful coastlines, old cities, exotic culture, and the vast dunes of the Sahara Desert. But where to go in Morocco? Despite a large number of tourists heading to Marrakesh each year, this article will explore the brilliance of Fes and what is on offer there.

Fes and Marrakech are Morocco's two oldest cities and the country's first capitals. Fes is located in the north and Marrakech in the south. Both cities are bursting with culture, attractions and exotic highlights. Both are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but, despite their similarities, Fes sees fewer visitors each year, meaning you could be in for a treat when exploring and avoiding the hustle and bustle of other busy tourist spots.
Planning a trip? Skratch has partnered with Sherpa to offer simple, trusted visa applications. Get your Moroccan eTA here.

So, Why Fes? 🇲🇦

Fes is the oldest city in Morocco (founded in 789 AD) and was the first capital. Instantly, knowing this, you know that this spot will burst with history, culture and life! With most people travelling and/or living there, Fes is said to have the best-preserved city in the Arab world, meaning that all treasures found here date black to a whole different lifetime’s worth of activity!
When visiting Fes, you will notice the vast Medina, which is a labyrinth with tourists guaranteed to find themselves getting lost within and is surrounded by fortified walls. Within this Medina lies a lively maze of alleys and small streets filled with stalls, restaurants, and cafés. Each lane is home to a Mosque and lined with most of the city’s highlights and top spots. This location is one reason within itself why to pick Fes to make your next visit. Dive straight into Moroccan and Arabic culture, sampling the traditional food and drinks of the Medina’s cafes and restaurants and by purchasing traditional and cultural items.
Woman cooking in Fes, Morocco
'Lost In The Medina', Fes, Morocco

When To Visit? ☀️

If you want to make the most of the Moroccan sun and this is your Summer trip, then you will want to make your way over to Fes in the months of June to August. These typical Summer months see hot and dry weather, with temperatures averaging from 33 degrees Celsius and can reach upwards of 40 degrees Celsius.
However, the typical tourist season in Fes usually takes place between September to November (Autumn). The days are relatively cool, but it often rains. If you dislike the wet, it is best to visit the city in summer.
Buildings and sky in Fes, Morocco
Fes, Morocco

What To See/Do In Fes? 👀

Despite a lot of Fes’s hotspots and culture being located in the colossal Median, there are so many other places and things to see/do in this stunning, culturally rich city. Plus you're also not too far from other hotspots like Meknes and the iconic insta spot of Chefchaouen (the blue city).
Bab Bou Jeloub - Make sure when visiting Fes, you visit the ‘front doors’ of the Medina. This visually stunning entrance dates back to 1913, when the French punched a hole in the city wall and erected this grand triple-arched gate, decorated with blue tiles on the outer face and green inside. The predominantly blue side represents the colour of Fes and the other side, being predominantly green, represents Islam.
Bab Bou Jeloub in Fes, Morocco
Bab Bou Jeloub, Fes
Chouara Tannery - One of three tanneries locate din the city of Fes. Chouara is the largest tannery in the city and one of the oldest. Here, you will be taken to a number of balconies, in which you can see where the skins are cleaned and then soaked in colours of the pits below. Tours and guides can be booked to explore this, you can even purchase a number of handcrafted leather goods such as; bags, Moroccan slippers, jackets and a number of many other goods. This is one of the most fascinating and eye-catching sights in Fes.
Chouara Tannery in Fes, Morocco
Chouara Tannery, Fes
Karaouine Mosque - When planning a trip to Fes, it is a great idea to schedule some time visiting the Kairaouine Mosque.  Despite the limitations to non-Muslims visiting the site, it is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit what many consider to be the world's oldest university.
It is incredibly old and it has served as a home for the University of Al-Karaouine for centuries – giving cause for the Guinness Book of World Records to name the university as the ‘oldest existing educational institution in the world’.  Despite not being able to go inside as a non-muslim, it is still worth the visit to check off of your travel list and because, the architecture and decoration found on this building is phenomenal and is incredible to witness.
Karaouine Mosque in Fes, Morocco
Karaouine Mosque, Fes

Where Should I Stay In Fes? 🏨

If you’re looking for authentic accommodation, the best place to stay in Fes is a Riad. A traditional Moroccan Riad is a home with multiple stories centered around an open-air courtyard with a fountain. These traditional Moroccan homes are now boutique hotels and feature a small number of rooms set around an inner courtyard. 
There are a number of variations of Riads all over Morocco and especially in Fes. Many now have swimming pools, hammam-style spas and other modern day amenities that are a must for a Summer trip away.
If you want just sweet and simple, then of course, Morocco and Fes specifically have a number of hotel chains dotted around which have everything and anything in them ready for your stay.
Authentic Riad Accomodation

What Is The Food Like In Fes? 🍴

Morocco is famous for its delicious cuisine that is bursting with ultimate flavour! This quality and flavour lines the streets and every corner of Fes, specifically. Fes is one of the best locations in the country to try street food. As we know, the Medina couldn’t fit any more stalls or restaurants if it tried! There are hundreds of restaurants and eateries to check out as well as traditional stalls. 
But what to try? Popular dishes include brochettes, which are kebab-style meat skewers cooked over a charcoal fire, and meat pies known as pastillas. With Arabic, Berber and Mediterranean influences, Fes is a culinary melting pot.
Tagine and other Moroccan dishes
Moroccan Cuisine

Starting from Skratch? Here are a few tips to get you started:

Fes - Facts before you go


💵 Moroccan Dirham (MAD)


🗣 Arabic


💰 A typical tip is between 7-10 percent of the bill.

Known for

🏫 Home to the world's oldest university

🕰 Historical Significance

🏠 Fez Old Town - UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Imogen Kemp
August 30, 2023
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