How to Spend 24 Hours in Fes | Shopping & Sightseeing

So much to do, so much to see, so little time…perfectly defines our visit to Fes. While many travelers spend 3 or 4 days here; we barely stitched together 1 night + 1 day to = 24 hours.

We did, however, cover a lot of ground in those 24 hours! So, in much the same way that we ran through the world’s largest medina, we’re going to take you on a fast-paced-photo-montage-marathon-tour through the vibrant Moroccan city of Fes.

From rooftops to hilltops to the narrow streets of the medina, we’ll show you the best views and sights to see. We’ll also show you the best places to shop for the most authentic Moroccan pottery, leather goods and Berber carpets.

Welcome to Fes: Mecca of the West.

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Where we stayed

Our accommodation for the evening: the beautiful Dar Attajali.

Fes Morocco
The exquisite purple courtyard of Dar Attajali.
Fes Morocco
DnA scored “The Purple Room” which paired perfectly with our purple luggage. Thank you Dar Attajali!

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Rooftop views of Fes in the evening

Fes Morocco
Rooftop views from Dar Attajali at dusk.
Fes Morocco
Kairaouine Mosque at night.

The city sometimes called The Mecca of the West also has a 2nd nickname: The Athens of Africa. Can you spot the Acropolis on the hillside in the background?

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The King’s Palace

Fes Morocco
Entrance to the King’s Palace.
Fes Morocco
The gorgeous gold entry door to the King’s Palace of Fes.
Fes Morocco
4 of these soldiers are trying very hard not to smile 🙂 *permission to take this picture was requested, and granted*

As explained by our guide, every color of tile has a geographical or cultural significance:

  • Blue: Fez
  • Red: Marrakech
  • Green: Meknes
  • White: Rabat
  • Black: Africa
  • Yellow: Berber
Fes Morocco
Colorful zellige tilework on the King’s Palace of Fes.

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The Medina of Fes

Fes Morocco
Walking through the Mellah: the Jewish quarter in the Medina of Fes (14th century).
Fes Morocco
Intricate architecture inside the Medina of Fes.
Fes Morocco
Today’s sheep lesson: “live wool” is used for weaving; “dead wool” is used for stuffing.
Fes Medina
The world’s largest medina: view from afar.
Fes Morocco
That stunning turquoise roof belongs to the University of al-Qarawiyyin.

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Shopping in Fes: pottery, carpets & leather

Stop #1: Moroccan pottery

The Pottery Quarter is located outside the medina in an area called Ain Nokbi. We visited one of the many pottery cooperatives that operate in the area. There, we observed every step of the pottery manufacturing process. Very cool experience!

The Fassi pottery of Fes is considered locally as the best in Morocco, and globally as some of the best in the world. So, what makes Fassi pottery unique?

  1. Grey clay: rich with magnesium, local grey clay is much stronger than the more commonly-used red clay, which is rich with iron.
  2. Olive pits: the kilns used to fire the pottery are fueled by olive pits, which burn at the high temperatures needed for grey clay. The olive pits used in the pottery industry are provided by the olive oil industry. Great use of resources and effort to minimize waste!
  3. Two times: every piece of pottery is fired twice in the kiln. The second round of firing is said to provide added strength.
Fes Pottery
Fassi pottery of Fes: tables on display–and available for sale–in the showroom.
Fes Morocco
One of the secrets behind Fassi pottery: using olive pits in the kiln.

Stop #2: Berber carpets

Back inside the medina walls, we visited a Berber carpet cooperative where we saw some breathtaking carpets & rugs, and observed one local artisan hard at work.

Fes Morocco
Berber carpet cooperative, Fes.
Fes Carpet House
Local artisan spinning a Berber carpet inside the cooperative, Fes.
Fes Carpet House
Rugs on display–and available for sale–at the Berber carpet cooperative, Fes.

Stop #3: Leather tannery

The Chouara Tannery has been operating for over 1000 years, and very little has changed over time. The rich colors of the all-natural dying pits still match those used generations ago:

  • red: poppy flower
  • orange: henna
  • brown: cedar wood
  • green: wild mint
  • blue: indigo
  • yellow: pomegranate skin (less expensive than saffron!)
Fes Leather Tannery
Outdoor dying pits at the Chouara Leather Tannery.
Fes Leather Tannery
Leather & suede jackets on display at the tannery. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, the shop will customize it for you, and deliver it to your riad!

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The souks (markets) of Fes

Fes Morocco
Local butcher shop in the souks of Fes.
Fes Morocco
Sweet treats are also available in the souks of Fes!
Fes Morocco
Our guide–Idriss–in front of the house he grew up in!

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So, that’s what happened in our whirlwind–and unforgettable–24 hours.

As you plan your own Fes adventure, do yourself a favor and give yourself at least a couple days to experience & appreciate this ancient, beautiful Moroccan city.

Now, off to Chefchaouen: the Blue Pearl of Morocco! 

Cheers!

-DnA

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