We spent three days in Fes, Morocco and had the best time exploring the beautiful historic city that dubs itself “the roots of Morocco”. Fes is home to the world-famous leather tanneries and Medina and the souk boasts incredible pottery and leather artisans. Today I’m sharing 8 things you can’t miss in Fes, Morocco! If you have plans to vacation in Morocco, definitely make sure Fes is on your itinerary.
8 Things You Can’t Miss In Fes, Morocco
This one seems obvious, but making sure you get to the leather tanneries while visiting Fes is a must. Even more – get there as early as you can! We woke up at 6AM, ate breakfast at 7AM and were out the door around 7:45AM, making it to tanneries around 8:15AM.
We were told to head toward the tanneries and look for #10 (look up – you’ll see a sign hanging from an awning), which would offer tremendous views of the world famous Fes tanneries. It didn’t disappoint and we were the first people there that morning. We watched for about an hour as hides were taken from the cleaning vats and readied for the dye vats.
The owner at #10 explained the process of hide to product, how leather families have operated in Fes for generations and that the tanneries we were looking at were the oldest leather tanneries in the world. It kind of takes your breath away!
Pay close attention to the artisans on the side working on the yellow leather; it’s the only color that has to be done by hand. It’s AMAZING!
After our time at the tanneries, I knew I wanted to invest in some quality leather products to bring home. The leather poufs, a seat made from leather that can be circular or square, were pretty high on my radar!
We purchased 5 poufs from the artisan we had spent several hours talking to and I’m glad we did. He had tears in his eyes as he helped us pick the styles we liked, showed up how to tell good leather from not-so-good leather in the souks (markets), and how to care for the leather once we got it home. You could tell he was very passionate about his craft!
Walking through the Henna Souk is a feast for the senses. I didn’t know what to expect since we had walked through early in the morning on the way to the tanneries and nothing had opened yet. Once the souk opens, it’s mayhem!
There are shop owners offering everything from fresh fruit to leather goods, people pushing by, kids darting between your legs and donkeys hauling hides. It’s worth strolling through just for the experience!
Medersa Bou Inania
On the edge of the Henna Souk, you will see what looks like the entrance to a museum — go in the alcove and pay your way to see the Medersa Bou Inania. It’s well worth the small fee to enter this architectural dream.
We walked all three stories and in and out of the tiny rooms. Spending time reflecting in the main riad while listening to the call to prayer is like nothing I’ve ever experienced!
Lots of walking through alleyways will work up a little bit of an appetite! Vendors on the side of the streets will be offering what looks like pink, green and white nougat with almonds in it. Don’t be put off by the bees swarming around it – it’s so freaking good! I liked the white the best.
The Blue Gate is one of the many gates to enter into the Medina and it’s highly rated in Fes to go see. The problem? It’s always super crowded and it’s still in use, so any chance of getting a crisp photo is a little bit difficult. We managed to go right at 7:30AM on a weekend to get these photos and there was hardly anyone there!
Running parallel to the Henna Souk, we stumbled upon what we might consider a farmer’s market in the U.S. There were stalls upon stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as some butchers selling fresh meat and seafood.
Beyond that were food and restaurant stalls that were cooking so many different food options – lots of kebabs, tajine, and couscous. The smells were so good and it was really crowded (always a sign of worthwhile food!).
A few alleyways over from Riad Fes, we noticed a ton of people taking pictures. As it turns out, it was Rainbow Alley, an alleyway painted in rainbow colors with artwork from local artists. It was really cool!
Admittedly, it was filled with “Instagram Models” trying to get a good shot, but the floor mural and work from artists make it worth the visit. Just be prepared for people to be elbowing you out of their photos!
If you couldn’t tell, we absolutely fell in love with Fes! The people, food, souks and history were like no place we had ever been previously. If Morocco is on your travel radar, make sure Fes is on your itinerary and be sure to read all about our stay at Riad Fes.