Fez on a Budget: A Free-spirited Adventure in Morocco’s Ancient City
When wandering the maze-like streets of Fez, you can’t help but feel as though you’ve stepped into the pages of a history book. With a vibrant mix of ancient architecture, bustling markets, and authentic Moroccan culture, Fez offers an unforgettable experience that won’t break the bank. As a local expert and connoisseur of Moroccan traditions, I’m here to share with you some of the best free activities to enjoy in Fez. From historic sites to traditional cuisine, this guide will help you make the most of your time in this captivating city.
1. Visit Al Quaraouiyine Mosque and University
Admire the exterior of the Al Quaraouiyine Mosque and University, founded in 859 AD. While non-Muslims are not allowed inside, the beautiful exterior and historical significance are worth a visit.
2. Explore the Fes el-Bali Medina and the Blue Gate
Fez is home to one of the largest and most well-preserved medieval cities in the world: the Fes el-Bali Medina. Get lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets, soak up the vibrant atmosphere, and marvel at the stunning architecture, such as the Dar Batha Museum and the Al Quaraouiyine Mosque. Don’t miss the iconic Blue Gate of Fes (Bab Bou Jeloud), a beautifully ornamented entrance to the Medina, adorned with intricate tilework in shades of blue, which creates a striking contrast against the surrounding ochre walls. Walking through the Medina is an unforgettable experience and the perfect way to immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Fez.
3. Discover Nejjarine Museum
This beautifully restored 18th-century building has been transformed into a museum showcasing traditional Moroccan art, including ceramics, wood carvings, and textiles. The Nejjarine Museum houses a fascinating collection of artifacts that provide a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region. The entry is free on certain days, so be sure to check before you go.
4. Stroll Through Jardin Jnan Sbil
Take a break from the busy city streets and relax in the peaceful Jardin Jnan Sbil. This beautifully landscaped garden offers a serene escape, with its lush greenery, fountains, and ponds.
5. Admire the Royal Palace of Fez
While the palace itself is not open to the public, the stunning brass doors and intricate tile work at the entrance are a must-see for any visitor to Fez.
6. Learn About Tanning at Chouara Tannery
Observe the fascinating process of traditional leather tanning from the terraces surrounding the Chouara Tannery. While entrance is free, be prepared for the strong smell!
7. Visit Al-Attarine Madrasa
This 14th-century Islamic school boasts stunning architecture, including intricately carved stucco and cedar woodwork. Although entrance fees apply, you can admire the beautiful façade of Al-Attarine Madrasa for free.
8. Taste Traditional Moroccan Cuisine
While not entirely free, you can sample some of Morocco’s delicious street food for a few dirhams. Try msemen, a flaky pancake, or a steaming bowl of harira, a traditional Moroccan soup.
9. Enjoy the Panoramic View from Borj Nord
Climb to the top of Borj Nord, a 16th-century fortress, for an incredible panoramic view of Fez. While there is a small fee to enter the Arms Museum inside, the view from the outside is entirely free.
10. Join the Free Tour of Fez
Finally, to truly appreciate the intricate beauty and rich history of Fez, consider participating in the Free Tour of Fez. Led by knowledgeable local guides, this engaging walking tour will introduce you to the city’s most iconic landmarks and hidden gems. Operating on a pay-what-you-want basis, this tour is an affordable and insightful way to delve deeper into the captivating world of Fez.
Fez is a city that captivates the senses with its unique blend of history, culture, and tradition. From wandering the labyrinthine streets of the Medina to sampling mouthwatering Moroccan street food, there’s no shortage of incredible experiences waiting to be discovered in this enchanting city. So pack your bags, put on your most comfortable walking shoes, and get ready to explore the fascinating world of Fez, where ancient wonders and modern marvels coexist in perfect harmony.