Deciding where to stay in Fes depends on the amount of time a traveler can give to the city and what they most want to see and experience during their stay. Let us help you to figure out which are the best places to stay in Fes for you.
Steeped in history, the ancient city of Fes is often considered the cultural center of Morocco. While many visitors flock to the country for its enchanting mystique, it is Fes, in reality, that embodies what many travelers imagine when they dream of visiting Morocco.
From the cobbled labyrinth of alleys twisting and turning through the Old Medina to the ornate riads, lovingly restored and preserved to show off the most colorful motifs, there is no place quite like Fes.
Where to stay in Fes: Best areas to stay in Fes
1. Fes el-Bali (Old Medina)
Despite the high concentration of shops and riads within Fes el-Bali, also known as the Old Medina, cars are not permitted in this area.
With 9,400 narrow alleys winding through the neighborhood, many of which maintain a heavy presence of people and animals throughout much of the day, it is simply impossible for cars to squeeze through the tight spaces or around the many individuals crowding the streets.
Walking through the neighborhood, visitors will come across what seems like an endless occurrence of mosques, madrasas (Islamic schools,) and fountains, and although it’s easy to get lost in these winding walkways, it’s unlikely that one will pass by the same mosque or madrasa simply from losing one’s way.
Historically, each small pocket within the city had to have access to these three things, so visitors passing through will find an abundance of each, if they know where to look.
Navigating the medina can be challenging, and a guide is highly recommended if there are specific shops or sites that are must-sees, such as the popular leather tanneries, rug merchants, or the architecturally impressive Bou Inania Madrasa.
For many visitors, there is no question about where to stay in Fes. The Old Medina, designated a World Heritage site in 1981, is frequently considered by visitors to be one of the best areas to stay in Fes.
It’s common knowledge among the locals, as well, and the larger more luxurious riads in this neighborhood tend to be some of the priciest options in the entire city. Many of these riads boast restaurants (some of which require pre ordering) and hammams available for their guests as well as outside visitors.
For a more affordable option, visitors will find that dars offer equally hospitable stays with fewer frills and much lower price tags. Dars are typically smaller homes that have been converted to bed and breakfast style accommodations, and they often lack the central garden or multiple stories of the riads.
A few hostels are also available in this area, but it’s worth comparing prices and amenities since dars tend to be similarly priced while offering a more personalized experience.
The biggest draw of staying within Fes el-Bali is the historic and cultural significance of the neighborhood as well as its proximity to the architectural attractions and markets that many visitors come to see.
However, the neighborhood’s biggest drawback is also what keeps the area so well-preserved: a lack of motor vehicle transportation can make it difficult to get to other areas within the city, particularly with luggage.
Individuals staying in this neighborhood who plan on traveling outside this area will benefit from staying closer to the edges so as to easily access motor transport such as buses or taxis to other areas in the city and beyond.
2. Bab Bou Jeloud
The highly recognizable Blue Gate of Fes, also known as the Bab Bou Jeloud, acts as an entryway into Fes el-Bali, the largest surviving medieval city in the world.
The decorative blue gate greets visitors and locals on their way into the city, and the blue color represents the city of Fes; on the way out, visitors should pay close attention as the gate is actually green on the opposite side, the color representative of the Islamic religion.
The surrounding neighborhood is a mixture of old and new, with the gate serving as the divider.
Outside of the gate, traffic buzzes along in the vibrant city, while within the walls, motor vehicles are replaced by foot traffic. A handful of restaurants clutter the space surrounding the wall, and they make excellent spots to stop for lunch and people watch from the elevated terraces.
The neighborhood surrounding the Bab Bou Jeloud may be one of the best places to stay in Fes due simply to its melding of old and new: guests who stay in this area are only steps from the ancient part of the city while still being able to access public transport and taxis without a long walk with luggage.
The nearest public transportation stop is the Bab Mahrouk, which sits just off of one of the major roads passing through the city. Proximity to the main road makes this a popular choice for many when deciding where to stay in Fes, especially for those who plan on driving onwards to other cities within Morocco.
Dars and riads dot the area, though accommodation options are not as abundant as within the old part of the city. Lodging options in the area tend to be more affordable than comparable accommodations within Fes el-Bali.
There is also a hostel available for budget travelers, but as with other neighborhoods, it is best to compare the price and amenities to smaller dars in the area before making a decision.
3. As Seffarine
Fes is a city known for its handicrafts, from leather tanning to pottery. The lesser-known coppersmith craftsmen are also a prominent part of the cultural heritage of Fes, and the place to find these wares is Seffarine Square.
The neighborhood is frequented by guided tours not only to watch the coppersmiths crafting plates, pots, cauldrons, and more but also because it is near several attractions just northeast of Fes el-Bali.
The Riad Palais Bahia Fes and Al Attarine Madrasa are some of the top spots for visitors to photograph the stunning gates and architecture of the city, and they’re located only a short distance from the square. Visiting these attractions gives visitors the perfect excuse to meander through the stalls of coppersmiths crafting and polishing their wares.
Seffarine Square lies on the northeastern edge of the city, and because it is removed from the Old Medina, accommodation prices tend to be more reasonable than within Fes el-Bali with the exception of a few luxury options.
Although the area is removed from many of the most popular sites, public transportation options are limited, making it one of the more challenging areas to stay in Fes.
Riads are the most common type of accommodation in this neighborhood, although a few dars also dot the landscape and offer more affordable lodging options.
4. Fes el-Jdid
While it may seem counter-intuitive, Fes el-Jdid is considered the new part of the Old Medina, an extension built during the time of the Marinid sultans around 1276.
Although less frenetic than the labyrinths of Fes el-Bali, the neighborhood is home to a number of sites and plentiful markets for visitors to explore. Here in the Fes el-Jdid, visitors can explore the Jewish quarter, also known as the Mellah, where a small Jewish museum is open for visitors.
This was the first Jewish neighborhood designated as such in Morocco, and it was officially under the protection of the King for nearly two centuries. Also located in this neighborhood, visitors can marvel at the many gates — babs — that serve as entrances to different locations within the city, including the Palais Royale where only the king can enter.
Located between Fes el-Bali and the neighborhood surrounding Fes Station, there are few accommodation options available directly in the Fes el-Jdid, making it essential to book early if staying in this location is a priority.
The riads within the area are very affordably priced, typically even more so than the dars in more popular neighborhoods. On the outskirts of this area, there are also a few upscale hotels that border the neighboring districts and offer excellent views of the city at a much higher rate.
5. Nouvelle Ville
The Nouvelle Ville sits to the southwest of the Old Medina and offers an entirely different perspective of the ancient city of Fes. French influence is apparent, and the neighborhood is populated with foreigners and well-to-do residents who are willing to pay rent as high as three times the amount in other areas.
Heavily influenced by European culture, international eateries are abundant in this area, as are bakeries, ice cream parlors, and fast-food restaurants, making it one of the best areas to stay in Fes for food and drink.
Travelers looking for nightlife will also appreciate the numerous bars that dot Avenida Hassan II in the new part of the city. The streets here are lined with towering palm trees, and lush greenery enhances picturesque views of the mountains that can be seen in the distance.
Public transportation is abundant in this area, so it is entirely possible to stay in this neighborhood and travel to the top sites without assistance from hotel or riad staff.
In the Nouvelle Ville, travelers will find a wide variety of accommodation options with pricing options that are just as varied. Although a handful of dars and riads are available for travelers who prefer the small-scale hospitality offered by these accommodations, the neighborhood is dominated by larger hotels and apartment rentals, including international chains as well as smaller, local brands.
Many of the apartment rentals offer affordable lodging but lack the amenities of other accommodation options, including access to hotel staff that can help arrange transportation and make reservations.
Luxury hotels in this neighborhood tend to be pricier than other accommodation options in the neighborhood, but offer high-end amenities at a much more affordable rate than you might find in a European city.
6. Train Station
It may seem like common sense for many that one of the best places to stay in Fes is near the train station. Fes Station offers easy transportation in and out of the city, and the area is also saturated with bus stops, providing accessible public transportation throughout the city itself.
Those staying in this neighborhood will also find numerous cafes and fast-food restaurants in the area. A handful of international eateries also populate the area, but it may not be a favorite area for travelers hoping to immerse themselves in the local food scene.
The area is far enough away from the old and new parts of the city to necessitate the use of buses or taxis, of which there are plenty, and the neighborhood also boasts proximity to the multi-purpose Fes Stadium and botanical gardens.
Staying near the train station may be an excellent choice for travelers who are only visiting the city for a short stay or those who have an early morning train to catch.
Accommodation options in this neighborhood, like most other areas, is dominated by riads, while there are a handful of dars and hotels sprinkled throughout. The area is not nearly as saturated with hotels as Fes el-Bali, and prices tend to fall in the mid-priced range when compared to other options within the city.