Fes, Morocco is a little-known destination that captured my heart on a recent trip to North Africa. The ‘cultural capital’ of Morocco, Fes is the perfect destination for the adventurous traveler willing to leave the comforts of a European vacation for the many rewards of a Moroccan adventure.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Fes is the third largest city in Morocco and is comprised of the world’s largest car-free urban space. The absence of vehicles in the walled medina (the old city) brings a quiet and authentic feel to Morocco’s imperial city. This jewel of a city is still largely untouched by tourism.
Morocco runs on couscous. By the time I reached Fes, however, I was couscous’d out. Lucky for me, Fes has plenty to offer. Try Dar Hatim, an authentic Moroccan restaurant that boasts of an incredible panoramic view of the old city and a menu with plenty of variety. And for dessert? Skip the restaurant and head to the markets where you can sample sweet bite-sized morsels and mingle with the locals.
Learn from my mistake. Leave room in your luggage. The shopping in Fes is unparalleled. The furniture, jewelry, clothing, spices and one-of-a-kind pieces found in Fes make it a top destination for big spenders and window-shoppers alike.
Fes is also home to the oldest leather tannery in North Africa. The Leather Souq dates back to the 11th century. Here you can take a free tour and see the age-old process still at work. I left with a braided camel skin belt, my souvenir from a journey back in time.
My most adventurous moments in Fes came when our concierge at Riad Verus recommended that I visit a local hammam. Similar to a Turkish bath, the hammam is comprised of a series of steam rooms where local people bathe and relax. When I left the hammam, my skin felt radiant thanks to the local soaps and oils and my heart felt lighter, thrilled to have experienced the ‘real’ Fes.
I almost missed out on Fes entirely. After an exhausting trip to the desert, it loomed on my travel itinerary as a giant question mark. Travel has taught me that often those same question marks result in the finest of adventures, and so Fes it was.