Fez (also known as Fes) will charm you with its culture tucked into every tightly woven street corner, but it can be nice to escape—even when you’re enjoying this fascinating old city. If you’re aching to break through the city walls for a day, we’ve got you covered.
Some of the most popular day trips from Fes include Meknes and nearby Volubilis, as well as the capital of Morocco, Rabat. It’s time to plan your Morocco itinerary … you’ve got lots of places to explore!
Meknes, an imperial city founded in the 11th century, used to be the capital of Morocco. It lies about 70 kilometers west of Fes, easily accessible by train.
This city offers plenty of visually stimulating and historically significant architecture. A triple wall defense system, which has been in place for centuries, still borders the city. If you’re on the hunt for some of Morocco’s most beautiful architecture, visit Meknes.
Also unique to Meknes are the carved gates, which are prime examples of preserved Islamic art.
In Meknes, you can also visit the Sidi Saïd mosque, the Dal El Makhzen royal palace, the Tomb of Moulay Ismail—the sultan who turned Meknes into a Royal City—as well as various souks throughout the city. The souks are great for shopping, offering much of what Fes does but at lower prices.
Volubilis, the ancient Roman city that makes Meknes such a popular destination, is close by. The marble ruins and mosaics, popular with visitors, are still in decent condition.
You can also relax in the gardens of the Meknes Royal Golf Course, which surrounds the palace walls. Kick back at a public café on the grounds while watching the sun set over the ancient ruins.
Macaques monkeys kept in chains throughout Volubilis are tourist traps. Taken out of their natural habitat in the Atlas Mountains, they’re used by locals to make profits. Companies such as Lonely Planet and various animal rights groups recommend you don’t pose with the macaques.
Although a lengthier trip—about two hours west of Fes—Morocco’s capital city of Rabat is worth the drive. Visit Chellah Gardens, Rabat’s empty, somewhat hauntingly creepy ruins. Stroll through the gardens and soak up some history. Some even compare the thriving vegetation of Chellah to that of Northern California. Keep an eye out for the eel ponds.
Rabat’s relaxed vibe will be appreciated after the constant buzz of Meknes and Fes. Although prices are a bit steeper, Rabat is the ideal place to see some of Morocco’s most popular sights.
Travel around Morocco is relatively simple. Trains are comfortable and run on time. Although they are rarely full and leave regularly, it’s recommended that travelers purchase train tickets one day in advance.
Another option is to go by bus, a cheaper alternative to train travel. CTM is Morocco’s best bus company, with buses running from Fes to many major cities in the country. CTM’s ticket system is computerized, so you can buy a ticket at any CTM office for any destination in the country.
Of course, the most expensive option would be taxi. The Grande Taxi system doesn’t have meters, so you’ll have to negotiate a price in advance. Start prepping your bartering skills today!
Although Fes offers many attractions for visitors, be sure to take advantage of everything that surrounds the city as well. With convenient and relatively cheap public transportation options, these day trips from Fes are yours to explore.
Written by Amanda Sandlin.
Photo by Gerard Stolk op weg naar 8 maart.