Which neighborhood of Fez is more convenient and safe for a tourist to stay in
Fez: the best areas for tourists

Which neighborhood of Fez is more convenient and safe for a tourist to stay in

More than 1 million people live in Fez today. The territory of the city is quite large, but tourists are only interested in the medina and the train stations outside it.

Historically, Fes is historically divided into three parts: the old medina, the new medina and the «new city».

Fes el-Bali (Fes el-Bali)

The Old Medina is one of the largest pedestrian zones in the world, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The medina of Fez is surrounded by a high fortress wall, which has been rebuilt several times. Almost every gate, and there are many of them here, is a small local masterpiece.

All the key sights of Fez are located in the old medina. This is also where most hotels are located: they are mostly riads — old houses converted into guesthouses by locals. During the day, the medina is a fairly safe place. Yes, every person you meet wants to redistribute your dirhams in their favor, but in the daylight you are unlikely to be robbed, especially if you do not turn into deserted alleys, of which there are thousands. In the evening, an hour and a half after sunset, while the restaurants are open, it is also relatively safe here. But walking along the empty streets of the medina in the dark is not for the faint-hearted. Safety rules in Morocco

It is the old medina that gives you a complete immersion in the atmosphere of an Arab city. Settle here in a riad or dar (which is the same thing), wake up to the calls of the muezzin, start the day with a traditional Moroccan breakfast and, stepping outside the riad, you will immediately find yourself 5—10 centuries back. By the way, this is where all the most interesting restaurants of Fez are located. So you will have dinner here anyway, unless you prefer the world cuisine of the food court of the shopping center or kebab-shawarma in street stalls.

The Old Medina of Fez
The Old Medina of Fez

Fes el-Jedid (Fes el-Jedid)

The «new» medina was founded in the 13th century outside the fortress walls. It is the site of an ancient Jewish ghetto and the current royal residence. There are almost no Jews left in the new medina, and it has become the neighborhood where the city’s poorest people live. It is dirtier than in the old medina; on the streets they sell artichokes and worn-out shoes from dilapidated stalls; you want to escape even during the day. Fes el-Jdid is definitely worth a visit for the Royal Palace and the architecture — the Jewish houses are radically different from the Arab ones, with balconies facing the street. But it’s hardly worth staying here overnight, unless you want to test your stress tolerance by sneaking back to your hotel in the evening.

Jewish neighborhood in Fez
Jewish neighborhood in Fez

Fez Ville Nouvelle.

New Fez was laid out by the French in the early 20th century during the protectorate according to all the principles of European urban planning. Today it is a typical metropolitan area with shopping and office centers, European-looking coffee shops, supermarkets, green areas and other familiar infrastructures.

It’s worth a stop here if:

  • The most luxurious riad you prefer the usual comfort of a typical European hotel with continental breakfast (Ibis and Mariotte are waiting for you),
  • You came to Fez on business,
  • You’re planning radial outings from Fez around the neighborhood more than walking around the medina, and you need quick access to train stations.

This is what a small typical public garden in Ville Nouveau looks like: benches, turtles and a street coffee shop.

A park in the new part of Fez
A park in the new part of Fez
Fez, the New City
Fez, the New City

Fes train station and Supratours bus station are located on the border of Fes el-Jedid and Ville Nouvelle. The CTM bus company station is slightly at the back of Ville Nouvelle. Between the train station and CTM is the city’s largest shopping center, Burj Fes, with a large Carefour and alcohol department. What you need to know about alcohol in Morocco

The easiest way to get from Ville Nouveau to Fes El Bali is by red Petit Taxi: a trip for one person is no more than 12 dirhams, for two people 20 dirhams. At the medina, cabs stop at the gate. Due to the disorganized public transport here, even locals take cabs. Be like the locals.