Fez travel guide: How to get the most out of Morocco’s oldest imperial city in just two days

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If you are in the temper for a magical journey, look no additional than Fez.   

From eating out on delectable road meals to bargain-hunting in the huge lost-in-time medina, Ali Pantony reveals the final information to 48 hours in the historic imperial city… 

DAY ONE

Bab Bou Jeloud, the impressive entrance to Fez's ancient medina, which is decorated with tiles and geometric motifs

Bab Bou Jeloud, the spectacular entrance to Fez’s historic medina, which is adorned with tiles and geometric motifs

Morning: Wake up to the conventional and opulent surrounds of Riad Fes in the coronary heart of the medina, with its towering pillars of hand-carved plaster, intricate tiles and jewel-coloured velvet furnishings. Wander round the 18th Century resort, by way of its palm-filled courtyards flanked by lemon timber and fountains, and up its marble staircases to the rooftop bar providing 180-degree views of the medina. After a buffet breakfast at Restaurant l’Ambre, step exterior into Fez’s previous city the place you are a mere stroll away from the medina, stated to be the largest in the world.

Afternoon: Most of the medina is closed on Fridays, so Thursday is a perfect day to discover. The dense warren of Fez Medina is like stepping again in time – no automobiles, just donkeys and shopkeepers carting round their items. You’ll need to spend a couple of hours getting misplaced in the vibrant, chaotic jumble of greater than 9,000 spice-scented alleyways, brimming with outlets and merchants. Look for fashionable carpets and rugs (costs rely on elements reminiscent of whether or not it is hand- or factory-made; makes use of pure or chemical dyes; and most importantly, your haggling expertise), ceramics, lanterns and leather-based items. Book a medina tour when you do not fancy getting misplaced (strive plan-it-morocco.com). Ask to strive some typical Fassi road meals – significantly the tiny stalls serving ‘bissara’, creamy bean soup served with hunks of heat, fresh-from-the-oven bread and drizzles of olive oil – and to see the Chouara Tannery, the place leather-based is produced utilizing historic processes. Do your purchasing after the tour, although, so you do not have to pay the information’s fee. 

'The dense warren of Fez Medina [pictured] is like stepping back in time – no cars, just donkeys and shopkeepers carting around their goods,' writes Ali

‘The dense warren of Fez Medina [pictured] is like stepping again in time – no automobiles, just donkeys and shopkeepers carting round their items,’ writes Ali

Holidaymakers can visit the Chouara Tannery, pictured, where leather is produced using ancient processes

Holidaymakers can go to the Chouara Tannery, pictured, the place leather-based is produced utilizing historic processes

Evening: Head again to Riad Fes and organize for a automotive to test in to its sister property, Hotel Sahrai. This boutique resort provides house, modernity and calm after the commotion of the previous city. Perched on a hilltop above the new city (in a city as historic as Fez, ‘new’ is 700 years previous), make for the fashionable Jungle Bar, which provides sprawling views over the city stretching to the Atlas mountains, for an aperitif earlier than dinner.

For dinner, select between continental delicacies at Relais de Paris Restaurant (a starter of breaded goat’s cheese with sauteed spinach and honey from the Atlas mountains was a spotlight), or typical Moroccan fare at Amaraz Restaurant – do not miss the tajine de lotte et gambas, spice-rich tagines crammed with prawns and burbot fish, tomatoes, olives and lemon.

DAY TWO 

Morning: After breakfast, the place it is best to strive the ‘melawi’ and ‘baghrir’, Moroccan pancakes cooked two methods, head to the resort’s marble-clad spa which is the solely Givenchy spa in North Africa. Try the 60-minute conventional hammam therapy, involving a purifying full-body scrub utilizing Moroccan kessa gloves in a steamy therapeutic massage room, which is washed off earlier than your physique is stretched and soaked with moisturising balms and important oils. Afterwards, sip a mint tea and chill out by the palm-lined, L-shaped infinity pool. Try a neighborhood centuries-old hammam at Ain Azleten Hammam, Hammam Mernissi or Hammam Rihab in previous city. Check opening occasions although, as many open early for males, later for ladies.

Afternoon: Grab a map from the resort and begin the afternoon with a stroll round Jardin Jnan Sbil. These lush gardens just exterior the medina have been planted greater than a century in the past, however in depth renovation has restored this space to a verdant inexperienced oasis.

Green oasis: The verdant Jardin Jnan Sbil right outside the medina. The gardens were planted more than 100 years ago

Green oasis: The verdant Jardin Jnan Sbil proper exterior the medina. The gardens have been planted greater than 100 years in the past 

Ali recommends squeezing in a trip to the Synagogue Ibn-Danan, pictured, during a two-day getaway in Fez

Ali recommends squeezing in a visit to the Synagogue Ibn-Danan, pictured, throughout a two-day getaway in Fez 

TRAVEL FACTS  

Ali Pantony was a visitor of Relais & Chateaux, the place Riad Fes rooms are from £190 (riadfes.com) and rooms at Hotel Sahrai from £160 (hotelsahrai.com). Direct flights with Air Arabia land late – at about 11pm – on Wednesday evenings. Flights from Gatwick to Fez with Air Arabia value from £30.

Stroll by way of the leafy trails, relaxation on the benches shaded by towering palms and poplar timber, and snap images of the spectacular lake, fountains and historic water wheel. For sustenance, head to Mezzanine Lounge with views over Jnan Sbil for a chilly native beer and a few Moroccan-inspired tapas.

From right here, you possibly can stroll to Bab Bou Jeloud, the immense entrance to the medina which you could have missed on day one. The triple-arched gate is roofed in stunning tiles and geometric motifs, with its outer facade a deep royal blue and its inside predominantly shiny inexperienced. Also price an discover is the historic ‘mellah’ – the Jewish quarter – created in 1438 by Sultan Ar Rashid, when Fez new city grew to become a refuge for some 250,000 Jews.

Don’t miss Rue des Merinides, the space’s most architecturally various road, lined with previous homes that includes ornate wrought-iron balconies. You might additionally go to the Synagogue Ibn-Danan, the Jewish Cemetery, or the close by entrance to the Royal Palace.

Evening: On the ultimate night time, get pleasure from dinner at Dar Roumana, a five-room riad the place chef Younes Idrissi creates seasonal Franco-Moroccan dishes from native produce. The intimate eating room in the riad’s candlelit courtyard makes a romantic setting, shiny with blue and white tiles, with a couple of tables round a central fountain. The menu is consistently altering however latest dishes embrace a recent beetroot, pear and native goat’s cheese salad and seared ombrini fillet (a fragile white fish) with a saffron, prawn and crayfish sauce on a mattress of inexperienced veg.