With a history dating back more than 1,100 years, Fez is Morocco in a nutshell, from its warrenlike medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the mounds of colorful spices in its souks. One day in Fez yields a good overview as you stroll the medina, learn Moroccan cooking, and enjoy a hammam steam bath. Here’s how.
Ancient Fez has been the capital of Morocco many a time, and a walking tour of its medina is a journey into a world where ancient crafts and knowledge merge with the hubbub of a modern, developing city. See the 9th-century Kairaouine Mosque, one of the world’s oldest universities, the Andalusian Mosque, and the historic madrassas (Koranic schools) that made Fez a capital of learning. Inhale the stench of tanning leather at the Chouara Tannery and the scent of perfumes in the souks, and discover traditional arts and crafts at the Dar Batha Museum, once a royal palace.
For lunch, learn to cook Moroccan food. Start by bargaining for fresh produce and spices at a souk, then watch a demo or get hands-on as you prepare an authentic Moroccan menu. Master the art of couscous, tagines, the sweet and savory pie known as pastilla, or traditional soups, grills, salads, and breads, and wash it all down with lashings of mint tea. If time permits, head out to Art Naji to see some of the city’s finest potters and mosaic makers in action and perhaps pick up a ceramic or two.
With a lineage dating back to Roman times, the classic hammam steam bath is an essential Moroccan ritual. Start your evening off with sheer indulgence as you progress from a hot steam room to a warm bathing room and a cool room for resting, with scrubs, body polishes, and massages along the way. Refreshed and renewed, soak up the sights and scents of the city at night, then feast on Moroccan cuisine at a restaurant in a traditional riad, or courtyard home. Wrap up the night with mint tea and perhaps even a hookah pipe on the rooftop.