I spent the last week of 2016 in Morocco with my family and it was one of our most wonderful trips ever. I‘ve always been fascinated with this country’s culture since I went to school to become a tour operator, many moons ago. I love the history and architecture, the old-world atmosphere and the vibrant souks, plus I love to speak French!
We decided to sleep in Fez - the country’s cultural capital with its UNESCO protected Medina - and take day trips to visit the surrounding areas. A dear acquaintance referred me to a wonderful guide and a driver in Fez, and with their help we experienced 7 great days. Fez proved to be fun and entertaining to all family members. It’s not an easy task considering I have a teen, a tween, a 5 year old and a husband…the harder to please sometimes.
Here’s the highlights of our trip and first timers must sees and adventures for the whole family:
Tour the outskirts of Fez to get a feeling of the city's geography and landscape. You can stop in a couple of viewing points up on the peripheral hills. The view is fantastic and the kids can run free, meet the locals selling handmade leather goods and clothing for just a few dollar.
Visit the American Fundouk: a charitable veterinary hospital founded in 1929 by benevolent American Amy Bend Bishop. It provides free treatment to thousands of Fez's working animals each year. The kids loved to see and pet the horses, donkeys and mules. We also got to do a family weigh in on the animal scale...over 600 pounds!
Walking tour of Fez Medina with a licensed guide. Learn about all that is hidden in this vibrant ancient market labyrinth. The most famous points of interest are here. The Medina is a crowded area with tons of little places to eat, shop and visit. The kids will be entertained by the hustle and bustle and everything is within hand's reach. Let the guide take you to trusted shops, local restaurants and hidden gardens. We visited the Palais Quaraouiyine, the Cascade de Lumiere and of course, the Chouara tanner.
Tour Art Naji Pottery factory: experience the whole process from beginning to end. The kids enjoyed watching the artists at work, then sitting out in the open air showroom, sipping lemonade, playing with the adopted cats and enjoying the free wifi. I shopped my heart out, of course.
Drive to Chefchaouen the "Blue City". Hidden in the Rif mountains of Morocco, this striking little city is almost entirely painted with blue colors. It takes 3 hrs to get there from Fez. You can walk all around, take wonderful pictures and visit all the little shops. My kids loved running up and down the little roads.
Visit the Atlas Mountains. Feed the wild monkeys and ride the horses! Enjoy the different landscapes, the lakes, the waterfalls and the national park (that's where the monkeys are). Plenty too see and do. We even saw snow in Ifran!
Drive to Meknes and Volubilis. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Volubilis is a truly beautiful archaeological valley: the Roman Empire settled here before the Christian Era and left behind a multitude of remains. Settled in a green and fertile valley surrounded by hills, it offers beautiful views and the kids can go explore around. Meknes is another beautiful imperial city like Fez. In all truth we only had time to visit the outskirts of town. But we did stop in Azrou to shop for some Berber handicrafts!
Stroll into the Royal Palace Garden. The garden was donated to the citizen of Fez by the king and it is truly a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of the Medina.
We visited Morocco in January and thought it was wonderful. The cooler temperature made it perfect for walking trough the busy Medina and visiting the countryside. The tanneries can have quite a pungent smell but we didn't even noticed.
TIP: Consider sleeping in a Riad to truly experience the magic atmosphere of this country. The Riad is a traditional Moroccan house. We stayed at the Riad Myra.
Here's a picture with our wonderful guide Hakim and driver Saed .