Dangers & Annoyances
- It’s not really safe to walk on your own in the medina late at night, especially for women.
- Knife-point robberies are not unknown.
- Hotels and many restaurants are usually happy to provide an escort on request if you’re out late.
- Fez has long been notorious for its faux guides (unofficial guides) and carpet-shop hustlers, all after their slice of the tourist dirham.
Faux guides tend to congregate around Bab Bou Jeloud, the main western entrance to the medina, although crackdowns by the authorities have greatly reduced their numbers and hassle.
Even many official guides will suggest visitors turn their tour into a shopping trip, and the pressure to buy can be immense. Fez’ carpet sellers are masters of their game. If you really don’t want to buy, it might be best not to enter the shop at all: once the parade of beautiful rugs begins, even the hardest-minded of tourists can be convinced to buy something they didn’t really want (honeyed words suggesting that you could always sell the carpet later on eBay at vast profit should be treated with extreme scepticism). It’s also worth remembering that any time you enter a shop with a guide, the price of the goods immediately goes up to cover their commission. Shopping in Fez needn’t be a battle – indeed it’s best treated as a game – but it’s worth being prepared.
Beware the touts who board trains to Fez, often at Meknès. They can be very friendly, approaching you claiming to be students or teachers returning to Fez – they’ll often have ‘brothers’ who have hotels, carpet shops or similar.
There is no tourist office in the medina. You can pick up a good-quality free map of Fez at Délégation Régionale de Tourisme and book official guides. Staff speak English.
Carlson Wagonlit is behind Central Market and is useful for flights and ferries.