Things to do in Meknes Morocco
Meknes is a mid-size city just one hour from Fez, offering much of the larger city’s exotic mystique and winding Kasbah streets, but with less hassle. Good restaurants, nightlife, scenery, and historical sites can be enjoyed in relative calm, and often at lower prices.
What to Do
In the Medina, the old part of the city, you will find dozens of small shops selling everything from leather to spices to argan oil. As you walk through the medina, make sure you see Place el-Hedim, the large central square.
It’s a great place for people watching, and there are many cafés and restaurants to choose from. Situated on one side is the Bab Mansour Gate, a huge, decorated gate completed in 1732.
Moulay Ismail Mausoleum
Moulay Ismail (1634-1727) was one of the great sultans of Morocco who ruled from his opulent palaces in Meknes. His final resting place is as just as decadent, with inlaid tile work, marble columns, molded plaster, carved wooden ceilings, and bubbling courtyard fountains.
It’s one of the few religious monuments in the country that non-Muslims can enter, so it’s a special opportunity to experience the hushed, reverent atmosphere of a sacred site. Open daily except Friday 9am-7pm.
Located a mile and a half from the Mausoleum of Moulay, the ruins of the 17th century sultan’s stables are still standing. Built to house over 10,000 horses, the massive structure was one of the finest works of the time. Note the ingenious natural air conditioning system, with ventilation windows and cooling underground water channels.
Dar Jamaï Museum
Housed in what was built as the palace of the wealthy and influential Jamaï family, this museum has a beautiful collection of traditional items including textiles – such as rugs and embroidered dresses – woodwork, jewelry, and ceramics.
The house wraps around the courtyard, which offers a shady respite underneath orange trees. Open Wednesday to Monday, 9am-12pm and 3-6:30pm.
Bou Inania Madrasa
Built in 1358, this building housed a religious school and dormitories for students and teachers. Now, it is open to the public as a historical monument showcasing the beauty of traditional Moroccan design – colorful tile work, molded stucco, and carved wood. There are lovely views from the rooftop terrace. Open daily 10am-6pm.
Volubilis Day Trip
These carefully restored Roman ruins have been given a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for the ancient history they preserve, including temples, stores, houses, and beautiful mosaics. The ruins are spread over a large area and offer great photo opportunities; the surrounding scenery is lovely as well. It is located about 2.5 miles from the town of Moulay Idriss, which is 18 miles from Meknes.
To get there, you can take the bus or grand taxi from Meknes (taxis leave from the Institut Français) and walk from Moulay Idriss to the site. You might be able to ask the driver to let you out close to Volubilis, so it’s just a 0.5 mile walk. If you have a car, it’s easy to drive directly. There are also organized day trips that provide round-trip transportation.