Meknes & Volubilis – Full day
Departure from Fez at around 10 am for a 1 hour’s drive west to the Imperial city of Meknes. Driving across the plain you will see vast acreages of vineyards, which produce good quality wine, much of which is exported to France. You will have up to three hours in Meknes to explore the town including the expansive souks, the fascinating historical sites and to take lunch. Moulay Ismail made Meknes the capital city of Morocco during his reign around 1700; his mausoleum and the Rouah, his stables for over 12,000 horses, together with Place el-Hedim, the central pedestrian square in the Medina, are well worth a visit. The souks of Meknes are refreshingly spacious compared to Fez, which makes the city a relaxing place to explore.
After lunch our journey takes you 30 km north to the hillside settlement of Moulay Idriss. The town is one of the country’s most important spiritual sites and a place of pilgrimage as it is the site of the tomb of Moulay Idriss, a prominent Moroccan saint in the late 8th century and a great grandson of the prophet Mohammed. The town is often bypassed by non-Muslim tourists, whose closest encounter is often a photograph taken from nearby Volubilis. There is limited access to the green-tiled shrine but the myriad of narrow streets leading to vantage points for views over the valley towards Volubilis are well worth a short stop.
Leaving Moulay Idriss for the short 4 km drive to the World Heritage Site of Volubilis, there are a number of vantage points to take photographs of the town. Volubilis is the site of the largest and best preserved Roman ruins in Morocco, particularly noted for its superb mosaic floors; it has fabulous views of the Rif Mountain foothills, particularly at sunset. A guided tour of the Volubilis site with an official guide (20 dh paid locally) is well worth it if you are interested in some detail of the site’s history. At around 4.30 you depart Volubilis returning to Fez at around 18.30pm.