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Day trip to Volubilis, Moulay Idriss and Meknes

A great thing about stopping in Fes, apart from soaking in the culture & cuisine in one of the old capitals of Morocco, is the easy access to several nearby destinations.

Initially we had planned to spend 2 nights in Fes – 1 of the days would be taken up mostly by the bus tour from Chefchaouen, and we felt that 1 full day was enough to check out the main attractions in Fes.

Lets be honest, there are only so many medinas/souks/bazaars/markets you can visit before growing tired of the same piles of cinnamon and cheap leather goods. If you no longer need souvenirs for friends, or have simply grown tired of haggling for stuff you don’t need then you can get your fill of each medina in less than an hour.

After a little research we found that we could visit the nearby roman ruins of Volubilis, and the less touristy town of Meknes, so we immediately changed our itinerary to 3 nights.

Wait, roman ruins in Morocco??!

We love seeing roman ruins outside of the more popular sites in Italy. These places are often less crowded and you can experience the nice mix of cultures and history that led to these monuments and towns being created.

This post is part of the Morocco itinerary. Other posts in this series:

  1. Day 1 and 2: Chefchaouen: Blue pearl of Morocco
  2. Day 3 and 4: Wander around in Fes – Coming soon
  3. Day 5: Day trip to Volubilis, Moulay Idriss and Meknes – This Post
  4. Day 6, 7 and 8: 3 day Sahara tour from Fes to Marrakech
  5. Day 9 and 10: Visiting Marrakech – Coming soon
Disclosure: We were provided a free or discounted tour in return of our honest review. All opinions expressed here are our own and not influenced by the reviewed company and / or its affiliates in any way.

You can book one of the many private tours from Fes for this day trip. Or, you can even DIY (do it yourself) and make this is a fun adventure. The DIY route would involve a lot of logistical planning – taking a train to Meknes, hiring a taxi from Meknes for the day, or multiple stops if you take shared vans with the locals.

After a bit of research, we decided to go with “Shared Morocco Tours.” Apart from the obvious cost factor, we prefer shared tours because you get a chance to interact with travelers around the world and don’t have to deal with the logistical hassle of a DIY trip.

Shared Morocco tours were responsive, organized and took care of us well. We had a great day with them and highly recommend their company!


Volubilis



After spending two nights in Fes, we were ready bright and early the next morning for our day trip.

We were picked up at our riad at around 8.15 am and taken to the van through the maze of the Fes medina alleys. The van was waiting for us with 5 other sleepy passengers ready to roll.

Our driver for the day, Ahmed, negotiated the narrow roads and traffic of Fes like an expert. After we got out of town, he introduced himself and gave us an overview of the day and what we will be seeing. He was jovial, informative and also honest about parts of the trip which some tourists have found boring in the past (and require an additional entry fee), so we could decide ahead of time whether we wanted to skip them.

Stops along the way

The first stop of the day was Volubilis. We got there around 10am and despite a few tour buses already present, the ruins were not too crowded. We paid for the entry fees and shared Morocco tours were nice enough to provide a complementary guide for our group which wasn’t part of the initial tour cost.

The guide walked us through the grounds and provided us an overview of the ruins….

Ya know…history…culture…all that stuff

We took pictures, stared at the expansive fields around the ruins and had some time to walk around the grounds and walk through the museum by ourselves at the end of the tour.

We learned more about our fellow travelers, all seemed to be in their mid 30’s – 3 guys from Singapore, one woman from UK who was a teacher and a French nuclear physicist working in Morocco (not kidding!). He also looked like one, and could easily walk onto a set of James bond movie and play the part.

Nuclear physicist that looked the part

Moulay Idriss


A short drive from Volubilis, we stopped at a viewpoint of Moulay Idriss town. Until recently non-muslims were not allowed to stay overnight in this religious town. Things have changed since then and you can spend more time here and stay at one of the few hotels.

The town is built on a hill and has nice views of the surrounding areas. The tomb of the prophet Moulay Idriss, and namesake of the town, is located here.


Meknes


We arrived in Meknes around 1pm and were quite hungry. The driver asked if we wanted to have a meal right near the medina gate or later on. Most of us were hungry and we decided to prioritize food over further sightseeing. We ate at Restaurant Salma which had good views of the area but mediocre food at high, touristy prices. I would suggest skipping this restaurant and asking the guide to find a local place or going with a well rated restaurant recommendation from Tripadvisor.

After the meal, we had another local guide pre-arranged by the operator that gave us a tour of the Meknes medina. The guide was nice and spoke very clearly, making it fun to walk through the maze of alleys through this less-congested medina while learning a bit of history.

View from the restaurant
Tour group trying to find shade under one barren tree 🙂

We passed by intricately carved buildings, markets full of spices and over-flowing tubs of olives, places to shop the local souvenirs and simply had a great time. The group continued to explore the city by the stables (Rua), attics (HERI), and Stud and decided to not go inside based on the reviews we had read. ?

After a couple more pitstops, we were on our way back to Fes.

The highlights of the trip were the ruins in Volubilis and the jaunt through the Meknes medina. We highly recommend this day tour with Shared Morocco tours during your stay with Fes. At $40 (30E) as of March 2019, this was a very reasonably priced tour and sure beats the expense of a private tour or the potential headaches or delays of a DIY outing.

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Day trip to Volubilis Morocco

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