In depth-travel guide of Meknès, one of the 4 imperial cities in Morocco

Our in-depth travel guide of Meknès explains why Meknès in Morocco is worth a visit. Find out all the information you need for your visit to Meknès.

Meknès is a city in Morocco that is often overlooked. It is one of the four Imperial Cities of Morocco, and although many tourists put Rabat, Fès and Marrakech on their travel itinerary, most tourists overlook Meknès. In this travel guide of Meknès, we will explain you why this city is definitely worth a visit and why it might even be preferable to stay in Meknès instead of Fès. So here is our in-depth travel guide of Meknès, including a map with the most important places in Meknès. 

Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and purchase, we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. The affiliate links concern only products and services we appreciated highly and trust. This means the views and opinions expressed in this post are purely our own. For more information, read our privacy and cookie policy.

Featured image travel guide of Meknès gate Moulay Ismaïl gate mausoleum

Where is Meknès situated

Meknès is located in northern-central Morocco and lies in between Rabat and Fès. The city is part of the Fès-Meknès region, a region that is formed by agricultural land and mountain ranges. Meknès lies approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the capital city of Rabat. The distance from Meknès to Fès is about 60 kilometers (about 37 miles).

How to get to Meknès

Getting to Meknès with your own (rental) car

Meknès is easily reachable by car. If you have your own (rental) car, which is according to us the best way to discover Morocco, there are plenty of parking options in Meknès. It’s best to check via your hotel what parking is nearby as many of the hotels are situated in the narrow streets of the medina. Another option is to look for parking spots via Googlemaps or via Park4Night. Here you will also be able to check reviews and prices.

We parked our car at Bab Berdieyinne and paid 20 dirham (1.86 EUR/ 2 USD) for 24 hours. If you park outside the city walls, it might even be possible to find a free parking spot next to the Boulevard Circulaire. 

icon read on Read more: Our in-depth guide about renting a car and driving in Morocco

If you are traveling by campervan, we spotted a safe parking spot in front of Moulay Ismail Mausoleum Gate. 

Driving along the roads in Morocco always has surprises

Getting to Meknès with public transport

Meknès is also easy reachable by public transport. The first option to get to Meknès is by train. There are two train stations in Meknès: Gare Meknès and Gare el Amir Abdelkader. The first one is located at a fair distance from the city center, the most convenient one is Gare el Amir Abdelkader. From here, you can take a taxi to your hotel. Make sure to insist the driver uses his meter, they are legally bound to do so. Train tickets can be booked via the official railway company in Morocco and there are plenty of trains between Fès, Marrakech, Rabat and Tangier to Meknès. 

Overview of travel times by train to Meknès:

  • From Fès – 40 minutes
  • From Casablanca – 3 hours
  • From Marrakech – 5 hours and 40 minutes
  • From Rabat  – 2 hours
  • From Tangier – 2 hours and 40 minutes

Another option to get to Meknès is by bus

Buses arrive daily in Meknès, from almost everywhere in Morocco. Almost all long-distance bus companies arrive at the gare routière, not far from Bab el Khemis, and it is only a short walk from here to the medina. Most companies have ticket booths at the bus station, so tickets can be bought directly there . 

Overview of travel times by bus to Meknès:

  • From Fès – 1 hour
  • From Marrakech – 8 hours
  • From Casablanca – 3 hours and 40 minutes
  • From Tangier – 6 hours and 30 minutes
  • From Chefchaouen – 6 hours and 20 minutes

The weather in Meknès and the best time to visit

In general, Meknès can be visited year-round, but the best time to visit are definitely spring and autumn months. During these months, temperatures in Meknès are most enjoyable.

Spring – the months March to May are considered as one of the best times to visit Meknès. Temperatures are mild and flowers in the parks are blooming. We visited Morocco during the beginning of March. Keep in mind that, especially in the morning and evening, temperatures can still be a little bit chilly.

Summer – the summer months (from June to August) can have hot temperatures, ranging from 30° to 40° Celsius. If you cannot withstand these temperatures very well, these months are not the best to visit Meknès. Also during the summer holidays, tourist areas tend to be more crowded.

Autumn – From September to November, temperatures are mild. On the contrary, these months may have more rainfall compared to the other seasons. 

Winter – Winter season stretches from December to February. During these months Meknès can become chilly, especially at night. If you don’t mind colder temperatures, winter can be a good season to avoid the crowds. 

zelij tiles in dar jamai museum in meknès

Download our detailed travel map of Meknès, in addition to this travel guide of Meknès. We pinned the most important places, ranging from the top things to do, where to sleep, where to eat, … Via this travel guide of Meknès and the accompanying map, you’ll have all the information you need to make most of your time in this Imperial City.

The best things to do in Meknès

As being one of the Imperial Cities in Morocco, Meknès has a lot of things to do and see. However, some of the attractions are a bit overpriced. Also, a couple of attractions were under renovation and therefore closed during our visit. It turned out that the attractions that were free of charge were, in our opinion, the most memorable. Below, we give you an honest review about the best (and not so best) things to do in Meknès. That way, you can make an informed decision on the attractions you will include in your travel itinerary. 

Bab El Mansour Laalej

Meknès has a couple of beautiful gates, and Bab El Mansour Laalej is probably the most beautiful one. Situated in the heart of the city center, right in front of Hedim square, this gate is considered as one of the most beautiful city gates in Morocco. The gate has a lot of details and colorful tiles. Unfortunately, during our visit, the gate was being renovated and entirely scaffolded. But from the large picture in front of it, we could already see this gate is definitely worth a (free) visit. 

Other beautiful city gates in Meknès are Bab el Khemis and Bab Berdieyinne. 

Nameplate of Bab Berdaine in Meknès in Morocco

Place Hedim

Located in front of Bab El Mansour Laalej, you can find Place Hedim. This square is said to be a smaller version of the famous Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech. The square is full with people, music players and snack vendors, especially in the evening. Although it can be noisy, this is the place to experience the buzzling vibe of a Moroccan city.

Dar Jamai Museum

Although it wasn’t on our planning at first, we were so happy we visited the Dar Jamai museum. The entrance fee for this museum is 30 dirham (2.79 EUR/ 3 USD) per person. The museum is situated within a beautiful building, dating back from 1882 and each room has so many stunning details. There is also a peaceful garden, where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the medina for a while.

colorful bench in garden of dar jamai museum in Meknès with Mieke on it

Inside the museum you have great exhibition of musical instruments. When we visited the museum, there was also a temporary exhibition of Moroccan jewelry, which we liked a lot. According to us, the Dar Jamai museum is definitely a must-do in Meknès, if only for the beautiful building in which it is located.

dar jamai museum in Meknès decorated walls
entrance of the building of the dar jamai museum with mieke in front of it
mieke standing inside the dar jamai museum

Bou Inania Medersa

A medersa (also called a madrasa) is a place designated for learning the Koran. This medersa in Meknes is rather small compared to other medersas in Morocco, like the ones in Fès and Marrakech. During our time in Meknès, the medersa was closed due to a renovation. However, based on the photos we saw, this place can be skipped if you are planning on doing other imperial cities in Morocco. We assume the price for a visit will increase after the renovation. 

The medina of Meknès

Meknès has a beautiful medina and compared to other tourist cities in Morocco, vendors are not too intrusive. The medina is places on the list of UNESCO world heritage and it is a fun place to wander around and get lost in the small alleyways. At Place Hedim, there are different entrances to the souks and the medina. Again free to wander around but a great thing to do in Meknès.

The mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl

This place is free to visit and definitely needed a spot in this travel guide of Meknès. In this religious building, you can visit  the tomb of Moulay Ismaïl, one of the former rulers of Morocco. The entire place is stunning, with colorful zellij tilework decorating the walls and the floors. The funerary has different courtyards, the final courtyard being the largest.

mieke entering the mausoleum of moulay ismail in meknès

From that courtyard, you are allowed to enter the mausoleum where you have an indoor courtyard with a high and stunning ceiling on the left and the actual mausoleum chamber on the right. The two grandfather clocks in the mausoleum chamber are a present from King Louis XIV of France himself. Note that the indoor courtyard and mausoleum chamber are not open for public on Friday morning. So make sure to plan your visit. Also have a look at the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum Gate before entering the building. 

celiling of the inner courtyard in the moulay ismail mausoleum in meknès
largest courtyard with fountain in mausolueum of moulay ismail travel guide of meknès

Dar Al Makhzen 

The Dar Al Makhzen is the royal residency in Meknès. As you can expect, you are only allowed to see it from the outside, but the gates are definitely wort a visit. We took a stroll from the city center to Dar Al Makhzen during sunset and we enjoyed the walk a lot. It was so much fun to watch the swallows nesting in the city walls or seeing the storks on top of their nests. 

gate in meknès with mosque in background travel guide of meknès
travel guide of meknès seeing storks on city walls

The Royal Stables

We put this attraction in our travel guide of Meknès to be comprehensive, but we didn’t visit this place as it was closed during our time in Meknès. We read mixed reviews about this place. Some say it is overpriced (70 dirham/ 6.50 EUR/ 7 USD) with a lack of information. On the other hand, if you like photography, we saw some amazing shots from the inside. If you visit this place, please let us know if it was worth the money.

Where to stay in Meknès

Riad Mehdi

During our time in Meknès, we stayed in Riad Mehdi. This accommodation is housed in a stunning, traditional building with detailed woodwork, colorful tiles and nicely decorated rooms with a private bathroom. The breakfast in the morning was amongst the best breakfast we had in Morocco with fresh juice, coffee, eggs, traditional Moroccan bread, … They also have wonderful rooftop terrace with views over the entire city. A great place to have a tea during sunset. A parking lot is nearby at Bab Berdieyinne.

Check prices and availability here: booking.com 

riad mehdi in meknès decorated room where to stay travel guide
drinking moroccan tea at  rooftop terrace of Riad Mehdi in Meknès in Morocco

Riad Malak

Another great place to stay at is Riad Malak. This riad, in the heart of the city center had a splendid rooftop terrace with great views over Meknès. The riad offers a really nice wealthy breakfast and the staff is hospitable. If you are traveling with public transport, this riad is a great option. If you are traveling by car, keep in mind you will need to park your car outside the medina and will have to walk to the riad.

Check prices and availability here: booking.com 

where to stay in meknes riad malak roooftop terrace
where to stay in meknes riad malak room

Riad Lahboul

Riad Lahboul is situated to the east of the city center. Because it is not in the medina, there are parking places nearby, at a cost of 20 dirham (1.79 EUR/ 2 USD) per day. This stunning riad has comfortable rooms, a nice terrace and offers a delicious breakfast. Definitely a recommended place to stay at in Meknès.

Check prices and availability here: booking.com 

Travel guide Meknès where to stay Riad Lahboul room
Travel guide Meknès where to stay Riad Lahboul room

Why stay in Meknès instead of Fès?

Meknès is definitely more laidback than Fès. Because we read a lot of negative stories about Fès, we decided to stay a couple of days in Meknès and do a daytrip to Fès instead. In Meknès it is enjoyable to explore the medina and the souks by yourself, even in the evening. People are friendly and vendors are not too pushy.

In Fès on the other hand, we heard by different other travelers that the atmosphere can be more aggressive. We explored Fès via a guided tour, and we had no complaints about being harassed, but other members of the group told us that they approach you totally different when you are not in a group. For us, the guided tour in Fès was a very good alternative and we really enjoyed our time in Fès that way.

Another reason why we stayed in Meknès is that it is less touristy, meaning the prices for accommodation and restaurants are more reasonable compared to the prices in Fès. 

Where to eat in Meknès? 

Aisha

One of our favorite meals in Meknès was in the little restaurant called Aïsha. We accidentally arrived here and it turned out to be a great place for a delicious dinner. Especially the sweet and salty couscous was so tasteful! The place has a great atmosphere, prices are fair and the staff is really kind. Definitely a great place if you want to savor traditional  Moroccan cuisine. 

Dar Baraka

Not far from Aisha, you can find restaurant Dar Baraka. Again a great restaurant that serves great Moroccan food. The interior is very authentic and the staff is extremely friendly. We both enjoyed a tajine with beef, abricots and plums. 

Miam’s food

We must admit, during our two weeks in Morocco, we sometimes craved to other food than tajines and couscous. Luckily we found Miam’s food in Meknès. A place where they had delicious and cheap pizza. 

hat in restaurant aisha traditional moroccan cuisine in Meknès
At restaurant Aisha, where you can eat great traditional moroccan cuisine
pizza miam's food where to eat in meknès travel guide
Great pizza at Miam’s food in Meknès

Day trips from Meknès

A visit to Fès

As we mentioned above, we decided to stay in Meknès and we took a daytrip from Fès to Meknès. As the distance between both cities is only 65 kilometers, a visit to Fès is perfectly doable from Meknès. We booked the guided tour below and we highly recommend it: we were surprised of how many things we saw during this tour, from the royal palace to the medersa and a real ceramic factory. Our guide lived his entire life in Fès and took us to places most tourists never come. So if you are planning to visit Fès, we highly recommend joining this tour.

icon book ticket Book the guided tour we joined to visit Fès, a tour we highly recommend!

royal building in fès in morocco mieke standing in front of it

A visit to Moulay Idriss and Volubilis

Another great day trip from Meknès is Moulay Idriss and Volubilis. Moulay Idriss is a beautiful town spread over 2 hills. The town is famous as the tomb of Idris I, the first Islamic ruler of Morocco stands here. From here, you can take a great hike of approximately 5 kilometers to the important archeological site Volubilis. The hike takes you along olive trees with great views over Moulay Idriss until you reach the entrance of the well-preserved Roman site. Volubilis is since 1997 UNESCO World Heritage and has some stunning mosaics.  

view over moualy idriss in morocco with mountains in the back
Volubilis site in morocco roman ruins moulay idriss

We hope this in-depth travel guide of Meknès convinced you this imperial city should be added to your travel itinerary for Morocco. If you have any questions or suggestions, drop us a message via e-mail or social media!

Happy travels!

Matthias and Mieke

Quick start your holiday with the help of our trusted tools

These are the websites we highly recommend to plan your next trip. We use them all the time to save money and travel freely! Did you know that by purchasing through our links, you support us at no additional cost. Thank you for your support. ♥️

Find hotels: via booking.com
Find a rental car: via discovercars.com
Find cheap flights: via skyscanner.com
Book tours & attractions: via getyourguide.com
Book a bus / train / transfer: via omio.com