9 Places to Visit and Things to Do in Meknes, Morocco

9 Things to Do & Places to Visit in Meknes, Morocco

Lose yourself in the dizzying array of sights in Meknes, from the main square to the tourist attractions and many more.

Meknes is one of Morocco’s old imperial cities. A charming city with a strong sense of history, it is often blissfully uncrowded and much more laid back than its more famous neighbour, Fez.

Built by Moulay Ismail, the city is surrounded by stunning countryside, with rolling agricultural plains, lush valleys, and soaring mountains. The city itself has beautiful architecture and more than its share of interesting attractions and activities. Here are some of the best things to enjoy on a trip to Meknes.

1. Marvel at Bab Mansour

things to do in meknes

Image credit: Bruno Vanbesien

The monumental gateway of Bab Mansour is one of the most important tourist attractions in Meknes. The huge gate overlooks Hedim Square, east of the old city of Meknes. Dating back to the 1730s, it stands around eight metres tall. It is adorned with gorgeous decorative features, including mosaics and coloured ceramics.

2. Visit Heri Es-Souani Granaries

Image credit: Annette Dubois

The historic site of Heri Es-Souani is a large, striking, and unusual architectural attraction. Formerly used as a place for grain storage, stables for the royal horses, and as a water storage facility, it’s an interesting site to explore. There’s a large reservoir to one side, with beautiful reflections shimmering on the surface in the sunlight.  

3. Ride in a calleche

things to do in meknes

Rather like Marrakech, horse-drawn carriages (known locally as calleche) ply the ancient streets of Meknes, offering taxi-like rides and pleasurable sightseeing trips for tourists. Many of Meknes’ calleche have charming fairytale-like carriages too, making the experience that bit more romantic.  

4. Explore Habs Qara

Image credit: Christine Olson

Habs Qara is something of a mystery. Stories vary as to the extent of its use, but the former underground prison is said to have housed political prisoners, religious dissidents, and general convicts. It is also said that inmates were used to help build the city. With little to show of its existence from the outside, descend the gloomy steps and explore the large subterranean chambers and winding narrow passageways, feeling thankful that you will be able to escape back up into daylight as and when you wish.

5. Snap pictures of Bab el Khemis

Image credit: Axel Drainville

Bab el Khemis is a beautiful gateway into the medina. Standing in good condition, two towers flank the large arched gateway. From decorative stucco to intricate zellige tiles and delicate geometric designs, there are many fine examples of traditional Moroccan artisanship and Islamic architectural art to enjoy.  

6. Visit Moulay Ismail Mausoleum

things to do in meknes

Image credit: Axel Drainville

Among the most important tourist sites in Meknes and an important destination for Moroccans, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail was built to honour and house the remains of the city’s founder and a fearless leader. The sacred mausoleum features splendid fountains and water features, designed in an eye-catching geometric style, with beautiful architectural details, and a sundial. Non-Muslims are, unusually, allowed within the complex, though only Muslims can approach the actual tomb.

7. Buy local souvenirs

things to do in meknes

Shop in Meknes’ souks and enjoy a much more relaxed and hassle-free experience than those in other large Moroccan cities, such as nearby Fes and Marrakech. You’ll find a typical assortment of Moroccan wares, including tagine dishes, shisha pipes, ornate tea sets and trays, decorative lamps, embroidered cushions, spices, and clothing. One item to look for in particular is damascene—the ancient artisan technique is now only practised in Meknes.

8. Learn more at Dar Jamai Museum

Image credit: Adam Jones

Dar Jamai Museum is housed in a 19th-century historic palace. It was converted into a museum in the 1920s. It displays many interesting artefacts that tell the story of the area’s past and culture, including carved and dyed woodwork, precious silk work and other clothes and textiles, traditional household furnishings, glorious tiling, and more. The Andalusian-style pavilion is especially enchanting.

9. Have fun at Place Hedim

Image credit: Aleksandra M.

Place Hedim, or Hedim Square is Meknes’ main city square. Beautiful buildings stand at one side of the square and there are small souks to the other side. A popular meeting place, it’s a centre for entertainment and leisure come evening time. Locals converge here to buy an array of street food and freshly squeezed juices, and there are various street performers and carnival-like games to enjoy. A common game is to try and hook a bottle of soda with a fishing line. Have a go—it’s trickier than it looks! Place Hedim is rather like a mini version of the famous Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech.  

Other things to do in Meknes

Wander through the bustling streets of the ancient walled medina. Visit local wineries—the surrounding countryside is one of Morocco’s main wine-producing areas—and explore the local bar scene. Interestingly, Meknes has a huge selection of bars for its size and population numbers.

You can also take day trips to places like Volubilis (a spectacular ancient Roman and Berber site), the small and sacred town of Moulay Ismail, and larger than life Fes.

About Author

Sarah W
Sarah W

Sarah W is a travelling cat-lover who enjoys exploring places that are a little bit quirky or away from headline attractions. Favourite things include delicious falafel, snuggling under a thick duvet, (badly) belting out karaoke at the top of her lungs, and, of course, her family, friends, and furry pets.


Related Posts