Meknes (مكناس) is a city in the Middle Atlas region of Morocco. Meknes is a vibrant, modern city bustling with nightlife, restaurants and an impressive imperial city created in the 17th century by King Moulay Ismaïl, with numerous historical monuments and natural sites; it is also the nearest city to the Roman ruins of Volubilis (Oualili).

Meknes

Understand edit

Is Fez driving you nuts? Nearby Meknes is relatively ignored by most tourists. It's also free of the usual hassles (touts, faux guides, etc.) that plague the other tourist centers. The prices in Meknes are among the most reasonable.

Get in edit

By train edit

Meknes is on the Fès-Rabat railway line and has two train stations. The smaller one called 1 Gare de Meknès-Amir Abdelkader is more centrally located in the new town (ville nouvelle), while the bigger 2 Gare Meknès-Ville is a bit further east.

Meknes is connected by train to most major cities like Marrakech (6½ hr, 174 dirham), Tangier (3½–4½ hr, 85 dirham), Rabat (2¼ hr, 69 dirham), Casablanca (3¼ hr), Fes (40 min, 20 dirham) or Oujda (6 hr, 130 dirham). Specific times and prices can be found on the website of the Moroccan National Office for Railways.

By bus edit

  • 3 Gare Routière (Sidi Saïd) (west of the Medina). It is co-located with the main grand taxi station. Buses leaving for eastward (e.g. Fez bus #13, 15 dirham) and northward (e.g. Volubilis bus #15, 7 dirham) destinations circle around the Medina where you can also board them.
  • 4 CTM Bus Station. A brand new station, near Meknes train station (east of the new town).

There are buses to Meknès from almost anywhere in Morocco, including Agadir (11 hr; 200-230 dirham), Casablanca (5 hr; 80-90 dirham), Chefchaouen (5½ hrs; 60-80 dirham), Erfoud (10 hr, 100-110 dirham), Fez (1 hr; 13-15 dirham), Marrakech (9 hr; 140-160 dirham), Rabat (3½ hr; 50-60 dirham) and Tangier (6 hr, 80-90 dirham).

By grand taxi edit

Grand taxi arrive and leave from several places, the most popular being El-Amir Abdelkader train station. Opposite the road of the Institute Français is also a quite large taxi rank.

  • 5 Grand taxi stand to Volubilis..

By car edit

Meknès is on Autoroute 2 (Rabat-Fès), which continues further east on N6 to Oujda.

Road N13 goes over the mountain range to Tetouan and Tangier or Ceuta to the north, in the northbound direction it goes to Azrou and At-Rachida.

Get around edit

 
Map of Meknes

Hamrya is a new town with all entertainment facilities. You can find all what you need there, but there is no monuments or things to see except if you like to chat with people. Medina is the other side is the ancient Meknes and it contains all the monuments of this wonderful city.

By taxi edit

Petit taxis (small blue cars of Fiat Uno or Peugeot 205 brands) abound, as well as an efficient and comprehensive, if cramped local bus service. The minimum cost for a petit taxi is 5 dirham (the price is calculated based on 1.40 dirham + 0.20 dirham/100 m but you should expect a surcharge of 50% after 20:00).

By bus edit

While the bus is slightly cheaper, buses are quite difficult to navigate, because they are, in the majority of cases, very crowded and operate to transport people between agglomerations and the ville nouvelle and Medina.

On foot edit

The ville nouvelle (new town), which is known as Hamrya in Arabic, is easily navigated on foot, as is the medina. The two sides of town are connected by a bridge over the dry Oued Boufekrane (river), with a McDonald's placed in between for weary (or wary!) travelers.

See edit

 
Bab Mansour in the world heritage listed old town
  • 1 Bab Mansour. Bab means "gate" or "door" in Arabic, and Bab Mansour is the largest and most striking of Meknes' many gates (27 gates). It's directly across from Lahdim Square, the medina's main square. The gate is nowadays used for art exhibitions.
    The gate is closed for reconstruction, which is supposed to be finished in 2023, but still ongoing (February 2024).
       
  • 2 Lahdim Square. Redone with new brickwork, this square once rivaled Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech but is now significantly less exciting (though there are a few nice cafés and snack spots in which to people-watch). The square is closed for reconstruction! (February 2024).
  • 3 Heri es-Souani. You can catch a glimpse of the grandeur of Moulay Ismail at these enormous granaries and horse stables, and sit beside the large Agdal Basin. 70 dirham.    
  • 4 Meknes Royal Golf Course. The former palace gardens, now converted into a golf course. This place is absolutely marvelous. The gardens are beautifully kept and it is entirely surrounded by palace walls. It is open to the public. There is also a public café on the grounds. It's possible to eat on the terrace overlooking the course but you need to book in advance.
  • 5 Medersa Bou Inania. A beautiful Qur'anic school; you can explore all floors including the roof. 60 dirham.    
  • 6 Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. Daily 09:00–18:30, except for Friday when it turns into a mosque. The mausoleum is on the southwest side of the former Dar al-Kebira Palace, between the inner and outer perimeter walls of the palace. The complex was first built in 1703 under Moulay Isma'il and then later expanded multiple times. The original complex was less extensive than it is today and it likely included only the tomb chamber, the adjoining rooms on either side of it, and the main courtyard leading up to it. Free admission.    
  • 7 Prison Kara (Habs Qara). A huge underground prison where Moulay Ismail allegedly kept prisoners. A little pricey for basically just some empty halls underground. 60 dirham.    
  • 8 Palais Al-Mansour. Half-destroyed palace built in 17th century to be king's summer residence.
  • 9 Agdal Basin (Bassin Souani). Basin built at the time of Ismail Moulay in the imperial city, northwest of the granaries.
  • 10 Mausoleum of Sidi ben Aïssa. Closed to non-Muslims.
  • Al masjid AlAdam. Meknes' largest and oldest standing mosque (note: Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter).

Museums edit

  • 11 Dar Jamai Museum. W-M 10:00–17:30. This old palace, now a museum, is at the back of Place Hedim. It now houses the Museum of Moroccan Arts, which is exhibits artifacts, jewels, and old copies of the Qur'an. Dar Jamai is a gorgeous museum with exqusite gardens on the outside. Closed for renovation as of Feb 2018. 10 dirham.    
  • 12 Meknes Museum (100 m away from Bab Mansour). Small museum in an old mansion. 10 dirham.
  • 13 Borj Belkari Museum. Borj Belkari is a Alaouite bastion built in the 17th century as a part of the famous Ismaili wall created by Sultan Moulay Ismail (1672-1727), it played an important role in the defensive system of the city. It houses museum of Rif and Pre-Rif pottery. Under construction since 2018..    

Do edit

  • Public swimming pool. There is a very popular public swimming pool between the medina and the new city, on a hot day it is a godsend.

Buy edit

Meknes is not a shopper's paradise, but it is certainly cheaper than nearby Fez. The medina is chock full of traditional Moroccan clothing and rugs, as well as the popular Moroccan shoe, bilgha.. It is also known for its metallic articles; the local artisanal speciality. The best way to enter the medina is at the back of Place Hedim, next to Dar Jamai. Herein you can find many shops catering to tourists. If you sojourn a bit deeper into the medina, you'll find plenty of unique shops selling jewellery, household goods and other treasures.

Be sure to bargain! Don't accept the shopkeeper's first offer: not only does it ruin it for tourists who come after you, but it also goes against Moroccan custom. The easiest way to bargain, particularly without knowledge of French or Arabic, is to offer half of the given price (or 75% for expensive or large-scale items). From there, the shopkeeper will go down a bit; you are expected to raise your price slowly until you come to an agreement.

If you can't agree on a price, try walking out of the shop as this will generally lower the price significantly. And try not to be too stingy: the value of an item is your appreciation of it, not its price.

Eat edit

The market near the main place in the medina (at the Bab El-Mansur) has incredible fresh products. Lots of different kinds of olives, sweets, pickles, etc.

 
Meknes market

In Ville Nouvelle there are dozens of restaurants and snack bars lining the main road, Rue Antsirape offering the staples of harira, tagine, cous cous and of course rotisserie chicken. A few restaurants on Rue Ghana, just off Rue Antsirabi, are popular with travellers and offer 40-dirham set menus.

Budget edit

Ville Nouvelle edit

  • 1 Restaurant Marhaba (مطعم مرحبا), Ave Mohammed V (facing away from the train station, walk two blocks, turn left, and walk another two). The most popular Meknassi restaurant, offers local menu of Ma'aqouda and Harira. Tagines average 30 dirham.
  • 2 Restaurant معيقدات با مبارك, Rue Kenitra.

Medina edit

  • 3 Miam's Food, Derb Zemouri.
  • 4 Restaurant مطعم البركة, 5 rue My، Abdellah ben Ahmed.

Mid-range edit

Ville Nouvelle edit

  • 5 Restaurant Denver, 1 Rue Badr.
  • 6 DINER, 6 Ave Hassan II.
  • Label' Gallery – Restaurants vary; some open past midnight. The closest thing Meknes has to a shopping mall, this food court is the only place to find international cuisine, with Mexican, American, Thai, and Lebanese all on the menu. Prices vary greatly.
  • Ibis Hotel. Open daily until midnight. This chain hotel has a decent French-inspired menu, but the real draw is that they serve alcohol. 50-150 dirham.
  • Le Pub, Avenue Allal Ben Abdellah. Open daily until midnight. Excellent, if slightly experimental, takes on French cuisine. Reliable pizza and alcohol license. 50-120 dirham.

Medina edit

  • 7 Les Colliers de Colombe, 67 Rue Driba (behind Place Lalla Aouda near the medina). Delicious Moroccan staples, including the must-try pastilla. Most dishes are over 100 dirham.
  • 8 Yuba, 65 Rue Driba.
  • 9 Riad d'Or, 17 Derb ain el anboub.
  • 10 Restaurant Palais Ismailia, N°6 Bab Belkari Moulay Ismail.

Splurge edit

Drink edit

Those looking to find a watering hole in Meknes have come to the right place, in Morocco, anyway. For some reason, Meknes seems to have more bars than people. Only a few are suitable for the average traveler, however.

  • Le Pub, Avenue Allal Ben Abdellah. Daily until midnight. One of the only places in Meknes where women will feel comfortable finding a drink, this lively pub has two floors; the bottom is where the music and "scene" happens. Try the local wines; Guerrouane and Amazir are particularly tasty. 15-45 dirham bottle beers only, 50 dirham cocktails, Shisha (hookah tobacco) costs 50 dirham.
  • Novelty (top of Rue de Paris). Daily until midnight. This renovated pub is rumored to be owned by Italians, which would explain the lovely wood decor. It's also the only place in Meknes to drink draught beer. Wine is served by the bottle only. 15-45 dirham draft or bottle beers, 50 dirham cocktails.

Sleep edit

Budget edit

Most budget hotels are along Rue Rouamzine, just before the medina. Hotel Maroc and Hotel Regina are two such choices. Hotel Regina is very dirty and stinky, but very cheap.

  • 1 HI-affiliated youth hostel, Boulvard Okba Ben Nafii (near Hotel Transatlantique), +212-535-401020. Wedged between the medina and ville nouvelle, just two doors down from the much swankier and well known Hotel Transatlantique. In the new city, it is 1½ km from the closest medina gate; in fact it's not really near anything and you loose whatever you save staying here on a taxi (8 dirham) coming or going. For the same price, Hostel Maroc is better. They do let anyone use the shower for 7 dirham though. Dorms from 70 dirham for HI members (+20 if you aren't, and they don't honour E-memberships), 160 dirham for a double room w/ shared bathroom.
  • 2 Hotel Majestic, 19 Avenue Mohammed V, +212 035522035, fax: +212 035527427. Renovated, the Majestic offers a lovely garden as well as clean and nice rooms overlooking the most busy avenue in Meknes. 180-210 dirham including a simple breakfast. Continue straight ahead when you exit the train station, and the hotel will be on your left hand side after approximately 100 metres. You will see a sign directing to the hotel after less than 50 m. But watch out! Clients have complained about theft in this hotel.
  • 3 Riad ma Bohème Chez Amal et David (رياض بلدي البوهيمي في أمل وديفيد) (next to Riad Bahia), +212 5355 53393. Homey guest house with wifi and nuptials. Really close to Lahdim Square and the other Medina attractions. 249 dirham.
  • 4 Riad Yanis, 27 Derb Zemouri, Meknes, Morocco, +212 5355 54917. Economical and good breakfast. Close to Medina attractions. 212 dirham.

Mid-range edit

  • Riad Atika, 11, Derb Elkatib, Kabet Souk, Touta, fax: +212 535 535 487. Guest house in the old Medina with 14 rooms and a beautiful terrace. 330-825 dirham incl. breakfast.
  • Riad Hiba, near the Place Lehdim, 20 Rue Lalla Aicha Adouya, +212 535 460 109, fax: +212 535 535 153. Beautiful guest house in the old city (Medina) with 7 rooms. 385-649 dirham incl. breakfast.
  • [formerly dead link]Riad Idrissi, 20 db Lalla Sti Hennou, +212 535 531 418. Guest house in the old Medina with 12 rooms and a beautiful terrace. 440-605 dirham incl. breakfast.
  • Palais Didi, +212 55 558 590. A restored old palace/riad in the medina right by a palace wall. Maison d'hotes - restaurant.
  • Riad d'Or, 17, Derb ain el anboub et Derb Lalla Aicha Adouia - Quartier Hammam Jdid, +212 64 10 78 625. A very nice guest house - Bed & Breakfast - restaurant. A traditional restored old palace/riad in the old medina.
  • 5 Ryad Bahia, 4 Tiberbarine (signs lead the way from Place Hedim, if unsure ask for directions outside of the medina), +212 035554541, . The first riad to open in Meknes, its owners, and most of the staff, speak English and are extraordinarily helpful in arranging tours and the like. The roof terrace overlooks Place Hedim and the restaurant is open for non-guests as well. 650 dirham per single or double.
  • 6 Hotel Malta, 3 Rue Cherif Al Idrissi, +212 35515020, . Open daily. This renovated hotel offers a restaurant, nightclub and English-style bar. 360-580 dirham.
  • Riad Felloussia, Bab Aissi, +212 35530840, +212 76987717, . Open daily. A traditional home in the heart of the medina. Great view of El-Hedim square. 600 dirham for large suites with private bathroom (breakfast included).
  • 7 Riad Lahboul, 6 Derb Ain Sefli, +212 535559878, +212 675 71 69 17. This beautifully restored riad is on the edge of the medina (overlooks the magnificent "Lahboul Gardens"). Run by an English and Moroccan couple, this family guest house serves delicious home-made food.
  • 8 ibis Meknes, Ave des Forces Armees Royales, +212 5354-04141. A stylish hotel with pool and appealing dining within walking distance of the Medina. 320 dirham.

Splurge edit

  • Zaki Hotel, Boulevard Al Massira, +212-55514146. Meknes' most beautiful hotel includes a nightclub, bar, restaurant, conference center, and a gorgeous swimming pool. Single €73, double €84.

Go next edit

 
Volubilis


This city travel guide to Meknes is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.