Meknes

Meknes (مكناس) is a city in the Middle Atlas region of Morocco.

Meknes

Understand

Fez driving you nuts? Nearby 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). Since it's 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 in Morocco and the people are much more polite and nicer than in the other cities. It is also one of the more liberal places in the country: Unveiled women are much more often to be seen on the streets and female solo travelers especially enjoy Meknes as a welcome break from the permanent unwanted attention they get everywhere else.

Get in

By train

There are two train stations, the smaller train station called El-Emir Abdelkader is more centrally located in the new town (ville nouvelle), while the other is a bit further east. Meknes is connected by train to most major cities like Marrakech (6½h, 174 Dh), Tangier (3½–4½h, 85 Dh), Rabat (2¼h, 65Dh), Casablanca (3h 1/4), Fes (40min, 20dhs) or Oujda (6h, 130 Dh). Specific times and prices can be found on the website of the Moroccan National Office for Railways (www.oncf.ma).

By bus

The main bus station (Gare Routière) is west of the medina, colocated with the main grand taxi station, while CTM has its own, brand new station, near Meknes train station (east of the new town). For trips to Marrakesh be advised, that while seemingly shorter on the map, the mountain route via Beni Millal takes at least 2 hours more than on the highway via Rabat and Casa, going there by train is the most comfortable option, although buses might be slightly quicker.

By grand taxi

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

Get around

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 dirhams(the price is calculated based on 1.40dhs + 0.20dhs/100m but you should expect a surcharge of 50% after 20:00), while the bus is slightly cheaper. Buses are, however, quite difficult to navigate because they are, in the majority of cases, very crowded and operates to transport people between agglomerations and the ville nouvelle and Medina.

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 conveniently in between for weary (or wary!) travelers.

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.

See

Bab Mansour in the world heritage listed old town

Do

Buy

Meknes isn't a shopper's paradise, but it's 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's also known for it's iron made 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 jewelry, 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 exactly 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 store - 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 ticket price.

Eat

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 Dh 40 set menus.

Medina

Meknes market

Drink

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

Sleep

Budget

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

Mid-range

Splurge

Go next

Volubilis
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, November 21, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.