This is an article about visiting Volubilis in Moulay Idriss, Morocco. Please, read on.
I’ve been to many sites of Roman ruins, from Ephesus to Barcelona, even in little Poitiers. Somehow the feeling never goes away. I call it wise ground. Dirt and rocks and carved stone, sometimes stacked, that has seen history. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to tap into the stone and hear the sounds that have reverberated off its surface, or to see all the turmoil of all the ages through its solid eyes? Even a small, meaningless thing like a young Roman boy falling and scraping his knee. Where’s that app?
In Morocco, when I learned of a Roman city called Volubilis, not 4 kilometers from the holy city (town, more like), of Moulay Idriss, I decided I had to go. Rome is well and good, but only in the early drunk morning when no one else is around to make modern noises and talk to keep you in the present. I want to wander alone in a Roman ruin, and let it take me back to whatever my small mind can imagine for me.
I was in Fes, staying in the Medina at Riad Doha. I took plenty of photos, and of Moroccan food, too. But I decided, along with Mayra, that we would do well to break away from this ancient city and see something ancientier. I prefer hitchhiking, always. But only when time is not limited. This is, therefore, a vagabond’s guide to a cheap way to visit Volubilis and Moulay Idriss from Fes.
How to get to Volubilis and Moulay Idriss from Fes
Some will tell you to take a taxi from Fes, but no vagabond or budget traveler should listen to such ridiculous advice. Instead, the train from Fes to Meknes is the best option, if not hitchhiking. It costs 20 Dirhams and takes about an hour. I placed a map below for you travelers to pinpoint the exact places I mention in this description.
From the Meknes train station, make your way toward the Institute Francaise. Either memorize how to walk there, take a turquoise taxi, or figure out a city bus. The point on the map indicates the exact location where you ought to wait for a city bus to Moulay Idriss. The city bus will cost you around 10 dirhams. This in comparison to the 150 dirhams for a Grand Taxi.
Visiting Volubilis means getting to Moulay Idriss first. If Volubilis is the ancient ruins, Moulay Idriss is the closest modern town. On the map, you’ll see where you can get off in town to grab a bite in the market. From there, you can walk the 4 kilometers to Volubilis. Or, take a grand taxi for 50 dirhams (no vagabond will do this). The final option is to start walking and flag down a green minivan, which is a bus that will cost you 4 dirhams. Tell them to let you out at the road to Volubilis, and it’ll be about a kilometer from there walking. We hitchhiked from Moulay Idriss, which is the only trajectory we hitchhiked in Morocco.
As you can see on the map, Volubilis has a main entrance and a clandestine one. We paid the 4 dirhams it cost to get into the site. But for those visiting Volubilis who prefer to sneak in, there is a gap in the fence at the far northern gate. No guards around. There are no tickets or wrist bands. Here’s that gap in the fence:
To get back to Meknes from Moulay Idriss, after you’ve walked, hitchhiked or taken that green van taxi from Volubilis, try to get on the city bus again. If you’re doing this later in the day, it will be packed. Do not try to get on the city bus from Moulay Idriss’ market. Walk up the hill until you get to where the bus turns around. People will rush the doors so make sure you get on early. 10 dirhams to get back to Meknes from Moulay Idriss. The last bus I believe is at 20:00, so don’t be late. The last train from Meknes back to Fes is around 11:30.
Photos from visiting Volubilis and Moulay Idriss
To toy with your palette, here are some photos from visiting Volubilis. Also, some photos from Moulay Idriss.
This is the Velabas travel blog. It’s a complement to the travel stories, which describe in narrative prose a journey hitchhiking around the world. This post about visiting Volubilis, Morocco’s best Roman ruins, is part of a series of posts on Morocco. Here are some of the others:
- Visiting Fes: Getting Around the Medina
- A Review of the Riad Doha in Fez
- What do they eat in Morocco?