Blue, beautiful, and inviting, the fairy tale Chefchaouen was and still is my forever favorite Morocco travel destination. Being featured on every Moroccan postcard, Pinterest, and Instagram wall, this picturesque has grabbed the attention of tourists and influencers around the world. If you’re also fascinated by this little city, keep reading to know more!
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Chefchaouen (Chaouen) in Morocco
Chefchaouen, or Chaouen, is a town or small city in the Rif Mountains of northwest Morocco. It’s known for its striking, blue-washed buildings and deep history. The city was founded by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa in 1471. It was mainly used as a fortress to fight the Portuguese invasion of Morocco. During the Spanish Reconquista in 1492, many Jews who were brutally expelled from Spain settled in Chefchaouen, where they remained until they moved on to Palestine in the 20th century.
Why Chefchaouen is Blue?
Isn’t it so strange that a whole city is pained in different shades of blue? It does not seem like the people in Chefchaouen just woke up one day and decided to paint their houses blue. There must be a reason behind it.
Well, there are multiple stories behind the signature color of Chefchaouen. Some say it’s a color of the sea but honestly, it’s not convincing at all.
The second story is that the blue colors are believed to chase the mosquitos away and obviously nobody wants mosquitos around their houses! Also, some people say that the Jews painted the city blue as the color reminded them of God.
Anyway, no matter what the reason behind this therapeutic color of Chefchaouen is, the result is a blue heaven that you don’t want to miss.
How Many Days Should I Spend in Chefchaouen?
While Chefchaoun is the perfect place to be, there isn’t really much to do to keep you busy for more than a few days. For me, 3 days is more than enough to explore every corner in Chefchaoun. So, staying more than 3 days would be just to relax and give myself a break from traveling. If you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, I couldn’t recommend Chefchaoun more. It is certainly the place to take your mind off the usual stress of life.
Top Things to do in Chefchaouen, Morocco
1. Get Lost in the Endless Blue Streets of the Old Medina
In the Medina, you can mill around peacefully and find your way easily through the narrow streets while enjoying the soothing blue color of the tiny houses and doors. The Medina is quite small with beautifully designed streets with flower pots and Moroccan decorations. This experience is nothing like walking through the busy Marrakech or Fez Medinas, it’s much better. Here, you can walk at your own pace in empty, light blue colored, calm alleys.
2. Visit Chefchaouen Kasbah Museum
The Kasbah is a haven for nature and fresh air in the heart of the city. It is located in the Place Outa El-Hammam. To enjoy the fascinating view of the Medina, you should climb high up to the Kasbah. The building of the Kasbah accommodates an Andaloussi museum with its vibrant garden. In the same place, you will get to visit not only the Kasbah but also the biggest mosque of Chefchaouen city. If you are visiting Chefchaouen, this stop is a must.
3. Shop Until you Drop in Chaouen Street Shops
The little bazaars across Chaouen Medina are a real wonder and a unique sensory experience. Locals display their traditional Moroccan crafts and souvenirs such as clothes, and arts. If you happen to be in Chefchaouen on a Monday or Thursday, you should definitely pay a visit to the local “Souq” where the Valley Rif farmers gather to sell their products in Chefchaouen’s streets.
4. Visit the Spanish Mosque
Spanish mosque in Chaouen is located high in the Rif mountains providing the best sunset view in the whole city of Chefchaouen. As the story goes, the mosque was built by Spanish Muslims during the Rif War between the Spanish who were colonizing the region and the Berber tribes of the Rif mountains. According to the same story the mosque was never used for worship.
5. Watch the Sunset or Sunrise
The best time to visit the Spanish mosque is just before sunset or sunrise if you are a morning person. The mosque is located on a high hill providing a Bird’s-eye view over Chefchaouen. The picturesque view of the city is just unbelievable. The buildings in all shades of blue are tucked in the mountain green nature. How lucky these people are!
6. Take Loads of Cool Photos
Chefchaoune is just so ridiculously pretty and it is the right place to take some photos. Some? I mean thousands of photos. The old Medina of Chefchaouen is an Instagramable famous place. The blueish walls and doors decorated with flowerpots and Moroccan crafts are what I fell in love with!
7. Unwind with a cup of Moroccan Mint Tea
Nothing is better than drinking fresh Moroccan tea with a view like this. Enjoying Moroccan Mint tea was one of my favorite things to do in Chefchaouen. After a long day of walking around the blueish streets and shops and doors, you will get really really hungry and that’s when a cup of mint tea and a lamb Moroccan tagine will come to your rescue.
How to Get to Chefchaouen?
Chefchaouen is tucked in the Rif mountains with no airports around. The closest airport to the city is more than 1 hour away so you will need to take either a Grand taxi or a bus to get to the city. However, getting to Chefchaouen is super easy from its closest cities, Tetouan, Tangier, and Fez. Plus, I will show you how to get to the blue pearl from Casablanca and Marrakech.
While a taxi is a practical way to travel to Chefchaoun I would recommend the CTM bus service as it is the easiest and most straightforward option for tourists in Morocco.
1. Tetouan/Tangier to Chefchaoun:
Tetouan and Tangier are very close to each other so bus or taxi rides from there to Chefchaouen are usually grouped. Both cities are about 3,5 hours away from Chefchaouen using a bus (CTM) or a Grand Taxi. I prefer the CTM bus. It’s super clean, safe, and comfortable. If you are traveling from Europe, you will be probably flying to Tangier airport, then take the bus to Chefchaouen.
- CTM Bus Station: CTM Tangier
- Ticket Price: 45 Dh (about $4.50)
2. Fez to Chefchaouen
Fez is one of the famous Moroccan cities for tourism. It is located about 4.5 hours from Chefchaouen which makes it a good few day’s stop before heading to the blue city. Anyway, if you happen to be in Fez and wanna go to Chaouen, just go straight to the CTM bus station and buy your 4,5 hours trip ticket.
- CTM Bus Station: CTM Fez
- Ticket Price: 85 Dh (about $8.50)
3. Casablanca to Chefchaouen
To get to Chefchaouen from Casablanca, you have to stop in Fez. Two birds with one stone YAY! Head to the CTM station in Casablanca and ask for a ticket to Chaouen. You will get two tickets, one is Casa-Fez and the other one is Fez-Chaouen. Another option is to take the train (ONCF) to Fez and then a bus to Chefchaoun. Both options will take about 9 hours or more in total that’s why the best thing to do is to stop in Fez for a day or two and if you have an extra day make sure to visit the imperial Meknes before heading to Chefchaouen.
- CTM Bus Station: CTM Casablanca
- Train Station: ONCF Casablanca
- CTM Ticket Price: Casa to Fes 75 Dh then Fes to Chefchaouen 85 Dh
- Train Ticket Price:
4. From Chefchaoun CTM bus to the blue Medina
Now that you are in Chefchaouen, you will need to take another quick ride to get to the blue area of the city. Easy task! Take a small taxi also in blue to the Medina or straight to your hotel. The 8-minute ride will cost you roughly 20Dh (about $2).
Where to stay a Chefchaouen?
Chefchaouen is one of the best cities in Morocco and absolutely a great place to spend a few relaxed days away from the hustle and the bustle of the busy cities.
- Lina Riad & Spa: If you have more to spend on accommodation, I would recommend staying in Lina Riad & Spa. The classic Riad is located in the heart of Chefchaouen Medina. At around $120 for a double room with breakfast, go for Lina Riad & Spa.
- Dar Echchaouen: Located in the borders of Medina, Dar Echchaouen is a great place to stay. The hotel is just minutes walking distance from the city center. The hotel rooms offer an amazing view of the Medina and also the nearby Rif mountains. They also have a pool. If you want to stay in Dar Echchaouen, consider booking early.
- l’hôtel Casa Khaldi: This hotel is great if you are looking for a decent place to sleep with a small budget. The hotel is located in the Medina borders, basic but clean. The price is around $25 for a double bedroom.
Chefchaouen should totally be on the top of your Morocco travel list. It is a beautiful and enchanting city that has cool things to do and places to see. You can stay at a sensational Riad where you can relax and unwind at your own speed. It is also a place where you can experience the food and culture of the Rif region of Morocco. 3 days in Chefchaouen would be just perfect.