Visiting Chefchaouen: Morocco’s Blue City

chefchaouen

Traveling is funny in some ways. A place you’ve never heard of before soon becomes a place you can’t miss. You get in a traveling bubble surrounded by other travelers and a place like Chefchaouen seems “Instagram famous”, “everyone’s been there”, and “it’s getting a little too popular.” When in reality, it’s a place I had never even heard of a few weeks before, much less known how to pronounce! (Do I know now?) But whether it is overhyped or not we soon discovered the Blue City was a fun spot to visit.

Read about our entire Morocco trip here!

chefchaouen m

Funny Story: Chefchaouen weirdly enough reminded us of Helen, a tiny faux-German town in North Georgia not far from where I grew up. It has a hint of mountain air but is usually pretty hot and seems to solely exist for tourism. The two cities couldn’t be more different but there was something about them that seemed similar. So random!

Getting to Chefchaouen

Okay, so this part is not fun. Our starting point was Fez, so we took a bus to Chefchaouen. We walked to the bus station right outside of the blue gate in Fez and booked two tickets on the Diamante Vert bus for about $15 each. We had wanted to take CTM which is the bus company you may recognize from online research, but it was sold out.

Being month 10 of our travels, we had taken a lot of buses and they’re usually about the same. This one, however, was miserable. The 5 hours started off okay, but the bus was oppressively hot (so much so that the driver drove with the door open for a portion of the time!) and the hilly roads going through the Rif Mountains caused a lot of carsickness from our fellow passengers. Not cool. Trains and planes aren’t an option to Chefchaouen, so bus or car it is.

Where to Stay in Chefchaouen

After the long ride, we couldn’t wait to check into our hotel. We stayed at Puerta Azul. We had traditional riads booked for most of our time in Morocco, and we especially loved our one in Fez, so it felt a little less Morocco-y to be staying at a traditional hotel, but it was really nice and the manager was a great guy. He showed us the music video that French Montana filmed in the blue city, and we watched a Moroccan stand-up comedian on Netflix with him in the lobby one night. You can’t make this stuff up!

What to do in Chefchaouen

Wander the Medina and Take Photos

Chefchaouen is often referred to as the “blue city” or the “blue pearl of Morroco” and it is easy to see why. It is literally blue. Often when you see pictures of a place (especially online) you assume it’s of one street or a good filter, but no; all of the buildings are painted blue. (Even the cemetery has blue headstones!)

This makes it a super cute town to wander around and take photos. The town itself is very quaint and the medina is a manageable size. The blue buildings are surrounded by the Rif Mountains and it is beautiful!

chefchaouen alley

Watch Sunset by the Spanish Mosque

Dozens of people trek to the top of the hill for this great sunset vantage point. It is really pretty to see the little blue city tucked away at the bottom of the mountains. And on the way, you may even see an ostrich (on a leash for a paid photo op) but still unique!

chefchaoan sunset

chefchaouen cactus

Go Shopping in the Medina

One of my favorite things to do in Morocco, shopping! I found a great little soap shop, La Botica De La Abuela De Aladdin, and we had quite the encounter with a rug salesman Chez Abdul. He served us mint tea as we browsed his beautiful Berber rugs. He taught me how to say “yes” and “no” in Arabic as I decided which ones I wanted to keep. I told him from the beginning they were unfortunately over my price range but it was a fun experience nonetheless. He’s awesome, you should swing in his shop in the medina!

rug store chefchaouen

They also sold these crazy looking hats everywhere that I thought were solely for tourists. Then I saw lots of local old ladies wearing them!

What We Didn’t Do in Chefchaouen

It was pretty hot during our August visit so we didn’t do any of the nearby waterfall hikes. The nature up here is beautiful and unlike other parts of Morocco so I think it would have been awesome had the weather been a little cooler.

Where to Eat in Chefchaouen

Casa Hassan

Casa Hassan was one of my favorite meals in Morroco. It had such a nice ambiance and the food was delicious! Chefchaouen is known for their goat cheese and their salad is great.

casa hassan

Bab Ssour

Bab Ssour was another home run. Chefchaouen really had some great dining options! Sit on one of their terraces for nice vibes and views.

Casa Aladdin

The food was disappointing but the view was unparalleled!

aladdin chefchaouen

Where to Drink in Chefchaouen

If you want to grab a beer (something that is hard to do in Morroco) Hotel Parador is the spot. They have a nice pool bar with a pretty view.

chefchaouen bar

Other Things to Know About Chefchaouen

So they randomly speak Spanish in Chefchaouen (and other parts of Northen Morocco)! Well, I guess it’s not that random considering the proximity to southern Spain. Regardless, after days of struggling through Arabic and French, we were relieved at the chance to dabble in our second language. We found this especially helpful when Grant needed a haircut. Which coming in at only $2 was the cheapest of our trip by the way!

chefchaouen haircut

I encouraged our trip to the Blue City and even though Grant had his hesitations and thought it was a little cheesy, (plus it was definitely out of the way of our other Morrocan destinations) the 10-hour vomit filled round trip bus ride was worth it. Download an audiobook and stick it out because you may just fall in love with this little gem of a city.

Want more information to plan your trip to Chefchaouen? Check out the Morocco Lonely Planet here.

Kif in the Rif,
– Ray

Ps. Check out our Morocco trip video below!

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