Chefchaouen is a small Moroccan village, nestled in the Rif mountains, all the way North of the country. The town is well known for being entirely painted in blue, making it one of the prettiest villages I have ever visited! There are not a lot of things to do in Chefchaouen, so you can easily cover it in 2 days, or a little more if you want to do some hiking in the Rif mountains.
The town has gained in popularity over the past few years, receiving more and more tourists. I was worried it would extremely over crowed, but as we visited in May, I was pleasantly surprised to find the town relatively quiet. That is why I am happy we decided to visit Chefchaouen at the beginning of our 10 days road trip in Morocco. It was a great first introduction to the country, instead of jumping straight into the chaos of Marrakesh!
If you are planning to visit Chefchaouen, I have gathered for you all the info you need including what to do, where to eat, stay, and shop, so you can enjoy your time in the Blue City!
BEST THINGS TO DO IN CHEFCHAOUEN
1. Watch the sunrise over the Rif mountains
The sun rising and peaking through the surrounding mountain is a beautiful sight to catch in Chefchaouen. A lot of the hotels have rooftop terraces so if your’s faces the right direction, you are in for a treat! We stayed in the Riad Dar Hannan, in a room with direct access to the rooftop, so watching the sunrise was a daily treat!
2. Get lost in the Medina
There is really no point in trying to find your way around the multitude of small streets and alleys in the Medina. Wandering around and getting lost, discovering incredibly pretty lanes, bleu walls and bright colored flower pots, terracotta roofs, and beautifully crafted doors is one of the best things to do in Chefchaouen.
3. Chill on Plaza Uta El Hamman
The heart of Chefchaouen Medina, Plaza Uta El Hammam, is the perfect place to sit, relax, and watch the village life go by. The shaded squared is lined up with cafes and restaurants, serving pretty much all the same decent Morocco food. We had breakfast there once, and it was a great place to see the town come to life.
4. Visit the Kasbah and the Clock Tower
The small Kasbah of Chefchaouen dates back to the 15th century and was built under the supervision of the town’s founder Moulay Ali Ben Ben Rachid. Within the wall of the Kasbah, you can visit a small ethnographic museum, a tiny art gallery and a pretty Andalucian style garden. Climb up the Clock Tower for some delightful views over the village and the surrounding mountains. The entrance of the Kasbah is located on Plaza Uta El Hamman
5. Shop local crafts
Chefchaouen is also well known for being a center of handicraft and as such is a great place to do a little bit of shopping. The area is particularly well-known for wool blankets and Berber carpets but you can also find a lot of straw baskets, leather bags, spices, etc. The great thing about shopping in Chefchaouen is that the shop owners are not aggressive and the haggle is gentle and fun. For a wide range of carpets go to Local Berbere Artisanal located here. For something more original, visit La Botica de la Abuela Aladdin, a shop selling all sorts of natural soaps, perfume, oils, etc … I would be really impressed if you manage to get out of there without buying something!
6. Hike to the Spanish Mosque
Constructed in 1920 by the Spanish, the mosque is located on a hilltop, just east of Chefchaouen. It takes an easy 20 walk uphill to get there from the Medina, and from the hilltop the view is extraordinary. A grand view over the town and the surrounding mountains. The Spanish Mosque is a popular spot to watch the sunset, and although it was cloudy when we went, I can only imagine that watching a fiery sunset from there must be one of the best things to do in Chefchaouen.
7. Try traditional Moroccan cuisine
For breakfast: Grab a traditional Moroccon breakie in any of the cafes on Plaza Uta El-Hamman. It is very calm in the morning as many tourists are coming on day trips and arrive later in the morning. It is a great place to start the day and catch the first rays of the sun.
For lunch or dinner: We had dinner in Cafe Hicham, which serves classic but excellent Moroccan dishes. The restaurant has a small terrace overlooking Plaza Uta El Hammam and the Kasbah. I recommend it. We also had a quick dinner in Bar Ssour. I only had an omelet so it is hard to tell if the food is very good, but it does come highly recommended.
For a drink: There is virtually no alcohol in Chefchaouen, but if you really miss the apero, you can grab a drink in Hotel Parador. The place is rather soulless, but hey … there have cold beers, wine, and a terrace with a view … that would have to do!
8. Stay in a Riad
There is no better way to experience Moroccan traditional houses than staying in a Riad. There are a lot of cheap guesthouses, but also a few more upscale options.
We stayed in Dar Hannan, a mid-range riad in the medina. The rooms are pretty simple, but the top floor room is a catch, with a comfortable bed, nice decoration, and direct access to the rooftop terrasse. The sunrise view from said terrasse is AMAZING and I think during summer this is where the breakfast is served.
Update Sept 2020: I am not sure the riad exists anymore, so here a a few extra recommendations
For an explosion of colorful Moroccan art and craft, check out Afra House. A few steps away from plaza Uta El Hamman, Afra House also has a pretty terrasse with a view over the blue town.
A little outside the media. Dar Jasmine, looks beautiful, with refined bedrooms, a stunning dining area, and a pretty terrasse overlooking the city. That would be my top choice if I was visiting Chefchaouen again.
For a more upscale experience, Lina Ryad & Spa looks amazing!! Very 1001 Nights.
Ready to book your stay in Chefchaouen? Don’t wait and check out the latest offers on Booking.com
PRACTICAL INFORMATIONS ABOUT CHEFCHAOUEN
When is the best time to visit Chefchaouen? Nestled in the Rif mountains, Chefchaouen can get really really cold, even snowy. The best time to visit Chefchaouen is June to Sept, with temperatures between 15 to 30 °C, and virtually no rain. Obviously these are also the most touristic months.
How many days do you need in Chefchaouen? Chefchaouen is a very small town, so you can visit everything in 2 days. However if you would like to spend time at the Hamman, explore the surrounding, or hike the Rif mountains, you could probably stay 4 to 5 days.
How to get to Chefchaouen: Chefchaouen is a 2 hours drive from Tangier, 4h from Fes, and 6h from Casablanca airport. The drive from Casablanca is really beautiful, with lush green hills and endless fields. If you are looking at reaching Chefchaouen via public transports, there are buses leaving major cities, for example, the CTM buses.
Why is Chefchaouen blue? : There is a variety of theories to explain the washed blue houses of Chefchaouen but the strongest ones are :
- In the 15th century, a Jew community escaping Spanish Inquisition settled in Chefchaouen and brought along their tradition of painting houses in blue. Reflecting the colour of the sky, it would remind people of Heaven and God.
- A much less spiritual explanation is that blue collar keeps mosquitoes away and the houses cool during the hot summer months. A similar explanation is used to justify the blue colours of Jodhpur, India.
Whatever the original reason is, I am sure the inhabitants of Chefchaouen have well understood the beauty and attractiveness of their city and regularly refresh the blue paintings, making it maybe the prettiest city in Morocco.
Alcohol & Drugs: There is almost no alcohol in Chefchouen but the town is well-known for the easy availability of cannabis, cultivated in nearby fields. But Chefchaouen doesn’t feel like a drug town or anything like that. It feels safe and chilled out!
Chefchaouen is a place that should be experienced rather than visited. Unlike other cities in Morocco, there are no spectacular sights, it really is the beauty, the slow rhythm, and the charm of the city that makes it so attractive.
I hope you liked this post and got inspired to visit this amazing little village. Don’t hesitate to leave me a little comment, I love to hear your thoughts!
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