Chefchaouen has been on my radar for around a year. Before that I had never heard of this pretty mountain village in the North of Morocco. But soon after I started blogging and following some travel influencers on Instagram, I started seeing lots of pictures from this blue village and my longing to visit grew accordingly !
When we decided to go to Morocco, it was a no brainer that Chefchaouen would be on the itinerary. I had some apprehension that it would be overly touristic but it turned out to be relatively quiet (in May though), peaceful and probably even more beautiful than I expected.
I think it is a great first introduction to Morocco, rather than jumping right into the chaos of Marrakesh. If you didn’t read it yet, check out my article about the perfect 10 day road trop in Morocco here.
What to do in Chefchaouen in 2 days
From Casablanca airport, it took us around 6 hours to reach the gorgeous little town of Chefchaouen, also known as the Blue Pearl. To get there we drove through the most beautiful fields … a green landscape I never expected to see in Morocco.
We reached Chefchouaen at around 9pm, and rather exhausted after nearly 18h of travels, we quickly checked into our hotel, found the strength to go out for a quick dinner and got to bed for a well reserved rest. The next day, thanks to the time difference and the holidays excitement, I rose up early enough to catch the first ray of light over the city, from the rooftop of our riad! And what a view that is!
After a traditional Moroccan breakfast in the hotel, we started exploring the blue streets of Chefchaouen. Without a plan, we just walked around for a few hours, taking way too many pictures of way too many gorgeous blue doors, and sleeping cats. We eventually ended up on the main square, Plaza Uta el-Hammam and visited the kasbah. If you do so, do not forget to climb to the top of the clock tower for a nice view over the medina.
Plaza Uta el-Hammam is lined up with restaurants and cafes of average quality, but it is a great place to sit, relax and watch the world go by. After having lunch, we continued walking around the pretty streets of Chefchaouen and I started to realise all the things I wanted to buy! Chefchaouen is a center of handicraft production, especially know for wool, woven carpets and even goat cheese (and hashish, but shhhhhh!)
At around 4pm, we started walking towards the Spanish Mosque. It is an easy 20 min walk uphill from the Medina to reach this spectacular view point over the entire city. The destination is popular for sunset and although the day was cloudy, the view was definitely worth the effort
We walked back to Chefchaouen with a goal : finding a place to grab a drink! And so we ended up on the Parador hotel terrasse, with a ice cold local beer and a view over the surrounding mountains.
On Day 2 , we had breakfast on Plaza Uta El Hamman, and took some time to just watch the city come to life. We still had a few hours ahead of us, and we just spent some time wandering the streets, buying some souvenirs and just enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of Chefchaouen’s unique medina.
Chefchaouen is a place that should be experienced rather than visited. Unlike other cities in Morocco there is no spectacular sights, it really is the beauty, the slow rhythm and the charm of the city that makes it so attractive.
Practical (or not) informations about Chefchaouen
Weather: Nested in the Rif mountains, Chefchaouen turned out to be significantly colder than expected. We visited beginning of May and we both had to wear a sweater most of the day, with temperatures dropping as low as 10 deg in the evening !
June to September are probably the best months to visit if you are looking far warmer climate, with high temperatures of 32deg and lows around 16deg.
How to get there: 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 fields. I didn’t expected that at all and was pleasantly surprised. There are also buses leaving from major cities, for example the CTM buses. I checked it out for you and below are the costs:
Casablanca – Chefchaouen : 6.5h – 15 USDFes – Chefchaouen : 4h – 7 USDTangier – Chefchaouen : 3h – 5 USD
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: There is virtually no alcohol in Chefchouen ! My kind of holidays usually involves a lot of rose wine, some ice cold beers and a couple of daily hours dedicated to apero. If you are anything like me, you should take note of that limitation 😀
Eat, sleep and shop in Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen – Where to eat?
For breakfast: Grab a traditional Moroccon breakie in any of the cafe 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 sun.
For lunch or dinner: We had dinner in Cafe Hicham, which served 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 omelette 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 we still managed to get our apero in Hotel Parador. As best described by the Lonely Planet, the place is soulless, but hey … there are cold beers, wine and a terrace with a view … this is all I need!
Chefchaouen- Where to stay?
Finding a nice hotel in Chefchaouen was more difficult than I thought, as a lot of places were fully booked or a little too “traditional” for my taste.
I booked Dar Hannan, with little conviction, but the room turned out to be very nice. I booked the top floor one, with direct access to the rooftop, and I just loved to be able to reach the terrace right after waking up, still in my PJ! The 180 deg view from this terrasse is really nice, and I think they use it for breakfast during the warmer months. I peaked at a few other rooms in the hotel, which are also simple but well appointed and comfortable looking.
Dar Hannan – 70 USD / night.
If you are looking for something a bit more upscale, look no further than the gorgeous Lina Ryad & Spa! I wished we stayed there, but it was already fully booked and maybe a little over budget anyway!
Lina Ryad & Spa– Around 180 USD / night.
Chefchaouen – What to shop?
The streets of Chefchouen are lined up with little shops selling classic Moroccan favorites such as leather bag and shoes, Berber carpets, and of course the famous straw bags. Overall I found the experience of shopping in Chefchaouen a lot more pleasant than in other Moroccan cities. The shop owners are not agressive and the prices are already relatively low, so you don’t feel the need to go through a hard line negotiation. I wish I had purchased more from Chefchaouen, so as not to bother on the last few days in Marrakesh.
For a wide range of carpets go to Local Berbere Artisanal
For something more original , visit La Botica de la Abuela Aladdin (here), a shop selling all sort of natural soaps, perfume, oils etc … I would be really impressed if you manage to get out of there without buying something!
Voila, I hope you liked it and got inspired to visit this amazing little village. Don’t hesitate to leave me a little comment, I love to hear your thoughts ! Thanks !