Chefchaouen Morocco: What to Know Before Your Visit

You’ve probably seen a lot of photos from a city with blue walls on Instagram. The town is Chefchaouen and it’s a truly beautiful town in Morocco, surrounded by majestic Rif mountains of the north. It’s a place full of history and many hidden finds. Chefchaouen can surely ‘blue’ you away!

Chefchaouen is much quieter than any other Moroccan town I’ve visited. Instead of vendors inviting you to their shops, you’ll find quiet men waiting for you to ask them about a price. Streets are be filled with locals enjoying their days and echoing laughter from the children playing ball. You can definitely try to get lost and observe local life and many kittens in Chefchaouen.

Chefchaouen in Morocco: Mini-Guide

Chefchaouen Morocco

romantic chefchaouen


Why is Chefchaouen Blue?

No one really talks about why is Medina blue. Chefchaouen was established in 1471 by Mulay Alí Ben Rachid. However, in 1492, during the Reconquista of Spain, Jews got expelled from Spain. Many of them fled to Morocco, establishing their own enclave in Chefchaouen. That’s why until these days the district Andalúz is one of the most popular of the Medina.

The Sephardi Jewish community that settled in Chefchaouen brought along their tradition of painting buildings blue. They believed the blue is the color of the sky and divinity, so it’ll remind them of the presence of God. The tradition is also actually present in other places, such as Safed in Israel.

Some believe, however, that the color repels flies and mosquitos well, so it was a practical solution as well.

The city was actually closed to all the foreigners, especially Christian under the threat of death, until the beginning of the Spanish occupation in 1920. The town had remained so closed off from the rest of the world that the visitors reportedly found its Jewish inhabitants were still speaking a 15th-century version of Spanish.

After WWII, most of the Jewish families left for Israel, but Moroccan Berbers continue the blue tradition despite the blue washing off the walls quite easily. The local government supplies special paintbrushes to assist in efforts to keep Chefchaouen’s history alive.

streets of Chefchaouen Morocco

Chefchaouen cats

READ MORE: How to Spend a Weekend in Marrakesh


How to Get to Chefchaouen

There are various ways to get to Chefchaouen, but unfortunately, none of them are super fast or easy since the town doesn’t have an airport nearby. That said, you could self-drive to Chefchaouen which is what I ended up doing. 

Here are your options with the public transportations:

Coming from Marrakesh:

The easiest way to get to Chefchaouen from Marrakech is an overnight train to Tangier. You can get information on timetables and prices on the ONCF website and book tickets at the train station. There’s no need to book tickets in advance unless there’s a major holiday. A space in a four-bed couchette costs Dh370 ($38), a double compartment is /690 ($70), and a single compartment is Dh480 ($50).

A space in a four-bed couchette costs Dh370 ($38), a double compartment is /690 ($70), and a single compartment is Dh480 ($50). The price includes a set of bedsheets and a bottle of water.

The journey takes approx. 10 hours and it’s relatively safe. There are many women traveling solo, some with children, so if you’re a solo traveler you won’t be the only one.

Once you arrive in Tangier, you can either take a taxi or if you’re on a budget, a bus. A taxi will get you to Chefchaouen quicker especially considering rare bus schedule, so if you’re short on time it might be worth it.

Flying into Morocco:

If you’re flying into Morocco just to see the Blue Town, you have two choices: Tangier Airport or Fez Airport. Both airports are served with many international flights, including cheap airlines. I flew out of Fez after my visit and it was a quick and painless journey.

You can take a bus or taxi from Tangier to Chefchaouen. From Fez a taxi will be pricey, so I’d advise a bus or a car. I traveled by public transportation the first time I visited Morocco, and rented a car for my second visit. Both options are easy and less scary than they seem.

sunset Chefchaouen


Things to Do in Chefchaouen Morocco

Shop at the Souk

The shopping in this beautiful blue town is one of its biggest tourist attractions. But fear not, shopping in Chefchaouen is nothing like shopping in Fez or Marrakesh. Unlike in other parts of Morocco, where vendors are trying to convince you to buy everything before you even enter the shop and haggle about everything, I actually had troubles buying anything in Chefchaouen.

Quite often I found wandering around a shop without a vendor, as he left for lunch. Vendors will give you the correct low price straight away, and won’t push you to buy more. So if you’re thinking of buying some souvenirs, that’s the place to do it. I also enjoyed observing locals’ daily life around the Medina and playing with locals kittens.

cats Morocco

Visit Kasbah Museum

Located right in the middle of the main square, so you can’t miss it, is an Ethnographic Museum. It’s also called a Kasbah Museum (Kasbah = type of Medina or fortress). The museum holds a giant collection of regional artifacts including pottery, instruments, and paintings.

Right next to the museum you’ll see a Mosque that dates it to the 15th century. It was built by the son of the town’s founder, Ali Ben Rachid. While only Muslims can enter, you can admire it from the outside.mosque chefchaouen

See Cascades d’Akchour

Morocco hides some nice waterfalls, and one of them is located nearby the blue town. Approximately 30 minutes by taxi from the kasbah, you’ll reach a beautiful trail leading to a waterfall d’Akchour. You can swim in it without hoards of other tourists. While in the area, also look out for the Bridge of God rock arch that’s spanning the river.

Hike to the Spanish Mosque

A short hike up the hill from the Medina will take up to the Spanish Mosque, that’s overlooking the blue medina. It’s a decent hike, but nothing extreme so I was able to do it early midday and the sun didn’t kill me. Sunset views are spectacular from there too.what to do in Chefchaouen

Visit Hash Fields

One cannot spend some time in Chefchaouen and not get offered some weed and offered a tour to the hash field. The city is surrounded by green lush hash fields, so if you want to see something green on your trip, then schedule a visit.

Admire Doors!

Morrocan is probably the number one destination for door lovers. If you follow the hashtag #ihavethisthingwithdoors you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

The blue doors of Chefchaouen, however, are a separate chapter. I don’t remember the last place I took so many photos of doors.doors in Morocco

READ MORE: What to Know Before Visiting Marrakesh


IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE:

While there are many Instagrammable places in Chefchaouen, remember that people actually live there and be respectful especially on smaller streets. If you see some locals coming in and out of your house, or children playing, give them some space.

Bring cash. I haven’t spotted any ATMs inside the medina, and restaurants and shops are cash only with a few exceptions.


Where to Stay in Chefchaouen Morocco

When it comes to accommodation in Morocco I’ll always recommend riads (guesthouses) over hotels. A lot of them are over a thousand years old, so they come with beautiful decor, history, and friendly talkative owners. There’s no bad place to stay in Chefchaouen really, as long as you don’t expect a 5* resort – there are no such things there.

You have two options: inside of right outside the medina. The town is relatively small, so there’s no problem getting around, but keep in mind that if you decide to stay inside the medina you’ll have to carry your own luggage to the guesthouse, most likely up some stairs.

Chefchaouen isn’t Marrakesh, you won’t find anyone offering to carry your bags for a few Dirhams. I’d still recommend staying inside the medina, as the rooftops are awesome in the evening.

I recommend Riad Assilah Chaouen, as it’s a stunning place with excellent hosts. Make a reservation slightly in advance, as it gets booked up.

>>  Read more on Carry-on packing.

Where to stay in Chefchaouen


Where to Eat in Chefchaouen

Alladin Restaurant – I stopped by the Alladin by accident and I’m glad I did. The interiors are incredibly decorated and the food surely delicious. It’s the best spot to watch the sunset from one of their terraces while sipping on a Moroccan tea.Alladin restaurant Chefchaouen


DON’T FORGET ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE

Don’t forget to arrange health insurance before heading to Morocco. The easiest and the most reliable travel insurance is World Nomads Travel Insurance. Get it before your trip to skip unnecessary troubles that might ruin your holidays!


What to Do in Chefchaouen Morocco

Any questions about Chefchaouen Morocco? Post your doubts and thoughts in the comment section below 🙂

Categories Morocco

31 thoughts on “Chefchaouen Morocco: What to Know Before Your Visit”

  1. Hi Anna,

    May i ask why you use qksrv.net network for advertisement for booking insted og bookings own booking program?

    Have a great day 🙂

    Kind regards Simon

  2. Hi Anna, is December an ideal timing to visit Morocco? I plan to visit Casablanca, Chefchaouen and Marrakech, what’s your thoughts about the safety of these places?
    You reckon 2 full days is enough to see Chefchaouen? Thanks, Jessie.

    • Chefchaouen is super safe, people’s thoughts on Marrakech vary but personally, I didn’t have ANY issues and I’ve been twice. 2 days is enough to see Chefchaouen for sure 🙂
      Temperatures are cool in Morocco in December, but you can’t predict the rain. Sometimes it rains every day for a week; sometimes it doesn’t rain at all.

  3. Hi,

    This is a great resource, and while I may not get there this trip, I will definitely get there within the next several months.

    However, just in case it makes any difference to any of your readers, I’d like to note that, although I have no idea if there are actually any single or double cabins on the night train from Marrakech to Tangier, there are definitely none on the overnight train from Tangier to Marrakech. Only couchettes.

  4. Chefchaouen ????
    This place is truly magical and if you’re a fan of the color blue, this city will definitely amaze all of your senses.✨
    Loved your post Anna!!

  5. Hi! What airport do you recommend for someone flying in from Portugal and out of Marrakesh? I want to visit Chefchaouen, Fez and Marrakesh last to fly back home but I see Chefchaouen is far from Fez and would b a lot of time on the road. Great blog! Thanks in advance!

  6. Hi! My daughter and I will be in Marrekesh for 3 days. Is it worth using all out time to go to blue city?? Not sure we will be that way again and feel bad to miss it

  7. Hi Anna! We are planning to travel from Chefchaouen to Marrakesh… how do we get there before sundown? Should we catch a bus to Fes and the Fes to Marrakesh or go from Chef to Tangier and overnight train to Marrakesh???

  8. Hi Anna!! I have an odd question, but me and my boyfriend are planning our trip for this year, and we are choosing between going to Morocco or Istambul ( I know they’re different) but we only have time and budget this year to visit one of these destinations. Can you please tell me which one do you like best, or if not (because I get it dependes on what you like personally) but could you tell me which one would yo recommends us to go? I think we would love both, but we are having a hard time choosing between them.
    Regards from Ecuador.

    Thank you 🙂

      • I have 8 days.
        I love eco tourism, I like history, nature, animals, landscape and culture.

        Thank you for the response!! Yoy have a great blog!

        • I think 8 days is a bit much for Istanbul alone. But you could visit many places around Turkey: Pammukale, Cappadocia, Ephesus etc. Both Morocco and Turkey are great to visit, so just pick one now and leave the other one for another time 🙂

  9. Hello Anna,

    Your recommendations sound so great. Im planning a solo trip to spain and I decided to visit morocco for a total of 4 days this coming May since its so closed to Spain.

    Going to Chefchaouen is definitely a must, I will be flying in to Tangier and taking a Taxi to the “blue city” from there. My question is how many days out of the 3 and a half should i stay in Chefchaouen. should I stay in Tangier for at least one night to explore it? or isn’t worth it?

    Also is there any camel rides near those areas?

    Thank you, looking forward to hearing back from you

    • I haven’t been to Tangier, but I’d say 2 days 1 night is definitely enough for Chefchaouen. There’s no desert or dunes in northern Morocco, so camel rides might be an issue.

  10. Hi!! Loved this blog, it was so helpful. My only question is about language barriers.. did you face that problem while there? I would love to travel solo to this beautiful city but I’m definitely a little worried about getting around okay and safely. Thank you!!

  11. https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailv2&iss=sbi&FORM=ENAIMG&q=imgurl:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bing.com%2Fth%3Fid%3DABTF9BC9F2CC4436FC6AA3F4C3027BEE47DD8B3591075DFC2C790EBB58C74B6019F%26qlt%3D90%26pid%3DInlineBlock&ptitle=©%20Laura%20Facchini%20/%20Alamy%20Stock%20Photo

    This photo of Chefchaouen which I recently spotted (randomly) online blew my mind. I said, “This must be where the Al Stewart song ‘Year of the Cat’ was set! ‘Past the blue-tiled walls by the market stalls there’s a hidden door she leads you to’ is a line straight out of that song!” Full disclosure: I’m a total Al Stewart nut, and YOTC is my favorite of his songs.

    Well, I was close; further research indicates that YOTC was actually set in Casablanca . . . but it could as well have been Chefchaouen. All of which led me to stumble upon this page. I love serendipity!

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