You might recognize the white walls and blue domes of the Greek Islands. Or the beautiful pink architecture of Jaipur. Today, we’re introducing you to another color-filled city of Chefchaouen Morocco. Also known as the Blue City in Morocco or the Blue Pearl of Morocco.

Chefchaouen is a peaceful, laidback city full of amazing souqs, restaurants, mosques and traditional spas. The whole city is laid out in a labyrinth of beautiful, narrow streets. It’s a great break away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and the bigger Moroccan cities. There’s really no other place like it in the world. So if you’re visiting Morocco, visit Chefchaouen even if just for a few days.

Why is Chefchaouen blue?

Chefchaouen was built in the early 1400s but it wasn’t till the 1900s that the city was first painted blue. There’s a lot of theories surrounding the question of why Chefchaouen is blue. And we still haven’t been able to narrow down on one answer.

Some people say blue symbolizes heaven (like the sky), or the color of water.

Some say it keeps them cool or that it’s a mosquito repellent.

And there are also people who say it’s a Jewish tradition brought in by the Jewish communities who moved there during the World War.

But some locals also just say that it was mandated by the government to paint the city blue, to attract more tourists.

Whatever the real reason is, the blue color is what makes Chefchaouen Morocco so beautiful!

old town in morocco

How to travel from Marrakech to Chefchaouen?

As a city far away from the major tourist cities, you may be wondering how to get to Chefchaouen. Depending on which city you start your trip, there are a few ways to get there. But the best way is to take a bus from Tangier. It’s the closest major city, at just about 3 hours away.

Alternatively, you can also take a bus from the city of Fez, which is 4 hours away. Or even the more popular city of Casablance, which is 6 hours away. To save time, we recommend you go from Marrakech or whichever airport you initially land in – to Tangiers by train, and then onward to the blue city of Chefchaouen. The trains run quite frequently, and may require you to take an overnight. Check the government ONCF website for more details.

Using Tangier as your base also gives you the option to try a really unique mode of travel in Morocco – the grand taxi. It’s a shared taxi that goes long distances. You basically pay for your seat in the taxi and travel around with other passengers. It is one of the cheapest ways to get around but may take a lot longer, depending on where your fellow passengers need to go.

What to eat in Chefchaouen?

When in Chechaouen, eat like the locals. You can find really delicious local food – including all the favorites like tagine, couscous, harira and more.

Tagine is the national dish of Morocco – it’s a slow cooked stew of meat and vegetables, served in the iconic hat-shaped pot. Make sure to try this at least once during your trip. All the restaurants in Chefchouen are sure to serve it.

Moroccan food in general is heavily focused on great, fresh ingredients – which Chefchouen is known for. The region makes some of the most fragrant olive oil and high-quality goat cheese, which play a huge part in the meals. You can even buy some to take home by shopping at the souks.

what to eat in chefchaouen

If you’re wondering where to eat in Chefchaouen, you can’t go wrong with these restaurants:

AUBERGE DARDARA

Amazing local cuisine that’s handmade fresh every day with the best ingredients. Definitely try the meat tajine or the bissara dip which is made of creamed beans, kind of like hummus.

HAMSA

This rooftop restaurant has amazing local cuisine and amazing views of the city. And the best part is – they’re vegan friendly (which can be hard to come by in Morocco.

You can also find a lot of tourist-friendly restaurants at the Plaza Uta el-Hammam. Once the sun sets, the streets of the medina also come alive with food stalls selling delicious snacks.

What to drink in Chefchaouen?

Alcohol is not easily available, but many restaurants that cater to tourists will at least serve beer and wine. The best thing to drink however, is traditional Moroccan Tea. You’ll find this everywhere, any time of day. It’s a sweet black tea that’s steeped with mint leaves. It’s refreshing and truly perfect anywhere you have it.

What to see in Chefchaouen?

Chefchaouen is an amazing blue city to just get lost in. Just make sure you have your camera on you at all times, because you never know where you might find your next viral photo. When you visit Chefchaouen, the first thing you’ll notice is the maze of narrow blue streets. When you gain some perspective, you’ll see that this little blue town is set against the backdrop of the beautiful Rif Mountains.

rif mountains and the blue city

There are a lot of things to do in Chefchaouen, Morocco. You can walk around the medina, shop for souvenirs, take a traditional Moroccan hammam, or even get henna drawn on you by a local. These are some must-do experiences in Chefchaouen. The Plaza Uta el-Hammam is the heart of the medina and is the spot to take a break, drink some mint tea, and watch the world go by.

  • Walk Around Medina: Chefchaouen gives you all the beauty and exquisiteness of a traditional Moroccan tourist town, but at much cheaper prices. The Medina is the old town area of Chefchaouen where you’ll find shops, restaurants, traditional souks and the traditional bathhouses called Hammams. You’ll find anything from souvenirs, to handbags, lampshades, fresh cheese, spices and more. Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to visit.
kasbah chefchaouen
  • Kasbah: The word ‘Kasbah’ means fortress. And the 14th century Chefchouen Kasbah is home to the Ethnographic Museum. It is divided into six areas – where you find traditional weapons, embroidery, instruments, traditional dresses, pottery, utensils are more from the major tribes in the region – Lakhmas, Ghzawa, Bani Msara and Rhouna. The museum shows you the city’s history from when it was used as a defence base.
  • Spanish Mosque: The Spanish Mosque is an important place of worship in the city. It’s about a 45-minute hike uphill from Chefchaouen main square. But the road is paved and well places. Though the walk can be a bit tiring, the views are 100% worth the effort. Make sure to go around sunrise or sunset to get the best shots of the city from above.
  • Hike to the Cascades d’Akchour: The Rif Mountains that surround Chefchaouen are amazing to hike, with picture perfect views at every point. But the most beautiful of the hikes, is the one to the Akchour Waterfalls – which have crystal clear water, natural bridges, and stunning landscapes. It’s also not entirely left to the wildnerness, so after a long day of hiking, you can sit by the stream to sip on Moroccan tea or eat a delicious tagine in the mountains.

Where to stay in Chefchaouen?

Hotels in Chefchaouen aren’t like the bigger chains of the major cities. They’re mostly homegrown, or converted guesthouses. In Morocco in general, the best places to stay are the riads. The word riad means guesthouse. They are often hundred-year-old homes that have been converted for tourists. So each riad will have it’s own unique style, and story.

These are some of the best places to stay in the blue city of Chefchaouen:

Lina Ryad and Spa

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The most luxurious of all the riads. Lina is a destination by itself. They have huge, bright and spacious suites with incredible views. The inhouse spa is also famous across the country. The best part, however, is 300 square meter terrace from where you can see the whole medina and the mountains.

Dar Echchaouen Maison d’Hôtes & Riad

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Dar Echchaouen is near the Chefchaouen Medina and the Ras el Ma Airfield. It’s a cute guesthouse with bright and airy rooms, and a great rooftop, graden and swimming pool! The best part is the restaurant that serves traditional Moroccan dishes like tagine and pastille.

La Petite Chefchaouen

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Like the name suggests, La Petite is a small, yet charming guest house. Though there aren’t many rooms (book in advance!), it’s located right in the heart of the Chefchaouen Medina. It’s just a 3-minute walk from the central Outa El Hammam square. And they have an amazing rooftop!

With guesthouses this good, you won’t miss hotels in Chefchaouen . In fact, you might just be converted to always staying the most local way.

visit the blue city

So there you go! That was a quick travel guide to the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen, Morocco. It’s one of the most unique destinations in the world, and well worth a visit.

What place would you like to learn about next?

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