From day one, when we started to plan the trip to Morocco, Chefchaouen was at the top of the list. Photos of powder-blue walls, cobalt doors, and endless streets knowns as the Blue Pearl of Morocco seemed like a dream.
A small, hillside town in the north of Morocco, Chefchaouen is a destination that inspires photographers, visitors, and hikers to come to see the iconic blue streets. The city's buildings were originally shades of coral, and the origins of the city's transformation to blue present a mystery and allure that local residents keep alive to this day. Using cobalt and different ingredients, it's a common sight to see locals painting the streets. The town is seemingly quiet in terms of things to do, with many visitors coming to see the colors and then often going for a hike.
Located in the remote countryside of Morocco, Chefchaouen is a destination that requires a commitment of time to reach. After an overnight train and a taxi, we found ourselves in the picturesque village, making the journey worth it.
The Nutshell Guide to Chefchaouen, Morocco
What to Know Before Visiting Chefchaouen:
- This is a smaller, conservative city, meaning that dress is definitely not as contemporary as say Marrakech.
- I'd recommend a full 24 hours in this city pending what time you arrive. We did two nights and felt it was more than enough time to see it.
- English, Spanish, Arabic, and French are often spoken here.
- Almost everywhere takes only cash, with an ATM machine in the square.
- A local SIM can be purchased at tobacco shops (noted with three white circles on a blue sign). Pick Maroc Telecom (orange packaging) and have the shop owner help you top up. It's incredibly cheap and best way to have access to data for less than 30 USD.
- The medina is walkable.
- Friday is considered a Holy day, where most shops will not be open during the day.
- The left hand is considered unclean, be sure to eat and direct with your right hand.
- Haggling is completely acceptable and never pay the asking price!
- When taking photos, be sure to ask before taking anyone's photo.
- If someone comes up to you and offers "help" you will need to give a few dirham if you accept. Be mindful of "guides" who will offer a tour and then ask to be paid.
- Always carry toilet paper, as public restrooms often will not have them.
How to Get to Chefchaouen:
Getting to Chefchaouen from Marrakech was a long journey. It is in the middle of the countryside with not many options for public transportation. We took the overnight train from Marrakech to Tangier, which departed at 8:45 pm and arrived in Tangier at 7:30 am. We took a sleeper cabin, first class, female-only cabin for around $30 USD — this is completely worth it and allows you to sleep (be sure to book at least a week in advance.)
Arriving in Tangier, we hired a taxi at the train station in a retro Mercedes (so cool!), for around 600 Dirham or $60 USD. It took 2.5 hours to get to Chefchaouen from Tangier.
There are buses that depart to Chefchaouen from cities like Fes and Tangier. Though we would opt to spend a bit more money for a more comfortable experience.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen:
Chefchaouen is very limited with accommodations and is not the destination for those looking for an uber luxe experience. Staying in town is the most convenient, as you are walking distance to everything.
- Dar Baibou: We stayed here, and it was a pleasant experience. Nothing fancy, but correct in the size of the room and amenities.
- Casa Perleta: This was our first choice but was already sold out by the time we started looking for accommodations. In the heart of the medina, a contemporary hotel with quaint rooms.
Where to Eat in Chefchaouen:
Food in Chefchaouen was admittedly not the most diverse, and we found ourselves returning to Dar Baibou a few times.
- Dar Baibou Restaurant: One of the better meals in Chefchaouen and owned by the hotel Dar Baibou, it serves classic Moroccan fare.
- Le Lamp Magique at Aladin's: Come here for the rooftop views over the city at sunset. A popular spot for lunch, so be sure to arrive early to get a seat.
- Traditional beignets at the stand next to Casa Perleta.
What to Do in Chefchaouen:
- Explore the medina.
- Shop the souks and local market — stop by La Botica de la Abuela Aladdin for beautiful soaps.
- Hike to the Spanish Mosque for a view over the city.
- Explore the Rif Mountains on a hiking excursion.