A first timers guide to Chefchaouen, Morocco

The famous Blue City of Morocco. Honestly unlike any city we’ve seen before and a place I’d wanted to visit for a very long time.

Picture stepping into a fairytale that’s entirely blue. Blue, blue, blue absolutely everywhere. And why? Many believe it brings about spiritual enlightenment, a place for hope after such hard times. Pretty amazing and even more so to see it with my own eyes.

As you wander through the streets of the Medina, blue surrounds you. Shop owners are heard persistently bargaining with tourists to visit their store and buy something unique. The contrast of colour seen in the carpets, home decor, jewellery, clothing, souvenirs, spices, food and wait for it…cats, creates the most enchanting surroundings. Little blue alleyways lead to little blue doors, it sort of felt like we were in the video clip for that 90’s song “Blue”. For real yo.

Every year tourists flock to this city and I can totally see why. A little bit of a mission to get to, but one thats totally possible and totally worth it too. For you first timers, here’s our guide and something to help you get the best out of Chefchaouen, The Blue Pearl of Morocco.

How to get there

✈️ Flying – Flying directly to Chefchaouen isn’t an option sorry gang. The closest airport is Tetouan and from there its a 2ish hour car, grand taxi or bus ride to the Blue City itself.

Unfortunately Tetouan airport isn’t an international airport either and because we wanted something direct and cheap, we flew into Fez then got in a 4 hour transfer to Chefchaouen (like I said…bit of a mission but TOTALLY worth it).

We also looked at flying into Tangier (top of Morocco) which meant the transfer to Chefchaouen would have only been 2 hours, but the flights were too expensive.

🚕 Transfer/Taxi – This is a good option for those who are coming from somewhere reasonably close to the Blue City itself. I’d say Fez is probably the furtherest city you’d wanna transfer/taxi from without it being too expensive. We paid 160€ from Fez to Chefchaouen which I know sounds like a lot but we missed the last CTM bus for the day and didn’t have another option. If you’re a nervous traveller, you have a bigger budget or you’re within a couple of hours from Chefchaouen I’d totally recommend this, it’s deff the most comfortable and probably the quickest way to get around.

Ps. Taxis around Chefchaouen itself (like from the Medina to the CTM bus station for example) are so easy and cheap! They’re called “petit taxis” and cost literally 1€ or 2€. Easy!

🚌 Bus – This is the easiest and cheapest option for sure, but definitely the least comfortable. If you’re going to bus anywhere in Morocco, the CTM or SUPRATOURS busses are the way to go. From Fez to Chefchaouen or visa versa, the CTM bus takes 5 hours and is only 7€! We caught the bus back from Chefchaouen to Fez and although bumpy (yes even people were spewing) it was definitely a good cheap option. You can also catch the CTM bus from Tangier and Casablanca to reach Chefchaouen


Where to stay

Dar Yarot – Right in the heart of the medina (old town) this was an easy, cheap and not to mention beautiful place to stay in Chefchaouen. The free breaky on the rooftop terrace was the best way start to the day, especially when it’s a traditional Moroccan breakfast – ummmmmm yum 😍😍 Coffee, mint tea, pancakes, honey, eggs, bread, olives and feta – I was in food heaven and it was yum yum yum! We found this place on booking.com and totally recommend it!

A Hostel – if you’re keen for some hostel vibes, check out the ones on HostelWorld 😊

A Riad – A Riad is a large traditional Moroccan house which is built around a courtyard and has been converted into a hotel. These are absolutely beautiful and you can find them in all the cities across Morocco. I definitely recommend staying in one during your trip but honestly, wait for Fez or Marrakech as there are SO MANY to choose from with pretty cheap prices! If ya wanna check the ones in Chefchaouen though – see HERE.


What to do

Shop the souks – Throughout the blue winding alleyways that are Chefchaouen, the streets are lined with colourful shops selling this, that and everything in between. Get into the Moroccan spirit by bartering for leather bags, carpets, jewellery or whatever! (I think the general concensus is to try get down to a third of the price). The Moroccan people are all about it too so it’s definitely a fun experience, one I’ve learnt I’m not so good at. If this is your first destination in Morocco then it will be a pretty overwhelming situation with so many people up in your face, but if you’re coming from one of the bigger cities, the haggling in Chefchaouen will feel like a breeze. Whatever the situation – get involved!

Find the best blues in the medina – Okay so it’s no surprise that Chefchaouen pulls people from around the world because of the insanely beautiful colour of the buildings.  Make sure you spend time walking around the maze of streets just to see all the blue. There are some seriously fairytale like spots that will continue to amaze you with every corner you turn and alley you walk down.

For a view of the city, walk to the Spanish Mosque  – Want to see what the town looks like from afar? Walk up to the Spanish Mosque and breath it all in. The walk itself is easy and takes about 15min, although it can’t be too easy because I tripped up, landing face first on the dirt track 😂 Ooooops. It was surprising to see so many white buildings from this view because when you’re in it…it’s just blue, blue, blue.

Watch the local woman do their washing at the Ras el-Maa waterfall – Super super cool to see the local woman washing their clothes and going about their daily life. How different their life is to ours. There’s a cute little cafe to get an orange juice as you sit by the waterfall with your toes in the water. Located just beyond the far northeastern gate of the medina.

Watch the sunset from a rooftop – Watching the sunset while the call to prayer echoes in the background is pretty bloody special. Get up to a rooftop, either at your accomodation, at a restaurant or somewhere nearby and watch the sun go down behind the hills. Still in awe at the colours of this city.

Akchour waterfall and Gods bridge – We only had one full day in Chefchaouen so we spent it wandering around, but if you have more time on your hands, head out on a day trip to Akchour waterfall and Gods bridge. Located in the Rif Mountains, the hike from the small village of Anchor (40min taxi from Chefchaouen) is a solid 4-5 hour round trip hike. So be prepared.
To get to Anchor, jump in a ‘grand taxi’ which should cost about 25Dh.

Hash farms – From the moment you step foot in Chefchaouen, you’ll get offers for hash left, right and centre. Believe it or not, Chefchouen is known among travellers as the hash capital of the world! If this is your cup of tea, you can go on tours to the hash farms themselves and apparently you can run through fields of weed! WHAT?! There are several farms in the Rif Mountains near Chefchaouen but one of the closest is about a 30min walk from the Spanish Mosque. Go with a guide by asking your hotel or just ask the guys that offer you hash.

Ps – Smoking, growing and producing hash isn’t actually legal – its just highly tolerated. So don’t say I didn’t warn ya. 

Pps – if you want to actually run through the fields, you’ll have to go in spring ☘️

Maybe instead just drink mint tea – A more legal, traditional and sober thing to do is to enjoy mint tea. You honestly can’t go to Morocco without drinking mint tea, so even if you’re mint tea’d out, enjoy a little more in Chefchaouen.


Where to eat

Aladdin Restaurant – With such a stunning view of the square, Aladdin Restaurant was a gorgeous (and cheap) spot for lunch. Make sure to sit out on the balcony so you can take in that Chefchaouen view.

Restaurant Populaire Bab Ssour – For a more hearty and traditional meal, head here. This was absolutely delicious and one of our favourite meals in Morocco. The Lamb Tajine….mmmmmmm 😍

Jasmine Cafe Teteria – A new fresh cafe that offers food from all around the world.


Tips & tricks

Here are some useful tips & tricks that might help you along the way:

  • When bartering with store owners, offer a price 1/3 of the original
  • Get used to saying “NO THANKYOU” as the haggling can sometimes feel overwhelming
  • Before buying something at the first shop you see, have a look at a few others. You’ll see differences in both quality and prices
  • You can buy a local Moroccan simcard from any store that says “TELECOM MAROC”
  • You will inevitably get lost in the Medina but thats half the fun. Maps on iPhone don’t even show the little streets
  • Before jumping in a taxi, agree to a price with the driver first
  • Woman dress appropriately – I always had my knees and shoulders covered but I did see people with shorts & singlets
  • Take toilet paper everywhere – most toilets (even in the restaurants) had none
  • Hand sanitiser is your new friend
  • Enjoy every single part of the experience. There’s nothing quite like it!

Well team – thats it from my end. Now its up to you to find some hidden gems for yourselves!

Got anything to add? Leave it in the comments below!

Peace,
Leah | FREE & ADDICTED

 

 

 

 

 

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