Beyond the travel meccas of Marrakech and Fez, there are so many beautiful places in Morocco that you’ve got to explore. One of my favorites is Chefchaouen or, Chaouen, as it’s often called by the locals. Also known as Morocco’s “Blue City,” Chefchaouen is located in the Rif Mountains of northwest Morocco. It is a small, conservative city that is a bit out of the way but is well worth the visit—washed in vibrant shades of blue, this place is one of a kind. Here’s my ultimate Chefchaouen travel guide!
What to Expect in Chefchaouen
I learned that the city’s buildings were originally painted in shades of coral and that the transition to blue is still a bit of mystery. But I think one of the reasons I fell in love with this place was its mystique!
Languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, and French.
Currency: Morocco uses dirhams as their currency. Most places accept cash only and there are ATM machines throughout the square. Here are Tips for Traveling Morocco on a Budget.
Hygiene: The left hand is considered unclean, be sure to eat and direct with your right hand. Also, always carry toilet paper or wipes, as public restrooms often will not have them.
WiFi/Data: 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 (around $30 USD) and the best way to have access to data.
Holidays: Friday is considered a Holy Day, where most shops will not be open, so plan accordingly.
Shopping: Haggling (negotiating a price) is encouraged. Never pay the first asking price!
Female Travelers: While traveling through Morocco, I found that my friend and I received a lot of unwanted male attention. Check out my post on What It’s Like Traveling Morocco as a Woman for more info.
Getting Around Chefchaouen
Walk: It’s pretty easy to get around Chefchahouen by foot and by taxi. We mostly walked, but I recommend having a map or using a phone with data to use Google maps as some of the directions can be tricky!
The city is built on a hill so be prepared for a lot of uphill walking (when you get to the top it can feel like you just did a mountain hike). That being said, walking is the best way to experience the city as there are tons of narrow streets that cars can’t access.
Taxis: If you’re planning to rely more on taxis, consider learning some basic French or Arabic expressions to communicate with your driver!
Stay Cool: While the temperature can get very high and it can be slightly uncomfortable to walk around in the heat, the narrow streets and blue-painted buildings are in place to combat the sun. Stick to side streets and shady areas for relief.
Caution: If someone comes up to you and offers “help” you will need to give a few dirhams if you accept. Be mindful of “guides” who will offer a tour or locals who will help with directions and then ask to be paid.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
I recommend staying centrally in the center of town when visiting Chefchaouen—it’s easy to get around by foot and it’s magical to explore the nooks and crannies of the city. The city is built on a hill, and with many narrow streets, so depending on where your hotel is located, be prepared to do some walking with your bags.
Here are the top riads and hotels to stay at in Chefchaouen!
Like all of Morocco, the best places to stay in Chefchaouen are riads, which are essentially guesthouses. The city is filled with gorgeous little guesthouses that offer up an authentic experience. The riads have often converted from homes that are hundreds of years old so they have a unique look and interesting history.
Each room at Dar Echchaouen is decorated in traditional Moroccan style. Located right outside the medina, this is the perfect place to relax and enjoy quality service. It’s highly rated for a reason!
In the heart of the medina, Dar Baibou has a traditional Moroccan style and impressive tile work. It’s a quaint little place, like most riads, but has great amenities like a rooftop sun terrace and hammam (a Turkish steam bath).
The top-rated riad in Chefchaouen, Casa Perleta is stunning. This blue Andalusian-style home has been a refugee from the sun for the better part of 550 years. Be sure to book early because this popular spot doesn’t have many rooms! It was full when we tried to book so we missed out.
Where to Eat in Chefchaouen
Moroccan food is a beautiful mix of North African and Middle Eastern cuisines—you’ll find so many rich, flavorful dishes. And it’s really easy to find tasty vegetarian, and even vegan, foods too! Be sure to try some authentic Morrocan foods during your trip, and drink alllllll the mint tea for me.
Here are the best restaurants in Chefchaouen!
This cafe restaurant serves up amazing Moroccan food, and while you eat, you can enjoy a stunning rooftop view! They are super vegan-friendly—you have to try their homemade falafel.
Cafe Restaurant SofiaMoroccan, Mediterranean
Located just outside the main square, Restaurant Sofia is a cut, female-owned spot with delicious, authentic local food. They have a nice outdoor seating area, and the nicest service!
Dar Baibou RestaurantMoroccan
Whether or not you stay at Dar Baibou, you’ll definitely want to check out their restaurant. Linger on the rooftop and sip some tea. Try their traditional tagine!
Beignets at the Stand Next to Casa PerletaStreet Food
I’m obsessed with beignets. Similar to fritters, these bits of deep-fried goodness are a must-eat here.
This hotel-restaurant showcases the best of local cuisine with a menu full of traditional Moroccan dishes. Everything is fresh, high-quality and entirely homemade. I’d recommend the goat tajine or bissara (dried beans creamed with olive oil, garlic and cumin).
What to Do in Chefchaouen
The artsy, blue-washed village feels as if you’ve been transported into a new world the minute you arrive. The biggest highlights of my time in Chefchaouen were exploring the Medina and souks, and hiking up to the Spanish Mosque to overlook the stunning cityscape.
Here are the top things to do in Chefchaouen!
Step one on any trip to any Moroccan city is to travel to the medina. It’s the heart of the community and the center of life. Bring your camera and come hungry!
You’ll usually find a souk (the Arabic word for market) in the medina of any city. Be ready to haggle for amazing handicrafts and find everything from leather bags to rugs to spices. One of my top picks was La Botica de la Abuela Aladdin for homemade soaps.
Chefchaouen is the perfect place for a scenic hike, and a great spot to get a view of the city is from the Spanish Mosque. Overlooking Chefchaouen, you’ll want to plan a couple of hours to hike up and explore this abandoned mosque.
Choose from guided excursions that will take you up into the Rif mountains or plan a solo trip. If you are traveling in the summer, just be sure to plan for the heat—the sun can get intense up there, especially during the afternoon.
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