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 faves 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 how the transition to blue is still a bit mystery. But I think one of the reasons I fell in love with this place was its mystique!
Languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, and French.
Cash: Almost everywhere only takes cash and there are ATM machine in the square. Morocco uses dirhams, and one US dollar will get you about 11 of them.
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 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!
Caution: 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 or locals who will help with directions and then ask to be paid.
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: Be aware of locals on the street offering you help or directions. If you agree to their assistance they will ask you for money afterwards.
Like all of Morocco, the best places to stay in Chefchaouen are riads. 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 totally 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!
Location: Quartier El Onsar
Price Range: $$
In the heart of the medina, Dar Baibou has traditional Moroccan style and impressive tile work. It’s a quaint little place like most riads, but has great amenities like a rooftop sun terrace and hammam (a Turkish steam bath).
Price Range: $$
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.
Location: Bab Souk – Medina
Price Range: $$
Restaurant Casa Aladins
This spot is popular for its classic lunch dishes and it’s also one of the prime places in Chefchaouen to watch the sunset.
Dar Baibou Restaurant
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.
What to Order: Try their their traditional tagine!
Beignets at the Stand Next to Casa Perleta
I’m officially obsessed with beignets. Similar to fritters, these bits of deep fried goodness are a must-eat here.
READ MORE: Traditional Foods to Try in Morocco
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.
What to Order: Goat tajine or bissara (dried beans creamed with olive oil, garlic and cumin).
Explore the Medina
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!
Hike to Spanish Mosque
A great place to get a view of the city is from the Spanish Mosque. Overlooking Chefchaouen, you’ll want to plan a couple hours to hike up and explore this abandoned mosque.
Shop the Souks
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.
Explore Rif Mountain
Chefchaouen is the perfect place for a hike. Choose from guided excursions that will take you up into the 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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