Chefchaouen : Blue City Morocco
Chefchaouen also known as the Blue City or The Blue pearl of Morocco is somewhere that needs to be on every Moroccan Travel itinerary. Chefchaouen means the animal horns as its situated behind two mountains that look like horns. It is also often shortened to Chaouen so the city comes with many names.
Why is Chefchaouen Blue
There are a few reasons why Chefchaouen is painted blue and there are all nice stories but I am not entirely sure which one is true. I heard it was because painted blue as apparently blue is a religious colour and was painted by the Jews when they were fleeing from Hitler.
Another reason is that blue paint is mixed with salt and the houses are painted in the summer to keep away mosquitoes.
Or it might just be to represent the blueness of the sea. Which ever is the true story it doesn’t alter the fact that it is a unusual place to visit in Morocco and unlike all the other cities I visited during my trip.
One of the best things about the blue city is it isn’t just one street thats pained blue. Unlike with Santorini where you always see the blue topped houses and in fact there are only a handful of them which is disappointing.
Chefchaouen is full of several blue streets and they all look different so you won’t see one and get fed up. Each street has different flowers or flower pots or signage that makes them unique, it is fun walking around and spotting the different things. as they are really pretty with different shaped houses and flowers that make each street look different in some way.
Why visit Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is a very picturesque village in Morocco. Seeing pictures of the blue city made me finalise my trip to Morocco as it was at the top of the list of places I wanted to see. It has become a popular destination and I kept seeing pictures of the Blue Village on social media and other travel blogs.
It is a lovely area to walk around and absorb the Moroccan culture. You will see locals going about their daily life and it is surprisingly quiet for such a popular tourist destination. It is still quite unspoilt, so I recommend visiting soon before it becomes too commercialised.
Even though its now such a popular destination it wasn’t crowded well at least it wasn’t when I visited but I can see it being busier as it becomes more well-known and at peak times. I visited in November and it was raining and a little cold.
Arabic and Burban people live in Chefchaouen, their accent is a bit different to the rest of morocco and the locals were very friendly most saying hello as we walked past. There are approximately 32000 living in the blue city, but it didn’t feel like that as I hardly saw anyone to be fair it was raining so they were probably keeping dry somewhere.
Tourism is very important to the city and I should imagine that this is where most of the economy comes from now.
There are not many hotels in Chefchaouen, and they are small and don’t cater for large groups. Since I visited as part of a large group tour, we had to stay outside the blue city nearly 1.5 hours’ drive away.
Interesting fact about Chefchaouen: The Medina wall is 7km with 7 gates and doors
Getting to Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen doesn’t have an airport or a train station so the best way is to get a bus from Tangier or Fez or do it as part of a group tour. Another option is to hire a driver or taxi from a nearby city its 2.5 hours from Tangier 1.5 hours from Tatouan which both have airports. I visited Chefchaouen as part of a 10-day tour with Travel Talk which was a great way to see the main places I wanted to visit in Morocco.
How accessible is Chefchaouen
The Blue Pearl is quite steep with steps leading up to the blue houses. It is not the best place to travel if you have mobility issues and I should imagine it is going to be very hard for wheelchairs. I personally have mobility limitations, but I took it slowly and managed to walk around.
It can be slippery when it is raining a member of our group fell over so be careful when walking around Chefchaouen.
Chefchaouen is such a laid-back place it is the sort of village you want to stroll around rather than race so if you are prepared to walk slowly up the hills then it may be OK for some limitations if you have mobility issues you know what your limits are.
I not only have mobility issues, but I am very lazy and don’t like walking, but this is such a pretty place you are looking at all the wonderful buildings and stalls as you are walking around so it does not feel like a chore.
How safe is Chefchaouen
I read that there is risk of pickpockets’ in Chefchaouen just like any other tourist destination. There are also several Moroccan scams to be vary off, but I didn’t feel unsafe whilst walking around. I walked around Chefchaouen in day light and at night time. I was however in a group and locals were looking at us in an inquisitive manner not a threatening one.
I do think I would have just been as comfortable walking around the streets on my own although it is easy to get lost in the streets of Chefchaouen and as I don’t like getting lost when I am travelling solo, I may have limited my explorations.
Even google does not have all the streets in Chefchaouen so relying on google maps can still get you lost. We just headed downhill when we were ready to leave and we managed to find our group meeting point.
How long to spend in Chefchaouen
I would say it depends on how long you have and your style of travelling. Chefchaouen is so pretty and if you have time and you have travelled there independently then stay for a few days to soak up the relaxing atmosphere and wander the streets.
However, if you are short of time it can be seen in a day as there is not much to do apart from looking at the pretty buildings and to be honest, I would say 2 days max.
Food and Drink in Chefchaouen
I had two meals, and both were wonderful, service is great, but food orders can take a long time. Meals are quite a relaxed affair and not something to do if you are in a rush.
Remember in Morocco not all places sell alcohol.
Goats cheese is popular in Chefchaouen and apparently you can only purchase their local tasty goats’ cheese in the blue city as they do not export it.
There are also lots of olives and dates for sale on stalls around the city which are amazing to see and have a nibble on when walking round.
I had a camel burger which was tasty in the clock café which also had some wonderful local dishes. We had an evening meal of tagines in a local restaurant good value for money and it was one of the few that sold alcohol. There are plenty of places to eat or get a drink but be prepared to wait as it takes a while for food to be prepared but that is because it is being prepared freshly and it is worth the wait.
Read More : clock café Moroccan Vibes
Top things to do in Chefchaouen
There are not overly many things to do in this blue city and it is more a place to visit to look at the buildings and wander around. However don’t let this put you off as it is still a place I recommend visiting and here are some recommendations of the best things to do in Chefchaouen
The Spanish Mosque offer excellent views over the city of Chaouen. It is said to be a pleasant hike but due to my mobility issues I didn’t; even attempt it however the members of my group that did said it was an amazing view and well worth hiking up to the ruin to have a look over the city.
Shopping in Chefchaouen
The Medina is a wonderful place to look at souvenir shops and stalls selling fresh fruit, dates and olives. There are also shops selling carpets, jellabas and lamps, one of the best things to do in this sleepy town would be looking at the shops.
Ras el mas waterfall
Nothing spectacular I wouldn’t say you have to visit Chefchaouen just to see the waterfall but whilst you are there and if you have time.
Sunset or sunrise
Like any beautiful city the sunsets and sunrises in Chefchaouen are going to be amazing on a clear night. The best spot would be high up at the Spanish monastery to get a good view over the city.
Take some selfies on the beautiful streets
The blue city in Morocco is a selfie lovers paradise. There are so many pictures on Instagram of girls in flowing dresses on the blue streets. I even got a few pictures of myself posing and it is not often I take picture of myself.
Some of the Best places to get your selfies in Morocco will be in Chefchaouen a few recommendations are below but basically any street you are going to walk down will be great.
El Asri street is the most popular and this is the street that made me want to visit Chefchaouen as I kept seeing it. Add pic of me this is the street we all had selfies on be warned though that most people are visiting this street so it might take you a while to get the perfect photo opportunity with no one else around.
Haouta Square the main square music was playing even though it was raining when I visited so not much was going on, but I can imagine it is a busier place to sit when the sun is shining as there were plenty of cafes with outside seating. There was also a beautiful water fountain with some lovely tiles.
There is even a street where you can pay for your perfect photo. It is a set and they will ensure no one else is photo bombing your snap so if you are impatient to wait for a gap in selfie takers on the other streets head here and pay 5dirham goggle this to see if true and anymore details as we were not told about it.
But I recommend just wandering around hopefully not getting too lost, but we went down some random streets and came across some pretty photos opportunities as every street is just so pretty.
There are lots of cats in Chefchaouen just like all other Moroccan cities. This is due to a number of factors such a neutering is not common. Locals will put out scraps for the cats and tourists also help feed them. A few members of my group tour bought bags of cat food and fed the cats whilst we were touring around Morocco. They got lots of thanks from local people and there are a few charities you can also donate to help the stray cats in Morocco.
Also not something I can say I had any part in or recommend but Marijuana / Hash is popular in Chefchaouen. It is still an illegal activity so be prepared if you are going to try it. Also known as Hashish, there are consequences if you get caught buying or using however it is easy to get hold of in Chefchaouen.
Other articles that may be of interest
Watch my guide video 2 Minutes in Chefchaouen
Have you been to Chefchaouen or are you now going to add it to your list of places to visit? Share with me your experiences.
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