Chefchaouen, also known as Morocco’s “blue city,” was a colorful place, to say the least. Upon my arrival in Chefchaouen, I was instinctively reminded of Santorini, Greece because of the familiar blue paint adorning a vast number of the cities residences. Chefchaouen, unlike Santorini, is surrounded by a sea of mountains rather than the Mediterranean and is a small global village of inhabitants speaking English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and more. The people I was lucky enough to meet while in Chefchaouen reawakened my view of the world.
How to Get to Chefchaouen
#1 Most asked question by everyone!
From Fes or Tangier an easy bus transfer is available, but keep in mind not all bus companies are created equal. Supratours and CTA are the most favorable. CTA is the more traveler friendly and you can book online. With Supratours online may not always be reliable make sure to check with the bus stations when you and purchase your tickets.
We ran into some issues when trying to get tickets last minute - always book in advance!
Drivers are the more expensive but by far the easiest way to get from A to B.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
In Chefchaouen we stayed in a charming Airbnb in the medina. Our Airbnb was adorned with all the charms would expect in a Moroccan home: beautiful tiles, colored windows, bright couches, and even a rooftop with a captivating view of the whole city and the mountains beyond. Our Airbnb host was phenomenal giving us fantastic recommendations and even helping us organize a driver from Chefchaouen to Essaouira (which is a daunting, but beautiful 10-hour drive across the country).
I am truly blessed for the chance to meet such a lovely collection of people while in Chefchaouen from staying in an Airbnb, and I do feel like I gained a more authentic experience from this stay. However, were I to go back I would stay in a more comfortable riad, hopefully, less touched by the aroma of medina cats.
From this trip, I come away with not only a love of a new culture but also a constant daydream of sitting next to the riad pool in Marrakesh. While I did not stay at Lina Ryad and Spa this time in Chefchaouen, it will be the first thing I book for my next to Morocco! Lina Ryad and Spa has every amenity one could wish for in an oasis to escape the lively streets of Chefchauoen.
What to see in Chefchaouen
One of the most fascinating parts of Moroccan culture in my eyes are the medinas. Medinas are old walled-in cities usually with dirt or stone streets that are lined with vendor stalls for any type of good to turn the senses. With so many spices, dye weaves, and linens to catch your eye it is easy to lose half your day wandering a Medina. Specifically, in Chefchaouen, I would recommend bringing your camera. There are many prime photo ops including the famous staircase lined with colorful pots within the spiraling streets the Chefchaouen’s old town.
While in the Medina it is always a good idea to keep a close eye on your belongings and be ready to dive out of the way for a motor vehicle at a moments notice as the small streets likely will not accommodate the both of you.
A tranquil oasis in a bustling medina? Music to my ears! My absolute favorite part of Morocco is that in the very heart of the lively cities you can enter a nondescript door and find a quiet tropical paradise. The Andalusian Gardens coupled with the Kasbah Museum can, in the words of Professor Snape, “bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses.” I assure you a visit here is well worth your while!
Chefchaouen is surrounded by a natural fortress of mountains which are also home to one of the best hiking trails in Africa. This is likely a venture for if you are in the area for several days as the most popular trek is a cool 2 days. For a scenic journey that is less strenuous, the Cascades d’Akchour are natural waterfalls about 30 minutes outside the city which visitors can swim in.
What to Eat in Chefchaouen
Beldi Bab Ssour is cloaked by a modest exterior that may deter some tourists, but its food is far from average. Tajine is a classic Moroccan dish which Beldi Bab Ssour has turned into an art. While lounging on the couches at this hole in the wall I dined on a lamb tajine the likes of which my taste buds may never match.
Assaada is centrally located near the medina gate and rest assured is larger than it appears.
Personally, I always take the server’s recommendation and the lemon chicken tajine surpassed expectations. Bonus points for Assaada? They also serve breakfast!
I would say I roam the world searching for coffee, but I would be lying to you. Truth be told, sometimes you just need a good cup of coffee and a mehalabiya (classic Moroccan dessert, obviously...) after a long travel day, and thankfully this is the prime place to find both of those things.
Overall, places in Morocco serve food slowly, it is simply the culture. Plan ahead and don’t wait until you are starving to go eat.
Where to shop in Chefchaouen
How does the phrase go - Treat yo self? As Moroccan currency is far weaker than the American Dollar, EU Euro or UK Pound it is very easy to splurge without the guilt in Morocco, and thereby I encourage you to enjoy the finer things in life. (If you need further justification just think how you are helping the local economy.)
My absolute favorite place in this enchanting town is La Botica la Abuela Aladdin. I spent at least an hour in this small boutique studying every soap, salt, spice and oil to decide which treasures would get what was left of the coveted space in my suitcase.
As always, thanks for reading!