The blue pearl of Morocco
Chefchaouen or Chaouen is one of the most romantic and most beautiful places in Morocco. The city is in the north of the country and is completely different from elsewhere in Morocco.
Due to its northern location, the weather in Chefchaouen is cooler in warmer times. This is because of the fact that the mountain village is hidden away high at five hundred meters and therefore touched by some cooling winds.
After a long ride you will finally arrive at this small village that is located between two mountains: Ech and Chaoua.
From up high you can already see the blue tones, but it’s only when you walk through the narrow streets of Chefchaouen’s medina that you get surrounded by hundreds of blue hues.
Medina of Chefchaouen
From the bus station, it’s a short taxi ride to Chaouen’s medina (= old town). As you climb through the gateway, you are immediately flooded by a whole range of blue tones. Heavenly blue, indigo, cobalt blue, royal blue, navy blue, denim blue, … It would be impossible to list them all!
Every now and then there is a real eye-catcher which is very blue, and that bright color is of course a favorite for many selfie-liking tourists.
Throughout the day and evening, the central square is the heart of this mountain village.
Dozens of restaurants and tea houses attract mostly Spanish-speaking tourists to their cozy terraces, from which it is nice to watch people.
It also occurred to me that most visitors seem to visit only a small part of the city.
From the main square they continue to run circles, but they miss the beautiful (and almost abandoned!) streets and roads that are located slightly higher.
It’ll be a weary climb, because Chefchaouen can be quite steep. But the beautiful views you get is more than worth it!
How do you get to Chefchaouen?
Chefchaouen is located quite far away from other things to do in Morocco. In order to get into this blue city you must thus have some patience…
Whether you choose public transport, taxi or you want to drive yourself (good luck!), The easiest way to arrange a daytrip or short visit to Chefchaouen is to start from Fez or Tangier.
Fez to Chefchaouen
The most safe, fastest and certain way to get to Chefchaouen is by arranging a day tour / multiple day tour.
Most day trips are offered from Tanger or Fez. Transport and a guide is included in these excursions. The advantage of a tour is that you’re certain that you’ll find transportation from/to Chefchaouen, because the busses are only limited and the taxi’s are often full or don’t want to travel too much of a distance.
- A day excursion in group from Fez to Chefchaouen starts at $55 / £41 / €46.
- A private day tour from Fez to Chefchaouen costs $84 / £62 / €70. (the more people, the cheaper it gets)
- Would you like an overnight stay? From Fez to Chefchaouen with 1 night costs $150 / £110 / €125.
From Fez to Chefchaouen is the longest route, but on the way you can also enjoy the most beautiful landscapes.
The CTM buses are very comfortable, but they take the longest time to get there. These comfortable tour buses depart from the Gare Routière in Fes and cost 90 dirham per person.
There are two departure times per day, but try to book in advance. As they sell out quite quickly.
Cheaper and equally comfortable are the other buses that are being operated by less popular companies like ‘Diamond Vert’. These buses run on other hours than the CTM buses, and only cost 50 dirham per person.
Keep in mind: These busses are known for driving quite dangerously, and often there are accidents with these busses. Personally I never felt scared, but it was only afterwards that I heard that these busses aren’t so safe… Now I do get why there were so few tourists on them!
If you prefer a faster, but much more expensive taxi then you should look for some fellow passengers.
With a little luck you can arrange a single ride for 800 to 1000 dirhams (€90 to €100 – $100 to $120 – £80 to £90).
In the taxi can be seated up to six passengers, but to keep it comfortable I would choose a maximum of four.
For twenty dollars / euros per person, you can drive from Chefchaouen to Fez in about four hours, or vice versa.
Tangier to Chefchaouen
Much shorter is to commute from Tangier to Chefchaouen.
- A day trip in group from Tangier to Chefchaouen starts at $80 / £59 / €67.
- A private day trip from Tangier to Chefchaouen starts at $43 / £32 / €36 (the more people, the cheaper it gets)
The CTM bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen costs 50 dirham. There are also two departures from Tangier.
Again, try to purchase your tickets in advance so that you are sure of a place to go to the blue city of Morocco.
With the comfortable buses, the ride takes just over three hours.
A taxi from Tangier to the blue pearl of Morocco can cost 100 to 150 dirham per person. The more passengers you find, the lower the final price will be.
At about two and a half hours you’ll be transported towards the blue town of Morocco.
Why is Chefchaouen blue?
Was it ever a village of smurfs? Has a blue paint factory exploded nearby? Or is there a more logical explanation?
Nobody really knows why blue in Chefchaouen has become so popular, but most people think that the typical blue hues come from Jewish refugees that fled to this city in the fifteenth century.
The color would be chosen because it made them think of heaven. Others think that they picked this specific color is a deterrent for mosquitoes. These annoying insects don’t seem to like blue so perhaps…
Things to do and see in Chefchaouen
In fact, Chefchaouen is already an attraction in itself!
The colored city center will certainly keep you busy for a few hours. But still, let me sum up some things you shouldn’t miss…
Plaza Uta el-Hammam
The central square in the blue city of Morocco is also the heart of this mountain village. At no time of the day it is boring or quiet.
Spanish and Arabic influences have spread widely all over this market. This is noticeable in the buildings, but also in the very varied cuisine that the restaurants offer.
The Plaza Uta el-Hammam is perfect for relaxing or people-watching.
The big mosque
On the corner of Plaza Uta el-Hammam you’ll also notice the big mosque. A beautiful building with a high minaret that calls for prayer five times a day.
Of course, as a non-Muslim, you can’t enter, but nobody stops you from peeking through the door to look at the rituals of the faithful muslims.
The Akchour waterfalls
The Cascades d’Akchour are not in Chefchaouen, but they are too close to miss!
By taxi it takes a little over half an hour before you are dropped into this paradise setting. Before you know, you’ll hear Akchour’s waterfalls thundering down. With water that is almost as blue as the walls of Chouen, you can easily spend a few hours here. Swim in the rocky pools to cool down a bit before returning to the blue pearl of Morocco.
The Kasbah of Chefchaouen
Next to the Plaza Uta el Hammam, the sandy walls of the Kasbah tower high above the city.
Access to this small area costs 10 or 20 dirhams (weekdays – weekend).
In the middle of the Kasbah you’ll find an impressive garden. An oasis of peace! Certainly compared to the Uta el-Hammam square a few meters further down.
In the building itself you’ll find prisons and a small museum. But the most beautiful part of this landmark in Chefchaouen is the beautiful view from the top floor. Don’t miss out on this!
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.