Chefchaouen or Chaouen is the city in the north of Morocco commonly known as the Blue Pearl. Chefchaouen is a charming city in every way and different from the rest by its color and its energy. We’re going to tell you all our tips to organize a trip to this city, not only what to see and do in Chefchaouen but also how to get there, how to get around, where to stay and everything else you need to enjoy it!
Do you know why Chefchaouen is called the Blue Pearl? Because blue is the most characteristic color of this city. It has a medina made up of buildings painted blue. It is said that as it is a city of Jewish origin, its inhabitants painted it that color, since they related to it. But it is also said that it is to scare away mosquitoes. What is the real reason? Nobody really knows, so each visitor can believe the legend that they like best.
How to Get to Chefchaouen from Fez
Most travelers who come to Chefchaouen do so from Fez, the great city in the north of Morocco. These are the different means of transport to make this trip:
This is the most economical way to go from one city to another. The price of the trip is 75 MAD per person and 2.5 MAD approximately per suitcase. The trip lasts about 4 hours, which can be extended depending on the traffic. The company CTM is in charge of making this journey between cities and you can consult the timetables on its web page.
However, you cannot buy the tickets online, as you will need Moroccan credit card to make the transaction. So, to buy the tickets, you will have to go to the nearest bus station. We recommend you buy your tickets one day in advance, because if it is high season, you can risk running out of tickets. The buses are very comfortable and stop about every 20 minutes.
This is the most comfortable option, but not the cheapest. A private service is always more expensive, but more comfortable for the travelers. There are several agencies in Morocco that offer this service. You can hire both the return trip and just one way. The price of the trip is about 300 MAD per person one way. The duration of the trip is also about 4 hours.
We recommend you make the trip by bus, because it is much cheaper and just as comfortable, as long as you plan to stay overnight in Chefchaouen. However, if your intention is to do only a day trip, it’s best to go with a private transport service that takes you and brings you back the same day. Normally, you leave Fez at 8:00 am and arrive in Chefchaouen around 12:00 noon. The return trip is around 17:00 in the afternoon, arriving in Fez well into the night.
How to Get around Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is such a small and accessible city that getting around it is very easy. As almost all the points of interest are within the Medina or very close by, the best way to get from one place to another is on foot.
If you want to go somewhere far away from the center, like the bus station or a viewpoint to enjoy sunset, the best thing is to take a taxi. Before getting into the taxi, don’t forget to negotiate the price.
What to See and Do in Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is not a very big city, but it has a lot of charm because of its location and color, its Medina, streets, wall, and squares… That is why it is a must in almost all the itineraries that discover the north of Morocco. Here are the best things to see and do in Chefchaouen:
The Medina of Chefchaouen
The best thing to do in Chefchaouen is to get lost in its Medina. Forget about maps, GPS, locations… and get lost! Get away from the most touristy and well-known places to discover hidden corners full of charm.
Shopping in the Medina of Chefchaouen
And if there is one thing that Morocco has in all its cities, it is its shops: jewelry, carpets, spices, bags, leather goods… So, practice the art of haggling and take home hundreds of memories of this city.
Uta Al-Hamman Square
The center of life in the Medina is in this square. It is surrounded by cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and is filled with tourists and locals alike.
The Great Mosque
One of the most interesting features of this mosque is that it has the octagonal minaret, something not very common in Morocco. So, when you go, look at it and compare it with other mosques you can find in the country.
The Kasbah is a small fortification of sandy, brown and reddish tones that stands out among the rest of the blue buildings. You can visit its interior from Monday to Sunday from 09:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m. The price is 20 MAD.
This is a small square that we discovered getting lost in the Medina and the truth is that it was a spectacular discovery. We loved finding it! Its location, its views, its energy, its atmosphere, its central location …
The Gates of the Medina
It is also worth leaving the Medina of Chefchaouen to see the ancient gates that give access to it, which are still intact and surrounded by local life.
Wall of Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is full of history and so it is not surprising that it retains part of its ancient wall. You can see it at the top of the city, at the foot of the two great mountains. To access it, all you have to do is walk to the top of the Medina and head out. Seeing the view from the city from up there is priceless!
The Spanish Mosque
And speaking of views, another of the beautiful panoramic views you can get of the city is from the Spanish Mosque. This is a small white chapel that is also worth a visit for its architecture and for the view of Chefchaouen from there.
So when it’s time for the sunset, the best thing to do is to look for a high point or a terrace of one of the houses in the upper part of the Medina from where to enjoy the sky with orange, red, and pink.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
If you decide to stay in Chefchaouen and at least spend one night there, we recommend that you do so in one of their accommodations located in the Medina. There are small accommodations and beautiful riads at very good price.
We always stay in the small hotel Dar Zambra, located in the heart of the Medina of the Blue City in its highest part. Our experience there was perfect, so we recommend it. The price of the room for one night in a standard double room with private bathroom and breakfast included, was 38 MAD. The rooms are of ideal size, with a very comfortable bed and bathroom and have lots of natural light and panoramic views of the city.
In addition, the hotel has a beautiful rooftop where they serve super delicious breakfasts every morning and from where you can enjoy a spectacular sunset. So, if you are looking for a comfortable, medium-sized hotel, located in the center of the Medina, with beautiful views, good treatment, exquisite breakfast: this is your place!
Where to Eat in Chefchaouen
It’s time to spice up this post with some foodies’ recommendations. These are our recommendations for where to eat in Chefchaouen:
Lala Mesouda. A small restaurant located in the narrow streets of the Medina, which is, not surprisingly, considered one of the number 1 restaurants. You can eat homemade dishes like delicious lamb tajine with plums or chicken with olives.
Sofia Restaurant. A classic of the city. It promises relaxed atmosphere and menu full of Moroccan delicacies.
Aladdin. It is one of the favorites for all visitors to the city, especially for its beautiful views of the Medina. It has a very varied menu and it is also a very good option to have tea with a view.
Tips for Chefchaouen
- If you travel to Chefchaouen, be sure to visit neighboring Fez, another major city in northern Morocco.
- We recommend you save one night in your trip to Morocco to stay in Chefchaouen. Many people spend only a few hours in this city, but we recommend staying one night to enjoy it.
- If you want to make the trip from Chefchaouen to Fez by bus, or vice versa, remember to buy your tickets one day in advance, as it is a very popular route.
So, this is our mini guide to make the most of your trip to the Blue Pearl of Morocco that has everything you need to know to enjoy your time in the Rif Valley!
Guest post on behalf of Driss Benchemsi
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