Thanks to Instagram and other social media platforms, the “Blue Pearl” of Morocco, Chefchaouen, has become a popular destination within the country among young travelers. It’s striking- a glow of blue buildings in a cluster against the rugged backdrop of the Rif mountains is hard to not be impressed by. The air is cooler, and the atmosphere is much more relaxed. If you’re spending time in Morocco by way of Tangier or Fez, I’d highly recommend at least a one-night stop in this enchanting city. I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice.
From Tangier, it’s about a 2-hour bus ride, provided everything goes smoothly. CTM buses are fairly reliable and will get you to a station right outside the medina. Everything in Chefchaouen is within a walkable distance, just be prepared to walk uphill. From Fez, it’s a 4-hour bus that (I believe, as of 2017) leaves just once per day.
Accommodation – Dar Dadicilef
I stayed here both times I was in Chefchaouen. The manager, Abdul, is incredibly helpful and kind. He’ll make you a great breakfast to enjoy on the terrace, or the classic Moroccan mint tea when you need an afternoon pick-me-up.
Sunset at the Spanish Mosque
A short hike outside the medina is a small, white-washed mosque atop a hill that provides a sensational view of the blue medina below. When the sun goes down, an orangey-pink glow illuminates the mountains surrounding the city. It’s a fantastic thing to experience while staying in Chefchaouen.
There aren’t tons of restaurants to choose from in Chefchaouen, but I had a pleasant dining experience at every one I’ve tried. While here, eat Moroccan food. Don’t be picky and try to seek out touristic alternatives. They do their own cuisine so well, and despite being a very touristy city, it’s relatively inexpensive for a generous meal.
Casa Aladin – Check the Rooftop!
The food here was great but more remarkable is the view! The rooftop provides awesome views of the Rif mountains and the little blue houses clustered all around.
Restaurant Populaire Bab Ssour
This is a hole-in-the-wall spot that is not to be missed! Fantastic food in tight quarters, for very cheap. Tagines come sizzling, mint tea is plentiful and served in massive pots, and the owners are friendly.
Walk in the Rif Mountains
For people staying a bit longer in Chefchaouen who want to do more than just shop, I’d highly recommend venturing out and going hiking in the natural scenery around the medina. It’s a safe area to go for a day hike in, just be sure to pack some snacks and water, as the Moroccan sun can be quite punishing, even in the cooler bit of the mountains.
Helpful To Know
There is a strong Spanish influence in Chefchaouen, more so than other parts of Morocco, so knowing some Spanish phrases can be quite useful.
Be wary of hustlers who will try to sell you hash or marijuana the second you step off the bus or out of the taxi. It’s very commonly used here, but travelers need to be careful as to not be reported to authorities. I would not recommend visiting Chefchaouen for this reason.
It’s common that people will try to give you directions and lead you to your accommodation in exchange for a small sum of money. Be careful around these people as well. Even if you ignore them and find your own way, it’s not unusual that they’ll still ask for money or try to sell you hash. Just be firm and confident and typically they will leave you alone. People in Chefchaouen aren’t very aggressive, but they will try to make money off tourists when they can.