Visit the Blue Streets of Chefchaouen in Morocco

Visit the Blue Streets of Chefchaouen in Morocco

If you are on social media in any way, you can’t possibly have missed it! Chefchaouen is the Blue Pearl, Morocco… A unique mountain-side town, perched beneath the Rif Mountains in the North of Morocco, Chefchaouen is famous for its gorgeous blue washed walls. It is fair to say that the blue streets of Chefchaouen are a true social media star and I was adamant on visiting it on my last trip to Morocco. It’s touristy but also an absolute delight.

Chefchaouen is a relaxed and charming place to spend a few days, shopping and experiencing local life. The blue walls are incredibly attractive and it’s no wonder why Chefchaouen is the most photogenic town in Morocco. Taking some good photos is definitely an excellent reason to visit Morocco!

Cats sleeping in the blue streets of Chefchaouen

The Blue Pearl

Formerly known as “Chaouen”, this hillside town was founded around 1471 and grew further after the Spanish Reconquista. Indeed, an influx of Muslim and Jewish populations coming from Spain increased the size of the town in the 15th Century. In a region formerly under Spanish influence, Chefchaouen was created as a base to fight European invasion and wasn’t welcoming of Christians. The Spanish influence is still there, some houses are adorned with small balconies and red tiled roofs. There are various stories about the blue colour covering the streets…

The “mellah” or Jewish neighbourhood was created in 1760 and the walls are usually painted blue. Blue is the colour of divinity in Judaism but some locals will say that the colour was applied to the whole town as a way to keep mosquitoes away… The reason behind the blue streets of Chefchaouen will have to remain unclear…

The dreamy blue streets of Chefchaouen

Photo Thierry Mignon

The Medina

The old medina is a lively and steep part of town, all painted blue. Chefchaouen is a mix of Moroccan and Andalucian influence, and this part of town feels totally unique. The North of Morocco was under Spanish influence for hundreds of years, and there are still some disputed enclaves to this day. The blue gives a sense of peace and I recommend walking the blue streets of Chefchaouen early in the morning for some uninterrupted photos.

Early in the morning, the blue streets of Chefchaouen are pretty quiet

Photo Thierry Mignon

As the town wakes up and the shops open, Chefchaouen is a lovely place to experience local Moroccan life. As a country town, Chefchaouen is well preserved, the population is active and people go about their lives. Aside from the mesmerising blue hues, Chefchaouen is full of colours…

The blue streets of Chefchaouen are full of real life and children

Photo Thierry Mignon

The Kasbah

The kasbah is a beautifully restored walled fortress. Inside the walls, you can wander around the lovely gardens and admire the views over the valley from the tower. There is also an ethnographic museum and a small art gallery. I recommend the series of photographs showing Chefchaouen in the old days.

Close to the blue streets of Chefchaouen, the Kasbah towers over the local square

The kasbah is off the Uta El Hammam plaza, where you can enjoy a meal and indulge in some people-watching…

Ras El Maa Waterfall

The Ras El Maa waterfall is just outside of the blue streets of Chefchaouen and is a lovely place to enjoy an orange juice after a good walk. The place used to make for lovely local photography, with women washing their laundry in the river. This scene has now been replaced by plastic chairs to accommodate the tourists but we still enjoyed a cool drink in the shade of olive trees…

Aside from the blue streets of Chefchaouen, you can visit the Ras El Maa waterfall

Where to Stay

There are many hotels in Chefchaouen but I strongly recommend booking ahead, as it gets busy. I also found the hotels to be more expensive than in other places such as Tetouan or Tangier. However, the Chefchaouen vibe is so relaxed that I recommend finding a nice riad with a roof terrace in order to enjoy the dimming light over the mountains…

The blue streets of Chefchaouen are full of charming hotels

Where to Eat

Chefchaouen has a good range of restaurants to enjoy tasty local meals. The menu isn’t usually very varied and I recommend keeping to local choices to get a quality meal. We enjoyed a relaxed breakfast on at “Chez Mounir” on Uta El Hammam every morning, which was lovely.

Once you are done with the blue streets of Chefchaouen, you can watch the sun set on the Uta El Hamman square

We also tried Cafe Aladdin, where the food is good and the views are beautiful. This place is ideal to enjoy a mint tea and watch the sunset over the valley.

Hiking

Chefchaouen is a great base if you are intent on doing some hiking in the area. The Talassemtane National Park has many options for treks of various lengths and difficulty. We didn’t do any hiking while in Morocco but there are some fantastic road trips in the area. Hashish is cultivated everywhere in the Rif Mountains and we had a few people in cars indicating they could procure some to us, but nothing too aggressive though. I also heard of people being offered “a smoke” in the blue streets of Chefchaouen but that didn’t happen to us.

You can see the blue streets of Chefchaouen from the Kasbah tower

Shopping

Chefchaouen has some charming shops in the medina and is famous for its leatherwork. Whilst the shopping is not as spectacular as it is in Marrakech, it’s also more relaxed. You still need to do some haggling and you can find some interesting things to add to your shopping experience. I recommend visiting La Botica de la Abuela Aladdin, a unique handmade soap store, quite a unique experience!

The blue streets of Chefchaouen have some nice shops

How to Get There

There is no railway getting to Chefchaouen. To get there on public transport, you need to get a bus from Tetouan and a Grand Taxi. Driving around Morocco is a great way to see the country and is not as difficult as it seems. Besides, there are some really beautiful roads. We parked near the Parador Hotel just outside the medina for use 20Dhs a night. Also, we got someone to help us with our luggage for 20Dhs.

We spend three nights in Chefchaouen, which was great and allowed us to take a road trip in the Rif Mountains and all the way to the Mediterranean Coast to view the Controversial Spanish Islands, but if you only want to see the Blue Pearl, two nights in enough. Chefchaouen is so picturesque and charming that it’s certain to be a highlight of your trip to Morocco and I recommend not to miss it.

Always the Cats

As always, I look out for cats… The blue streets of Chefchaouen have plenty of them and they make a very good photographic subject. It’s almost as if the blue soothes them to sleep…

The cats are my favourite dwellers in the blue streets of Chefchaouen

Surely you get why Chefchaouen is the most photogenic town in Morocco now? I hope it’s going to be on your bucket list now!

For more Morocco city guides, check out my post on Tangier.

And for more inspiration on Morocco, check out my Pinterest board and 20 things you need to know before travelling to Morocco.

Have you visited Chefchaouen? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

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12 Comments

  1. Michelle du Toit

    March 10, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Wow I’m already DYING to go to Morocco but your blog post made my heart jump!! I’ve seen pics of this place on posters and dreamy travel adverts but didn’t realise it was in Morocco – just blown away – your photos are ah-mazing. Being that it is a 7 hour drive from Marrakesh, it’s going to be hard to choose which one to see first – Marrakesh or Chefchaoen…mmmm

    1. Delphine

      March 10, 2018 at 9:41 pm

      Hi Michelle, Chefchaouen is hard to resist, isn’t it? I “discovered” it when my father kept posting photos on Facebook and it made me very jealous! So I had to go there and I wasn’t disappointed! If you are hesitating between Marrakech or Chefchaouen as a first stop, it really depends on your getaway into Morocco. If you have the choice, I would go for Chefchaouen first, it’s smaller and more relaxed than Marrakech. It’s the ideal place to find your feet in Morocco… Keep dreaming and that amazing journey to Morocco will happen!

      1. Michelle du Toit

        March 11, 2018 at 12:42 pm

        For sure! So sweet that your father sparked your dream to go there 🙂 Great tip to find my feet in Chefchaouen first thanks!

        1. Delphine

          March 11, 2018 at 1:49 pm

          Michelle, I had to follow my Dad’s road tripping through the North of Morocco on Facebook so I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to go there too!

  2. countdowntofridayblog

    March 10, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Those cats are adorable! I feel like I could scroll through posts of just the cats in Chefchaouen haha!

    1. Delphine

      March 10, 2018 at 9:45 pm

      Ah, you caught me in my secret activity in Morocco… I kept taking photos of cats. It sounds silly but they are everywhere and they really own the place. You find them everywhere…on the street, in doorways, sleeping in market stalls… it’s really very cute. They’re not always healthy and I guess they die quite young but people love them in Morocco and feed them quite regularly… I think I’ll have to write a post about the cats of Morocco and get my best photos together…

  3. ushasita

    March 10, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Wow!!!!! This wants me to go the Morocco immediately. This looks absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for this post.

    1. Delphine

      March 11, 2018 at 8:05 am

      Hi Usha, Chefchaouen is a gorgeous place and the surrounding mountains make it very special. Hopefully, you get a chance to visit this beautiful country!

  4. Ticket to Adventures

    March 11, 2018 at 1:13 am

    Thank you for this awesome post! I am planning to visit this blue pearl this summer, cannot wait!

    1. Delphine

      March 11, 2018 at 8:03 am

      Hi there, I’m so pleased my post was useful and inspired you even more! You will have a lovely time in Chefchaouen, it’s such a relaxed place… And it’s not very big so you don’t need more than a couple of days… I have more posts on Morocco, I hope you enjoy them!

  5. Michelle du Toit

    March 11, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    OMG your blog post has given me some SERIOUS wanderlust – even looked up the prices for flights from Brisbane to Morocco – got some good advice from my piers that flying to Spain or London first is much cheaper than flying direct thank goodness as the initial prices I saw made it seem impossible that I might see this amazing place! Can’t wait, your photos sparked the planning stages for my own Morocco trip 😀

    1. Delphine

      March 11, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Michelle, I’m very pleased that my post inspired you! Morocco is such an interesting and beautiful country! I usually fly to Europe first and get a cheap flight from there. We flew into Tangier from Paris and out of Marrakech after 3 weeks touring. It was very straightforward. I did fly once from Sydney to Casablanca via Dubai, and it was a much smaller aircraft to Morocco… The route to London is better and it’s easy to get a low-cost flight. I hope you enjoy my other posts on Morocco, I have a lot more writing to do!

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