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 also where I realised I needed a proper list of what to pack for Morocco.
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!
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 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.
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 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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
Chefchaouen has some charming shops in the medina and is famous for its leatherwork. Whilst 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!
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…
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!
And for more inspiration on Morocco, check out 20 things you need to know before travelling to Morocco.
Things to do in Tangier
Morocco Shopping Guide
Have you visited Chefchaouen? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!
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32 thoughts on “Visit the Blue Streets of Chefchaouen in Morocco”
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
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!
For sure! So sweet that your father sparked your dream to go there 🙂 Great tip to find my feet in Chefchaouen first thanks!
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!
Those cats are adorable! I feel like I could scroll through posts of just the cats in Chefchaouen haha!
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…
Wow!!!!! This wants me to go the Morocco immediately. This looks absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for this post.
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!
Thank you for this awesome post! I am planning to visit this blue pearl this summer, cannot wait!
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!
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 😀
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!
I have never even heard of Chefchaeoun nor have I seen pictures. It seems like a town right up my alley with the hiking and especially the blue walls! I would love that!
Hi Kelly, I didn’t do any hiking in Chefchaouen but I would love to do that on my next trip!
Clearly I’ve been living under a social media rock – how did I not know about this blue wonderland!? I can see why it’s named the Blue Pearl. I’m dying to check it out myself now. It looks kind of magical…
Ha ha, I had the same reaction when I discovered Chefchaouen on social media. Which is weird considering I’ve been going to Morocco for so long! It is beautiful and the people are lovely!
The Blue Pearl certainly seems very photogenic. It’s definitely on my bucket list. Does the blue actually keep mosquitos away, I wonder?
Hi Tania, I wasn’t sure about the colour blue keeping mosquitoes away, especially since Chefchaouen is at a certain altitude in the Rif Mountains, but someone just confirmed it for me. Apparently, blue paint is also used in the US Southern states to ward off mosquitoes so there must be some truth to it!
Your photos are beautiful! I didn’t know that the blue color started out as marking the Jewish neighborhood. The mosquito thing is a legitimate reason too – here in the southern US, people paint the ceilings of their porches blue to detract mosquitoes!
Hi Maggie, I really wasn’t sure about the colour blue warding off mosquitoes, especially since Chefchaouen is in the mountains and I didn’t get the impression there were mosquitoes there. But there you have it, it must be true!
This is the one place in Morocco I really wanted to visit but we just didn’t have time. It will definitely be included in our next trip as will the coast. A pity you can’t stay on The Kasbah – that would be right up our alley! ( literally haha)
Hi Sandra, the Kasbah has been renovated but it’s pretty bare inside… But there are many lovely riads in Chefchaouen, with rooftops where you can enjoy a mint tea while watching the night fall, lovely experience!
We were in Morocco for the first time this year. It was just great and we are already planning further trips to the country. I think Chefchauen necessarily belongs to our plan. It just looks too nice. Where did you sleep? Riad or bigger hotel?
Hi Susanne, Chefchaouen is really charming. It’s only small so only a couple of days are required, unless you want to do some hiking in the area. There are many small riads in Chefchaouen but I found the accommodation a bit expensive. It was a busy time so we didn’t have much of a choice. We stayed at a couple of riads but they were a bit average. There is a larger hotel just outside the walls, a Spanish parador.
Ok I am sold to visit Chefchaouen! Your photos are so gorgeous, the photographer in me is jumping with happiness with the cute streets and buildings and the colour blue. I can’t wait to visit here.
Thank you Keiki, Chefchaouen is very photogenic, that’s true. Taking good photos can be a little tricky though as the blue is everywhere and that can look a little too dark…
I see Chefchaouen featured on Instagram all the time. It looks so pretty. I love that you give some suggestions on where to visit besides just the blue streets.
Hi Astrid, Chefchaouen is very well known for its blue walls but there are other things to see, it’s a very beautiful region of Morocco. I went to Morocco many times in the past and I didn’t know about Chefchaouen, I also saw it on Instagram!
I love the colorful houses, streets and the Blue Streets of Chefchaouen are on my wishlist. There would be thousands of shots in my camera. Those cats on blue walls look very cute.
Thanks Yukti, there are lots of cats in Morocco, as people love them and fed even the strays.
I would love to spend a weekend in Chefchaouen in one of the hotels that I will prebook as highly advised by you. I would like to enjoy the beautiful roads and the lovely cats and of course the yummy food. This is surely going to my bucket list in Morocco.
Hi Shreya, hotels in Chefchaouen can be expensive but there are some very nice riads. I will add some recommendations next time I go.