The one place I wanted to go to more than anywhere else in Morocco was Chefchaouen, or “The Blue Pearl.” After not being able to purchase a bus ticket online, I almost missed out on going here by the time I was able to buy it in person (two seats were left!).
Chefchaouen isn’t a place that you should have an itinerary for. You need to spend several days and just wander around. While the Medina can be confusing at first, it’s quite small compared to places like Marrakech. I also found that more people were willing to point you the correct way if you did get lost (although not everyone would do it for free).
How to Get to Chefchaouen
This was the most confusing part when I researched it. This magical city isn’t easily accessible, as it’s up north in the Rif Mountains. There are several ways to get here.
Bus – This is the most practical and affordable solution. You can book your tickets online at CTM, but note that if you haven’t bought them within 72 hours of your trip, you’ll need to buy them in person.
Here’s how long it will take from these major cities.
Casablanca – 6.5 hours
Tangier – 45-minute taxi to Tetouan and then 1-hour bus ride
Fes – 4 hours
Train – There is no train that goes here. However, you can save time and money by taking an overnight train from Marrakech to Tangier. From there you can take the bus or get a taxi.
Taxi – This is probably the most expensive option, but if you can find people to split a cab with it’s possible to take a grand taxi to Chefchaouen.
Fly – The two closest airports are Tangier and Fes, which you can then take the bus or taxi from.
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Where to Stay
There are many hostels and hotels in Chefchaouen to stay at both in the Medina and outside of it. If you’re planning a 10 day Morocco itinerary, I would suggest at least two of those days are in this city.
For a unique experience, I recommend looking on Air BnB for lodging. I stayed in a five-story house in the middle of the Medina and had it to myself. I felt like a local every morning as I walked around in the middle of everyone setting up their shops for the day. I also had my own rooftop to start the morning each day.
Where to Eat
There are plenty of places to eat in Chefchaouen, but I recommend staying away from the pizza and Chinese restaurants. Try the local Moroccan food instead! Here were some of my favorite places. Sindibad – For an inexpensive breakfast with a view, go to Sindibad. It has a cozy outdoor seating area and a great view of the city.
Mounir – Another good place for a cheap breakfast, try the Moroccan pancakes with mint tea.
Beldi Bab Ssour – Tucked in a small corner, this is the place where locals come to get lunch (which means you know it’s good). They also have an extensive menu to choose from if you’re getting sick of the same food.
Casa Aladdin – This restaurant is a bit more expensive, but it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset from. Get a seat on the terrace and people watch from above. I loved the Moroccan soup and vegetarian tagine.
What to Do
As I said before, don’t stick to a strict schedule when you’re visiting Chefchaouen. It’s fun to get lost in the blue streets and see what you’ll discover.
Buy Handmade Products
An advantage a small town like Chefchaouen has is many of the locals actually make the products. In bigger towns, you might find that multiple stores have the same products, meaning they’re probably cheap knockoffs from China. You can also talk to the merchants here to find out more about their goods.
Hike to the Spanish Mosque
The best way to start your morning is going on a hike up to the mountains. You can watch the sun rise over all of Chefchaouen from here.
One of my favorite parts of Morocco was all the spices they have and how they’re displayed. Talk to the store owner to see what they all are and sample some before you buy them.
Once a day I’d pop into a restaurant, order coffee, and sit on the terrace. Chefchaouen is the perfect place to unwind, and I found I didn’t even want to get on their wi-fi.
Visit the Kasbah
Located in the middle of town, this old fortress is now a beautiful garden. For about 50 dirhams you can go inside to explore it.
Take Plenty of Pictures
I’m not a “door person,” but I fell in love with all the doors in Chefchaouen. I kept stopping every few minutes to take pictures of all the beautiful doors in the town.
This is the famous “Instagram street” and is located in the north part of the Medina. Every time I passed this, there were at least half a dozen people waiting to take their picture on it.
As is common in all of Morocco, there are cats everywhere! They looked even more picture-worthy against the blue background of Chefchaouen.
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