Nestled among the Rif Mountains in northern Morocco, Chefchaouen, also known as 'The Blue Pearl,' may easily be one of Africa's best kept secrets. Cloaked in varying shades of blue, this city is a charming retreat from the hustle and bustle of bigger Moroccan cities. Legend has it that the city was painted blue to ward off mosquitos, but the jury's still out on that one. Regardless of the reason, it's pretty spectacular, and definitely worth adding to the bucket list.
If you ask anyone why they'd want to visit Chefchaouen, their answer might be obvious (all blue errrrthing), but there's so much more to this charming city than its hues. This Moroccan gem started as a kasbah, or a city within a city, enclosed by a defensive wall. Centuries later, it still feels like a world of its own, filled with everything from colorful souks to friendly locals.
Chefchaouen has the artsy, boho feel of other Moroccan cities, but is much more laid back in comparison. It's the perfect place to relax for a day or a weekend... strolling through Old Town, visiting the waterfalls of the Rif Mountains, and soaking in the rich culture.
what to do in chefchaouen
Morocco is full of beautiful medinas, and Chefchaouen is no exception. Getting lost in the winding alleyways is the best way to stumble across all kinds of treasures... from colorful handmade rugs to the freshest of spices. Compared to other cities, Chefchaouen's medina is much less crowded and overwhelming, which makes it easy to spend the afternoon exploring.
It wouldn't be an authentic experience without trying the traditional cuisine... and in Morocco that means lot of tagine, couscous, and of course, mint tea.
Tagines are meats slow-cooked in clay pots - generally made with lamb, chicken and preserved lemon, or vegetables. The restaurants in Chefchaouen serve up some of the most authentic cuisine in Morocco, for a fraction of the price of bigger cities.
Aside from exploring the medina and eating all the things, you can check out everything the Rif Mountains have to offer, or relax in a traditional Hammam, or Moroccan bath. Last but not least, stroll through old town for some of the best photo opps maybe ever.
where to stay
When it comes to lodging, skip the hotel, and stay in one of Morocco's traditional riads. These small-scale inns resemble a bed & breakfast, and usually offer a traditional Moroccan meal with your stay. But more than anything, they're oozing with bohemian charm, and it's a unique experience you won't find anywhere else.
We stayed at the Riad Rifandalus, which was right in the center of everything. Plus the view from the rooftop? 💯
how to get to chefchaouen
Getting to Chefchaouen from Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Tetouan, or Fes is relatively easy on the CTM bus. These cities make it easy to plan a day trip, since they're all within a few hours of the Blue City. Coming from Merrakech is a bit further, so we decided to rent a car and stop overnight in Rabat and Casablanca on the way. While it was relatively easy, I wouldn't exactly recommend it... but that's a story for another day 😉
Would you visit Chefchaouen? Let me know in the comments!