Best Things to Do in Chefchaouen: A Complete Guide To Morocco’s Blue City
If you’re looking for some amazing things to do in Chefchaouen, you’re in for a treat. Chefchaouen is a charming town in northern Morocco that is famous for its blue-washed buildings. The color was introduced by Jewish refugees who settled here in the 1930s and wanted to create a reminder of the sky and heaven. Today, the blue city attracts visitors from all over the world who want to explore its medina, its history, and its surrounding nature.
But Chefchaouen is more than just a pretty picture. It’s also a place where you can experience the rich and diverse culture of Morocco, enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the locals, and indulge in the delicious and authentic cuisine of the region. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or inspiration, Chefchaouen has something for everyone.
In this article, we’ll show you the best things to do in Chefchaouen, from watching the sunrise over the Rif mountains to visiting the stunning Cascades d’Akchour. We’ll also give you some tips on how to plan your trip, where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to book your flight to Morocco’s blue city and experience its magic for yourself.
Chefchaouen History and the Blue City
Chefchaouen’s history and its blue city are fascinating to know more about. Chefchaouen has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 15th century. It also has a unique and captivating blue city that attracts visitors from all over the world.
The Founding of Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen was founded in 1471 by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad. He built a fortress on a hill overlooking the valley of Oued Laou as a base for his army against the Portuguese invaders. He also invited Moorish and Jewish refugees who fled from Spain after the Reconquista to settle in his town.
Later, Chefchaouen became a holy city for Muslims and Jews who lived peacefully together for centuries. It also became a center of trade and culture for the region. It was well-known for its leather goods, wool products, pottery, jewelry, and hashish.
The Isolation and Independence of Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen was isolated from the rest of Morocco until the 20th century when Spain occupied it from 1920 to 1956. During this period, Chefchaouen was influenced by Spanish culture and architecture. Additionally, it witnessed some resistance movements against colonial rule.
In 1956, Chefchaouen regained its independence along with Morocco. Since then, it has developed into a popular tourist destination that preserves its heritage and identity.
Chefchaouen and the Blue City
One of the most distinctive features of Chefchaouen is its blue city. In fact, the blue city is the old part of town where most of the buildings are painted in shades of blue. The blue color was introduced by Jewish refugees who settled here in the 1930s and wanted to create a reminder of the sky and heaven.
The blue color also has other meanings and benefits. It symbolizes peace, harmony, spirituality, and wisdom. It also reflects light, repels insects, keeps cool, and purifies water.
The blue city creates a unique aesthetic and ambiance that captivates visitors from all over the world. Furthermore, it offers a glimpse into Chefchaouen’s history and culture through its architecture, design, crafts, and people.
One of the things to consider when planning your trip to Chefchaouen is the weather. The weather in Chefchaouen varies greatly throughout the year and depends on the season and the altitude. Chefchaouen has a warm and temperate climate with four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
- Spring (March to May) is a pleasant time to visit Chefchaouen as the weather is mild and sunny with occasional showers. The average temperature ranges from 13°C (55°F) in March to 18°C (64°F) in May. The flowers are blooming and the mountains are green and lush.
- Summer (June to August) is the hottest and driest time of the year in Chefchaouen. The average temperature ranges from 21°C (70°F) in June to 25°C (77°F) in August. However, it can sometimes get very hot with temperatures reaching 40°C (104°F). The blue city can be crowded with tourists and locals seeking refuge from the heat.
- Autumn (September to November) is another pleasant time to visit Chefchaouen as the weather is cool and sunny with occasional rain. The average temperature ranges from 22°C (72°F) in September to 16°C (61°F) in November. The leaves are changing color and the mountains are still green and beautiful.
- Winter (December to February) is the coldest and wettest time of the year in Chefchaouen. The average temperature ranges from 14°C (57°F) in December to 12°C (54°F) in February. However, it can sometimes get very cold with temperatures dropping below zero at night. The rain can be heavy and frequent and the mountains can be covered with snow.
Best Time to Visit Chefchaouen
Actually, the best time to visit Chefchaouen depends on your preferences and activities. If you want to enjoy the warm and sunny weather, you might want to visit Chefchaouen in spring or autumn. Whereas, if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the low prices, you might want to visit Chefchaouen in winter. On the other hand, if you want to experience the heat and the blue city at its peak, you might want to visit Chefchaouen in the summer.
Whatever time of the year you choose to visit Chefchaouen, make sure to pack accordingly and check the weather forecast before you go.
Going to Chefchaouen from Other Nearby Cities
One of the things to plan when visiting the ‘Blue City’ is how to get to Chefchaouen from other nearby cities. Chefchaouen is located in northern Morocco and is accessible by bus, car, or taxi from several major cities, such as Marrakesh, Tangier, Tetouan, Fez, Rabat, and Casablanca.
Moving around Chefchaouen
One of the things to know when visiting Chefchaouen is how to move around the city. Chefchaouen is a small city that can be easily explored on foot. However, there are also other ways to move around the city depending on your needs and preferences.
Walking is the best way to enjoy the blue city and discover its hidden gems. You can wander around the medina and admire its architecture, design, crafts, and people. You can also hike up to some of the viewpoints that offer panoramic views of the town and the mountains.
However, walking in Chefchaouen can also be challenging as the streets are steep, narrow, and uneven. You might need to wear comfortable shoes and carry a map or a GPS device to avoid getting lost. Also, you might need to be careful of the traffic, especially the motorcycles and taxis that zoom by.
Taxi is another way to move around Chefchaouen, especially if you want to go to places outside the medina or if you have luggage or mobility issues. There are two types of taxis in Chefchaouen: petit taxis and grand taxis.
- Petit taxis are small cars that can carry up to three passengers. They are usually blue and have a meter that shows the fare. They can take you anywhere within the city limits for a fixed price of 10 dirhams (about $1). You can hail them on the street or call them by phone.
- Grand taxis are larger cars that can carry up to six passengers. They are usually white and have a sign that shows their destination. You can go to places outside the city limits for a negotiated price by those taxis. There are taxi stations near Plaza Uta El Hamman or at the bus station.
The bus is another way to move around Chefchaouen, especially if you want to go to places outside the city limits for a cheap price. There are local buses that connect Chefchaouen with nearby towns and villages, such as Akchour, Oued Laou, Bab Taza, and Talassemtane National Park. You can find them at the bus station near Plaza Uta El Hamman or at the main road outside the medina.
The bus fare depends on the distance and ranges from 5 dirhams (about $0.5) to 20 dirhams (about $2). The buses are usually old and crowded and do not have a fixed schedule. You might need to ask around for the departure time and location.
Top 10 Things to Do in Chefchaouen
1. Watch the Sunrise over the Rif Mountains
One of the most magical experiences in Chefchaouen is watching the sunrise over the Rif mountains. The sky turns from dark to light, revealing the stunning landscape of green hills and blue buildings. The best spots to catch the sunrise are the rooftop terraces of some hotels and guesthouses, or the viewpoint near the Spanish Mosque. You’ll need to wake up early and dress warmly, as the mornings can be chilly. But trust us, it’s worth it. You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and amazing photos.
2. Get Lost in the Medina
Another must-do in Chefchaouen is getting lost in the medina, the old town that is famous for its blue walls and doors. The medina is a maze of narrow alleys and stairs, filled with shops, cafes, mosques, and fountains. You’ll never get bored of exploring the different shades of blue and discovering hidden gems along the way. The medina is also a great place to interact with the friendly locals and learn more about their culture and traditions. Just remember to be respectful and ask for permission before taking photos of people or their homes.
3. Shop Local Crafts
One of the best ways to support Chefchaouen’s artisans is to shop for local crafts. You’ll find plenty of souks and shops in the medina that sell unique and handmade items, such as rugs, pottery, jewelry, and leather goods. These products reflect Chefchaouen’s culture and creativity, and they make great souvenirs or gifts for yourself or your loved ones. You can also bargain with the sellers and get a good deal if you’re polite and friendly. Just make sure to check the quality and authenticity of the products before you buy them.
4. Chill on Plaza Uta El Hamman
If you need a break from wandering around the Medina, head to Plaza Uta El Hamman, the main square of Chefchaouen. This is where you’ll find some of the best cafes and restaurants in town, serving delicious Moroccan and international cuisine. You can sit back and relax on a terrace, sip a mint tea or a fresh juice, and watch the world go by. You can also admire some of the landmarks in the square, such as the Grand Mosque and the Kasbah.
5. Visit the Kasbah and the Clock Tower
Speaking of the Kasbah, this is another attraction that you shouldn’t miss in Chefchaouen. The Kasbah is an old fortress that dates back to the 15th century when Chefchaouen was founded by a Berber tribe. Inside the Kasbah, you’ll find a museum that displays some historical artifacts and photos of Chefchaouen’s past. You’ll also find a beautiful garden with a pond and a tower that offers panoramic views of the town and the mountains. Next to the Kasbah, you’ll see the Clock Tower, a distinctive blue structure that was built in 1920 by the Spanish. The Clock Tower is a symbol of Chefchaouen’s history and identity.
6. Hike to the Spanish Mosque
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike to the Spanish Mosque, an abandoned building that sits on a hill overlooking Chefchaouen. The hike to Spanish Mosque Chefchaouen takes about 30 minutes from the medina, and it’s not too difficult if you’re in good shape. You’ll pass by some olive groves and farms along the way, and enjoy some scenic views of Chefchaouen and the Rif mountains. Once you reach the mosque, you can explore its interior and exterior, which are decorated with Arabic inscriptions and tiles. You can also take some stunning photos from this vantage point.
7. Visit the Cascades d’Akchour
If you have some extra time in Chefchaouen, you can visit the Cascades d’Akchour, a series of waterfalls that are located about 30 kilometers from town. You can take a taxi or a bus to get there or join a guided tour that includes transportation and lunch. Once you arrive at Akchour, you can hike along the river for about an hour until you reach the first waterfall. There are also other waterfalls further upstream if you want to continue hiking. You can swim in the pools or picnic by the river if you want to cool off or relax.
8. Experience a Traditional Hammam
One of the most unique and relaxing things to do in Chefchaouen is to experience a traditional hammam, a Moroccan bathhouse. A hammam is a place where you can cleanse your body and mind, using hot water, steam, soap, and massage. You can choose to go to a public hammam, where you’ll share the space with other locals and tourists, or a private hammam, where you’ll have more privacy and comfort. Either way, you’ll need to bring your own towel, toiletries, and flip-flops. You’ll also need to follow some etiquette rules, such as wearing a bathing suit or underwear, tipping the staff, and respecting the gender-segregated areas.
9. Try Traditional Moroccan Cuisine
No trip to Chefchaouen is complete without trying traditional Moroccan cuisine. You’ll find many restaurants and street food vendors in town that offer a variety of dishes that will satisfy your taste buds. Some of the local specialties that you should try are tagine, couscous, pastilla, and mint tea. Tagine is a slow-cooked stew made with meat, vegetables, spices, and dried fruits. Couscous is a fluffy grain that is served with meat or vegetable sauce. Pastilla is a savory pie made with filo pastry, chicken or pigeon meat, almonds, eggs, and cinnamon. Mint tea is a sweet drink made with green tea leaves, fresh mint leaves, and sugar.
10. Learn How to Cook Moroccan Food
Another one of the best things to do in Chefchaouen is to learn how to cook Moroccan food. You can join a cooking class that will teach you how to prepare some of the most delicious and authentic dishes from Chefchaouen and Morocco. You’ll learn how to use local ingredients and spices, such as saffron, cumin, and paprika. You’ll also learn how to use traditional utensils and techniques, such as the tagine pot and the couscous steamer. At the end of the class, you’ll get to enjoy your own homemade meal and share it with your fellow students and teachers.
These are just some of the best things to do in Chefchaouen that we recommend for your trip. Of course, there are many more activities and attractions that you can discover on your own or with a local guide. Whatever you choose to do in Chefchaouen, we hope you have an amazing time!
Unique Places to Stay in Chafchaouen
Chefchaouen has a variety of places to stay for different budgets and preferences. You can choose from hotels, guesthouses, riads, hostels, and campsites. Here are some of the best places to stay in Chefchaouen that you can book through Booking.com:
If you want to save money and still have a decent place to stay in Chefchaouen, you can opt for one of the budget hotels in town. These hotels offer the most basic facilities and services, such as a shared bathroom, a shared lounge, and a rooftop terrace. Here are some of the budget hotels in Chefchaouen that we recommend:
Aymane ROOFTOP Hotel
This is a budget-friendly hotel that offers clean and cozy rooms with free Wi-Fi and a shared lounge. It also has a rooftop terrace where you can admire the views of Chefchaouen and the mountains. The hotel is located in the old town, near the Khandak Semmar gate and the Ras El Ma waterfalls.
This is a budget-friendly hostel that offers dormitory and private rooms with free Wi-Fi and access to a shared bathroom. It also has a terrace where you can enjoy the views of Chefchaouen and meet other travelers. The hostel is located in the historical center of Chefchaouen, near the Kasbah and the Medina.
Hotel Molino Garden
This is a budget-friendly hotel that offers simple and comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi and access to a shared bathroom. It also has a garden where you can relax and enjoy nature. The hotel is located in Chefchaouen’s medina, near the Kasbah and the Plaza Uta El Hamman.
If you want to find a good balance of quality, price, and location in Chefchaouen, you can choose one of the mid-range hotels in town. These hotels usually have air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a terrace or a garden where you can relax and enjoy the scenery. Here are some of the mid-range hotels in Chefchaouen that we suggest:
Hotel Azul USHA
This hotel is located in the heart of Chefchaouen, just a few minutes walk from the Kasbah and the Medina. It offers comfortable and stylish rooms with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and mountain views. It also has a shared lounge and a terrace where you can relax and enjoy the scenery. The hotel has family rooms and a friendly staff that can help you with your travel needs.
This is a charming guesthouse that is set in a traditional Moroccan house with blue walls and doors. It has cozy and colorful rooms with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a closet. It also has a terrace where you can enjoy the panoramic views of Chefchaouen and the Rif mountains. The guesthouse is located in the medina, close to the shops, cafes, and landmarks of Chefchaouen.
This is a beautiful riad that is set in a restored 18th-century house with blue walls and doors. It has spacious and elegant rooms with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms. It also has a patio and a terrace where you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere of Chefchaouen. The riad is located in the medina, near the Outa El Hammam Square and the Mohammed 5 Square.
These are the hotels that offer the highest level of comfort, service, and style in Chefchaouen. They usually have a swimming pool, a restaurant, a spa, and other amenities that make your stay more enjoyable. Some of the luxury hotels in Chefchaouen are:
This is a luxury boutique hotel that features a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a garden, a terrace, and a restaurant. Each room has a mountain view and free Wi-Fi and is decorated with Moroccan touches and modern amenities. The hotel also offers a delicious breakfast and dinner made with fresh ingredients. The hotel is located in a quiet area, but still close to the main attractions of Chefchaouen.
Lina Ryad & Spa
This is a luxury riad that offers an indoor pool, a spa and wellness center, and a terrace with panoramic views. Each room has air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a private bathroom with free toiletries. The riad also serves a continental breakfast every morning and Moroccan cuisine upon request. The riad is located in the heart of the medina, near the Ras El Ma River and the Outa El Hammam square.
This is a luxury hotel that boasts an outdoor pool, a garden, and a terrace overlooking the mountains. Each room has air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a private bathroom with a shower or a bath. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves Moroccan and international dishes and a bar that offers drinks and snacks. The hotel is located near the Medina and the Ras El Ma waterfalls.
Have a Great Trip to Chefchaouen!
Chefchaouen is one of the most beautiful and fascinating destinations in Morocco. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the blue city and discover its history and culture. Also, it’s a place where you can enjoy the nature and adventure of the Rif mountains and the waterfalls. It’s also a place where you can relax and socialize on the main square and taste the flavors of Moroccan cuisine.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas on how to make the most of your visit to Chefchaouen. Whether you’re looking for a short getaway or a longer stay, Chefchaouen has something for everyone. So don’t wait any longer and book your trip to Chefchaouen today. You won’t regret it.
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