Chefchaouen, a.k.a. Morocco’s blue pearl, is a city…very different from anything you have come across up until now! It is located on the north side of the country, 2.5 hours away from Fez and pretty close to Spain. Built on the foothills of the Rif Mountains, it became known for its blue color (what else?). Houses, walls, doors, windows, flower pots, streets, stairs and even tombs, are painted with the whole color palette of blue. Despite the major tourist growth that Chefchaoun has seen, it manages to maintain a low profile, while it has not lost its identity and character. This makes it even more loved and genuine to the eyes of its visitors!
Do not let the thousands of photographs fool you! The blue color is prevalent only inside the Medina, namely the old town. Explanations abound, but there are three that prevail. It is reported that the people used to paint their houses blue a) so that it reminds them of the sky and heaven, b) because the color blue repels mosquitoes, c) so that they distinguish the houses of the Jews from those of Muslims. Keep whichever version you want, the fact is that even today everything around you will be blue, as the residents conserve this tradition and they paint them every year!
The blue city, Chefchaouen, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Morocco that should not be missing from your trip..
The 10 things that you can do in Chefchaouen ?
1) Medina Chefchaouen The Medina of Chefchaouen is a blue painting on an oriental canvas. Beautiful, quiet and simple, the Medina will literally make you get lost in its alleys, as it is an –easy- maze. The blue color follows your every step, while every street, house, window constitutes a theme for a photo shoot.
2) The blue corner The blue corner is a special spot in the Medina. It is the most photographed/instagram-able place in Chefchaouen. You will find it in magazines, travel guides and more. EVERYTHING on this corner is blue, from the walls and the doors to the steps and the street! It is certainly the bluest spot in the city…alias the Blue Corner of Chefchaouen.
3) Outta El Hammam Square The Outta El Hammam Square is probably the busiest spot in the blue city. It is the largest and most important square in the city, which is located in the heart of the Medina. The former transactions and commerce center has been transformed into a tourist hub with many cafés and restaurants taking up its every corner. On its south side you will find the castle (Kasbah) and the large mosque.
4) Blue doors The game with the blue doors is the favorite of every visitor of Chefchaouen. Where? At the old town (medina), of course, you will find dozens of different blue doors. Each one is painted in a different shade of blue, while it is adorned with carved designs, metallic/golden doornails and fancy doorknobs. Get photographed in different styles and create your own –blue- portrait!
5) Cascades d’Akchour Waterfalls In the Rif Mountains, 30 kilometers outside of Chefchaouen, there is a small paradise for the lovers of nature and hiking. The Akchour waterfalls are the Moroccans’ favorite place for daily trips and dips in the cold water, mainly during the summer months. The small waterfall is 20m tall and the big one 100m.!
6) New city The new city is nothing like the picturesque old blue city. The blue color is limited, streets are full of cars and life flows with a lot of noise. Of course, you will find parks to rest, outdoor markets, squares and plenty of stores to do your shopping.
7) Markets Bags, fabrics, slippers, sandals, carpets and sacks of henna colors are only a few of the things you will find in the markets of Chefchaouen. Wandering around the Medina’s labyrinth, apart from the markets, you will also come across dozens of individual shops. Advice: Prices, for the same products, are a little higher compared to the souks of Fez! Haggle good or be content with just looking around..
8) El Hauta Square The El Hauta Square is the most traditional among the two large squares of the Medina. Not that famous and tourist-attracting as the Outta el Hammam, the square seems like “it belongs mostly to the locals”. The blue color is also prevalent here, while the blue fountain at its center steals the show. On its east side you can enjoy your coffee or tea.
9) God’s bridge Apart from the Akchour waterfalls, the Rif Mountains hide another geological miracle of nature that is called the (God’s bridge). A 25-meter long red bridge that connects the two sides of the valley and passes over emerald waters and small waterfalls. You can admire it from the ground or cross it and continue your route to the Akchour waterfalls.
10) Spanish MosqueThe hill that the Spanish Mosque is on offers an unobstructed view of the city. Access can be achieved only on foot, through a 15-minute uphill route (from the parking) or around 40 minutes from the Outta el Hammam Square (Medina). It is worth mentioning that the mosque never operated!
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Food Chefchaouen ?Food in Chefchaouen will leave you with the best of impressions! In the blue city you will find some of the tastiest dishes that the Moroccan cuisine has to offer. The variety of options might not be that wide, yet our suggestions will help you have a good culinary experience. A meal for two persons costs around 18€, including two dishes, salad and two glasses of wine.
Beldi Bab Ssour: The no1 restaurant in the city goes by the name Beldi Bab Ssour. Delicious freshly-cooked dishes in ideal portions and totally reasonable prices!
Pizzeria Mandala: If you want to stray from the Moroccan cuisine, this restaurant is the ideal choice. Large and rich spaghetti dishes and tasty-crispy pizzas will satisfy you. Prices are pretty low.
Chez Fouad: A non-central tavern, which serves traditional dishes, satisfying in quantity and price.
Hamsa: Hamsa is a very beautiful and modern café in the old town, serving delicious breakfast, cakes, biscuits and plenty of other tastes that both children and adults will love.
Chez Aziz: Chez Aziz is the home of fast food and desserts! Prices are very low, while quality and service are satisfactory.
Moha: Moha is recommended for anyone that is not very demanding and is looking for something economical and quick. The main options are pizza, burgers, tacos and more.
Transportation Chefchaouen ?
Access to the city can be achieved through many ways, with the car being the easiest, cheapest and most convenient solution (3 hours). Other ways include a) by Taxi, 3.5 hours trip and 90€ cost, b) by Bus, 4.5 hours trip, 5 buses per day & 11-14€ cost per person and c) by a daily tour, 50-80€ cost per person. Transportation in the old city of Chefchaouen (Medina) can be only on foot. If you have a car you can leave it in a closed parking facility for 2-3€ for half a day (5 to 8 hours).
Hotels-Riads Chefchaouen ?The blue city is characterized as the ideal location for a daily excursion in Morocco…and not in vain. You can discover it in a few hours. This is why 90% of its visitors prefer to not stay in the city. Wrong! The beauty of Chefchaouen comes out at night or early in the morning, when the hordes of tourists are absent from the city. The city makes its efforts to keep visitors for at least one day and it seems that it is on the right track. We present you the most notable Riads in Chefchaouen..
Riad Cherifa: It is probably the most high-quality accommodation site in the city. Pool, beautiful Moroccan decoration and spotless cleanliness compose the ideal scenery for a pleasant stay.
La Petite Chefchaouen: This inn follows European standards, with modern décor and pretty reasonable prices. Furthermore, all areas, with the rooftop as the highlight, are modern and functional.
Dar Zambra: A classic Moroccan house, it will win over your hearts with its friendly attitude, simple traditional decoration and the wonderful rooftop with a view of the Rif Mountains. It is located inside the Medina.
Dar Swiar: Dar Swiar is a very economical option for accommodation in Chefchaouen. It is located on a quiet and safe spot of the Medina and has simple and spacious rooms.
Tips Chefchaouen ?
- In the area around Chefchaouen cannabis is cultivated. People will approach you to offer you (with the characteristic phrase.. “good stuff guys”!
- The well-known Blue Corner is located HERE. Take countless photographs!
- In the small shops you find henna colors in very good prices.
- Try the local goat cheese.
- The cats that are everywhere inside the old blue city are friendly and do not cause any problems with their presence.
- Options for food in the old city might be limited, but food is of higher quality (apart from the restaurants in the Outta el Hammam Square).
- The Medina of Chefchaouen, contrary to the Medinas of large cities (Marrakech, Fez, Rabat etc), is very safe and clean.
- Do not visit it during Ramadan. Many stores close early, some do not open at all, there are no events, meat is absent from the menu (not everywhere) and, in general, circumstances are different!
- Try some pomegranate juice from a street stand.
- Do not wander around at night in streets of the Medina that you don’t know. You will most likely get disoriented and lost!
- Haggling is necessary for anything you might want to buy.
- The Medina of Chefchaouen is a residential area, so you should respect the place and keep quiet.
- For food/coffee, do not prefer the establishments in the Outta el Hammam Square. They serve food of low quality in higher prices, compared to the rest of the restaurants and cafés.
- Leave your car in one of the outdoor guarded parking facilities , at the cost of only 2€ for half a day.
- The best gift you can buy from the city is the hand-made magnet from street artists (they paint them on the spot).
- Make sure you have exchanged money beforehand, as the exchange rate in the city’s agencies is not at all advantageous.
- Many cafés and restaurants do not have a wifi connection.
- God’s Bridge: In order to find it you will have to follow the trail on the right side of the river (the left one leads to the Cascades d’ Akchour waterfalls).
- Cascades d’ Akchour waterfalls: The hiking trail takes about two hours, but it is very easy!
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