Morocco's blue city
Many travelers have been enthused by the charm of Morocco’s blue city: Chefchaouen. So, of course, we were eager to discover the blue town for ourselves. After getting a CTM bus ticket, we were off to the Rif mountains. As soon as we arrived at the bus station, we were a little surprised: at least from the first expression, the city didn’t seem to be blue. As soon as we entered the medina, and eventually our Dar, we had to revoke our first impression: Literally, everything seemed to be blue in the old medina. It almost seemed unreal. Chefchaouen, “Marocco’s prettiest medina,” is relaxed compared to other medinas making it easy to explore.
Chefchaouen is quite a lively town. The medina’s alleys are plastered with souvenir stands and other Morrocan crafts. It seemed a little overwhelming, and we wish there were a bit more authenticity left. Yet the salespeople were almost shy compared to Fez, so one could stroll the streets without being stopped at every corner. As soon as you wander off the main alleys, you’ll be surprised to find beautifully hidden plazas, fountains our buildings.
Not only is Chefchouen geographically close to Spain, but the Spanish have colonized the town. Hence, almost everyone spoke Spanish, making it a lot easier for us actually to engage in a conversation.
Relax in one of the quietest medinas
Compared to other medinas, Chefchaouen’s center is the perfect place to take a little city walk. The busier streets lead to tiny, charming alleys. Salespeople unobtrusively offer their goods. We have been trying to figure out why Chefchaouen is so blue but couldn’t get an answer. Here are some of the theories we heard:
a) To look pretty – That’s a legit reason. But we can’t believe that’s why everyone paints their houses blue.
b) To represent the color of the water- Some locals told us that to acknowledge the importance of the Ras el-Maa Waterfall to the people, the city has been painted blue.
c) The Jewish culture brought the blue houses – Chefchauen has been dramatically impacted by the Jewish. Locals told us that at first, only the homes in the Jewish quarter were blue to follow religious beliefs. However, the blue color has spread to other parts of the medina as time passed.
No matter the reason, Morocco’s charming blue medina is worth a visit if you are traveling the area.
Learn about the Revolution at Museo Historic de la Revolution
Practically right at the doorsteps of Chefchaouen, the Talassemtance national park awaits those eager to hike. Several hiking paths connect waterfalls, Berber villages, and breathtaking landscapes. The Rif mountains are also the world’s biggest Haisch production hub. As with so many things, Moroccans hold on to their traditions. If you want to see how kif is produced, this is the place.
Indigenous Barrio Sutiava
We didn’t spend so much time in Cefchaouen. Maybe that’s why we didn’t fall in love with it. Also, because it’s so touristy, it was harder for us to “feel the love.”
Nonetheless, we think that our picture would have changed if we had spent more time and effort. If you are planning on spending more time and actual time to unwind, check into a hammam. We have written about hammams in Fez and Marrakesh. Hammams are a must-do in Morocco! Chefchaouen offers several hammam options, primarily catering to tourists. The treatments offered looked super tempting!
Get ready to travel Morocco
How to get to Chefchaouen
The main bus terminal is 10 minutes from Chefchaouens city center by taxi (10DHS). In addition, two bus lines connect Chefchaoen to other destinations in Morocco. Since there are not as many buses and they tend to fill up quickly, we recommend buying the return tickets right upon arrival or 2 days in advance.
Chefchouen to Meknes – 4,4 hours (70 Dhs)
Chefchouen to Fez – 3,5 hours (70 Dhs)
Chefchouen -Tangier: 2.5 hrs (55 Dhs)
Managua – León ( 1,5 hrs, $2.75)
León – Masaya ( 2,5 hrs, $3)
León – Chinandega (1,5 hrs, $1). We had to change Chinandega to go to Potosi.
Best time to visit Chefchaouen
The weather in Chefouen varies greatly! Plus, the weather in Chefchouen is more refreshing than in many other places in Morocco. It can get hot in summer (August marking the top) and cold in winter.
Yet, Chefchaouen is an all-year-round travel destination. If you plan extensive hiking in the mountains, check the weather.
The weather is a lot more extreme in the Rif Mountains. Keep in mind that kif (marijuana) is harvested from August to October, and it may be harder to find transportation.
Safety in Chefchaouen:
The blue city is very safe, also for female solo travelers. Make sure to connect with a guide or local point of information if you travel to the Rif mountains. Until today the Rif mountains are the world’s largest hashish production area. So naturally, there are some places which should be avoided.
Bring your Lifestraw! Tap water in Morocco is safe for human consumption, according to Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani. The PM made the statement in February 2018 after officials uncovered issues with the public water delivery system. Despite the government’s assurances, however, distrust in tap water is growing. One problem is that the government has been slow to react and often lacks transparency in its communication. In addition, several reports have highlighted elevated levels of nitrates as an issue in Morocco.
Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler
Shopping: Low-quality Chinese products and goods produced under questionable working environments are sold everywhere. When shopping in Morocco, be conscious and check out our shopping guide!
Water: Avoid plastic pollution and bring your own Lifestraw! Your water will stay cool, too!
Packing List Morocco
When packing for a trip to Morocco, it’s important to keep the country’s culture and climate in mind as the weather can vary greatly, depending on the time of year and the region you’re visiting. Check out our packing list so you arrive well prepared!
Places to visit in Morocco
Live the dream of 1001 nights!
Marrakesh mesmerized me from the second we left the cab. Surrounded by “guides” eager to lead us to our Riad. Never would we have found our Riad ourselves, even though the taxi left us only about 300 m from the entrance. The unimposing door was hiding the beautifully decorated and colorful Riad. We were confronted with the incredible detail of Moroccan style. We stood there with our mouths open. Deeply impressed and taken aback by so many impressions, so much beauty.
Are you traveling to Morocco and wondering what you should bring? Check out our packing list! No worries, we have tested and extended it with the things we wish we would have brought!
After visiting the blue medina of Chefchaouen, we were off for a more authentic experience. Meknès is not as often visited as its glamorous neighbor Fez. We really can’t understand why. To us, Meknès was a fascinating city to visit. It’s not as busy or big as its famous neighbor Meknes, but that only adds to its charm.