CHEFCHAOUEN, arguably the prettiest town in all of MOROCCO. Known as the “blue city” for obvious reasons – blue-washed buildings and streets everywhere you turn. At times you ask yourself, am I in GREECE? We discovered that the locals go here for a romantic weekend getaway. It isn’t on any of the major bus/train route, thus, making it difficult to get to BUT worth the extra effort and significantly less tourists.
MEDINA + SOUKS
Explore (and get lost) within the blue-washed medina’s + souq’s (souk’s). In North Africa, medina is known as the old part of town/city. It is usually walled, contains narrow streets, fountains, palaces and mosques. The souq (souk) is known as the marketplace.
MOROCCO is handmade heaven. Stores line up the narrow alleyways selling rugs, leather goods, straw goods, argan oils, spices, towels, clothes, shoes, lanterns, pouffs etc….the list can go on forever. I will go more into detail about shopping in MOROCCO in my MARRAKECH – MOROCCO post.
Out of all the cities we visited in MOROCCO, CHEFCHAOUEN is the most chill, laid back town. Shop owners will not approach you trying to sell you their goods unless you actually ask them about their products. Such a contrast from the busy cities of FEZ and MARRAKECH. This town is also quiet and peaceful within the narrow alleyways. It was a good introduction to MOROCCO.
Unlike FEZ and MARRAKECH where tourism drove the locals to move outside of the medina, a lot of the locals still live within the medina in CHEFCHAOUEN. While your taking pictures of the picturesque alleyways and doors, be mindful that they are peoples homes. When you visit, be respectful of the locals and their property.
Side note – all of MOROCCO, but mainly in CHEFCHAOUEN, the doors are all unique and beautiful. It was hard not stopping at all of them and to snap a picture in front of.
HIKE TO SPANISH MOSQUE
You can hike to the spanish mosque which is perched on a hilltop, only accessible by foot. From what I read, it takes 20 – 30 minutes. Best to do in the morning or for sunset (when it isn’t too hot out). We planned to do this for sunset before our dinner reservations, but carpet shopping (my fault) took a little longer than expected and we ran out of time.
Funny story – Dan and I woke up early the next morning (7 am) to do a morning hike prior to our departure that day (9 am). We woke up, quickly got ready and headed out. No one was awake at the hotel and the front door was locked. We unlocked it with our key, but the key got stuck and we couldn’t get it out LOL. We tried numerous times, no success. We couldn’t leave the hotel unlocked with our key in the door so we perched two chairs outside the hotel and just watched as the streets began to wake up. It was actually better this way – we got to see the day to day life of the locals. Half an hour later, the owner wakes up and we explained what happened. Long story short, the lock was broken to begin with and we weren’t suppose to put a key in there to unlock the door, it unlocked another way.
HIKES & WATERFALLS
If we would have extended out stay, we would have visited Waterall D’Akchour and have done some hiking throughout the mountains.
HOTEL SANDRA – CHEFCHAOUEN is a small town, thus, accomodation goes quickly! We booked out stays 3 months in advance so we didn’t have many options to choose from. However, HOTEL SANDRA was such an incredible experience. The owners are lovely, they go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable. The location is amazing – right in the heart of the medina. The room was small, mattresses not the most comfortable BUT it was all we needed. The other more ritzy riads (CASA PERLETA, DAR BAIBOU, RIAD CHERIFA & DAR ECHCHAOUEN) were all sold out.
When you book any stay in MOROCCO, breakfast is included with your stay and you are greeted with mint tea. They go all out for breakfast – freshly squeezed OJ, eggs, crepes, freshly baked bread, jams, coffee, tea && fruit. I could use that in my life everyday.
If your going anywhere in MOROCCO, I would advice you to wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees. Scarves are your friends in this country. Long skirts, flared pants, jumpers, rompers && maxi dresses are all great options. I wore a lot of linen material – light and breezy. Be respectful in the country you visit. I would not feel comfortable walking around in short shorts or a short dress here, plus, its disrespectful.
We found the food underwhelming in CHEFCHAOUEN compared to the other cities. They weren’t as flavourful as we anticipated.
LE LAMP MAGIQUE AT ALADINS – You step into a restaurant that appears empty, you then take the spiral stairs up thinking it’s only one or two levels. Five levels later, you are on a rooftop patio overlooking all of CHEFCHAOUEN. The view is incredible, especially during sunset. We made reservations for sunset in order to get a nice table. The morocco salad was my favourite dish here. Service is a little slow here but when your on vacation, are you really in a rush?
BAB SSOUR – Out of all CHEFCHAOUEN, the best meal was here. We stopped here for lunch and had the beef tagine and couscous. I also tried the famous avocado smoothie which was delicious. They had a small private rooftop terrace – that’s the thing in MOROCCO. We loved the chill atmosphere that we grabbed some mint tea’s after the meal.
RIAD HISHAM – This restaurant was recommended to us by our driver. The place was stunning, but every restaurant in all of MOROCCO is. The service was terrible, they gave the wrong meal to our friends, charged us more for food, and we continuously had to ask for things (cutlery, water, bills, etc) and it didn’t seem like the waiter even cared. The food was delicious though.
FYI: There were only a hand full of restaurants/hotels that sold alcohol in all of CHEFCHAOUEN. The Parador Restaurant and Bar and Atlas Hotels. We went to Parador Restaurant and Bar for a beer to end the day. CHEFCHAOUEN is also known for it’s cannibis (hashish, kif) production. Not even a minute entering the city, the men were asked if they wanted to purchase some. It happened often thereafter and they only asked the men.
Finding transportation in MOROCCO was difficult book our trip with a tour group. We did a lot of research and read that booking private transfers would be our best bet. We read bad reviews on renting cars and decided to not go that route. We flew into CASABLANCA and immediately drove to CHEFCHAOUEN (4-5 hour drive) via a private transfer.
TANGIER TAXI – we booked all of our private transfers via Tangier taxi in advance and had an amazing experience. Since we booked more than once with them, we could request our driver for future transfers and requested and got the same driver (Omar). They were always on time, communicated in a timely manner & reliable.
Transfers were more expensive than we originally anticipated. We originally got quotes up to $700 CAD for a 5 hour transfer from other companies! TANGIER TAXI was the most affordable company, charged us $220 for a 5 hour transfer for four people.