Chefchaouen: Morocco’s Stunning Blue City


The blue city of Chefchaouen is one of the most charming and photogenic medinas in Morocco. The distinctive color of the buildings on the hilly green landscape makes an incredible sight, and has made little Chefchaouen an internationally famous city, recognized as the “Blue Pearl” of Morocco. The city dates back to 1471, when it was founded as part of the Moroccan defense against Portugal. From 1920 to 1956, it was a Spanish colony. In fact, Spanish is still a widely-spoken language to this day.

Chefchaouen is just a few hours away from Tangier and Fez, making it a popular day trip from those bigger cities, but the beautiful scenery, relaxed atmosphere, and welcoming culture make it a popular destination on its own.

Things to do in Chefchaouen

Explore the City
The narrow, maze-like streets of the medina offer endless variety and insights into local life, with small cafes and shops, locals talking on their stoops, cats prowling the narrow stairs, and an amazing wealth of color. Cap off a day of wandering with a visit to the local hammam for a traditional bath, which will both invigorate and relax you.

Learn Local History
A visit to the old Spanish mosque, dating back to the 1920’s, is a glimpse into the recent past of Chefchaouen. But most people visit the mosque for the journey, not the destination. It’s a pleasant 45 minute walk from the medina, winding up through the hillside with spectacular views and panoramas. A trip to the mosque also passes the famous Ras El Maa waterfall, where water spills from the mountains and local women gather to socialize and do laundry. The waterfall is a popular social spot, and often accompanied by singing and dancing.

There is also a small ethnographic museum and a museum of local handcrafts, for more understanding of the history and crafts of the region.

Hike the Rif Mountains
Rising behind the city are the Rif mountains, which offer fantastic opportunities for hiking, with routes that range from easy to expert, and treks that can take a few hours, or multi-day trips connecting forests and mountain views between tiny local villages. You can even have a mountain trek on a mule, exploring Talasemtane National Park and camping under a pristine sky.

Chefchaouen is a tiny town but an increasingly popular shopping destination, due to local art, handcrafts, and goat cheeses that are made my local artisans and unlike anywhere else. The traditional arts of weaving, woodworking, and leather-working are still very much alive here, and the craftsmen will happily show you not just their work, but also their tools and techniques, so it’s possible to have a cup of tea and learn about Moroccan crafts and traditions. When shopping in Chefchaouen, unlike anywhere else in Morocco, you can expect the shopkeepers to quote you a firm price and avoid the game of haggling. The convenience of avoiding haggling and the authenticity of local goods makes Chefchaouen an increasingly popular spot to pick up all your Moroccan gifts and souvenirs for friends back home.

A visit to gorgeous Chefchaouen has become a must-do in Morocco, but the city isn’t yet overrun with tourists, making it a perfect destination to rest and relax before plunging back into the bustle of other Moroccan cities.

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