Chefchaouen, Morocco’s blue city, is a truly beautiful town with appropriately blue walls and majestic mountains overlooking the characterful town. A town as rich in history as it is beauty, Chefchaaouen was established in 1471 when Moorish and Jewish people fled here to escape the Reconquista of Spain. In this old and enchanting town there’s much to see and do, here’s our guide to find out more.
In this town which has so many little stories and hidden finds, tour guides can be a blessing, even for those who normally avoid them. Learn about the majestic walls and gates of the town; admire the small signs of early life here through the flour mill; and enjoy the medina’s beautiful natural water spring. Taking local restaurant suggestions is not normally recommended, as there is usually an element of commission involved and you’ll likely be shown a very expensive place.
The shopping in this beautiful blue town is one of its biggest tourist attractions. It might not be as varied or grand as in the larger cities of Fes, Marrakech and Casablanca, but Chefchaouen boasts a mesmorising traditional souk. After you have explored the blue, maze like streets, think about buying some traditional souvenirs. Tourists will love the relaxed ambiance which is hard to find in the bigger cities, as it means they can stroll at leisure and appreciate the local leather products for which Chefchaouen is best known.
Beyond the blue streets, there’s a surplus of mind blowing natural scenery which surrounds the town. Approximately 30 minutes by taxi from the town centre lies a tempting tourist trail which, after a beautiful walk, leads visitors to stunning waterfalls. The crystal blue waters are in keeping with the town’s blue theme, and visitors can take a dip in the rock pools, or admire the majestic waterfalls. While in the area, make sure to look out for the awe-inspiring Bridge of God, a rock arch spanning the river.
Hike in the Rif Mountains
For an even greater appreciate of nature, and even the town itself, hike in the Rif mountains and admire the town from above with unbeatable panoramic views. Less known than the Atlas mountains, but just as beautiful, these peaks rise to 6500 feet above the Mediterranean and boast some of the best hiking routes in Africa. There are so many options when hiking in the Rif; try the popular two day trek to the Talasemtane National Park, which is a spectacular site in itself. Don’t just admire the mountains from the town streets, make sure you head up there yourself.
In the centre of the medina lie the beautiful Andalusian Gardens, which stand as a tranquil green oasis complementing the calming flood of blue which characterises the town. Within these gardens stands the Ethnographic Museum, known as the Kasbah Museum, which invites visitors to explore its unrivalled collection of artefacts which tell the story of the Chefchaouen region, with everything from pottery to musical instruments. Not only that, there’s even a small art gallery within the museum. A visit here is a must to learn about the history and culture of this beautiful town – it’s simply not enough to appreciate the aesthetics.
Lina Riad and Spa
One day in Chefchaouen is simply not enough, what with the mountains, waterfalls, and enchanting medina, so why not combine one must-do in Morocco – an overnight stay in a riad – with another – the traditional Moroccan hammam – and head to the Lina Riad and Spa. Right in the heart of the medina, this riad boasts bright and spacious rooms which look out onto the surrounding mountains and bustling medina. The on-site spa is a tranquil oasis, with an indoor heated pool, and traditional hammam complete with massage services. A great base for the trip to Chefchaouen.
Plaza Uta el-Hammam
Every town and city has its square, and Chefchaouen is no exception. Plaza Uta el-Hammam boasts an ambiance which is a fusion between Arab and Spanish influences, seen overall in the fantastic food, both street food and restaurants, available throughout. A great central point of the town, it can be great for simply relaxing and admiring the majestic mountains which overlook the city, and people watching in the town’s centre of activity.
Often the point of focus for the sightseeing tours, unsurprisingly so given the importance of mosques in Moroccan culture, the Grand Mosque of Chefchaouen is popular with tourists, perhaps thanks to its unique octagonal minaret. The beautiful echoes of the call to prayer which sound five times a day create a great atmosphere, and the stunning architecture which dates back to the 15th century is gorgeous. The mosque is one of the most important buildings in the town, and a definite must-see, although bear in mind only Muslims can enter.
Translating as head of the water, this is the point at which the fresh mountain water trickles its way into the town, and proves a popular gathering place for locals. An alternative to the remote and grand waterfalls of the mountains, these refreshing falls are much better to both escape the heat, and to get another insight into standard daily life; locals gather here to wash their clothes and simply have a friendly water cooler moment.
Eat at Aladdin Restaurant
After a long day trekking or site seeing, a great meal is a must; even more essential is that visitors try some traditional Moroccan cuisine. An excellent choice is Aladdin Restaurant, where guests can choose from a menu of international favourites including Spanish omelette, but more importantly, a wide range of Moroccan favourites, from kefta to every kind of tajine and couscous, and all at a very affordable price. Suited to its name, the restaurant has a romantic and enchanting feel which really complements the terrific food.