Chefchaouen, the blue city of Morocco, is a beautiful town of cobalt-stained streets set amid the majestic Rif Mountains. A town as rich in history as it is beautiful, it was established in 1471 when Moorish and Jewish settlers fled here to escape the Reconquista of Spain. In this old and enchanting town, there’s much to see and do – check out our guide to discover more.
Want to visit Chefchaouen? Then book Culture Trip’s 13-day Moroccan adventure where you’ll be able to snap the brilliantly blue houses and while learning about its architecture from our local guide.
In this town packed with hidden finds, tour guides can be a blessing for even the most independent traveller. 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 beautiful natural water spring in the medina. Taking local restaurant suggestions is not normally recommended, as there is usually an element of commission involved and you’ll likely be shown an expensive place.
The shopping in this beautiful blue town is one of the biggest tourist attractions. It might not be as varied or grand as in the larger cities of Fes, Marrakech and Casablanca, but Chefchaouen has a mesmerising traditional souk. After you have explored the blue, maze-like streets, think about buying traditional souvenirs. You’ll love the relaxed ambience, which is hard to find in the bigger cities, as it means you 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 around the town. Approximately 30 minutes by taxi from the centre lies a tempting tourist trail which, after a beautiful walk, leads to stunning waterfalls. The waters are in keeping with the town’s blue theme, while you 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.
For an even greater appreciation of nature, 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 high above the Mediterranean and have 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, a spectacular sight in itself.
In the centre of the medina lies the beautiful Andalusian Gardens, a tranquil green oasis complementing the calming flood of blue that characterises the town. Within these gardens is the Ethnographic Museum, known as the Kasbah Museum, home to an unrivalled collection of artefacts from the Chefchaouen region, with everything from pottery to musical instruments on show.
One day in Chefchaouen is simply not enough, what with the mountains, waterfalls and enchanting medina. 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 has bright, spacious rooms which look out onto the surrounding mountains and bustling medina. The spa is a tranquil hideaway with an indoor heated pool and traditional hammam with massage services – a great base for any trip to Chefchaouen.
Plaza Uta el-Hammam has a blend of Arab and Spanish influences, seen in the fantastic food served both on the streets and in the nearby restaurants. A pretty central point in town, it’s the ideal spot to relax and admire the majestic mountains, while indulging in a spot of people watching.
The Grand Mosque of Chefchaouen is often the focal point of sightseeing tours here; unsurprising, given the importance of mosques in Moroccan culture. It has a unique octagonal minaret, and the beautiful call to prayer that sounds five times a day creates a great atmosphere throughout town. The architecture dates back to the 15th century, with the mosque one of the most important buildings in town – bear in mind only Muslims can enter.
Translating as head of the water, this is the point at which the fresh mountain water trickles into town. It’s a popular spot for locals, who gather here to wash their clothes and enjoy a good chat. These refreshing falls are a place to escape the heat and gain an insight into daily town life, while making for an easier alternative to the remote and grand waterfalls of the mountains.
After a long day trekking or site seeing, a great meal is a must. An excellent choice is Aladdin Restaurant, where you can choose from international and Moroccan favourites. From kefta (meatballs) to myriad tajines and couscous dishes, the food here is excellent and at a very affordable price. Suited to the name, the restaurant has a romantic and enchanting feel to go with the terrific food.