Chefchaouen is the famous ‘blue city’ of Morocco. Here, almost every building is painted a brilliant, bright blue, and it’s alleyways have become Insta-famous. What I really liked about Chefchaouen though, was its location in the Rif Mountains. The air felt clean, and the hills were heavy with fog in the morning. As soon as I arrived, I felt relaxed.
In this guide, I've included all the information you need to know about Chefchaouen before planning a trip there, as well as a bunch of photos to get you inspired!
quick jump guide
How to get to Chefchaouen
The cheapest way to get to Chefchaouen is by bus. Most travelers who choose this method buy tickets through a bus company called CTM, however, there are many local buses which can also take you. The difference between CTM and local bus companies, is CTM is a little nicer and more reliable. Consequently, CTM is more expensive, and also the first company which runs out of tickets.
If you’re looking to buy a bus ticket 72+ hours in advance, you can book online through CTM’s website. If you’re inside the 72 hour window, you’ll need to find a bus station and buy the tickets in person. Don’t panic if CTM is out of tickets, you can almost always count on local buses to have available seats.
4 major cities you can catch a bus to Chefchaouen from:
- Tangier - 2 hr. 45 min. (45 dh)
- Fes - 4 hrs. (75 dh)
- Rabat - 5 hrs. (120 dh)
- Casablanca - 6.5 hrs. (160 dh)
** Prices quoted are for the CTM bus. Local buses should be cheaper
Renting a car is a great way to see Morocco if your budget allows for it. Gas is only about 10 dh/liter, and the roads are well-marked. With a car, you’ll also save a lot of time. Buses tend to make frequent stops in Morocco, and don’t always leave when they’re scheduled to.
By grand taxi
Grand taxis are taxis which take people long distances in Morocco. You can hire a driver to take you from a city like Fes or Tangier, all the way to Chefchaouen. It’s usually on the pricier side though, so you may want to look for other travelers who are headed in the same direction and are willing to split the price with you.
Where to stay
Chefchaouen has a wide variety of hostels, but the good ones often go quickly. We waited till the day before our bus ride to Chefchaouen before booking a place, and weren't able to get either of the places we had our eyes on. If you have a general idea of when you plan to be in Chefchaouen, I recommend booking a place to stay at least 3 days in advance.
In total, we ended up spending three nights in Chefchaouen. If you have less time than we did, staying for two nights would still give you plenty of time to see the town and relax a bit. Chefchaouen is pretty small and easy to navigate.
Read more: 6 Unique Things to do in Marrakech
This is the hostel we ended up booking for our first two nights. It wasn’t terrible for a hostel, but not totally comfortable either. It was a bit on the grungier side, and only had bread for breakfast. However, if you’re looking to try hash in Chefchaouen, Aline Hostel is a great place to do so safely and in a chill environment. A few of the hostel staff can advise you on where to purchase it, and don’t mind if guests smoke on the rooftop.
After our first two nights in Chefchaouen, we moved to Hotel Sandra. In comparison to Aline Hostel, I liked this place a lot more. The main sitting room was warm and cozy, and bedroom was clean. The selling point for this place though, is Sandra herself. She’s originally from Columbia and speaks very little English, but instantly made us feel welcome.
Read more: Spending the Night in the Sahara Desert
Where to eat
After being in Morocco for almost two weeks by the time we made it to Chefchaouen, Yuting and I were both getting a little tired of tagine and couscous. Because of this, the two places we ended up eating at the most in Chefchaouen were a Chinese restaurant and a bakery/smoothie shop.
I know what you’re thinking…'You guys ate Chinese food in Morocco??'
Yep - we took a chance alright, and it paid off. However, if you’re planning a trip to Chefchaouen, don’t think any Chinese restaurant you find is a good idea. Most of the places we saw looked unauthentic and unappealing. The place we went to, Shan Shui, was a calculated decision (Yuting is Chinese after all).
Shan Shui is a nicer restaurant in Chefchaouen which serves authentic Chinese food. While it’s nowhere near as cheap as most of the Moroccan restaurants in town, it’s a great place to switch up your food without regretting it. For an estimate on how much a meal for two there will cost, we ordered egg and seaweed soup, Sichuan-style green beans, a large chicken dish and rice for 235 dh.
Read more: Cost of Traveling in Morocco
This place is heaven if you like sweet treats or fruit smoothies. For about 25 dh, you can get two smoothies made with real fruit, two pieces of cake, and a couple of cookies. They're delicious ones at that too! If Yuting’s the Chinese food connoisseur, I’m the bakery connoisseur. Everything I tried here was delicious, and way under-priced.
What to do
Chefchaouen is not the kind of place you make an itinerary for. It’s quiet and relaxed, with few actual ‘tourist spots.’ It’s a town people visit to escape the busyness of a city like Marrakech, and enjoy the calming effects of blue-painted buildings and mountainous terrain.
For those not satisfied with that answer, I’ve included a few ‘actual’ things to do below (but seriously… spend some time doing ‘nothing.’ You won’t regret it)!
See the view from Bab El Mahrouk Gate
Yuting and I wandered up the hill one day and ended up finding a stunning view of Chefchaouen by the Bab El Mahrouk Gate. There were hardly any other people there, and we could see the entire town stretched out in front of us.
Check out the Spanish Mosque
This 1920’s Spanish Mosque is opposite the Bab El Mahrouk Gate, and offers an equally beautiful view of Chefchaouen. If picnics are your thing, this is the place to have one at.
Tour the Kasbah
Right in the center of town is an old kasbah home to a small garden and museum. While I didn’t end up checking it out for myself, I heard it has nice panoramic views of the main square.
Try Moroccan hash
Chefchaouen is one of the world’s largest producers of hash. Ironically though, smoking weed is illegal in Morocco. If you find yourself curious to try it, stay in a hostel and ask one of the staff members or long-time visitors where you can buy some. While Moroccan men will attempt to sell you hash on the street, they may try to rip you off or sell you hash that’s low quality.
Admire the different spices and dyes
Chefchaouen is a treat for your eyes! Keep them open as you make your way through the streets, and you’ll find bright dyes and unique spices.
Where to fit Chefchaouen into your itinerary
Chefchaouen is the perfect town to visit either before or after Fes, depending on the direction you plan on traveling in Morocco. I started in Marrakech, and made my way out to the desert before heading to Fes and Chefchaouen. If you’re starting in Tangier or Fes, it makes more sense to visit Chefchaouen first, before seeing the rest of the country.
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What do you think of Morocco's blue city?
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