Chefchaouen is famous for its multi-shades of blue that draw tourists from around the world. Wander its narrow, city streets packed with endless surprises. Find authentic souvenirs, hike outside the city for breathtaking views, and soak up the local culture.
With its mesmerizing shades of blue that decorate houses and buildings, Chefchaouen has become an international superstar attracting and inspiring tourists from around the world. Located at the foothills of the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen sits nestled in a lush landscape and the city overlooks the sea. In recent years, its popularity has greatly increased (largely due to social media) making it one of Morocco’s most popular places to explore and photograph. It is one of the main stops in many Morocco package tours. Chefchaouen first donned its blue colors in 1492 when Jewish refugees arrived here after fleeing the Spanish inquisition. There was a time when the color blue separated Jews from Muslims until the entire population decided to adopt the color in solidarity.
There are a few different theories as to how Chefchaouen came to be painted its vibrant blue hues. Some believe it is tied to Jewish mysticism; the color blue being associated with the sky where the heavens and God reside. Others consider it a mosquito repellant to ward off malaria. Some think the reason is obvious, the blue represents the color of the sea. Whatever the real reason, Chefchaouen is bound to captivate and inspire.
Many tourists come here just to photograph this magical, blue walled city and its narrow, winding streets that lead to nowhere and everywhere. Surprises lie around every corner and you never know what you might be able to capture with your camera. You’ll see many uniquely decorated and brightly colored doors and windows, curious street cats, and locals going about their daily business. Photography is a great way to document the city’s ambiance and remember your experience here.
Chefchaouen also attracts shoppers and this is the place to find unique and authentic souvenirs. Medina is a great place to start. Rugs and leather goods are the most popular items sold here and can be found in abundance. Take a moment to admire the harmonious balance of Moroccan and Andalusian architectural styles as you drift through the streets and alleyways. There are many shops and vendors at weekly markets that sell handmade crafts and traditional items. Supporting local artists and buying locally produced goods helps keep many villagers in business.
Admire this grand, stone beauty as it lights up the sky with its earth tones and stands out amongst the dominant blues of the city. This is Chefchaouen’s oldest mosque built during the 15th century and features a unique, architectural design that is its octagonal minaret likely influenced by Andalusian style. Keep in mind that only Muslims are allowed to enter this religious institution.
Ras el- Ma
Wander to the edge of the city to visit this natural spring where the locals go to cool off and women often wash their clothes old school style at this small waterfall. There are also pathways that lead up the mountain for those who are adventurous.
Plaza Uta El Hammam
A great place to sit outdoors and people watch from the heart of the medina. This plaza with its spacious, cobblestone street offers a chance to take a break and observe the sights and sounds of the blue city.
Bouzaafar (Spanish Mosque)
Overlooking Chefchaouen, this mosque was built in the 1920s by the Spanish and is just 2km from the medina. You can choose to hike there (roughly takes around 45 minutes) or take a taxi. The mosque was built for local worshippers but was never used thus falling to ruin. The best time to visit here is at sunset to take in some amazing, panoramic views of the city.
This ethnographic museum lies at the center of the old medina near Plaza Uta el-Hammam. The red stoned structure was built in the 15th century and is in excellent condition that houses gorgeous Andalusian gardens. The museum’s collection is dedicated to the region’s cultural artifacts such as traditional clothing, folk art, pottery, and musical instruments. You can gain more insight into the local cultural heritage and traditions.
Hike around the Rif Mountains
Ready for an adventure in the great outdoors of Morocco? The Rif Mountains are where it’s at and there are several trails that will take you through this majestic landscape. Some of the trails can be accessed directly from Chefchaouen while others require transportation and can be reached about an hour outside of the city. You can choose half-day or full-day hikes and for those you really want to dive deep into the wilderness, source an extended duration hike that can last up to 4 days or more. Whatever you decide to do, don’t miss an opportunity to engage with Morocco’s natural environment.
Visit Talassemtane National Park
Talassemtane is the perfect day trip from Chefchaouen as it is just over one hour from the city. This national park was created in 2004 to preserve and protect the endangered fir trees that are sadly the last in all of Morocco. This park is home to many other tree species such as oak, cedar, and pine among many others. There are several trails to choose from where you can admire limestone cliffs and explore caves, discover waterfalls, and get close to wildlife. This experience will expose you to a different side of Morocco that is sure to leave an impression.
There are two popular hiking trails here: The Cascades d’Akchour (waterfalls) and God’s Bridge. The Cascades trail takes you down a clear and well-defined path through the forest where you will encounter two incredible waterfalls. The first is small, but its size does not make it any less magical. It will take about an hour to reach here. The second is the large waterfall with its jagged, moss-covered body that hangs over a crystalline pool. The best time to witness a good flow of water here is after the rainy season in early Spring or late Fall. There is even a small cave behind the waterfall where you can sit and listen to the calming sound of water rushing down from the mountains. God’s Bridge is another spectacular sight that takes you high above the landscape and backs down into a canyon where you’ll discover the gigantic, natural, red rock formation that makes a land bridge between the two sides of the gorge. Shrouded in wild greens, this organic structure rises up to around 25 meters high above the Oued Farda River where you can wade through, rock-hop along, or take a dip. A true oasis, this spot is can be reached in just 45 minutes where you can bask in its beauty.
Chefchaouen is truly the best mix of both town and country. With its laid-back atmosphere and slow pace, it’s more bohemian than bustling. Discover another side of the culture of Morocco by spending a couple of days here to wander, relax, and be inspired.