Must-see: Chefchaouen, The Blue City of Morocco + 10 Tips

In the Rif Mountains of Morocco, you’ll find Chefchaouen, the most photogenic town in Africa. The old Medina of Chefchaouen is entirely painted in blue and white, creating a maze of narrow alleys adorned with colorful decorations. Chefchaouen is somewhat off the beaten path when you’re traveling through Morocco, but it’s definitely a place you shouldn’t miss. Here are all our tips for the best attractions and things to do!

Why is Chefchaouen blue?

There are many stories about why Chefchaouen is blue, but after some research, the following reason seemed the most plausible. Chefchaouen was founded in 1471 as a base for the Berber tribes from the Rif Mountains to launch attacks on the Portuguese in Ceuta. The city expanded in 1494 with the arrival of Muslims and Jewish refugees from Granada. They built whitewashed houses with small balconies, tiled roofs, and courtyards, giving Chefchaouen its Spanish look. The light blue color that Chefchaouen has now was introduced in 1930. Blue is an important color in Judaism, and it also helps keep the houses cooler.

Don’t just visit Chefchaouen as a day trip

Chefchaouen is about a three-hour drive from Fez, and in theory, you could visit Chefchaouen as a day trip. However, we believe that would be a shame and quite tiring since you would be on the road for six hours that day. We recommend staying for one or two nights because in the morning, before the day-trippers arrive, it’s wonderfully peaceful, and the sunset is fantastic. Moreover, you’ll find several beautiful hotels with rooftop terraces in Chefchaouen where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast with a view of the blue Medina. At the bottom of this article, we’ll recommend some good hotels with rooftop terraces. If you simply don’t have the time and still want to visit Chefchaouen as a day trip from Fez, then this day tour is highly recommended.

The Best Things to Do in Chefchaouen

One full day is enough to explore Chefchaouen thoroughly. Start your day early because the day-trip tourists haven’t arrived yet, and you’ll have the blue Medina almost to yourself.

Shopping in the small shops of Chefchaouen

Hidden in the narrow alleyways, you’ll find small shops everywhere. In addition to cheap souvenirs, you’ll also find nicer shops with beautiful jewelry, spices, or treats like nougat and roasted nuts. Prices in Chefchaouen are slightly lower than in other cities in Morocco, but bargaining is still necessary.

Get Lost in the Blue Medina

It’s delightful to wander through the alleyways and small squares. There’s something new to discover around every corner, and you’ll surely take dozens of photos of decorated doors, adorable kittens, or a stall with fresh fruit.

Tip: If you want to take a photo of a local, always ask for permission first because people in Morocco don’t appreciate it when you take their photos without permission.

Take a Sunset Stroll to the Spanish Mosque

From the Spanish Mosque, you’ll have a fantastic view of the entire Medina of Chefchaouen. The climb takes about 15 minutes, and it’s recommended to do it during sunset when the colors become even more vibrant due to the low light. You can find the starting point near Ras El Maa on the edge of the Medina.

Capture Stunning Instagram-worthy Shots on “Instagram Street”

While the entire Medina is photogenic, there’s a route that is particularly adorned with colorful flower pots, carpets, and beautiful corners. For convenience, let’s call this street “Instagram Street,” but it’s actually a route of 800 meters (2625 feet) across a few different streets. During the day, it can get quite crowded as everyone tries to take the best photos, so go as early as possible. We went at 8 o’clock, and there was hardly anyone there. We’ve saved this route for you here so you can easily find it.

Enjoy Mint Tea at Plaza Uta el-Hammam

In the heart of the Medina, you’ll find Plaza Uta el-Hammam, and the square is home to several restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a refreshing mint tea. It’s a nice place to relax, unwind, and people-watch!

Delicious Dining at Cafe Clock

Of course, indulging in a tasty couscous or tajine is a must when you’re in Chefchaouen. Our favorite restaurant is Cafe Clock. You can sit on a lovely rooftop terrace, and in the evening, there’s often live music. It’s a great spot for a Moroccan dinner followed by some drinks and games.

Tip: Stay in a Hotel with a Rooftop Terrace!

Perhaps the best tip we can give you is to stay in a hotel with a rooftop terrace. Here, you can enjoy a delightful breakfast in the morning while marveling at the breathtaking view of the blue city and the mountains. Dar Sababa has a charming rooftop terrace and a perfect location in the Medina. It’s situated slightly higher, offering an even more beautiful view. The rooms are quite basic but come with air conditioning, and a delicious breakfast is included with your stay. Another option is Dar Zambra, which features a cozy rooftop terrace and beautifully decorated rooms. However, please note that there’s no air conditioning, so it can get warm during the summer days. Both hotels are small-scale and tend to book up quickly, so it’s wise to make your reservation as early as possible if you want to stay there. If you’re looking for ultimate luxury and have a generous budget, Dar Jasmine is the top choice in Chefchaouen. It’s located a bit higher up the stairs, but it offers the best view of the Medina since the hotel is along the route to the viewpoint near the Spanish Mosque. The rooms are incredibly beautiful and equipped with all the luxurious amenities.