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Chefchaouen, the “Blue Pearl” of Morocco, is nestled in the Rif Mountains in the northeast of the country. It’s a cute picturesque town that has become famous for being washed in blue paint and it’s now one of Morocco’s top destinations.

I missed out on visiting Chefchaouen on my first trip to Morocco so for my second trip it was at the top of my list! I spent two days there and I can tell you that Chefchaouen is a must-see place.

The medina in Chefchaouen is so unique when compared to other places in Morocco and exploring it was my favorite thing I did there. If you like to hike then you’ll definitely want to make sure to do that too when you visit.

If you want to know what the best things to do in Chefchaouen are and why you should visit, you’ve come to the right place! The Blue City has a unique blend of Moroccan authenticity and artistic charm making Chefchaouen a must-visit destination.

The Chefchaouen Medina with it's winding alleys and stairs and blue washed buildings - things to do in Chefchaouen

Why is Chefchaouen Blue?

Why is Chefchaouen blue? There are several theories, one being that the blue color was introduced by Jewish refugees who settled there in the 1930’s. They painted the buildings blue as a reminder of the sky and heaven giving them a sense of spiritual connection. This is the story we were told by locals too.

Another theory is that the blue color helps repel mosquitoes and keeps homes cooler during the summer months. I’m not sure about that but I didn’t get a single mosquito bite when I was there.

Whatever the reason, the blue palette has become Chefchaouen’s hallmark and attracts visitors from around the world.

How to pronounce Chefchaouen

If you plan on visiting Chefchaouen you probably want to know how to pronounce the name correctly. It’s much easier than it actually looks!

Chefchaouen has three syllables and the first one is pretty easy: CHEF. Just like it looks.

Next is CHA, but it’s not the normal “ch” sound like in the word chair, but it has an SH sound: SHU, like the start of the word shut.

And finally OUEN is pronounced like the name JUAN. So CHEF + SHU + JUAN. Now, just run it all together.

Things to do in Chefchaouen Morocco

Chefchaouen might be small but there is plenty to do. What I loved about Chefchaouen is how quaint the town was. Unlike other cities in Morocco (hello Marrakech), Chefchaouen is very tranquil. A lot of Morocco has this laid back hippie vibe but Chefchaouen REALLY has that feeling. I didn’t want to leave! Find out what there is to see and do in Chefchaouen.

Explore the Medina

In every major city of Morocco, there is a Medina. The Medina is the older part of a city and where you’ll find the souks, or shops. Just like other Moroccan cities, such as Marrakech and Fes, you’ll find a maze of narrow alleys in the medina but Chefchaouen is different.

In other places, the medinas have twists and turns but it’s mostly on flat ground. The Chefchaouen Medina has a LOT of stairs AND twists and turns. First, the stairs go up and then suddenly you’re going back down again. Turn the corner and it goes back up.

It really makes it easy to get lost in the medina. I got lost so many times while there but that is the best part because you will find things you weren’t even looking for.

I could spend an entire day there just exploring and taking THOUSANDS of photos of all the cute alleys and doorways. It’s one of the best things to see and do in Chefchaouen.

Go shopping in the Souks

While you’re in the medina, you might as well shop! Whether you’re looking for a Moroccan Rug or pouf, a leather bag, or a piece of art to take home, the Chefchaouen Souks has it all. Unless you have zero will power (it’s so hard!), head to the souks and find that souvenir to take home.

Just don’t forget to haggle a little. I promise you will not offend anyone by low-balling them. It’s expected and it’s all part of the game. They throw out an insane price for something that you would never pay so you throw out an insane price they will probably never accept. Then after a while y’all have met somewhere in the middle and everyone is happy.

If you can’t see yourself paying their final price then just walk away. They will either come down on their price or you’ll leave and make a decision later that you can’t live without it and you’ll pay their final price.

The Spanish Mosque

In the southeast of Chefchaouen up on a hill that overlooks the city is the Spanish Mosque. The mosque was built in the 1920’s and sits high on the hill overlooking the entire town and is a Chefchaouen must see.

The mosque was actually never used and has fallen into dispair but you can still go up there for the views. It’s an easy 30-40 minute hike to the top and the Chefchaouen views are worth it, especially at sunset. Just make sure you have your phone charged up so you can use the flashlight for walking back down.

The Spanish Mosque is open 24 hours a day and is free to enter.

The Kasbah Museum

Learn about Chefchaouen’s history and culture by exploring the 15th century Kasbah. With it’s lush gardens and panoramic views of the town and surrounding mountains, the Kasbah is one of the best places to visit in Chefchaouen Morocco.

The Kasbah is a historical fortress right in the heart of the medina built by Chefchaouen’s founder, Moulay Ali ibn Rashid, and served as a way to defend the town against invasions. It has traditional Andalusian style archtecture with intricately carved wooden doors and colorful tiles.

This is a major landmark in Chefchaouen and it would be really hard to miss it as it sits right in the main plaza. What you’ll find there is a museum with exhibits on the local history, beautiful gardens, and a rooftop terrace with amazing views. Seriously, Chefchaouen is all about those amazing views!

The Kasbah is open from 9:30am to 1:00pm and 3:00pm to 6:30pm and is 60 dirhams or about $6 to enter.

Plaza Uta El-Hammam

Plaza Uta el-Hammam is the main square in Chefchaouen Morocco and is right in front of the Kasbah. The square is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops and is the central gathering place for locals and visitors.

During the day the plaza is full of locals mingling and vendors selling items but it’s really the place to be in Chefchaouen at night. In the evening you’ll find the square full of people including families, street performers, and musicians. It’s a great place to sit back in one of the many cafes or benches and take in the sites and just do some people watching.

Rooftop Restaurant

For the best views in Chefchaouen all you have to do is find a cafe or restaurant that has it’s own rooftop with 360° views of the whole city.

One of our favorite restaurants in Chefchaouen is Restaurant Casa Aladin. It has several levels with views out the windows and the higher you go, the better the views. Make sure you go all the way to the top where the entire rooftop opens up to the entire city. Good food and good views. What more could you want!

Day Trips in Chefchaouen

If you’re spending a few days in Chefchaouen and want to get out in nature, there are a few options for that.

Rif Mountains Hike

Go hiking through the Rif Valley on a private tour. Meet up with your guide in Chefchaouen and start hiking up to the Spanish Mosque, take in the views of Chefchaouen, and then continue your hike into the Rif Mountains. You’ll stop for lunch in a Berber village for lunch and then head back to Chefchaouen in an off-road vehicle.

Akchour Waterfalls

Grab a taxi and go on a hike through the Farda Canyon to God’s Bridge in Akchour, a natural rock bridge. This area is just a 30 minute drive from Chefchaouen. You’ll pass through natural pools and waterfalls and if it’s warm enough you can cool down in the water.

Make sure you either pay your driver to wait for you or make sure there are other taxis there that you’ll be able to get to take you back to Chefchaouen.

If you prefer, you can go on a full day trip to Akchour with a guide who is knowledgeable who will take you to God’s bridge and the Akchour waterfalls.

Best time to visit Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is located in a mountainous area so it’s cooler than Marrakech or Fes but it does still get hot. If you want to avoid crowds then the spring or fall months are best. The weather is also very mild during that time so it won’t be too hot.

The summer months of June to August will be much more crowded and can get pretty hot. Prices will be higher for transportation and accommodations too.

Winter in Chefchaouen can be pretty chilly with the higher elevation, especially at night, but without the crowds and heat it might be a much more enjoyable experience. It will still be pleasant during the day and if you plan on visiting other cities in Morocco then you’ll probably welcome the cooler temperatures for a few days.

Getting to Chefchaouen

The only way to get to Chefchaouen is by car or bus. There is not an airport or train station in Chefchaouen. The closest airport is in Tangier which is about 2.5 hours away by car.

You can either rent a car, take the CTM bus, or hire a driver (taxi) to take you to Chefchaouen. We hired a driver from Tangier to Chefchauoen and it cost each of us (5 people) $13 for the one way trip.

The next closest major city is Fes which is about 3.5 hours by car. When we left Chefchaouen for Fes, we took the bus and it was about $12 each. It likely would have been a little bit more to hire a driver but not much. Both options were comfortable.

If you’re in Marrakech and want to travel to Chefchaouen then you’ll need to either fly or take the train to Fes and from there take the bus or hire a driver.

Getting around Chefchaouen

Once you’re in Chefchaouen you won’t need a vehicle to get around because it’s a pretty small town and you won’t be able to drive in the medina anyways. If you want to get out of Chefchaouen for a day trip you can easily take a taxi. Just make sure you either arrange for your driver to wait to take you back or make sure you have some other way to get back there.

Where to stay in Chefchaouen

There are two options for where to stay in Chefchaouen. You can either stay in a riad in the medina or choose a place outside the medina. In the medina you’ll have to contend with the up and down of the stairs and cobblestone walkways so make sure you’re able to carry your bags to your riad. If you choose to stay outside the medina there are riads and hotels to choose from.

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