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Things to do in Chefchaouen: photos, itineraries and travel tips including where to eat, where to stay and how to get to the blue pearl of Morocco.
Chefchaouen is one of the most extraordinary and fascinating cities in Morocco.
The little blue houses, the cobbled streets that go up and down in the medina and the amazing location at the foot of the Rif mountains are what makes Chefchaouen a unique and wonderful place and a paradise for photographers.
My friend Cinzia and I got to Chefchaouen after a fun road trip from Tangier with a stop in Ceuta.
It’s February. While we drive up to reach Chefchaouen at its altitude of 546 meters we start feeling a cool breeze blowing through our car.
We get there in the evening. We settle down in our beautiful riad and can’t wait to explore the amazing blue pearl of Morocco.
WALKING AROUND THE MEDINA.
Chefchaouen is a maze of cobbled streets waiting to be discovered.
But what are the things to do in Chefchaouen? Just stop wondering and start wandering!
Every single corner is a beautiful glimpse to photograph.
And every photo you take is unique.
Unique because maybe that bag you shot has been sold and who knows in what part of the world is right now.
Or maybe because a cute cat is stretching in front of you at the same time you are taking your photo.
Unique because you have been so lucky to immortalize a local scene of everyday’s life.
Or simply because you discovered that little hidden corner that others might ignore but that you wanted to capture forever with your photo.
Well when you walk around Chefchaouen you always have the feeling that photos are never enough and that they don’t make justice to what you are actually seeing with your eyes.
One of the best things to do in Chefchaouen is browsing through the local products that people sell on the streets.
There are the usual souvenirs and magnets.
But also more peculiar things, like little crafts in wood and wicker.
Or carpets and the traditional Moroccan lamps.
Or the tajines, the earthenware dishes used to cook meat stew.
But if you want to see something very unique of Chefchaouen, this is for sure the powdered paint that locals use to paint their houses.
And the best part is that you can enjoy all that without the crowd and that pushing attitude of vendors that you would normally experience in the other medinas of Morocco.
While walking around all those little streets you will eventually end up in Plaza Uta el-Hammam, the main square of Chefchaouen.
You are probably wondering why Plaza Uta el-Hammam sounds so Spanish (Plaza) and not French (Place).
And if you weren’t, maybe I have just put this wonder in your head.
In 1494 many many Muslims and Jews were expelled from Granada because of the Spanish Inquisitions and moved to Chefchaouen.
This is why Chefchaoeun has such Andalucian imprint and that we find “plaza” and “calle” for “square” and “street”.
But let’s get back to Plaza Uta el-Hammam.
The landmarks of the square are the fortified walls of the kasbah and the Grand Mosque with its minaret.
And many bars and restaurants with terraces that offer a great view of the square and the little blue houses perched on the Rif Mountains.
HIKE IN TALASSEMTANE NATIONAL PARK.
Besides exploring Chefchaouen, you can take advantage of its stunning location by the Rif mountains and hike in Talassemtane National Park.
The park is located right outside the medina and you can choose the perfect trail for you according to the time available.
If you feel adventurous there are also hiking trips of 2 days or longer.
But if you don’t have much time and you want to go for a short hike during your visit to Chefchaouen you can definitely hike to the Spanish Mosque, just like we did.
HIKE TO THE SPANISH MOSQUE FROM CHEFCHAOUEN.
Once you leave the medina, cross Ras el-Maa river and head to the entrance of the park.
You will find the path to the Spanish Mosque on the right side.
It’s a very short path, maybe a half an hour long, but it will give you a taste of hiking in the Rif mountains.
Once you get to the destination, you will probably think that the Spanish Mosque is nothing special.
But from here you can enjoy stunning views of the medina.
And, why not, play with the local goats!
It’s amazing observing the medina during the prayer time and enjoying from above the call of prayer of the muezzin that echoes from the speakers all around the city.
We sit and enjoy this great sight for a while. Then we head back to the medina before it gets dark to enjoy some nice mint tea and make our stomach ready for an amazing Moroccan dinner.
WHERE TO EAT IN CHEFCHAOUEN.
Plaza Uta el-Hammam is for sure the place where to eat in Chefchaouen.
There are many restaurants and they all offer pretty much the same menu with the traditional food of Morocco.
We really liked Casa Aladin for the nice decorations of the rooms and the beautiful view from the terrace.
Among the local dishes there are couscous, chicken tajine, delicious brochettes (skewers of mixed meat) and my beloved and super hot kefta meatballs.
Everything is so good but I will never forget how shocked I got when they told me: “Desolé, les gateaux marocains sont terminés”. (“Sorry, we’re out of gateaux marocains today”).
Well, I want to apologize to the waiter for making everything quite embarrassing. Forgive me garçon, but you did actually break my heart!
HOW TO GET TO CHEFCHAOUEN.
Chefchaouen is beautiful but hard to reach.
It’s not located along the classical tourist routes and there are no train stations close by like in the other main cities of Morocco.
The best way to get there is for sure by car.
You could get a taxi but it might get expensive if you book from home or through a travel agency. And if you decide to organize everything once you are there, well be ready for long and hard bargaining.
The cheapest but also the most fun way is renting a car and driving in total freedom to Chefchaouen.
We rented a car online and got it at the airport of Tangier. If you too will start your journey from Tangier you could take a fun detour to Ceuta, one of the two enclaves of Morocco, just like we did.
WHERE TO STAY IN CHEFCHAOUEN.
For me the perfect choice for any stay in Morocco is always a riad, the traditional accommodation around a courtyard.
We chose Résidence Hotelière Chez Aziz, a cute riad that offers nice and elegant apartments.
Chez Aziz is just a few steps from the medina and the guys of the reception help you to park your car for free.
Parking available is for sure one of the things you have to consider when you book your accommodation as the best way to get to Chefchaouen is by car.
Breakfast is what I liked the most of this place. I will never forget it.
First of all they serve it in your room. Second of all it’s simply fabulous! Fresh pastries, pancakes, local bread, jams, honey and sweet sauces. “A” plus.
We really liked Chefchaouen. It’s a place I couldn’t wait to explore for its cute blue houses and the magical vibe.
Maybe in Chefchaouen there are no strong traditional elements of Morocco like in the other cities of the country. To some people it reminds them of Greece. To some others of Andalucia.
Me, I found it unique in its own way. Moroccan but not too much. With a clear and distinctive skyline but never boring. African but with a cool mountain breeze.
So, Chefchaouen, for me you pass with flying colors! And I’m sure it will have an extraordinary impact on you too!
CASABLANCA: THINGS TO DO IN ONE DAY
FES: A SCAVENGER HUNT IN THE MEDINA
RABAT: THINGS TO DO IN ONE DAY
TANGIER: THE PERFECT ITINERARY FOR ONE DAY
CEUTA: A LITTLE PIECE OF SPAIN IN MOROCCO