Chefchaouen, nicknamed the “Blue City,” is one of the most picturesque destinations in all of Morocco. This Chefchaouen travel guide covers everything you need to know about visiting this charming city, plus unique things to do and insider tips.
Nestled in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen has a storybook setting, with large granite mountains and lush green hills surrounding the iconic baby blue medina. Dating back to the 15th century, the Old City is a charming place to explore, overflowing with colorful souks, sweet photo ops, and super friendly locals. There’s also plenty for outdoor lovers, with tracks galore, a campground, and stunning Akchour a quick ride away.
Compared to the rest of Morocco, Chefchaouen is relatively quiet. It sees a fair amount of tourism, but nothing compared to hotspots like Marrakech and Fes. Due to this, Chaouen is a prime place to chill out for a while or to escape the heat and bustle of Southern Morocco.
I spent five months living in Chefchaouen and learned all this magnificent area has to offer. You’ll find it packed into this Chefchaouen travel guide to help you make the most of your trip and experience a more local side of the city.
Ready to discover all that’s in store? Keep reading for the ultimate Chefchaouen travel guide.
Chefchaouen Travel Guide Basic Information
Language: The predominant language in Chefchaouen is Moroccan Arabic, or Derija. Many people in Chefchaouen also speak Berber and local dialects. However, you’ll find that most people in Chefchaouen speak English, Spanish, French, or a combination of the three, so it’s fairly easy to communicate with most locals.
Currency: Like the rest of Morocco, Chefchaouen uses Dirhams. Occasionally people will accept US Dollars or Euros. Almost everywhere in Chefchaouen is cash only, so be sure to exchange or withdraw at ATMs, which can be found along the main street along the bottom of the medina.
Getting Around Chefchaouen: There is no car access in the medina, so the best way to get around Chefchaouen is to walk. It’s important to keep in mind that Chefchaouen is very hilly, with slick slopes and lots of stairs. Good walking shoes are essential.
Clothing: In the summer, Chefchaouen is super hot, and the mountainous winter can be freezing. No matter the time of year, bring breathable clothes and lots of layers because the Moroccan sun is very hot, but the weather can change quickly. Also, remember to pack clothes for hiking, good walking shoes, and modest clothing for women that covers your shoulders and knees.
Why is Chefchaouen Blue?
There is something undeniably magical about the blue-washed buildings of Chefchaouen. As you wander the narrow streets of the medina, you’ll see shades of blue in every direction, from pale sky to deep indigo. The color is so pervasive that it almost feels like you’re walking through a dream world. It’s impossible not to wonder: ‘why is Chefchaouen blue?’
While the answer is still debated, the main theory is that after Chefchaouen became a Spanish territory in 1920, Jewish refugees fleeing World War II settled in the city. They painted their buildings blue to symbolize the sky and connect to their spirituality, with the tradition living on long after the majority of the Jewish community relocated.
Others believe that the blue color helps repel mosquitos, which are prevalent in the area. While more still argue that the color blue is used to keep the city cool. Whatever the reason, the blue buildings have become an iconic part of Chefchaouen’s identity and a major draw for tourists.
Fun Fact: Homeowners in Chefchaouen are required to repaint their homes blue every two years to maintain the clean aesthetic and cohesive look of the city.
Despite the popularity of the blue color, Chefchaouen manages to hang onto its authenticity and charm. The locals are warm and welcoming, and the city has a laid-back vibe that is hard to find in more touristy destinations. So if you’re looking for a spot that’s equal parts enchanting and relaxing, Chefchaouen is the place to be.
Best Time to Visit Chefchaouen
The best time to visit Chefchaouen is from March to May and from September to November. This is when the temperatures are mild and pleasant, making it perfect for exploring the medina and hiking in the mountains. Days are sunny, and it’s warm enough to swim if you take a day trip to Akchour.
The summer months in Chefchaouen can be hot and crowded, and the winter is normally cold and rainy, so it’s best to avoid those times if possible.
That said, Chefchaouen is one of the best places to visit in Morocco year round, especially if you want to camp in the warmer months of summer or see snow capped peaks in depths of winter.
How to Get to Chefchaouen
The best way to get to Chefchaouen is by taking a large taxi from Tangier. You share the ride with five other people (normally Moroccans), and it costs 70 dirhams ($7). The ride is under two hours, and taxis drop you off close to the medina in Chefchaouen, which is why most people opt for this choice.
Otherwise, you can take a CTM bus from Tangier or other cities like Fes. The bus is a better option if you’re traveling with lots of luggage or large suitcases since taxis are limited in storage. Busses are comfortable, but the bus station in Chefchaouen is at the bottom of a huge hill, far from the medina, so it’s quite a trek to town if you arrive this way.
The closest airport to Chefchaouen is Tetouan (1 hour/40 miles), followed by Tangier (2 hours/70 miles), if you’re flying to Morocco and want to visit the Blue City.
Check out my comprehensive guide on how to get to Chefchaouen, which breaks down transportation options from more cities across Morocco.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen has heaps of accommodation options, ranging from budget-friendly riads and Chefchaouen hostels to luxurious hotels. There are also many great Airbnbs if you’re looking for more privacy.
These are some of my recommendations for where to stay in Chefchaouen:
Budget: Hotel Molino Garden & Dar Zman
I love this little riad and it’s definitely where to stay in Chefchaouen if you’re on a budget. The double room with a shared bathroom is small but is only $25 a night. For $10, you can upgrade to a larger room with a private bathroom. The main draw to Hotel Molino is the enchanting garden, and the area in the medina (close to the river) is my personal favorite.
Prefer more spacious accommodation? Dar Zman is a really lovely choice. The rooms are large with big private bathrooms, and the breakfast is delicious.
Mid-Range: Riad La Santa
If you’re looking to stay in a traditional riad, La Santa has all the Moroccan charm with plenty of modern comforts. There’s parking nearby and rooms are spacious, great for families and groups.
Luxury: Dar Jasmine
This is where to stay in Chefchaouen for high end accommodation. The views are positively unmatched, the rooms boutique hotel style, and there’s even a pool for the hot summer months.
More Places to Stay in Chefchaouen
In terms of Airbnbs, I stayed at this cute rooftop flat for a month and loved every second. The views are insane, and the private terrace and full kitchen are unbeatable for a long term stay. It’s also right next to the local markets, conveniently located to experience daily life.
If you’re visiting Chefchaouen in a campervan, there’s camping Chefchaouen at the top of the medina. It’s about a ten minute downhill walk to the center of town and offers splendid views and basic facilities.
Where to Eat in Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is a wonderful place to try Moroccan cuisine, and most local restaurants are reasonably priced.
Many articles about where to eat in Chefchaouen mention Casa Aladin, but they’ve been closed since 2020. Here’s an up to date Chefchaouen travel guide for all the foodies planning a trip.
Chefchaouen Itinerary: What to Do in Chefchaouen
And now for the main attraction: what to do in Chefchaouen. The incredible aspect of this city is a Chefchaouen itinerary can take many forms. Spend your visit treasure hunting in the medina and learning local history, or take to the mountains for an outdoors driven adventure. No matter how you choose to experience the Blue City, there are a plethora of interesting things to add to your Chefchaouen itinerary.
For a complete list of what to do, check out my guide on unique and off the beaten path things to do in Chefchaouen.
Explore the Medina
The blue medina in Chefchaouen is brimming with vibrant souks and enchanting photo opportunities. It’s the top thing to do in Chefchaouen, and you can easily spend a full day getting lost in the steep streets.
Walk Along the City Walls
On top of the medina, you’ll find the old city walls, guarding Chefchaouen against attack. Panoramic view from the walls shows the blue medina in all its glory. It’s one of the best places to watch sunset in Chefchaouen since most people flock to the Spanish Mosque viewpoint.
Climb to the Spanish Mosque
Sitting high on a hill overlooking the city, the Spanish Mosque is one of the most iconic places to visit in Chefchaouen. While you can’t enter unless you’re Muslim, the sights are gorgeous, and there’s a cafe next door to enjoy a tea with the view.
Drink a Tea by the River
The Ras El Ma River cuts through Chefchaouen, and it’s lined with cafes to chill out at, especially on a hot day. Kick back with a tea, listen to the rushing water, and rub elbows with friendly locals.
Soak in Views From the Kasbah
Smack in the center of the Chefchaouen medina is the grand Kasbah, a fortress dating back to the 14th century. Inside you can find stunning Andalusian gardens, an ethnographic museum, and towers with top notch sights over Chefchaouen.
Visit the Local Hammam
This is one of the best things to do in Chefchaouen in winter. My favorite hammam in Chefchaouen is Elrahma. Hang out in the steamy traditional bath and indulge in a vigorous scrub from the friendly attendant.
Hike in the Rif Mountains
It’s impossible to miss the Rif Mountains while in Chefchaouen, considering the entire city is surrounded by craggy granite peaks. Outdoor enthusiasts should make a beeline for the numerous trails in and around the city that lead deep into the mountains for day and overnight hikes.
Take a Day Trip to Akchour
Akchour is a jewel of Morocco, a pristine natural wonderland that’s well known as one of the most beautiful places in the country. It’s only a 25 minute taxi ride from Chefchaouen, where you can visit the countless waterfalls, hike to God’s Bridge, or swim in the crystal clear pools. If you have some extra time in your Chefchaouen itinerary, this is a must-do.
Tips for Visiting Chefchaouen
What’s a good Chefchaouen travel guide without some local tips? Here are key things to know about Chefchaouen from my personal experience living in this city.