If you’ve done any research or know anything about Morocco, no doubt you’ve come across the beautiful blue coloured city Chefchaouen. Located in the northern part of the country, this small city has become the darling of photographers, instagrammers, and influencers. But, despite the fact that it is beautiful, is it actually worth visiting? I spent two nights here during my time in Morocco and here are my thoughts on Morocco’s blue city.
How to Get to Chefchaouen from Fez
The first thing that you need to know is that Chefchaoeun is quite far from Morocco’s other main cities. There is no nearby airport and no train station so your options are take the bus or drive. We went to Chefchaoen from Fez which is one of the closest routes and by closest I mean 4.5 hours by bus (there is a toilet break).
It’s not a short journey and, if you are taller like I am (5’8 with long legs) it’s not a comfortable one either. My knees were pretty sore by the time we got off thanks to spending so much time digging into the seat in front of me. That being said, the bus was clean, the driver was safe, and the process was pretty easy.
If you are planning on making this journey, make sure to book your tickets well in advance. This can be done online via this website. Alternatively, you can get them from the bus station although you need to go at least a day before (though I recommend more as there are only a couple buses and they fill up quickly). At the time of our visit (May 2019) a 1-way ticket was 75 dirhams each.
Make sure to arrive to the bus station at least thirty minutes early, especially if you are bringing big luggage that needs to be stored underneath- there is a special luggage check process you will need to go to that includes paying a (small) additional fee.
Tip: The Medina (the blue part) of the city is not by the bus station, you’ll need a taxi. It should cost between 10-20 dirhams from the bus station to the Medina.
What is there to do in Chefchaoeun
The easy answer? Not much. It’s a beautiful city but it’s quite tiny and the allure here is definitely based on how it looks not what it has to offer in terms of sites and activities.
Photograph the City
This is the number one reason to come to Chefchaoeun. Whether you are into photography or are an influencer looking for some dreamy self-portraits, Chefchaoeun is a photography dream. The blue and turquoise streets lined with colourful flower pots, white accents, and shops will have you clicking your shutter button over and over. Keep in mind, that everyone comes here for photos so expect lineups in some of the most photographed spots. You’ll also want to be aware of the lighting, early morning before the sun gets too harsh is your best bet, but the shops (which add to the atmosphere) aren’t open first thing.
PS: My friend and I took turns taking photos of each other, but localgrapher offers professional photoshoots in Chefchaoeun as well. I did a session with them in Santorini and definitely recommend it. You can check them out here.
Check out the Shops
There are lots of cute little shops selling the Moroccan favourites; blankets, rugs, bags, magnets, postcards, artwork and paintings, spices, soaps, and traditional Moroccan clothing. Whether you choose to shop or not is up to you, but the colourful shops are fun to take photos of. Remember, if you do shop- haggle! Insider tip: We saw a number of tourists buy the local clothing for photos, however, we also noticed that some colours were VERY see-through. You don’t want that in Morocco, so if you do buy a traditional dress check it in the lighting and have something to wear underneath (leggings and a cami will work).
Unsure of what to wear in Morocco? Ready my Morocco packing list for women.
Chefchoauen is located in the hills and mountains so there is a little bit of hiking. We did the sunset viewpoint hike to the Spanish Mosque which overlooks the city. It’s a nice view and not very hard, about 20-25 minutes from the bottom to the top. I recommend wearing proper closed shoes though as the path is part gravel/rock and can be slippery.
There is also another hike to the Akchour Waterfalls. We did not do this hike as we met another girl who told us you’d want good shoes to do it (I brought flipflops and keds). She said it took a few hours there and back and she was happy to have a guide, it is supposed to be quite beautiful though if you are up for a bit of an adventure.
Relax on the Terraces of Restaurants and Cafes
Chefchaoeun has no shortage of restaurants and places to grab a cold drink or mint tea and look out over the rooftops. This is a great way to escape the sun and take a little break while still getting to enjoy the beauty of the city. We tried two different spots during out visit, Restaurant Aladin which we both really enjoyed and was one of the cheapest places we’ve eaten at (85 dirhams for a starter, main, and dessert). We also ate at a place called Bab Ssour which came highly recommended. Maybe it was just an off day, or perhaps we didn’t order well, but I much preferred Restaurant Aladin.
Visit a Hammam
Another way to spend your time in Chefchaouen is to visit a Hammam. We didn’t, mainly because we were going to the desert right after and figured we’d save our Hammam experience for after that. Ask your accommodation for Hammam recommendations.
Can You Visit Chefchaoen as a Day Trip?
If you are reading this and wondering if it’s worth it to just go as a day trip… well you can but I don’t really recommend it. As mentioned earlier the bus ride is 4.5 hours each way which means for a long (and potentially uncomfortable) day. It can be done, but you’ll be exhausted. If this is your plan, book the 8am bus from Fes and the 6pm bus from Chefchaouen.
Alternatively, you can do a day trip with a car and a driver. This cuts the travel time down and is a much more comfortable. Also, more expensive but if you have your heart set on visiting and are short on time then I’d go this route instead. Book at day trip from Fes to Chefchaouen here.
However, while day trips are possible I really recommend staying at least one night. It empties out much more in the evening which is nice plus, Chefchaoeun is much more laid back than Fes and is a nice place to take a break and relax.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
If you do decide to spend a night or two in Chefchaoen, you’ll have a number of accommodation options. There are lots of good choices but I definitely recommend that you stay in the Medina (aka the blue part).
We stayed at Casa Elias which was a bit tricky to find at first, but in a good location and well-priced. We paid $100 between the two of us for 2 nights in a private twin room with breakfast. It was simple, but worked. Dar Sababa also comes highly recommended and both are very affordable.
Tip: We were told that Chefchaoeun has a bed bug problem- not what any traveller wants to hear. Thankfully, we were fine but I recommend reading up on the reviews of any property before you book, just in case.
Tips for Visiting Chefchaouen
Chefchaoeun is known to be easier and more laid back than other Moroccan cities. I can’t really speak to the cat calls because I was there during Ramadan. However, we still got hassled by people trying to lead us to our hotel-in exchange for payment, of course.
Chefchaoeun is also known for the drug culture: hash and marijuana. We were offered drugs during our visit but obviously did not accept. I never felt unsafe, but we did come across a couple of locals who were clearly on something so we definitely avoided them. That being said, we made sure we were in fairly early in the evenings (not that there is much to do in the evening there anyways).
PS: If you are a woman thinking of travelling to Morocco alone, I suggest you read this post.
Final Thoughts on Chefchaouen: Is it Worth it?
Chefchaoeun is a beautiful city, definitely one of the prettiest I have ever been to. However, it doesn’t really have much to offer. As someone who loves taking photos and works as a blogger, it made sense for me to come. But, even then, I could have spent a shorter amount of time here for sure. That being said, I also enjoyed having a bit of down time and being away from the craziness from Fes.
So, do I recommend Chefchaoeun? If you are into photography and looking for a bit of a quieter break, sure thing. If you are someone who likes to constantly be on the move and see/do things, then your time may be better spent elsewhere in Morocco.
A Note on Travel Insurance in Morocco
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.