We started our Morocco trip right by heading straight to the blue town of Morocco, Chefchaouen.
Pronounced Chef-showen, even if you may not recognize the name, you will certainly see pictures of this cute and picturesque town regularly in your social media feeds.
Keeping the photogenic aspect of the location aside, the little town is a lot of fun to walk around and get lost. The locals were friendly, the food was good, it is increasingly becoming touristy but still less so than Marrakech and Fes.
Let us walk you through our experience of visiting Chefchaouen
Arrival in Morocco
We had an overnight flight from New York to Tangier with a short layover in Madrid. We flew business class on both the legs (with points) and were well rested on arrival in Tangier at around 1pm.
Being first in the line at the customs, we were in the arrivals area less than 10 min after landing because we didn’t have any checked bags.
We had to skip Tangier on this itinerary due to time constraints but we recommend adding a night here if your schedule permits.
Transfer from Tangier to Chefchaouen
Several reliable bus companies run along this route such as CTM and Najme Chamal. The buses in Morocco are reliable and are a nice way to experience the countryside.
Our schedule didn’t match with the bus timings so we opted for a private transfer from Tangier airport to Chefchaouen arranged by our hotel Casa Sabila for (700 MAD). You can also add an additional stop in Tetouan which is a UNESCO heritage site for an additional 200 MAD and break-up the drive. We were going to visit many such sights in Morocco so thought we would just head directly to Chefchaouen.
The driver arrived within a few minutes and was nice, welcoming and polite. We were off on our 2.5 hour journey. The drive was smooth and the countryside views of the mountains lined with greenery were pretty. We passed many small towns and dozed off for a little while as we were still jetlagged despite a nap in the flight.
We parked the car at one of the entrances of the town, from here we were on foot. The medinas and old towns don’t have wide streets and are not accessible by cars. This is by no means annoying because someone from the B&B or the driver will help with the luggage and is this is also part of the fun of visiting a new place! We just had back packs so didn’t need any help with the luggage. After a short 5 to 10 min walk we arrived at our B&B, Casa Sabila.
Stay in Chefchaouen
Casa Sabila is a small and intimate B&B. The staff manager (Ahmed) gave us a warm welcome and escorted us to our room on the top floor. He was friendly, polite and helpful.
The décor of the B&B and the rooms was classic Moroccan designs with beautiful paintings and intricate moldings on walls and doors. Even though the rooms are on the smaller side like most places in Chefchaouen, it more than makes up for it in the service, cleanliness, location and all other aspects. The staff member also stopped by and asked us if we wanted some tea.
Our room had a nice terrace outside. Coming from frigid NY, we basked in the sun and enjoyed the mint tea and some traditional cookies …delicious.
We made the mistake of laying down for a few minutes instead of heading straight out to combat the jetlag , and promplty passed out for several hours. We heard the call to prayer from the nearby mosque and decided to head-out for dinner so we don’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night…which would not be fun! We went to Café Sofia the next day. See details below. We had a nice time navigating through the maze of alleys to get to the restaurant and back.
After a delicious meal, we read a little bit and then passed out again. We slept in the next morning and headed for breakfast at 9.30 am. The breakfast was nice with strong coffee, eggs, Moroccan breads, jams, honey, cheese, etc. Just wish there were some fruits.
Where to eat in Chefchaouen
There are several touristy spots mostly located near the square. We skipped them and ate delicious meals at local restaurants. Even though Tagine is on every menu, we were careful to only have it at restaurants with great reviews because we read that most places served a mediocre version.
Also, remember to get orange juice with every meal. Morocco was full of oranges and we got freshly squeezed juice for a dollar (maybe $1.50) at every meal. So delicious! Here are some other restaurant recommendations –
Things to do in Chefchaouen
That was easy. Really, just walking around the blue washed narrow alleys and taking in the local landscape is a lot of fun. The town is really small. If you speed walk, you can cover all the streets in 30 to 45 min.
We took our time and enjoyed the colorful streets with vendors, bakeries and beautiful facades along the way. We took so many pictures! We got some of the best shots from the locations listed below and they weren’t too crowded. We decided to get lost and not follow any specific direction for a while and had a lot of fun.
- Look for the street with restaurant Lala Mesouda. That way, you get tasty food for the tummy and delicious views for the eyes. Many picturesque homes and streets are located here
- This is a good article listing specific locations with good views. Our suggestion: Throw out the list and wander around.
Walk up to the Spanish mosque
The Spanish mosque is a 15 min easy uphill walk from the north east end of the town. It gets crowded especially on the weekends with both tourists and locals. We found a nice spot on the hill just below the mosque which was surprisingly empty with great views.
We also passed through Plaza Uta el-Hammam – main square of Chefchaouen in the heart of the medina. No need to scout out this place, you will end up here anyway. Nothing special, just fun to people watch.
Like other markets in Morocco there are tons of leather goods, colorful knick-knacks, jewelry and souvenirs available in the smaller markets of Chefchaouen. We didn’t shop but if you plan to, skip the touristy square and head to the Local Berbere Artisanal store. There is also a neighborhood for shopping where locals go. Ask the staff member at your hotel. This would be an alternate choice. We also heard that even though Fes is more famous for its leather goods, the prices and quality of materials are better in Chefchaouen coz its not as touristy as Fes.
Despite not having many specific “attractions,” we really enjoyed out time in Chefchaouen. All the staff members at Casa Sabila made us feel so welcome and comfortable. We had such a great time walking and eating our way through the place. I remember smiling throughout the bus ride as we were heading out of Chefchaouen already missing this cute little town.
Hope the pictures have done the talking and convinced you to take a trip to Morocco. If you are not sold yet, we will be writing soon about the rest of the places we visited to change your mind 🙂