When planning your trip to Morocco, the small town of Chefchaouen is a gem that deserves a spot on anyone’s Morocco itinerary. ‘The blue city’ sits high up in the Rif Mountains, surrounded by stunning green valleys that contrast beautifully with the vibrant blue of the town’s buildings. It’s a magical little town of mysterious blue alleys, cute fluffy kittens, laid-back vibes and the friendliest locals!
While it may be only small, there are plenty of fun things to do in Chefchaouen that you shouldn’t miss out on during your stay! I’ve created this complete Chefchaouen guide to help you plan out every detail of your time spent in this amazing town, including the best things to do, the best places to stay, and where you can find a glass of wine or beer in an otherwise alcohol free place.
Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram, Chefchaouen has become an increasingly popular destination due to its extremely photogenic nature. Once you travel to Chefchaouen, you will quickly see that it really is a photographer’s paradise. Truly one of the most unique and enchanting places we have ever visited, ‘the blue pearl’ is guaranteed to be a highlight of your time spent in Morocco!
Table of Contents
Top 10 Best Things to do in Chefchaouen
Get Lost in the Chefchaouen Medina
The Chefchaouen medina is an endless maze of narrow winding alleys that lead you to hidden corners and cute little spots around the town. Just spend a few hours exploring at your own pace, getting lost is all part of the fun. You will stumble on stunning doorways, alleys decorated with colourful plant pots, and many many cats.
The streets of Chefchaouen are filled with the cutest cats and kittens you’ve ever seen. As tempting as it may be to pick one up and give it a cuddle, it’s best to avoid touching them as there have been reports of rabies infections in tourists over the years. Just admire them from afar and take as many photos as you like!
As we were eating breakfast one morning, a friendly neighborhood cat was hanging around our table. He eventually hopped up and sneezed all over my plate of food!😂Luckily one of the restaurant staff saw it happen and offered to replace my meal at no extra charge.
Shop for Souvenirs
One of the most popular things to do in Chefchaouen is taking some time to browse the many colourful little shops. Shopping for souvenirs in Chefchaouen isn’t as cheap as you may expect but it’s a much more enjoyable experience than places like Marrakech, as you don’t get nearly as much hassle from the shop vendors.
Chefchaouen is known for its beautiful traditional hand-made goods such as colourful carpets, Moroccan lamps, jewellery, caftans, woven baskets, and so much more. If you’re going to buy any souvenirs or gifts for friends in Morocco, you really can’t go wrong with getting them in Chefchaouen!
Tips for shopping in Chefchaouen:
- Always shop with cash, most stores don’t accept credit card payments.
- Haggling is part of the shopping experience in Morocco. The shop vendors will initially tell you a much higher price than an item is worth, never settle with that. Offer them about half of their asking price and then you will go back and forth until you settle on an agreed price.
- If you’re looking for something in particular, check out a few different shops before settling on one so that you can gauge what the average price will be for a given item.
- If you aren’t getting anywhere with the haggling process, don’t be afraid to pretend to walk away. The vendor will often call you back to try and continue the haggling process. This way he will be more likely to lower his price so he can make a sale.
In the Place Outa El Hammam (main square) of the old city you’ll find the 15th century Kasbah, it’s right next to the Grand Mosque. Inside the Kasbah is a lovely courtyard with a beautiful garden as well as the Kasbah museum. The small museum has some historic artifacts on display as well as some artwork but there is a lack of English.
The main highlight of visiting the Kasbah is climbing up the towers to get a fantastic panoramic view of Chefchaouen’s rooftops and surrounding countryside. To be completely honest, we chose not to go inside. The reviews we heard from other travellers were that it’s overpriced for what you see, especially if you only speak English.
If you want to check out the garden and climb up the tower for the views then go for it. But if you’re expecting a well put together museum with English labels then maybe give it a miss. We enjoyed having lunch at the restaurants in the square in front of the Kasbah, admiring the view of the building from there.
Tickets: 60 DH/$6 USD
Opening Times: 9am – 6:30pm daily
Enjoy the Scenic Views from the Spanish Mosque
One of the top things to do in Chefchaouen is without a doubt taking a short hike up to the Spanish Mosque that sits on a hilltop overlooking the town below. This is a particularly nice thing to do in the evening when the town is lit up in that perfect sunset glow!
The trail to the Spanish Mosque begins at the the east end of the town. You will pass a few cafes, cross over a little bridge and then begin the uphill walk toward the mosque. The entire walk takes about 30 mins and is very scenic along the way.
Once you reach the top, the breath taking views from the mosque will reward you. The Spanish Mosque was built in the 1920s but is no longer in use today. Watching the sunset from the mosque is the perfect way to finish off a long day of sightseeing.
Dine at a Rooftop Restaurant
Enjoy a traditional Moroccan tagine from a rooftop restaurant. There are a number of highly rated restaurants which boast beautiful views from their rooftop terraces. We tried a few of them and here are the ones we can recommend based on good food, reasonable prices and of course epic views!
Cafe Clock Chefchaouen – We had dinner at this lovely place one evening, the food was delicious, the views were awesome and there was also live music. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the main square, away from most of the other restaurants and shops. It’s a big restaurant with multiple levels but make sure to ask to be seated on their rooftop terrace!
Aladdin Restaurant – Coming in as one of the top picks for places to dine in Chefchaouen, the Aladdin restaurant is centrally located near the Kasbah in the big square. The views over Chefchaouen from their rooftop dining terrace really are awesome as it’s one of the highest buildings in the area!
The only downside is that the reviews on TripAdvisor seem to be hit or miss. Some people stating that service wasn’t great or that the food wasn’t amazing. In our experience, the food was decent and the service was fine. It’s worthwhile to have one meal there just to experience the epic views!
Hamsa – Delicious homemade food, great views and good reviews! You can’t go wrong with choosing to have lunch or dinner at Hamsa. Located in the main square near the Grand Mosque, this place serves plenty of western dishes including wraps, vegetarian meals, gluten free options and more.
Of course, traditional Moroccan cuisine is on the menu too, if that’s what you’re craving. The prices are slightly higher at this place compared to others in Chefchaouen but the food is good, it’s clean, and there is an awesome view from their rooftop terrace!
Find the Best Photography Locations in Chefchaouen
What was once a sleepy little mountain village has seen a huge increase in visitors in recent years. This all comes down to the internet and more specifically social media platforms like Instagram which have certainly put Chefchaouen on the map.
Even if you’re not into social media, the blue pearl of Morocco is truly a magical place for anyone who has an interest in photography. There is no shortage of pretty little corners and picturesque spots around Chefchaouen and you really don’t have to go far to find them.
Simply walking around the town will lead you to all sorts of fascinating doors and colourful scenes. If you’re looking for the absolute “must-see” photography spots in Chefchaouen, here are the ones you don’t want to miss! Be warned though, don’t be surprised if you have to queue up to take some of these shots.
The Paid Set – Perhaps one of the most well-known photos of Chefchaouen is this perfect little garden scene, set up with a table, a tea pot and plenty of pretty plants. This is actually the front of someone’s home, it is well kept and costs only 5 Dirhams (50 cents USD) per person to take photos there.
Queue up and then spend as long as you like until you get the perfect shot. This person clearly had a brilliant business idea when they thought this one up! Click here for exact location of the paid set.
The Steps with Colourful Pots – Another one of the most popular photography spots in Chefchaouen, this one draws the crowds. We showed up at around 8am to try and get these steps to ourselves and there was already a small crowd of keen photographers setting up their tripods even at this time of day!
This one is hard to miss, you’ll definitely find it while you’re out and about exploring the town. It’s located on the one of the main streets that runs through Chefchaouen. Click here for exact location.
The Beautiful Door Scene – Not too far from the previous location (it’s only a few steps away on the same street) is one of my favourite scenes of Chefchaouen. A beautifully decorated blue door, with more colourful potted plants and a narrow alley of steps leading up to more dreamy scenes. I just love this little town!
Click here to find this exact location on the map.
The Tall House With the Cute Staircase – Another unique and picture-perfect scene of Chefchaouen is this really tall and skinny house with a gorgeous staircase filled with plants. It’s a lesser known photography spot but it’s important to keep in mind that this is actually someone’s home. Just because people on Instagram have taken photos here posing on the steps, it doesn’t make it ok to intrude.
I first saw a photo of this place when one of my favourite Instagrammers shared some photos of her sitting on the steps. I fell in love with that scene and knew I just had to check it out. Once we arrived, we notice a gate had been placed there, deterring any keen Instagrammers from posing on their private property.
This is totally understandable and I would never encourage people to hop over the gate (note, there was clearly no gate yet when Nathalie Wanders was there). Just do as we did, admire the pretty scene, take some photos and continue on your way. To find this spot, head to Hotel Nisrine and you’ll see it right in front of the hotel.
View this post on Instagram
The Many Blue Doors – Each door in Chefchaouen is unique and beautiful in its own way. The good news is that there are hundreds of them and if you’re into door photography, this is your place! You could spend hours walking around taking endless photos of doors in this town.
Unfortunately I have no idea of the exact location of the door in the photo below, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to find one just like it on your explorations around the town!
Everywhere in Chefchaouen – The truth is, the entire town is packed full of hidden gems. There are probably hundreds more photography spots in Chefchaouen that we didn’t even discover on our visit. The more time you spend exploring, the more magic you will find! Even this little alley with its archway is extremely photogenic.
Taste the Traditional Moroccan Cuisine on a Food Tour
Learn all about Moroccan cuisine while sampling the many unique flavours on a traditional food tour through the streets of Chefchaouen. Let a local guide lead you through the alleys of the town while taking you on a journey through the history of Morocco’s traditional and most popular dishes.
Sample over 6 tastings as you work your way through the maze of blue streets finishing off the tour with a delicious meal at a local restaurant. The tour lasts for 3.5 hours and your experienced guide will also take you to a number of viewpoints along the way for photo opportunities.
Hiking in the Rif Mountains
There are endless opportunities for scenic hikes and walks in the Rif Mountains that surround Chefchaouen. There are multi-day hikes or shorter hikes that can easily be done on a day trip. If you only have a few days to spend in Chefchaouen, the one that I will recommend to you is hiking to Akchour Falls.
The start of the hike begins in Akchour village which is a 45 minute drive from Chefchaouen. The cheapest way to get there is to take a shared taxi which is referred to as a Grand Taxi. These taxis will take 4-6 people and only leave once they have filled up. The other option is to take a private taxi which will obviously come at a higher cost.
Just outside of the medina you will find the taxi stand (any local will point you in the direction if you ask them), once you arrive just mention that you want to go to Akchour Falls and someone will show you where to find the shared taxis. Grand taxis will cost about 25 Dirhams per person where a private taxi starts at around 200 Dirhams.
The hike to the big falls takes about 2 hours total, one way depending on how many times you stop. The hike itself is not very challenging and the trail is easy to follow so don’t worry about getting lost. The scenery is beautiful along the way with plenty of smaller waterfalls and rock pools which are great for swimming in.
Things to bring on your hike to Akchour Falls:
- Bring some cash with you, not only for the return trip back to Chefchaouen but so that you can buy food and drinks at the little stalls on the trail along the hike
- Warmer layers like a rain jacket, the mountain weather tends to be unpredictable and it can rain unexpectedly.
- Swimming suit and towel so that you can swim in the pools along the hike
- Toilet paper and hand sanitizer
- Comfortable walking shoes, you don’t necessarily need hiking boots but it doesn’t hurt to wear them if you have them!
There are plenty of other trails around this area for those who are keen hikers. Hiking in the Rif Mountains is a great way to take a break from the bustle of the busy Moroccan cities and relax in the peaceful mountain scenery.
Hiking to Akchour Falls makes an excellent day trip from Chefchaouen for those who have limited time but still want to get some exercise in while surrounded by beautiful nature.
Grab a Drink at Hotel Parador
In a country where alcohol is a rare find, one might wonder: is there anywhere to go for a drink in Chefchaouen? You’ll be happy to know that the answer is yes!
Hotel Parador is the perfect place to pop in for a mid-day or evening drink. There is a lovely outdoor patio at the back of the hotel where they serve selected drinks from a menu. The good news is that you don’t have to be a guest to be served there.
The other bonus of this place is the beautiful landscape views that you’ll see as you sip your beverage on the patio while soaking up some sun. Stopping at Hotel Parador for a beer was one of Rick’s favourite things to do in Chefchaouen, so I figured it deserves a place on this list!
Check out the Chefchaouen Souks
Every week on Mondays and Thursdays, colourful market stalls are set up just outside of the medina. Farmers come to sell their fresh produce for good prices. You can pick from a huge range of fruits and veggies. You will also see ladies dressed in their traditional clothing selling handicrafts, leather goods and more.
Take in the sights, smells and scenes as you explore the local markets. You can even pick up some lunch at one of the sandwich or hot chip stalls. Walking through the souks is a fascinating, culturally rich experience and it’s one of those things you must do when visiting Morocco!
How to get to Chefchaouen
Getting to Chefchaouen is most commonly done from either Fes or Tangier, as they are the closest cities to travel from. Since Chefchaouen is located in the mountains, there is no train line that runs there and it can only be reached by road.
There are two ways to travel to Chefchaouen besides renting a car and driving there yourself. The first is taking the bus which is pretty straight forward and overall a comfortable journey. The other option is to book a private transfer which will cost more but may be worth doing it if you’re travelling in a group.
Fes to Chefchaouen
We took the route from Fes to Chefchaouen via the CTM bus service. The bus departs Fes several times throughout the day but bear in mind that during busy months, they tend to fill up quickly.
We showed up early at the bus station hoping to get on the morning bus but to our dismay, it was already booked so we had to wait 4+ hours for the next one! The route passes through windy mountain roads and took longer than advertised. The total journey was definitely closer to 5 hours.
I would recommend either buying your tickets online (this needs to be done 3 days prior to departure) or heading to the bus station when you first arrive in Fes to book your bus ticket. This will ensure you get a seat on the bus for the date and time that you want.
It’s important to note that the CTM bus station in Fes is actually not near the old medina, where you will likely be staying. You’ll need to catch a taxi to get there which takes around 15 minutes.
Journey time: 4-5 hours
Ticket: 80 DH
If you don’t want to take the bus, book a private transfer from Fes to Chefchaouen.
Tangier to Chefchaouen
When we departed Chefchaouen, we took the same bus service to Tangier. If you are travelling in the opposite direction, from Tangier to Chefchaouen, you’ll want to book your ticket a few days in advance.
This is a very popular route for both locals and tourists and unfortunately there is only one departure per day which is at 12:15pm. To buy your tickets, head to the main bus station ‘Gare Routiere‘ in Tangier city centre.
The CTM bus station where the bus actually departs from is over 5km from the city centre, so you’ll need to catch a taxi. Otherwise there is a free shuttle that runs from Gare Routiere station to the CTM bus station.
Journey time: 3 hours
Ticket: 60 DH
Best Chefchaouen Day Trips
If you don’t have enough time on your Morocco itinerary to spend a few days in Chefchaouen, you might want to consider taking a day tour from either Fes, Tangier or Rabat. There are plenty of day tours to choose from and they’re all reasonably priced. See some of the most popular tours below.
Fes to Chefchaouen Day Trip – Includes pickup from accommodation in Fes, transportation, a fully guided tour, 4 hours of time spent in Chefchaouen. Find tickets and availability here.
Tangier to Chefchaouen Day Trip – Includes pickup from accommodation in Tangier, a fully guided tour, 4-5 hours to spend exploring Chefchaouen. Find tickets and availability here.
Rabat to Chefchaouen Day Trip – Rabat is a bit further away from the other cities mentioned, I would recommend spending a few days in Chefchaouen if you’re travelling from Rabat. If you only have enough time for a day trip, this private tour is a great option.
The private tour of Chefchaouen from Rabat includes hotel pickup and drop off, transportation, tour lead by an experienced guide, 3 hours of time to spend in Chefchaouen. Find tickets and availability here.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
Dar Meziana – This beautifully decorated riad features panoramic views from the rooftop terrace, comfortable rooms and a delicious breakfast included in your stay. With a convenient location and excellent reviews, you can’t beat this riad when it comes to value for money!
Dar Sababa – A popular and highly rated guest house in the heart of the Chefchaouen medina. Sip your mint tea while taking in panoramic views from the rooftop terrace, enjoy easy access to the highlights of Chefchaouen and retreat to a clean and nicely decorated room at the end of a long day. Breakfast is served daily and included in your stay.
La Petite Chefchaouen – For those seeking a little extra comfort and amenities during your stay in Chefchaouen, La Petite Chefchaouen makes an excellent choice. With fantastic ratings, this beautiful property features tasteful decorations with a modern touch, a scenic rooftop terrace with a restaurant and breakfast included, and a convenient location in the heart of the old town.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful for planning out your trip to the blue city! Chefchaouen was the second stop on our epic 10 day journey through Morocco and I have to say it really left a lasting impression on me. It’s somewhere I would absolutely return to in the future and perhaps spend a bit more time there relaxing and hiking in the surrounding mountains.
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