Chefchaouen is a holy city located in the middle of the Rif Mountains. It was founded in 1471 by a Berber settlement and until 1920 was a forbidden place for non-Muslims. Fortunately, people of all faiths can now enjoy this charming city, probably one of the most beautiful in the country due to its blue streets and buildings. That is why it has been nicknamed "the blue pearl of Morocco". Find out what to do and see in Chefchaouen.
What to do and see in Chefchaouen
Stroll through its blue streets
The main activity to do in Chefchaouen is to get lost in its beautiful medina. Its blue colored streets make this city a very special place. But why am I blue?
There are many different theories. Some argue that shades of blue on the walls keep mosquitoes away, others believe that blue helps keep homes cool during the hot summer months. The most popular theory is that the city was painted blue by the Jews who fled to Chefchaouen to escape the Spanish inquisition in the XNUMXth century.
Whatever the real reason for the blue color, locals still continue to apply a fresh coat of paint to their homes about twice a year today, creating a fairytale town, filled with blue archways, porches and stairways.
Chefchaouen is an oasis of tranquility compared to other Moroccan cities. Don't be afraid to get lost and don't limit yourself to the wider main roads. There are real hidden wonders if you deviate a little.
Visit the Souk (market)
If you happen to be in Chefchaouen on a Monday or a Thursday, you should definitely visit the “souk”, the Moroccan word for market. These days the peasants of the Rif valley take to the streets of the old medina of Chefchaouen to sell their products. This can range from fruit and vegetables to handmade artisan products and mountain herbs.
Piazza Outa el Hammam
One of the essential attractions to see in Chefchaouen is knowing its main square. It is the liveliest spot in the city, surrounded by numerous restaurants and hotels offering a wide range of menus at a great price.
If you have time, you can sit on one of the restaurant terraces surrounding the square and watch the daily life of its inhabitants unfold. This square is a meeting point for locals and tourists and is home to two of the most important monuments in the city, which are the Great Mosque and the Kasbah.
Shop in one of the many small bazaars
Something very tempting to do in Chefchaouen is to purchase various items to decorate the house. The streets of Chefchaouen are an art gallery, with many shops and stands where you can buy rugs, hats, paintings, magnets and countless things. It is a pleasure for the eye to see all the colorful wares displayed against the blue walls and definitely an experience not to be missed. Don't forget to bargain to get a good price.
The Great Mosque, the most important building to see in Chefchaouen
One of the most important buildings to see in Chefchaouen is its large mosque, in the main square. It is a XNUMXth century construction designed by the son of Ali Ben Rachid, the founder of the city.
In addition to having many centuries of history, it attracts everyone's attention thanks to its curious octagonal minaret. Although it is not the largest or most impressive mosque in the Morocco, it is worth contemplating it from the outside. As in all mosques, access to non-Muslims is prohibited.
Visit Kasbah or Alcazaba
The Kasbah was built by Muley Ismail at the end of the XNUMXth century and his visit is one of the main things to see in Chefchaouen. This imposing medieval fortress is completely surrounded by solid reddish walls and in one of its side corners is the Torre del Tributo, from which we recommend you to climb to the top, as it is the best place in town to take photos.
Inside the Kasbah it is also possible to visit the garden full of large trees and flowers and go down to the basement of the Tower of Homage, where the old prison cells are located.
Do not miss to visit the ethnographic museum which is located inside the Kasbah. It houses an important collection of folk art, weapons, musical instruments, carpets, tapestries and old photos from the era.
Enjoy the panoramic view from the Spanish mosque
We must not be satisfied with seeing the blue buildings from the streets, but also try to see Chefchaouen from above. The best place to enjoy a splendid panoramic view of Chefchaouen is the Spanish mosque, built in 1920.
To reach it, it is best to leave the east door of the medina, Bab al Ansar, and walk for about 40 minutes. Its surroundings are a very peaceful place from which to contemplate the contrast of the blue of the city with the green of the mountains.
Visit a local hammam
If you don't know what to do in Chefchaouen on a rainy day, it might be a good idea to visit one of the local hammams and try a traditional Moroccan massage. There are several hammams in Chefchaouen and the price changes according to the services.
For a true local experience, you can visit Hammam El Harras, where you can swim among the local people. If you prefer more luxury and privacy, the Lina Ryad and Spa it is reputed to be the best hammam in Chefchaouen.
Trekking through the surrounding mountains
Beyond the beautiful blue center of Chefchaouen are spectacular natural corners. Around the blue city lies the Talassemtane National Park, a green space where the last fir trees in the country are kept. There are several routes of different lengths, and it is possible to spend one or more days exploring the area. The best time to hike in the Rif Mountains is from April to October.
Day trip to Akchour waterfalls and the Bridge of God
Le Akchour waterfalls and Bridge of God are two very special places within the Talassemtane park. They are located near Akchour, a small town located 45 minutes drive from Chefchaouen. It takes half an hour by car to get to the start of the route.
You can arrive with your own vehicle or by booking a organized tour. Once at the starting point you have to walk for about two hours until you reach the waterfall.
How much time should you spend visiting the city?
The duration of your visit to Chefchaouen depends a lot on what you want to see and do. If you are short on time, a full day should be enough to discover the city as Chefchaouen's old medina is not very big.
If you want to visit its surroundings as well, a 2-3 day visit may be necessary. The low season (from late autumn to early spring) allows you to avoid the largest crowds. The only downside is that it often rains and it can get really cold during the winter, as Chefchaouen is located in the mountains.
- Be respectful towards the local people when it comes to taking pictures. They don't always like to be photographed so it's best to ask for permission first.
- If you want to take great pictures without a lot of people in the background, you have to go out on the streets before 9am. Chefchaouen starts waking up around 10.