Planning a Chefchaouen itinerary… and looking for the top things to do in this beautiful blue village?
Well get ready for the blue right here with our guide to the Blue City! Chefchaouen, or the Blue Pearl of Morocco as it‘s commonly referred, is undoubtedly one of the top places to visit on a Moroccan itinerary. Having found huge success in tourism, Chefchaouen has something for every traveller or tourist.
But before you visit, it’s important to know a little bit more, in terms of what makes Chefchaouen special, how to visit, where to stay and the top things to do in this extraordinary place.
Following three months of slow travel around Morocco, we have created a list of the top unique things to do in Chefchaouen. We tried it all and share here the top things to do in Chefchaouen from our point of view – from visiting a local market, or getting the best photos of the Medina, a day trip to God’s Bridge or a sunset walk to the Spanish Mosque.
Chefchaouen, is a great destination year round, and is a must-see on your Moroccan itinerary. Rest assured that the blue paint is in a constant state of being reapplied, in preparation for the next lot of visitors. So use our Chefchaouen itinerary, to find the hidden gems of the Blue Pearl… we’ll help you avoid the Instagram crowds!
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Table of Contents
Why is Chefchaouen Painted Blue
There are a couple schools of thought on why Chefchaouen is painted blue. Some say it was painted blue as a mosquito deterrent. While others look to history for answers. In the 1400’s Chefchaouen became home to many Jewish and Spanish refugees. A few decades later, they began painting their doorways the colour blue. And the reason for this? Well so it is said, the colour blue represented the colour of the sky and therefore a closer presence to god.
These days, it could probably be said that Chefchaouen has found fame in their brightly painted streets, alleys and door ways. And as result, the tradition continues!
What is Special About Chefchaouen
Other than the brilliantly blue hues painted on every surface within the Chefchaouen Medina, the region is known also for the Rif Valley. And it’s impressive to see to say the least.
Stunning mountains and plains of fertile soil has seen the Rif region turned into the largest growers and suppliers of marijuana. We simply couldn’t believe the number of fields and quantities of plants growing. And I’m not talking about discreet little plots of the green stuff… picture roadside, plantation style, growing operations. But more on that below.
So there we have it, Chefchaouen is famous among Instagrammers for the picturesque blue village, and among smoker’s it’s a hash lover’s paradise.
Is Chefchaouen Worth Visiting
This is the big question and will depend largely on your Moroccan Itinerary. Chefchaouen is in the northern end of Morocco. So if your travel itinerary includes, the likes of Tangier, Casablanca or Tetouan, then yes we say Chefchaouen IS WORTH a visit.
But I base my answer on this question on more than the reasons above. In my opinion, Chefchaouen is so much more than just a pretty blue village, or a good place to get high. You have to read my list below of top things to do in Chefchaouen in order to understand why.
How to Get to Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is best reached by bus, private transfer or day trip. The main bus operator that travels to Chefchaouen is CTM and tickets can be purchased online through their website.
To get from the CTM bus stop to the old town or Medina of Chefchaouen, you will have a 20-30 minute walk. Alternatively, if you are heading to the Medina, take a small taxi and ask to go to Bab El Ain (the main gate) this will cost not more than MAD 20. But always make sure you agree a price beforehand.
Bus with CTM to Chefchaouen
🚌 Tangier to Chefchaouen – 5 buses depart daily from Tangier, travel time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tickets cost MAD 70 per person (current at the time of writing).
🚌 Fes to Chefchaouen – 4 buses depart daily from Fes, travel time is just over 4 hours. Tickets cost MAD 100-110 per person (current at the time of writing).
🚌 Rabat to Chefchaouen – 1 bus departs daily from Rabat, travel time is 5 hours. Tickets cost MAD 165 per person (current at the time of writing).
🚌 Casablanca to Chefchaouen – 1 bus departs daily from Casablanca, travel time is 6 hours and 30 minutes. Tickets cost MAD 205 per person (current at the time of writing).
Best Day Trips to Chefchaouen
A day trip from Fes is a relatively long day, with a drive time of up to 4 hours each way. But if you’re considering a day trip from Tangier, then the drive time is shorter at 2 hours and 30 minutes each way. Much more realistic!
Both of these guided day trips come highly recommended on Get Your Guide – one from Fes and one from Tangier. So if visiting Chefchaouen is an absolute top priority on your itinerary then check out these options below.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
Below we list our top four boutique hotels to book for a Chefchaouen itinerary, in order of cheapest to more expensive. And personally we thoroughly recommend a riad or dar stay in Morocco, even if it’s only once during your stay. Read our review of Ryad Watier in Essaouira, to find out more about staying in a Moroccan riad.
🛌 Riad La Santa – Here is an option for the families, with rooms that accommodate up to four people. Centrally located, terrace views and super value for money.
🛌 Riad Nila – Great for couples, you’ll love the comfortable rooms, the short 200m walk to the main square in Chefchaouen and the price.
🛌 La Petite Chefchaouen – This one isn’t a riad or dar, but it is great little boutique stay in the heart of the Medina with fabulous reviews and stunning terrace. They have room options for single travellers, couples and small families.
🛌 Dar Jasmine – My top choice for couples, particularly if you’re wanting to splash out. They are rated as exceptional on Booking.com for location with terrific views towards Chefchaouen old town.
Where to Eat in Chefchaouen
Eating in Chefchaouen is easy, with plenty of great restaurants within the Medina to keep you well fed. The main square offers many small restaurants that open for breakfast all the way through to dinner.
One of our favourite squares to eat at was the Haouta Square, it was pretty and much less populated with tourists. We enjoyed our morning coffee at one of the restaurants, and an evening crepe at the other.
⏰ We became regulars at Clock Cafe in both Fes and Chefchaouen. The food is great and the atmosphere too, with occasional live music sessions. According to their website on Wednesday at 7pm it’s Jam Session night, and on Monday and Thursday at 7pm it’s Storytelling Night.
🍊 Look for the many orange juice stalls if orange juice is in season.
🥞 Snack Fatima in El Haouta Square makes delicious crepes and the owner is a sweet heart.
🥨 The small local bakery in Sidi Sellam street off El Haouta Square is fantastic for treats.
👀 Restaurant Hicham in the main Outa El Hammam Square, has a lovely terrace for enjoying a nice meal while overlooking the Kasbah.
Top Things to Do in Chefchaouen – Itinerary Guide
Perhaps you are staying only one day in Chefchaouen, as do most, or maybe you’ve decided to stay longer. Whatever your situation, we recommend that read through our below list of things to do in Chefchaouen and decide what you want to do and visit.
We recommend at least two nights in Chefchaouen, as that way you can visit some of the more unique things to do in and also beyond the Medina. Such as God’s Bridge or sunrise at the Spanish Mosque. There’s definitely more to Chefchaouen than just the pretty blue streets!
Wander the Blue Streets of the Old Medina
Chefchaouen can get extremely busy in July and August due to European summer holidays as well as domestic tourism. So if you happen to be visiting, during this time of year we recommend that you get an early start.
Explore the streets at 7am to 10am and your experience will be relatively peaceful. Also if you are a keen photographer the lighting will be much better to get those pretty blues without the harsh sun.
The best way to find picturesque blue streets and doors is to simply wander. We urge that you don’t get caught up in searching for doors and alleyways listed by Instagrammers and Bloggers. There are literally cute little streets at every turn – you don’t need look hard to find them. Stroll some of the quieter alleys, and you’ll find many picturesque photo opportunities.
Note: Remember that Chefchaouen is home to a small community and so it’s important to explore respectfully. Unfortunately, gates and fences have begun to appear in some pretty blue doorways. This is a result of viral images on Instagram, which followers then go in search of in a bid to recreate.
Getting into the old walled Medina of Chefchaouen – Bab El Ain is the main entrance into Chefchaouen Medina. Walk through the gate, turn right and make your way up through blue painted streets towards the main Square Outa El Hammam.
Photo Shoots in Chefchaouen
It is important to mention, that many of the photos that you see taken in Chefchaouen are staged photo shoots. Local entrepreneurs have begun setting up their courtyards or streets for the travellers wanting to get that perfect blue photo.
You will see these photo shoots around the main streets, often with a queue to enter. And for about 10-20 MAD you can sit under a tree full of oranges, or in front of a Moroccan teapot for that quintessential blue on blue Chefchaouen photo.
Shopping in the Chefchaouen Bazaars and Shops
You are spoilt for choice when shopping in the bazaars and boutique shops of Chefchaouen. The vendors are mostly welcoming, and won’t push you too hard for a sale in comparison to other cities in Morocco.
So go with the flow, find some hidden gems and before long you’ll be filling your luggage with Moroccan trinkets and keepsakes.
Square Outa El Hammam
There are two main squares in Chefchaouen. The bigger and more popular of the two is Plaza Outa El Hammam or Sqaure Outa El Hammam. Here you will find the main Kasbah, many restuarants and two main streets leading up and through the Medina.
Take Rue Targi past the cute soap shop – La Botica De La Abuela De Aladdin. Then continue up the hill towards the right or left to begin your journey of picturesque blue streets. When it forks again, take a punt and follow your nose. You could honestly spend hours walking the Medina of Chefchaouen.
Square El Haouta
This is one of the smaller and quieter squares in Chefchaouen. We loved hanging out here for breakfast, or in the evening especially when we wanted to get away from the busy August holidaymakers.
In the centre of this little square is a pretty water fountain. And if the lady is in her kitchen cooking m’semen, then grab some for a Moroccan street food experience.
Berber Caravan Market
Just beyond Square Outa El Hammam, facing the hills, head to the left towards the start of Rue Targi. Here you’ll find the entrance to the Berber Caravan Market. We met two very friendly Moroccan Berbers who were in Chefchaouen for a couple of weeks.
They explained how they regularly travel throughout Morocco selling their wares in temporary markets or caravans. From Berber jewellery to carpets and antiques, they are definitely worth paying a visit to if you are looking for Moroccan treasures. And even if you aren’t there to buy, the conversations you’ll have with these travellers are reason alone to take a look through.
Visit the Kasbah Museum & Gardens
The Kasbah Museum and Gardens in Square Outa El Hammam provides peace and tranquility. At one time the gardens used to be free to enter. However, now it seems that with tourism returning to excess, there is now a regular entrance fee.
Visiting the Kasbah won’t take more than hour of your time. You can stroll around and admire the Andalusian style gardens, and then enter the small museum. Next wander over the courtyard and take a peek inside the old prison, before climbing the fortress. From up here you’ll find some beautiful views over the Chefchaouen Medina.
Open daily, entrance is 60 MAD for adults and children under 12 years pay 25 MAD. Timings vary depending on the time of year you visit –
October to May – 9am to 5.30pm
May to September – 9am to 6.30pm
Note: That the exhibition signs are not in English… only French, Spanish and Arabic.
Watch the Sunrise or Sunset from the Spanish Mosque
For the best scenic views of Chefchaouen then sunrise from the Spanish Mosque is a must on your itinerary! Many flock for the sunset, which is why I recommend the beginning of the day.
Built in the 1920’s, this mosque has had a somewhat turbulent existence. The villagers of Chefchaouen saw the mosque as ‘haram’ or forbidden and consequently it was never really used or attended for prayer. These days it’s visited predominantly as a lookout.
Follow the road out of Chefchaouen village, through Bab El Onsar or eastern gate of the Medina. Cross the bridge and look for the path that leads up the side of the hill towards the Spanish Mosque. You can’t really miss it!
Take a Cooking Class
We thoroughly recommend a cooking class in Morocco if you have time. Below we’ve listed several options for a cooking lesson in Chefchaouen.
If you want to know more about what to expect, read the review of our cooking class in Fes. However, if time is of the essence in Chefchaouen, and you only have one day here then consider booking a lesson in Fes.
Visit the Hashish Farms
Okay this probably isn’t one of those top things to do in Chefchaouen if you’re visiting with the kids. So if you’re travelling without the family and curious about the hash trade in Chefchaouen, then you’ll be interested to know that these farms can be visited.
As I explained above Chefchaouen and the Rif Valley is the mecca if you will, of hash. It’s big business actually, however it isn’t the farmers that profit from growing the green stuff.
It was puzzling to us that these fields of marijuana plants were so blatantly in sight. After having lived well over a decade in the Middle East we know that drugs are strictly prohibited in the muslim faith. However, during our time there we met many Moroccans who apparently enjoyed their smoke.
On further investigation, we discovered that the drug trade goes all the way up to a government level. And therefore, a blind eye is turned on the growing, selling and exporting of hash. It could be fair to say that hash use and trade is actually a part of Moroccan culture. This said, Moroccans are still cagey to talk about and offer hash in public spaces.
As you walk the Medina, you’ll receive whispered offers of hash and tours to a hashish farm. We recommend that if this is something that you want to explore, negotiate your tour beforehand. And be sure to agree on a price, while getting a clear understanding of what you’ll get on the tour and where the farm is.
Take a Trip to Akchour to See the God’s Bridge
This is my personal favourite – right at the top of my list of unique things to do in Chefchaouen. Allow a day, or half at least, for a visit to Akchour to see God’s Bridge, to swim in the waterholes and to have a lunch tagine in the river.
Take a collective taxi near the main round about in Chefchaouen not far from the Medina. On the main road R412, opposite the petrol station and Cafe Dahab, you’ll find the Akchour Collective Taxi stand. It costs 25 dirhams per person, and the taxi will leave when it’s full.
The drive time to Akchour takes around 45 minutes. And the walk to God’s Bridge takes around 45 minutes to an hour one way. The river is cold, so the best time of the year to visit for the swimming is in the peak of summer.
So if the timing is right, then don’t miss this trip. Visit early in the day to avoid the crowds, then stop for a tagine lunch at the Cuisine Berber restaurant on your return. Ask for Hicham and say My Free Range Family said hi!
We have a full dedicated post on how to visit Akchour and God’s Bridge… so check it out for all the details.
Visit the Local Fruit & Veggie Markets
If you love fruit and vegetable markets and you’re keen to see a bit of the local culture then we thoroughly recommend the Monday and Thursday markets.
Walk to the souk on Av Maghrab Arabe for a taste of the real Morocco. We arrived probably a little too early, but enjoyed watching the locals go about their business, setting up. Around 11am was when the market really kicked into life.
There won’t be many other tourists around so you’ll feel like you’ve wandered off the beaten track. What’s more, the locals are welcoming and friendly. I totally recommend the hot chip (or fries if that’s your language) filled bread rolls. Carbs on carbs with spicy sauce, I mean, I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it myself.
Also I recommend the small stall or cafe behind the chip sandwich station. Stop here for a cup of tea, and chat to the guy making it, he’s a friendly old guy and loves a good chat in Spanish or French. If it’s English… good luck 😁
Have an Orange Juice in the River
And last but not least, head to the river just beyond Bab El Onsar gate in the Medina. In the morning in the huts on the river, you’ll see local woman washing clothes in the designated wash house. Then later in the day, during the orange season, this structure turns into the orange juice cafe.
In the middle of summer, locals sit at plastic tables with their feet in the river while they sip on an OJ. The perfect way to cool off on a hot day. Oh and did I mention the orange juice in Morocco is to die for!
Map of Chefchaouen
You can find all the places we have recommended here in our post on this interactive map. Click through or use this map to navigate and plan your Chefchaouen itinerary.
A Bucket List Chefchaouen Itinerary
Day One in Chefchaouen – Walk the Medina in the morning and get all the blue photos that you possibly can. Wander through the two main Squares of the Medina, shopping the bazaars, grab an orange juice and lunch or dinner at the Clock Cafe.
Day Two in Chefchaouen – Take a day trip to the mountains to see Akchour and the beautiful God’s Bridge.
Day Three in Chefchaouen – Visit the Spanish Mosque for sunrise or sunset, book in a cooking lesson, a hash farm tour or visit the Kasbah Museum. Then depending on the day of the week, visit the local Chefchaouen Veggie Souq.
More on Morocco
We hope our quick guide has helped you narrow down a few top things to do in Chefchaouen, for your one or two day itinerary. Don’t miss more travel tips, itineraries and guides to other popular destinations in Morocco.
- Get our guide on things to do in Fes, including our self guided walking tour
- Don’t miss a visit to the windy city of Morocco, see our top 16 things to do in Essaouira
- Read here for the ultimate 3 days in Marrakech, a complete first timer’s guide
- A complete handbook of things to do in Tangier, with a 3 day itinerary
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