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The Blue City of Chefchaouen, Morocco

The Blue City of Chefchaouen, Morocco

The town of Chefchaouen, perched high in the Morocco’s northern hills, is among the most illustrative examples of the country’s geographical and architectural beauty. Painted blue to ward off the mosquitoes and other winged pests that would otherwise torture locals, Chefchaouen is equal parts traditional Moroccan city and Bohemian mountain town.

In recent years, Chefchaouen (known as “Chaouen” among locals) has become increasingly popular among travelers to Morocco. Chefchaouen nonetheless retains a singular charm that becomes decidedly more pronounced the further up and away from the central medina you walk.

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Where to Stay in Chefchaouen

When I visited Chefchaouen I stayed in Pension Souika, a hostel my Australian friend Erin had recommended. These days, of course, I’m not a backpacker any longer, so I’d probably choose somewhere a little swankier, be it a boutique property such as Dar Elrio or even the full-on luxury you’ll find on offer at Hotel Atlas Asmaa.

Things To Do in Chefchaouen

Owing to its hilltop, wooded location, Chefchaouen is a regional hub for hiking, swimming and all manner of outdoor activities for backpackers in Morocco. Within the town center, a “waterfall” is perhaps the most famous attraction. It’s relatively difficult to find, however — and I’m sad to report that it’s not particularly worth the trek.

Indeed, your attention in Chefchaouen would be better focused getting lost in any of the dozens of narrow passageways that lead away from the city’s medina. If the curious smiles from local children — and dirty looks from some of their parents — aren’t enough to keep you engaged, you can always walk straight up to enjoy panoramic views of the town.

The waterfall was my favorite thing I did in Chefchaouen, but it’s just the beginning of things to do in Chefchaouen. I happened upon an article and video highlighting other attractions in Chefchaouen that might prove useful as well.


Why Is Chefchaouen Blue?

Chefchaouen is most recognizable for the blue paint that covers nearly all of its buildings. Blue is my favorite color, so naturally I took an instant liking to Chefchaouen the moment I arrived. I didn’t even mind when mischievous local boys purposely splattered some of their blue paint on me as they were working!

Interestingly, one reason for Chefchaouen being blue is more practical than aesthetic. Specifically, blue repels mosquitoes and other insect pests who reside at approximately the same elevation in Morocco’s heavily wooded northern hills. Come to think of it, I didn’t get bitten by any mosquitos when I was there!

Another reason Chefchaouen is blue stems from the city’s Jewish heritage. This won’t come as a surprise if you’ve ever visited baby blue Safed, Israel, the birthplace of Kabbalah.

How to Get to Morocco’s Blue City

Unless you’ve rented a car or want to pony up the cash for a private taxi, the only way to reach Chefchaouen is via bus. I personally recommend that you use CTM, Morocco’s government-run bus company.

When it comes to Morroco’s Blue City Marrakech isn’t the most convenient point of origin for your trip. Chefchaouen to Marrakech takes about 10 hours, while Chefchaouen to Casablanca requires six hours. The closest big city to Chefchaouen is Tangier, from which the journey is less than two hours.

The Bottom Line

Whether you fixate on Chefchaouen’s blue color like I did, or revel in the variety of incredible activities the city offers, it’s sure to be one of the highlights of your trip to Morocco. Chefchaouen is an essential stop on any journey through Morocco, be it a country-wide itinerary or simply as part of a trip over the straight of Gibraltar from Spain.


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