Always make time for at least one little adventure off the beaten path when you travel…

And if you find yourself in north Africa, I highly recommend taking a detour to visit beautiful Chefchaouen, aptly called The Blue Pearl Of Morocco.


Chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

Where: Chefchaouen

When: end of March

Temperature: 10-15 C during the day, cooler at night

This village high up in the Rif mountains is a true gem. It’s not the Morocco you might envision or may have seen portrayed on TV or in the movies. If the sea was nearby you could easily be fooled into believing yourself to be on a beautiful Greek island, thanks to the vibrant blue hues of the buildings.

Because of its distance from the larger cities of the country, this amazing place has retained it’s old world charm and remained much more quaint. However don’t go thinking you’ll be alone here. Thanks to some pretty stunning Instagram photos, the word is out on Chefchaouen. And eager explorers from all over the world are discovering this beautiful town.

a little history…

Chefchaouen was founded in 1471 by Jews and Moors that were fleeing Spain. Originally it was painted in beautiful coral hues. But at some point a transformation began, and nobody has a definitive answer as to why the village is now painted blue.

Some say it was painted by the Jews who settled here after fleeing Hitler. Others believe the colour was chosen to keep the mosquitoes away, while some say it simply represents the sea, which is too far to see and enjoy.

chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

What I know for sure is this…Chaouen, as it is called by the locals, was a must-do on our travel itinerary!

I dare say it might have been the deciding factor for choosing Morocco on this trip. But we certainly didn’t realize how far off the beaten path it actually was. Getting there was not easy.

We opted to book a last minute organized day tour, online, through the app VIATOR. Our day package included the 4 hour bus ride from Fez to Chefchaouen. The drive was a bit long and slightly nerve wracking thanks to a driver with a heavy foot! But the mini coach bus was very comfortable. We then enjoyed a guided tour of the town with a very knowledgeable and interesting local character. And of course the 4 hour crazy bus ride back to Fez.

It was a heck of a long day but so very much worthwhile. Having said that, I would highly recommend staying overnight if at all possible. We really would have loved more time to explore and enjoy this pretty town.

Also, I discovered afterwards, that there are beautiful hikes, waterfalls and wonderful places to explore in the mountains nearby, so if that is something that interests you, give yourself some extra time in the area.

Chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

 

What to see and do

Chefchaouen is indeed a village, with not a lot of specific things to see. However if you can arrange a guided tour for a couple of hours, do it.

It’s always more interesting to see and hear about a place from the perspective of someone who knows it well, even if it’s a small place like this.

The old medina is the highlight here and walking it is fairly easy. You will likely still get lost however, wandering the narrow alleyways with all its picture perfect nooks and crannies. Here’s an interesting tidbit to keep in mind, that will help you navigate…we were told that if the path or stairs are painted blue this indicates a dead end.

At the centre of the medina is the square, Plaza Uta El-Hammam. This is the perfect spot to take in the stunning views of the mountains behind the town, and a great place to stop and have a drink or a meal.

Chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

As you wander around the medina you will come across small shops, and food stands. No shortage of orange juice here, and it’s delicious so indulge if you have the chance.

chefchaouen morocco potsandplanes.com

chefchaouen morocco potsandplanes.com

I found the shops in Chefchaouen to be absolutely wonderful. They sold unique items I did not see anywhere else in Morocco. There were a lot of wool products and textiles. And the shopkeepers were friendlier and not aggressive like those in Marrakesh or Fez. Prices were similar, perhaps even a bit lower here. This is a great place for some souvenir shopping.

My big regret was not buying more. Honestly!

Look at these slippers…gorgeous! Why oh why did I not get myself some…

Slippers at chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

I found walking around this medina to be a total pleasure, in comparison to the very busy, dark and rather claustrophobic medinas in Fez and Marrakesh. Yes it’s much smaller, but I think the blue and white paint just made it feel so much more welcoming and bright, despite the narrow paths. And the fresh mountain air was bliss.

chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

Stunning colours in this pretty town are everywhere…

chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

The Rif mountains that surround this picturesque place keep the town rather cool, temperatures are quite a bit lower than in Fez.

It rains much more often too, so come prepared with a jacket and rain gear or umbrella.

Chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

Chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

The hues of blues are unbelievably beautiful….

Chefchaouen Morocco potsandplanes.com

If you have the chance to visit Chefchaouen take it!

It’s a must see place in Morocco in my humble opinion, and really should be on your itinerary.

Given the opportunity I would return in a heartbeat!

Notes for a future visit…

*rent a car and drive at my own leisure

*definitely stay overnight in Chefchaouen, inside the medina if possible or close by, for at least one night

*come prepared for some day hiking and explore the mountain area

*visit the Grande Cascade d’Akchour, a beautiful waterfall area about 20 km from Chefchaouen, where you also swim, canoe and cliff jump

*explore the villages we passed by bus on our way to Chaouen



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