Chefchaouen: The Blue City

The next stop in Morocco, after Marrakesh, Meknes and Fes, would be the city renowned for its famous blue walls: Chefchaouen.

buildings

Why Sky Blue?

Originally painted blue by its Jewish inhabitants (exiled from Spain), Chefchaouen has a unique look that its current residents regularly refresh with new coats of paint.

bucket

Amazingly, the city remained closed to foreigners until 1920s and because of this still retains some traditions I’d not seen in some of the other major tourist cities in Morocco. Though you’ll hear a lot about Berbers throughout your trip to Morocco, only in Chefchaouen did I see Berber women with tribal face tattoos walking through town in traditional dress.

blue2

Casa on the Hill

We decided to take a medina-break and head for the hills, staying at Rif for Anyone, owned by Scottish expats and known around town as Casa Scotlandee (ask any cab driver and he’ll take you right there despite it being hidden and sign-less). Though outside of the city center, its very easy to get to and from (its all downhill into town and the ride back costs no more than 2 €). Up here, its incredibly serene and the views are amazing. A highlight for me despite the cold, homemade breakfast is available on the rooftop patio (4 € or so) while you marvel at the wonder that is the cat billed to be oldest pet cat in Africa at 28 years old.

View from Scotlandee’s Rooftop

The Chill Side of Morocco

Unlike the other cities we’d visited, Chefchaouen is decidedly chill. You’re unlikely to get hassled relentlessly here so its a nice refuge after a few days in Fes or Marrakesh. The town is very popular with Spanish tourists and you’ll be more likely to hear Spanish spoken here as the second language before a word of French.

chef2

The town center is small and can be easily covered in a day. I stayed for two nights and wished I’d had longer just to hang out and stare at the surrounding mountains or even take a hike.

chef tree

Tips:

  • Chefchaouen has no airport so you’ll have to take a bus or grand taxi from Fes or Tangier (about three hours).
  • If arriving by bus, the station is in a sort of random deserted area. We had to wait a while before a taxi happened by to take us to our hostel. If you’re headed into the town center, its downhill so you could potentially walk. 
  • Due to the elevation, Chefchaouen can be cold and rainy so pack accordingly.

See more photos from Chefchaouen here and the rest of my Morroco series here.

If you live in Madrid, also check out this article I wrote over on Expats Blog about how to meet people.

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11 thoughts on “Chefchaouen: The Blue City

  1. The blue buildings remind me a lot of the Greek islands!! Why did the Jewish immigrants choose blue as their color, do you know?

    1. I do! Its actually a biblical commandment that says you should die a thread on your prayer shawl blue (no practical reason, just a commandment) and so this is why the community was so attached to blue and decided to paint it everywhere (at least that’s the story!).

  2. It’s so beautiful. The narrow alleyways remind me of Spain, though there they were stark white. Could the blue be symbolic of the color of the heavens? Something I’m now curious enough about to research :-)
    BTW, I’d sure love to meet that 28 year old cat!!

    1. Let me know if you find out anything on the blue! Id love to know!

      And i highly recommend that hostel (and their pets haha!) if youre ever in the area.

  3. Hey Alexis! I was in Chefchaouen years ago and had a good time, I remember climbing that mountain in the first picture. Thanks for writing! (Maybe I’ll see you at the next VayaMadrid meetup!)
    Daniel.

  4. Chefochaouen had a nice magic feel to it for me. Very different and nice to escape from big city Marrakesh! And nice to be able to bargain and feel like they weren’t trying to take advantage of you like I experienced in other places in Morocco!

  5. I wish I had visited that area when I went to Morocco. It is definitely on my list for next time. I found that too about the Spanish in Morocco. I found in the bigger cities and surprisingly in the desert, Spanish was the language I used. Imazighia was another, but I can’t speak it.

    1. When I went it was also very helpful to know a few words of French! Definitely check out chefchaouen next time if you can, it’s definitely worth it!

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