The next stop in Morocco, after Marrakesh, Meknes and Fes, would be the city renowned for its famous blue walls: Chefchaouen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
If you live in Madrid, also check out this article I wrote over on Expats Blog about how to meet people.