Explore the "Blue City" Chefchaouen

Sunset over Chefchaouen, view from the Spanish Mosque
Discover the sites, streets, and monuments of Morocco's famed "Blue City," Chefchaouen, or simply “chaoeun,” as the locals call it. Its name translates to “two horns,” referencing the town's two mountain peaks. Despite its popularity with tourists, Chefchaouen retains a much more relaxed atmosphere than some of the other popular cities and is home to some of the friendliest people in Morocco.

Beautifully perched beneath the raw peaks of the Rif, Chefchaouen is one of the prettiest towns in Morocco, an artsy, blue-washed mountain village that feels like its own world. It was founded in 1471 by Idrissid shorfa, descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, as a stronghold in the fight against the Portuguese. Chefchaouen, esteemed as a holy town, has eight mosques and several zaouias and marabouts. 

Chefchaouen was originally founded as a base for Riffian Berber tribes to launch attacks on the Portuguese in Ceuta. However, the town expanded with the arrival of Muslim and Jewish refugees from Granada in 1494, who built the whitewashed houses, with tiny balconies, tiled roofs, and patios (often with a citrus tree in the center). This history gives the town its distinctive Spanish flavor.

The old medina is a delight of Moroccan and Andalucian influence with red-tiled roofs, bright-blue buildings, and narrow lanes converging on busy Plaza Uta el-Hammam and its restored kasbah. The town has rapidly gentrified and offers a range of quality accommodation, good food, activities, and no hassles to speak of, making it a strong alternative to a hectic multicity Moroccan tour. You can peruse the nearby souks (markets) or enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants.

Next, head to the Grand Mosque and Kasbah. Although non-Muslims can't enter the mosque, anyone can admire its structure and tour the gardens, museums, and old prison cells of the kasbah. At the Kasbah (old fortification), enjoy walking through a garden, museum, and some of the old prison cells used during Spanish rule. Then, get an amazing view of Chefchaoeun from the roof!

Then, wander into the Quartier Al Andalous. This district is reached from the northwestern corner of Plaza Uta el-Hammam, leaving the fondouk on the left. The Quartier Al-Andalus received the second wave of immigrants, and here, the houses, painted white, green, or blue. Notice the decorated doors and wrought-iron railings at some of the windows. They follow the steep gradient of the terrain, which makes for many exterior stairways and entrances at various levels.

End the day at Ras el Ma Spring, the town's primary water source, where some families wash their clothes in the river. Take a break at one of the quaint riverside cafes for a traditional cup of tea. Then, for an exceptional view of the city, walk past the walls and through its historic gates, making your way toward the Hotel Atlas. Then, if you have the time, continue up the path for another 30 minutes to enjoy the sunset from the Spanish Mosque.

Itineraries with Explore the "Blue City" Chefchaouen

Casablanca to Marrakech: Imperial Cities, Hiking & the Desert - 10 Days

Explore Morocco's imperial cities, mountains, and desert with this balanced 10-day trip starting in Casablanca and ending in Marrakech. Wander medieval medinas in Fes and Marrakech, explore the modern cities of Casablanca and Rabat, and adventure along old caravan routes in the desert. Spend a day hiking in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains before ending the trip in Marrakech.

Casablanca, Chefchaouen, & Fes - 4 Days

Enjoy northern Morocco's top cities with this 4-day loop from Casablanca. Wander the blue streets of Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains before stopping in the Roman town of Volubilis. End your quick trip in the culture capital of Fes as you roam the winding souks of the medina, visit local artisan workshops, or try your hand at a cooking class.