A sea of startling blue buildings set against a backdrop of the rugged Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen (pronounced “shef-sha-wen”) is a real gem in Northern Morocco. There’s no mistaking where the “Blue City” gets its nickname—with its brightly painted walls, doors, and stairways and red-tiled roofs, it’s a city begging to be photographed.
The real highlight of Chefchaouen its UNESCO World Heritage–listed Old Medina, where the lively cafés, cobbled souks, and distinctive handicrafts stalls show off the town’s unique heritage—an intriguing blend of Spanish, Moroccan, and Riffian cultures. While there’s enough to see to warrant a multi-day visit, most travelers explore Chefchaouen on a day tour from either Tangier or Fez.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Chefchaouen is a must-see for Instagram fanatics and first-time visitors to Morocco.
- Chefchaouen tours from Tangier or Fez can last eight to 12 hours, depending on the option chosen.
- Don’t forget your camera; this town is full of memorable photo ops.
- Dress in long, loose layers; Chefchaouen is more conservative than Marrakech.
- The town is hilly, so wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
How to Get There
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Chefchaouen is on a guided small-group or private tour. Those who wish to visit independently can catch a bus from Fez, Tetouan, Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes, Tangier, or Ceuta. The town’s main bus station is a 15-minute walk from the medina.
When to Get There
The best weather for exploring the medina and surrounding mountains is in the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November). Since Chefchaouen is cooler than lower-elevation destinations in Morocco, it can get busy with Moroccan vacationers in summer.
Attractions in Chefchaouen
While the main appeal of the Blue City is simply soaking in the atmosphere, there are a few points of interest worth checking out. A short hike leads from the medina’s eastern gate to the ruins of a Spanish Mosque, which is perched on a hilltop above town. For a little history and context, visit the Musée de Chefchaouen (Chefchaouen Museum), housed within a 15th-century kasbah in Outa el Hammam. This central square is also home to the town’s Grand Mosque.