Chefchaouen was by far the most intriguing place during my Morocco trip. The town has grabbed the attention of many travellers and travel publications, calling it “fascinating”, “a dream” and “the blue pearl of Morocco”.
I arrived in Chefchaouen mid-day after an exhausting four hour drive from Fez (save yourself money and mental energy by booking a bus ticket in advance). As I first walked through the main passageway to La Medina, I was transported to a blue paradise. The walls, floors, flower pots and even benches. Everything was blue. It felt as though I was discovering a secret only few knew of, exotic and hidden away.
Common Arabic phrases:
Hello – As-Salam alaykom
Thank you ~ Shukran
Sorry ~ Ismahli
Bye ~ Ma-as-salama
How to get to Chefchaouen
If you’re travelling from Tangier, take the bus to Tetouan and then to Chefchaouen. If you’re travelling from Fez, book the bus in advance from CTM bus station.
Otherwise you may end up getting forced into a “Grand Taxi” with no seatbelts, and having to run in the opposite direction like I did! Even after I managed to flag down a taxi with seatbelts, it cost me 200DH (€20).
I wonder if Mustafa only saw dollar signs in his eyes as my group got out of the taxi in Chefchaouen.
“Que suerte tienes” (how lucky you are) he told us over and over again. Apparently all of the riads and hostels were full, but he had a private house for us.
I felt suspicious right away. But we were all exhausted and the rest of my group were chatting away to him.
Once we arrived at Mustafa’s house, we paid 160DH (€16) each and he was off. Then we realised that the beds were slabs of rock, the shower was broken and Wi-Fi was non-existent.
It’s simple, don’t openly trust someone if it involves money. Morocco is notorious for conning tourists and yet, they still get us. Use your initiative.
Things to do in Chefchaouen
Explore La Medina
I didn’t get bored once by simply walking around the blue streets. Everything I came across was mesmerising; the street art, the bakeries ran by children from their own homes, even the chickens being killed on the shop counter.
Immersing myself in Moroccan culture felt so surreal, and really opened my eyes to other ways of life.
Plaza Uta el-Hammam
The plaza is beautiful, with a grand 14th year fortress and a view of the spectacular Rif Mountains. Nonetheless, it was a complete tourist trap. One tagine later and I was crippled by a horrible stomach bug.
Tip: Buy tablets to protect your stomach before the trip. They will save you a lot of unnecessary pain.
Mustafa (yes, the con man) had actually recommended this restaurant to my group. It didn’t actually turn out to be so bad.
The chef of Restaurant Granada was an absolute mad hatter, and chatted away to us (and himself) while preparing our food. Although it was the blandest food I had eaten in Morocco, it was cheap and didn’t make me violently ill.
Even if I hadn’t intended to buy anything, I wouldn’t have been able to resist.
There was a wide variety of spices, bread, deserts, perfumes, oils, jewellery, hand painted portraits and ashtrays, blankets and slippers.
Tip: Always ask for half of the asking price and barter from there.
There were endless hillsides to discover with streams to cool down in and hash farms to visit.
There was also day trips to other villages or the Talasemtane National Park.
Although I had to endure a horrific stomach bug during the 5-hour bus journey back to Fez over pot-holed roads in a rusty stuffy old bus, it was totally worth experiencing Chaouen.