I first heard about Chefchaouen from a friend who called it the “blue village”. She made it sound like a bucket list kind of place, and it is.
Chefchaouen is a four hour drive from Fez, or two hours south from Tangier. It’s name literally means see horns. This will make sense when you’re standing in the town and looking up at the peaks of the Rif mountains.
It’s beautiful. It feels like you’re discovering a secret, and it does well to leave you in awe. Even the atmosphere is like no other; it feels exotic and hidden away.
It’s always good to have some useful phrases before your trip:
Hello – As-Salam alaykom
Thank you ~ Shukran
Sorry ~ Ismahli
Bye ~ Ma-as-salama
How to Get To chefchaouen
If you’re travelling from Tangier, you can get the bus to Tetouan and then to Chefchaouen. Or try bargaining with the taxi driver sharks if you have the energy.
If you’re travelling from Fez like we did, then try booking the bus in advance from CTM bus station. All the buses were fully booked when we arrived in April during Ramadan.
A dodgy bald guy with no teeth and a limp approached us to share a “Grand Taxi” with three other travellers from Spain, Rocio, Alba and Javi. He tried to literally push the five of us into a tiny four seater. So naturally, we all ran away.
After Alba worked her sassy French on different taxi drivers, we finally got one to take us there. Although we paid 200DH (€20) each, the van had seatbelts.
It’s strange, I’ve noticed that bad situations whenever I travel always end up with a better outcome. If we hadn’t shared the taxi with Rocio, Alba and Javi, we mightn’t have spent the next couple days with them, or gone to visit them a few months later in Granada.
Remember. If everything goes wrong, it’s just life’s way of bringing you to exactly where you need to be.
Conned by Mustafa. Learn from My Mistake.
I wonder if Mustafa only saw dollar signs in his eyes as we 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.
Mustafa led the five of us through normal looking streets to a huge passageway. We passed old women selling bunches of mint, and came out on the other side into the medina (old town).
I’m not exaggerating, it felt like a movie. Every building in sight was painted completely blue and white. Locals use this technique to get rid of mosquitoes and keep the temperature cool.
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.
Activities in chefchaouen
You won’t get bored if you’re simply walking around this town.
Everything you come across is mesmerising; street art, bakeries ran by children from their own homes, chickens being killed on the shop counter.
When you immerse yourself in Morocco, reality feels surreal because the culture there contrasts so much with our own.
Visit the main plaza, but don’t eat there.
A 14th century fortress stands right beside the main plaza.
The plaza is beautiful but a tourist trap nonetheless.
Take it from me. One Tagine later from a restaurant in the plaza and we were crippled by a horrible stomach bug. It lasted for days.
Be smart like our Spanish friends, and 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 us. Don’t ask why we were still trusting his word, because I don’t know.
It turns out the chef of Restaurant Granada is completely mental, in an entertaining nutty professor kind of way. He actually seems to run the place all on his own.
The food was pretty bland for Moroccan standards, but it was cheap and didn’t make us sick.
Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, you will.
There’s so much choice from spices, bread, deserts, perfumes, oils, jewellery, hand painted portraits, blankets, slippers and ashtrays etc.
Always ask for half of the asking price and barter from there.
There are endless hillsides to discover with streams to cool down in and hash farms to visit.
You can also take day trips to other villages or the Talasemtane National Park.
We planned absolutely nothing for our trip to Chefchaouen. In fact, I hate planning too much.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you organise an itinerary, because it never goes to plan anyway.
More exciting things tend to happen if you just wing it.
Although we 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.