Blue, blue, blue, my absolute favourite colour, so it was no surprise that the stunning painted rural city of Chefchaouen became one of my most memorable parts of my two weeks in Northern Africa. Built on the mountainside, surrounded by lush greenery and the Rif mountains, my eyes were captivated everywhere I turned.
Located on the Northwest edge of Morocco, Chefchaouen isn’t a typical Moroccan city; it doesn’t showcase the crowds of Marrakech and is the complete opposite colours of the Sahara Desert.
If you have been to Santorini in the Greek islands, this is Moroccos version, minus the sea and with the addition of surrounding green trees. Picture winding alleyways painted all shades of blue with splashes of white and secret doors to locals homes.
Why Is The Town Blue?
There is still a little mystery regarding the colour of Chefchauoen, but it’s believed the town was painted blue by Jewish refugees. They considered blue to symbolise the sky and heaven. The Muslim locals also appreciated this colour and to this day continue to brighten up the walls with paint when needed. Another bonus is the blue is said to repel mosquitos. Regardless of the reason behind the colour, blue was the perfect choice. You can also see the Spanish influence as this town was once a part of Spanish Morocco.
Things To Do
Wander the Medina
A medina is simply the Arabic name for a city or town. They are distinct sections of cities surrounded by walls and have many maze like streets.
The great thing about exploring places that aren’t dominated by tourists is that you can see how the locals live. You can go down to the river and see the women doing their washing in the natural source of water. You can interact with the cheeky little kids playing outside their homes, who ask tourists for lollies and enjoy making funny faces at your camera.
Wandering allows you to take in the sights and sounds of normal every day life in the town of blue. Children singing as you walk past their schools, people making their way to pray, groups of men sitting and enjoying a mint tea.
I happily strolled around here for hours and lost all concept of time and direction. Although the winding alleys pleasantly confused me, it was easy to get lost in the sea of blue and I was unknowingly walking in the opposite direction of my hotel.
If you do get lost, don’t stress, all the locals can easily point you to the centre. Realistically, you can only go 2 directions- up the hill or down with some sneaky, winding alleyways thrown in the mix.
Because this place isn’t as jam-packed with tourists, Westerners do tend to stand out a bit more. Although I’d encourage to respect the culture and cover up your legs no matter what part of the country you are, I would emphasise doing so here. I originally thought the high cut maxi dress I was wearing was appropriate, but because it had slits in the side it exposed part of my legs when I walked. The children thought it was hilarious and the older generation gave me disapproving stares as I walked through their streets, so I resorted to tying a scarf around my waist as a skirt to avoid more attention.
Explore the Markets
The markets here are an incredibly addictive emporium showing off all the colours of the rainbow, aromatic herbs and spices, leather goods, soft scarves, happy pants and friendly shopkeepers. It is a paradise for bargain hunters looking for good quality items made by the locals. It’s hard not to buy everything you see.
I really had to control my urge to splurge and wisely made a decision on what bag I wanted over a good nights sleep. The prices are extremely reasonable in Chefchaouen and I got the best priced souvenirs here compared to the rest of the country.
How To Get There
You can arrive here by bus from Fes or Tangier. Tangier is a coastal town across the sea from Spain, which is a 4 hour bus journey away. Once you are here you need only to explore by foot, unless you need a lift from the bus stop into town, which in that case you can take a local taxi. Any guess what colour the taxi may be? Blue of course.
I would go as far as listing Chefchauoen as one of the most unique and visually pleasing towns I have ever been to. If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, I would prioritise ‘Chaouen as a must see.