During our time in Fes, we hired a driver to take us up to Chefchaouen for the day. We had every intention of booking a hotel in Chefchaouen, but the more research we did, the more it was looking like there was not too much availability for the day we were able to go. Instead, we made a day trip to Chefchaouen, often referred to as Morocco’s Blue City. Everything in this picturesque Northern Moroccan town is a shade of blue! Today I’m sharing how to spend a day in Chefchaouen — how we got there, what to expect and if it’s worth the drive!
How To Spend A Day In Chefchaouen
From Fes, the drive up to Chefchaouen takes about 3.5 hours winding through mountains and small towns before eventually winding up in the Blue City. Our driver stopped twice – once so we could snap a photo at a scenic lookout point and the other to use the restroom. He says if you’re making the trek to always stop at Hotel Rif, an RV park/hotel/restaurant combo (with a pool), that is the cleanest bathroom en route to Chefchaouen. He wasn’t wrong! It was very clean and was a great spot to stretch our legs before the final (very winding and hilly through the Rif Mountains) push to Chefchaouen.
We arrived around noon and our driver parked on the outskirts of town, which allowed us to walk the cobblestone streets into the town square so we were able to see the town shift from older tan colors slowly into blue.
Chefchaouen was founded in 1471, was captured by the Spanish in 1920, and saw a large influx of Jews from Europe escaping Hitler during World War II. When Morocco gained independence in 1956, the city was given back to Morocco.
Today, the Chefchaouen boasts a charming medina and plenty of blue streets, buildings and alleyways to explore.
Why Is Chefchaouen Blue?
Our driver gave us a couple different reasons that the city itself is blue. He said the most commonly given reason is an ode to Jewish culture and customs, where blue represents the sky, Heaven and God.
He also said that sometimes people say the blue hues help keep the mosquitoes away or that it helps to keep the city cool.
Finally, he shared that sometimes people explain Chefchaouen’s blue color as representative of the ocean and soothing in nature like the Mediterranean Sea.
We spent our day weaving through the beautiful streets of the town, through the medium-sized town center and into Chefchaouen’s side streets and alleyways. It seemed like there was something more beautiful at every turn.
The restaurant Bab Ssour had come highly recommended so we made sure to stop there for lunch. We were seated on the rooftop, so the whole town was visible. During our lunch, we heard the call to prayer and something about hearing it while looking out over the sea of blue buildings felt so peaceful.
We ate traditional Moroccan salad (tomatoes and cucumbers), lamb tajine for Dane, and a spicy red pepper dip with fresh bread. Of course, we finished it all off with some mint tea.
Everything about the day was beautiful and Chefchaouen lives up to the (well earned) hype. That said, it would be irresponsible of me not to mention that the car ride to get to/from this hilltop town is not for the faint of heart. It’s filled with hilly roads, hairpin turns and lots speed up/slow down points. If you are prone to getting car sick, stock up on medicine before you begin the journey. While we felt like we saw everything there was to see in Chefchaouen, a little more than 7 hours in the car roundtrip was A LOT for one day. If it’s at all possible to spend a night at a Chefchaouen hotel, I would recommend that.