Escape of the Week: Chefchaouen, Morocco

Written by on March 13, 2012 in Destinations - 25 Comments

Morocco’s Chefchaouen is as unique as it is beautiful. Tucked between peaks of the marijuana-laden Rif Mountains, the village crawls (often times, steeply) up a hillside and treats visitors to the land of one-thousand welcomes.

But, there is more to the town than the warm hospitality and Moroccan culinary delicacies like the delightfully colorful and flavorful Berber dishes of tagine, raisin-topped couscous, and cup fulls of sweet mint tea  — there is the city itself which easily reaches its way into the hearts of travelers from every corner of the world.

Located in the northwest of the country, Chefchaouen is quite possibly the most photogenic place I have ever visited. Here, buildings are two-tone, powder blue on the bottom, white on the top.

Accents on buildings are an array of turquoise and aqua.

In some areas, even the white looks blue, thanks to the intense coloring and reflection of the bright azure shades.

Some say the blue is painted on the white-washed buildings to keep the mosquitoes and flies out; others reason the painted walls are rooted in the Jewish history of the town.

Look familiar?

Aside from the walls (and marijuana/hash/kief), Chefchaouen is also known for its shopping.

It’s nearly impossible to not stop and stare at the bright pops of leather goods, hand-woven rugs, clothing and more on display.

You never know what you will find.

There is definitely something extremely magical and surreal about wandering through the medina of Chefchaouen. The bursts of vines hanging overhead. The quaint cafes serving food that is just as colorful as the shop displays. The fresh air. The welcomes. The blue tint of the skin by day and the stars sparkling overhead at night. Unlike Marrakesh, Fez and other  major cities, Chefchaouen bursts with a character and a true beauty I’ve never seen before.

Getting there:

From Tangier, hop on the bus to Chefchaouen. Take note: Chefchaouen is built on a hill. For those carting large luggage, particularly luggage with wheels, you would do better to take a cab from the bus stop up to the medina. For those who opt to walk, god speed. It just looks vicious.

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is a former career breaker and long term solo traveler. Today, she helps promote responsible elephant tourism and is the co-founder of #RTTC, a weekly chat on Twitter focusing on responsible tourism. When she isn’t writing, Diana handles the PR and social media for Save Elephant Foundation, which runs the popular Elephant Nature Park. Her writing as appeared in About.com, Thought Catalog, The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Luna Luna, Vegas Seven, World Nomads, Viator, CheapOair, OneTravel and more.

25 Comments on " Escape of the Week: Chefchaouen, Morocco "

  1. Reg of The Spain Scoop March 14, 2012 at 2:01 am · Reply

    Makes me want to head there to do some shopping!

    • Diana March 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm · Reply

      Yes!! I got a great pair of fuschia sandals while I was there and a beautiful scarf.

  2. Emily in Chile March 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm · Reply

    The colors in that first photo are amazing!

  3. Angela March 16, 2012 at 3:26 am · Reply

    Beautiful, I’ve been dreaming of Morocco for ages, can’t wait to go!

  4. Sophie March 16, 2012 at 4:34 am · Reply

    Beautiful, colourful photos, Diana! Chefchaouen looks very tempting.

    • Diana March 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm · Reply

      Thank you, Sophie! It is truly a beautiful and charming city!

  5. Ali March 16, 2012 at 5:09 am · Reply

    I really want to go here, it looks so pretty with all those blue buildings!

    • Diana March 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm · Reply

      It’s gorgeous, Ali!

  6. Jaime March 16, 2012 at 5:56 am · Reply

    Love everything you said about this town. I arrived straight from Spain and thought I would only spend two days there… um I spent 8. I never wanted to leave. This is one of the most magical towns in the world… the winding streets and million shades of blue is just amazing. I loved that it was sleepy and everyone was so nice.

    • Diana March 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm · Reply

      Wow, you spent eight days?!? I would LOVE to go back and do that. I was there for a quick visit, as I had a lot of Morocco to cram into one week. Next time, I want to spend more time here and Essouaria (sp?).

  7. Bobbi Lee Hitchon March 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm · Reply

    Absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to visit Morocco.

    • Diana March 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm · Reply

      Let me know if you need any tips!!

  8. Pete March 18, 2012 at 12:59 am · Reply

    So bummed we didn’t have the time to make it here when we were in Maroc. It looks beautiful.

    • Diana March 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm · Reply

      Next time! I bet your photos would be spectacular!

  9. Sherry Ott March 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm · Reply

    Ahhh – one of my favorite stops in Morocco – such a beautiful town bathed in blue!

    • Diana March 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm · Reply

      It is definitely one of my favorite places! Especially as the sun sets!!

  10. Sherry March 19, 2012 at 4:07 am · Reply

    I’m now totally intrigued by this place. My freiend and I were just pondering the other day where in Moracco I should go and I think this might just be it. The steep hill climb would probably be part of the adventure, no? I love the colors!

    • Diana March 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm · Reply

      It is definitely a must in Morocco! As for the hill, I had no desire to do it, but yes, could be part of the adventure!

  11. Andrew March 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm · Reply

    What attractive pictures. I loved the blue and white contrast all over the islands in Gtreece, so I am sure I would like this as well. It does seem somehow wrong to have a black and white pic in the middle of a place with so much color, though.

    • Diana March 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm · Reply

      Thank you! I wanted to have one B&W pic, just because I think the city is gorgeous in both. :)

  12. AlexBerger April 4, 2012 at 6:30 am · Reply

    The amount of color never ceases to amaze me. From food to clothing to buildings. Fantastic!

    • Diana April 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm · Reply

      I loved it there!!

  13. Mary @ Green Global Travel May 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm · Reply

    We’ve heard so much about Morocco lately. We’ll definitely have to add Chefchaouen to our list!

    • Diana May 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm · Reply

      Definitely … it was my favorite place in Morocco. So vibrant. Such lovely people. Worth the bus ride, for sure!

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