Chefchaouen is the only city I’ve seen so far, which has such a strong coastal feeling, while being located in the middle of the mountains. Rif Mountains in Morocco to be precise. Before entering the medina, you climb up streets with palm trees planted along them and you just keep on thinking – where’s the cliff leading to the beach? Then you remember the beach is kilometers away, but the feeling remains.
Entering the medina is like stepping into a whole different blue world, out of this world. The buildings painted in many shades of blue create a truly peaceful aura. It almost feels like swimming under water when no people are around. And, unlike in other Moroccan cities, in Chefchaouen you actually have the chance to find yourself alone a couple of times while strolling through the tangled streets.
If you are just coming from Marrakesh, Fez or Tangier, which is the case with most Chefchaouen visitors, you will be pleased with the chill out atmosphere. Less people bothering you, less people trying to sell you something, less people who offer services you really don’t need, less people in general. More lovely locals to meet, on the other hand. Somewhere in the blue maze, on an empty street, we came across an old lady carrying freshly baked bread. With a little translation help from other locals, she explained what she’s carrying and gave us one whole loaf. It was so good. And one of those beautiful moments of travel, when you experience sweet disinterested gestures from complete strangers.
Of course it doesn’t mean there aren’t any scams. We are still in Morocco. But the scams you know from other Moroccan cities have also been taken to a whole new level in Chefchaouen. You might, for example, encounter a shopkeeper who chats you on by telling you a story of him leaving on a trip to New Zealand in a few weeks, showing you a business card of a “friend” in the UK and generally trying to get the “I’m a traveler too” message through. I admit, it took me until I was inside the shop being offered some mint tea, and translating something from my native language for the shop owner, that I realized I’m being scammed..
When I started planning my trip to Morocco, Chefchaouen was on the top of my things-to-see list. Mainly for one reason. It is claimed to be a photographer’s paradise. How could I resist that? You can see the results of my Eden trip in the gallery below. Hope you like it!
Tips and infos:
– I arrived to Chefchaouen from Fez with a CTM bus. There are 3 connections a day (65 dirhams one way), at 8.00 a.m., 11 a.m. and 4.15 p.m.
– The 4 CTM connections from Chefchaouen to Fez are at 10.30 a.m., 1.15 p.m., 3.15 p.m., 6.10 p.m.
– The duration of the bus connection is supposed to be 4 hours, but it usually takes a bit longer than that
– The bus station in Chefchaouen is located about 2 km from the medina. No need at all to take a taxi, just continue walking up the hill. When in doubt, ask people. Unlike in Fez or Marrakesh, here they’ll most probably not demand money from you
– You can go trekking in the surrounding mountains. You are then likely to see cannabis plants growing freely, since the Chefchaouen region is one of its main producers in Africa
– While French is the most useful language to know in most parts in Morocco, Spanish will also get you far in Chefchaouen, as the region was once seized by the Spanish. Even the city map at the bus station is in Spanish.