Could you have ever imagined a city where all the houses and buildings were blue? No imagining necessary! This city exists and it is located in Morocco. Find out how to get to Chefchaouen from Fez and Tangier and get ready to discover one of the most beautiful and picturesque destinations on the planet.
Known as the blue city, Chefchaouen (Chaouen, Chauen or Xauen) is probably the world capital of Instagram. In its narrow, winding streets, you will find a photographic opportunity at every corner. Due to its blue colour, this small city in the north of the country has become, along with Marrakech and Fez, one of the most important places to see in Morocco.
This is not surprising as this small town at the foot of the Rif Mountains is full of charm. Although getting to Chefchaouen is not the easiest thing in the world, it is worth spending the three or four hours on the road to get acquainted with this little corner of heaven. Read on and discover how to get to Chefchaouen from Fez and Tangier, and for many more secrets about the blue pearl of Morocco!
Why is Chefchaouen blue?
First of all, I’m sure you’re wondering why Chefchauen is blue. The truth is, no one seems to agree on this, and there are several versions. According to the most popular version, the blue colour is due to a Jewish tradition. Apparently, after being expelled from Spain in the 15th century, a lot of Jewish people settled in Chefchaouen. Some people say that they started painting the doors blue to replace the green of Islam and because the blue reminded them of the sky. The blue colour seemed to please the local residents and eventually, it became a fashionable thing to do throughout the city.
Another version of the story claims that the blue of the walls keeps the mosquitoes away and that’s the actual reason why they started painting the whole city in blue.
Whatever the reason is, the important thing is that nowadays Chefchaouen is the bluest city in the world and this has brought prosperity and tourism to a small town that would have otherwise remained isolated. Moreover, the blue has turned the city into an oasis of serenity and peace. In Chefchaouen, you will feel like you are either in a story, a dream or a fantasy.
How to get to Chefchaouen from Fez and Tangier
In a mountainous and somewhat isolated area, Chefchaouen is located in the north of Morocco. I travelled from Fes to Chefchaouen, which is about a four-hour trip by car; quite a long trip for a day trip, but it is still worth it. It is also possible (and easier) to get to Chefchaouen from Tangier and Tétouan. Below I will explain all the options for getting to Chefchaouen from Fes and Tangier.
From Fes to Chefchaouen
Basically, there are two ways to get to Chefchaouen from Fes: by public transport or as a day trip. If you have the time to spend the night in Chefchaouen, I recommend using public transport. This way is cheaper and you will have more time to explore the city at your own pace. However, if you don’t have time and you want to visit Chefchaouen in only one day, you can take a day trip from Fez. Keep in mind that the trip is a long one (eight hours round trip); this will leave you only a few hours for visiting Chefchaouen.
Here I explain more about the two options:
- Going from Fes to Chefchauen by public transport:
As I explained, if you have time to spend one night in Chefchaouen, I recommend going by public transport. It’s much cheaper than doing the day trip and you’ll have more time to explore Chefchaouen at your own pace. The price of a one-way ticket is 75 DH (about 7 EUR) and the journey takes four hours. Every day, six buses leave from Fes to Chefchaouen from the Fes bus station at 8:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:15 and 23:45. You can find more information about timetables and buy your tickets here.
- From Fes to Chefchaouen on a day trip:
If you don’t have enough time to stay the night in Chefchaouen and you prefer to visit in just one day, you can do it on a day trip. The truth is, it is quite a long trip and you will only have three or four hours to actually visit Chefchaouen. As a result, I only recommend doing the day trip if you don’t have the time to spend more than a day in Chefchaouen. For the day trip, you will leave from Fes to Chefchaouen at 8:00 in the morning, arrive around 12:00 and leave to go back to Fes at 16:00. So you will spend twice as much time on the road than in Chefchaouen itself. The price of the day trip is 400 DH (about 40 EUR) and you can book your tour here.
If you have time to spend the night in Chefchaouen, I recommend going by public transport instead because the day trip doesn’t give you enough time to truly explore the city and it is tiring. But if you have no other option, at least a day trip will allow you to see the city: as it is small, four hours would suffice. Either way, don’t miss out on seeing Chefchaouen!
How to get to Chefchaouen from Tangier
If you’re visiting Tangier, you can easily get to Chefchauen. Chaouen is only 115 km away from Tangier, so it is much easier to get there from Tangier. You can go from Tangier to Chefchaouen by bus or taxi, or on a day trip.
- From Tangier to Chefchaouen by bus:
The cheapest way to get from Tangier to Chefchaouen is to take the bus. The ticket only costs 50 DH (less than 5 EUR) and the journey takes around two hours. There are currently two daily buses, one at 12:15 and another at 20:15. You can check scheduling and book your ticket here.
- From Tangier to Chefchaouen on a day trip:
If you prefer everything to be organized, you can do a day trip from Tangier to Chefchaouen. This excursion is a little more expensive, but it includes transportation and a tour guide in Chefchaouen.
- Going by taxi:
If you are travelling in Morocco alone, I do not recommend going to Chefchaouen by taxi as it will be very expensive. But if you are travelling with friends, you can always negotiate the price of a private taxi and divide the cost between the passengers. The trip from Tangier to Chefchaouen can cost you as low as 70 DH per seat (depending on the number of people and your negotiating skills).
What to see in Chefchaouen
My suggestion is that you forget about the map, follow your instinct and get lost in the medina. Walk the streets to find fascinating sights, one after another: cats, children playing, local ladies shopping for groceries, stone stairs, beautiful doors, flower pots, incredible views and lots of colours contrasting with the blue of the walls.
The streets of the medina are a real labyrinth. You may get lost, but you don’t have to worry – the people are always ready to help and guide you. The proximity and influence of Spain is very evident. Many people speak Spanish and even the names of the streets are in Spanish.
Here are some of the places you shouldn’t miss:
- The Medina: as I said, the best thing is to lose the map, get lost and let yourself be carried away. You’ll find some amazing places.
- Uta el-Hammam Square: is the main square of Chefchaouen where everyone meets to have lunch or a mint tea. It’s full of restaurants, so it’s the perfect place to rest and get something to eat.
- The big mosque: is in the same square. Remember that you cannot enter if you are not Muslim, but the view from outside alone is worth it.
- The Alcazaba: this walled fortress was built in the 15th century and has an ethnological museum inside.
Where to stay in Chefchaouen
Below you will find some of the best places to stay in Chefchaouen. I recommend spending one night in this charming city.
Riad Nila: a beautifully renovated riad in the best area of Chefchaouen.
Dar Zambra: a beautiful accommodation in the heart of the medina with a terrace and a view of the mountains.
Dar Jasmine: another excellent option; it is a little further from the centre, but it has incredible views of Chefchaouen.
Dar Elrio: a charmingly designed hotel with very good views as well.
Other tips for travelling to Chefchaouen
- You can travel to Chefchaouen alone. I did it myself and I felt safe at all times. Here are my best tips for travelling to Morocco as a woman alone.
- Since the city is surrounded by mountains, the climate in Chefchaouen is different than that of the rest of the country. If you go in winter, take warm clothes because it is quite cold.
- Chefchaouen is also famous for its cannabis plantations. Some people will probably offer to sell you kif on the streets or even ask you if you want to see the plantations. Use common sense and remember that cannabis consumption in Morocco is punishable by law.
Even though it is a little difficult to get to Chefchaouen, I promise you that it is one of the best places to see in Morocco. Don’t miss the blue city; it is undoubtedly one of the wonders of North Africa.
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