The Blue City – Chefchaouen, Morocco – Travel Tips
Chefchaouen, Morocco is widely known as, “The Blue City.” If you’re wondering if it really is as blue as the pictures portray it to be, the answer is, YES! Chefchaouen is VERY blue. It isn’t just made blue from photo editing and filters, it is actually very blue. Everywhere you go, you are engulfed in a sea of blue walls, making it so you never want to leave. There is something about the color blue that just relaxes me. I feel relaxed in Chefchaouen.
Why is Chefchaouen Blue?
There isn’t a definite reason as to why this city in Northwest Morocco is painted blue, but there are a few speculations. Some say that it was painted blue to help keep the mosquitos away. Others think that the Jews painted it blue after they escaped from the power of Hitler and came here for refuge. Some say the blue symbolizes heaven and the sky, reminding the local Moroccans to live a spiritual and heaven directed life. Lastly, some say that they were simply directed to paint everything blue to drive tourists in during the 1970’s. It’s a mystery that maybe we’ll never know. Whatever the real reason is, I’m so glad the Chefchaouen is blue.
How to Get to The Blue City?
We drove from Fez to Chefchaouen in our rental car. It was an experience that I don’t want to relive because we actually got very lost. Being lost in the countryside of Morocco, without working cell phone service, with a toddler not in a carseat, and no water or food, is not something that I would recommend. At one point Nate turned to me and said with panic in his eyes, “We could die out here and no one would even know.” If Nate is worried about something then I know that I REALLY need to worry because he never worries. I’m definitely the worrier out of the two of us. There were many moments of utter panic. A few terrified tears were shed on my end, while picturing us being stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, with nothing. Our short 3 hour drive turned into a long and hot 5 hour drive. But we made it. Thank goodness. it all ended up fine, and I am happy to say that I am here today writing this blog post!
What You Should Do
So. . . I wouldn’t recommend driving yourself to Chefchaouen. Take a public bus or a shared taxi, often called a, “Petite Taxi.” They actually know where they are going because they’ve done the drive so many times. I’d say stick with a group, and have a Moroccan person help you get there for a safe arrival.
Visit this website for the CTM public bus, and get yourself a bus ticket. You can get all around Morocco on this bus. There are comfortable seats and big windows to look out to see the scenery. We road this bus on our previous trip around Morocco in 2011 when we visited Marrakesh and the Sahara Desert. It was clean, cheap, and safe. It is full of tourists and locals alike, so you get to see and talk with so many different kinds of people. Besides the sometimes windy roads and people puking around us into travel bags from car sickness, we had a great time! If you buy your tickets online, then you need to buy them 72 hours in advance. If you’re traveling spontaneously, taking it day by day like we tend to do, then you can also purchase your tickets the day of at the train station. The second option might lead to some stress if the bus is full, so be flexible if that’s the case, get there quite early, and plan ahead.
We also have experience riding in a petite taxi on our first trip to Morocco. It wasn’t super fun, but we got there. We were packed into a non air-conditioned taxi, four adults sitting in the backseat and three in the front. No working seatbelts and nonfunctioning windows that wouldn’t roll down but an inch. The lady next to me in the backseat was talking on the phone in Arabic the majority of time very loudly right in my ear. Halfway there, we stopped to use the bathroom and get some food. The hood started smoking when we parked. The driver threw some water into it and “fixed” a couple of things, and then we were on our way again. It was quite the experience that we laugh about now. The best part is that it was super cheap and faster than going by bus, but is it the safest? Probably not.
What Should I Wear?
When we were preparing to visit Chefchaouen, I went shopping for all the blue clothes. I thought that wearing matching blue outfits would make for great family pictures in The Blue City. Kind of seems like it would right? I learned after the first day there that wearing blue within a mostly blue setting wasn’t the smartest idea I’ve ever had. After looking at all the pictures from the first day, I realized that we blended into the background. Learn from our mistakes and don’t wear blue when visiting Chefchaouen. I’d recommend packing pastels, whites, really anything that would contrast nicely with the light blue color. And, since Chefchaouen is a very conservative Moroccan country, go for the more modest clothes, even in the heat of summer. I got away with wearing a spaghetti strapped tank top the first night, but I did get some uncomfortable looks from the locals. The next two days, I made sure to wear sleeves to show respect to their country and culture.
Is The Blue City Safe?
When we were in Chefchaouen, I felt very safe. I think it is probably the safest and most calm city in all of Morocco, that I’ve visited at least. Compared to Marrakesh or Fez, I felt like the people were much less aggressive in sales and in general. But you never can be too safe because there are always bad people out there that will try to take advantage of you and steal from you. Watch your purse, your wallet, your phone, or any other valuables. Walk in lighted areas in the evening. Always have your wits about you.
Chefchaouen is located near the mountains where the majority of marijuana in Morocco is grown. We didn’t have anyone approach us about it, probably because we always had Jimmy with us, but it’s just good to know its presence beforehand so you can be prepared. Whether you choose to participate in it or not, that’s up to you. I am not here to judge! Just be safe and don’t let anyone take advantage of you as Moroccans can often do when you seem like an easy target with money.
The Perfect City For Photos
We had so much fun wandering the maze of blue streets and snapping shots of each other everywhere that we went. I’ve never visited such a picturesque place. It is a photographer’s dreamland, that’s for sure. We had a lot of fun just playing with different settings on our camera and snapping away. Luckily Jimmy was up for it and kept posing and saying things like, “Take my picture by this wall. That would be cute!” Your perfect Instagram shot awaits you in Chefchaouen. But in all seriousness, it s a beautiful piece of the world that I highly recommend seeing. Don’t miss it!
Want to Learn More About The Blue City?
Check out my other posts about my favorite Moroccan city – A post here all about our hotel, a guide of what to see, eat, and do in The Blue City, my favorite Moroccan pastries to try when visiting, and more information about visiting the local farmer’s market. Happy traveling!
Please feel free to leave me a comment or question below. I’d love to hear from you and help you with your travels!