The Blue City – Chefchaouen, Morocco – What to See, Eat, and Do
Some people describe Chefchaouen as boring, saying that there isn’t a whole lot to do there. This is true to an extent. It is true that there aren’t specific tourist sites that you have to go and see like you would have at other travel destinations, like a famous church, museum, or landmark. But, what makes Chefchaouen so special and a place that people want to visit is its beautiful blue color. The Blue City, The Blue Pearl – those are a couple of other nicknames that have been given to this unique hidden gem in northern Morocco. It has those nicknames for a reason. The whole city is bright blue, and it is so picturesque. Get your camera ready! And yes, if you’re wondering, it really is as blue as everyone says, even without filters.
Chefchaouen is a place that allows you to slow down and really dive into a culture that is different from your own, experiencing it first hand. For Morocco, it is quite relaxing. It is an enchanting and easygoing place to visit that I absolutely adore. It ended up being my favorite place that we went to during our weeklong visit to Morocco. I can’t wait to go back!
Here is a list of my favorite things to do when visiting Chefchaouen. If you do all of these things and really dive in, you are bound to have a fabulous time!
Haggle With the Vendors and Shop
In Morocco, nothing has prices. Everything that you buy must be haggled for. Chefchaouen is no different. Sometimes haggling is really fun and exciting and other times it is plain exhausting. Sometimes I just want to simply buy something and not have to put in the work to not get ripped off by the vendor. But in Morocco, haggling is part of the culture and it’s not going away anytime soon. Most always when Moroccans see that you’re an American, they automatically think that you're made of money and try to rip you off. Taxis, food markets, souvenirs, accessories, clothing- everything must be haggled for. It takes a lot of time and you get a little better at it and braver with each encounter. With that being said, if you have to haggle, Chefchaouen is good place to do it. The people here are more fair, calm, and willing to work with you than other bigger cities in Morocco.
There are so many great things to purchase in Morocco, and compared to American prices, they are sold for very cheap. They specialize in leather items and wooden handicrafts. Both Nate and I bought handmade leather bags, Nate a shoulder bag and me a backpack, during our time in this amazing country. To this day, we both use our Moroccan bags on a daily basis. We are always very happy with the quality of the items that we’ve purchased. You can get some great stuff that you would pay a fortune for elsewhere. Next time I go, I want to bring an empty suitcase with me so I have more room to bring more treasures home. Having enough suitcase room is always the issue!
Hang With the Locals
Moroccan people are notoriously friendly, especially with children. They see blonde haired blue eyed children and go nuts over them. Jimmy was quite popular when we were in Chefchaouen. Strangers would come right up to him and kiss him on the cheek, sometimes even on the lips, without permission. It wasn’t my favorite thing but, when in Morocco! Often times they even physically picked him up and gawked over him and his American cuteness. We encountered so many friendly people here. Their English is usually pretty good, especially the younger generation of people. The spoken English in Chefchaouen isn’t as good as the bigger cities like Fez or Marrakesh, but it is still quite easy to communicate with them. The children are so sweet too and would follow us around the town showing us around and welcoming us to their country. One of my favorite interactions with the locals in Chefchaouen was while we were eating some Moroccan pastries. It was a very sweet moment. Read my post here to read more about Moroccan pastries and to hear the whole story about Jimmy sharing with the little Moroccan girl.
Play at the Playground
As far as I saw during my time in Chefchaouen, there is only one playground in the city. Chefchaouen is a very small place with very few people. Despite that, the playground was entertaining and perfect for people traveling with kids. It is located near the restaurant and hotel, Parador, near Plaza Debnat al Majzen. This is also right next to the parking lot where we parked our rental car after we drove into town. We parked here without a problem and the fare price was reasonable.
We came across some adorable families while at the park that we interacted with. It was such a cool experience to see children from different parts of the world interacting and playing together. Children are completely blind to the fact that people are different than them, and I love it. I wish all people could be childlike in that way. One family, with a little girl Jimmy’s age, particularly made an impression on me. There was me, Nate, and Jimmy, this American family, wearing traditional American summer clothing, interacting with a Moroccan family of three, dressed in their traditional Moroccan clothing, the mom wearing a hijab. For that moment in time, we were the same, with so many things in common, not even thinking once about our differences. We both loved our children and both were there to play with them as a family at the park. We were all interacting, and Jimmy even gave the little girl a hug, and a kiss on the lips. It was a moment that made a lasting impression on me, one that I will always remember when I think back on this charming city.
Eat Moroccan Food
Chefchaouen isn’t exactly known for its food. There really isn’t that many good restaurants to chose from in this city, or even many restaurants at all. It seems like most tourists eat at the same places. That being said, here is a list of my favorite restaurants in Chefchaouen:
Casa Aladdin –
Overly touristy, but the view can’t be beat. We ate on the very top terrace area and the view was spectacular. It is full of cute décor replicating Disney’s Aladdin movie. Good luck in finding the entrance to this place. That was a little tricky, until a local man helped us. This restaurant has a huge menu with a lot of variety. We enjoyed our food and would of eaten there again if time permitted.
Casa Hassan –
This place was recommended to us by our hotel. The inside of it was very inviting and quaint with lovely decorations. The service was good too and the place seemed clean and well managed. The food was pretty good, nothing to write home about but good nonetheless. My main complaint was the portion size of the food. It seemed a bit small, and we all left feeling like we would need to eat a small snack later that evening.
Mandala Pizzeria –
Sometimes when eating nothing but Moroccan food for a few days, my taste buds start screaming for some variety. We were happy and surprised to see that Chefchaouen has a pizza restaurant. It was average pizza, but it definitely hit the spot and switched things up a bit. Cheese never tasted so good! We were also very surprised when we saw that they had pork pizza toppings. Morocco is a very Muslim based country and doesn’t eat pork. They give the tourists what they want I guess!
Eat Moroccan Pastries
I wrote all about Moroccan pastries in my post here. Since we visited Morocco during Ramadan, the variety and quantity of Moroccan pastries being sold was much higher than normal. I ate way too many during my stay, but I don’t regret a single one. So delicious. Eating them was the food highlight of the whole trip.
Play With the Kittens
Being the animal lover that I am sometimes it’s hard to travel to foreign countries and see all the homeless animals everywhere. It breaks my heart, and I wish I could help all of them find homes and food….but I know that I can’t. Luckily, the cats in Chefchaouen seemed much healthier and happier than the cats in other cities in Morocco, which was so nice to see. It seemed like the locals fed them and cared for them, at least slightly. Instead of rodents they were treated more like neighborhood pets.
Jimmy had a great time playing with the kittens, especially near our hotel. I was apprehensive to let him play with the older cats because I didn’t know if they carried any diseases that could be transferred on to Jimmy. The kittens however, I felt more comfortable about. Jimmy loved them, the kittens loved the attention, and I loved the cute pictures that I got from it. Win, win, win.
Visit the Local Market
Walking through the market in Chefchaouen was fascinating to me and was such a cool cultural experience. There weren’t that many tourists there so we got a full unfiltered Moroccan market experience, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Nate and I kept looking at each other like, “Is this real life?” Everything that we saw was so different from our American culture that I often felt like I just couldn’t take it all in quick enough. Some things were shocking even, like the guy selling live chickens and chopping their heads off right there for you on the spot. At least you know the meat is fresh! Chefchaouen doesn’t have any grocery stores. The market is where the Chefchaouen people buy their food for their families. It is also where a lot of people make their living selling food to support their families. We saw it all unfold right before our eyes.
Chefchaouen is a photographer’s dream city. There are so many adorable spots and darling corners that are screaming to have their pictures taken. Saying it is picturesque is an understatement. Many tourists come here with the primary intention to take photos. The bright blue color that is a constant theme throughout the whole town is magical and wonderful to capture on camera. We had a blast exploring through the city and taking pictures of each other along the way. It was fun experimenting with our camera in such a uniquely beautiful part of the world.
I hope you enjoy your time in Chefchaouen, Morocco! It’s a fascinating place that I absolutely fell in love with. I hope you do too. Feel free to leave me a question or comment below! Happy travels!