Morocco is a varied, beautiful country characterised by gorgeous sites, ancient cities, stunning desert views and, most of the time, warm, welcoming people. Photographers and Instagrammers love the destination since there are many pretty, colourful and unique views that are just too perfect to be used as backgrounds for photo shootings.
Chefchaouen, the famous Morrocan “Blue City” is definitely one of those places. Its houses, buildings and even plant vases are all painted of pretty shades of blue.There are many stories behind the reason for the unique painting patterns. Some people say that insects don’t like the colour, and painting houses with blue is supposed to deter them from coming. Others claim that it is to keep the buildings cool in the warm climate.Probably the real, historical reason is that the area needed to be distinguished Jewish. This explains the blue colour of the buildings. Jews and many Spanish people emigrated to Chefchaouen towards the end of the 15th century, escaping from the Inquisition set by the Catholic Church which was going on in Spain during that period.
Is a Day Trip from Fes to Chefchaouen feasible?
It is possible to make a day trip from Fes to Chefchaouen. You’ll only need to leave pretty early in the morning and get back for the night. The city itself is actually pretty small, and you can for sure squeeze in everything go worth to be visited in one day.Just remember to account for 8 hours in total spent on the road to get there and return back. That means that you might come back exhausted, but most definitely satisfied!
Getting from Fes to Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen’s location in the North-West of Morocco, nestled by the Riff mountains and geographically
between Tangier and Fes, is also pretty unique. Getting from Fes to Chefchaouen might seem complicated but it is actually pretty simple. There are many ways to reach the Blue City.
This article focuses on the itinerary starting from Fes.
One of the cheapest and the most common is to take public transportation. The travel time is approximately 4 hours. There are many companies offering the trip and depending on the price you are willing to pay, the ride can be more or less comfortable.
What you need to know about getting there by bus is that in order to make things easier you should go and buy your tickets directly at the station. In fact, even if it’s possible to purchase them online (depending on which company you decide to go for), it is common to experience some problems with foreign credit cards,which won’t allow the payment to get through. But you can still use the online pages to check timetables and plan your trip.
Go to the bus station at least one day before leaving and book a ticket there. Remember to buy your return tickets as well, because it is not allowed to just jump on a random bus back to Fes (or Tanger). Many choose CTM as a company which offers a good quality-price deal.
Alternatively, you might want to reach Chefchaouen with an organised tour. This can usually be arranged
directly at your hostel or hotel. Remember to check the options for possible tours online too, you might find some attractive deals!
Sadly, there is no train getting to Chefchaouen.
You can reach Chefcaouen from Fes even by taxi. It sounds crazy and you might think that would be overly expensive, but if you are in a group, you can get it for a rather good price. Some people manage to pay 200 dirhams per person. You’ll have to haggle a bit to get to such a price, for sure.
The advantages of going by taxi are that is quicker than a bus and more flexible, in case you are running
short on time.
When to visit the “Blue Pearl” of Morocco
As mentioned previously, Chefchaouen is a popular destination. If you want to avoid the crowds are not
afraid of colder weather, you can visit the city between November and March. You’ll probably won’t see so many tourists around you, but mind you that it often rains a lot during that time and it is a bit colder (around 18C-15C) than usual. Just pack accordingly and you will be fine.
Otherwise, more popular times to visit Chefchaouen are in March to May and September to October. During the summer season, tourists are very numerous, both international and local, escaping from the hot Moroccan weather. However, in the summer period, it does get quite hot in Chefchaouen too.
What to do in Chefchaouen
If you’re staying in Chefchaouen only for a day, you sadly won’t be able to enjoy the numerous hikes in the mountains and the breathtaking natural scenery in the region, but you can still full your day exploring the city.
You might want to join a guided tour to learn about the history of the city, the many legends surrounding it and visit the main, most important attractions of the city. Or you can just wander about the “Blue City” and marvel at its beauty. You will recognise many popular “Instagram spots”.
The Old City and Medina are one of the most popular touristic attractions. They are not comparable to those of bigger cities like Casablanca or Marrakesh, but they definitely offer a good and interesting strolling path.
The atmosphere is, in fact, a lot more relaxed than in the above-mentioned cities. This might mean more
time spent looking at possible souvenirs and be amazed by the surrounding beauty.
There are some gorgeous Andalusian Gardens right in the centre of the medina, where you can find the
Ethnographic Museum (or the Kasbah Museum). In the museum, you can admire the art that shaped
The main square, Plaza Uta el-Hammam is a great place to sit down and enjoy the view of the mountains or the many people walking by, maybe sipping a cup of homemade, healthy mint tea. The square is full of
restaurants and street food stands, which mostly offer delicious, tasty food.
Of course, Chefchaouen also a Mosque, with a rather unique octagonally shaped minaret. The Spanish
Mosque is actually 45 minutes walking from the city centre, but if you want to endorse the small hike, you
will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the city from above.
Enjoy thee food variety that Moroccan Cuisine has to offer!
Food in Morocco is delicious, portions are big and come at affordable prices. You can choose a good
restaurant in Chefchaouen and spend some relaxing time, enjoying the food and fully grasping the
atmosphere of the city. The mixture of Spanish culture and traditional Moroccan dishes gives birth to many yummy meals for you to taste. Otherwise, most of the restaurants offer typical Moroccan meals like tajines, kefta and couscous.
If your visit to Chefchaouen happens to be on Mondays or Tuesdays, you will be able to experience the market (called “souq” in Arabic). Local farmers come to the city centre on those days and sell their products. Delicious goat cheese, vegetables, spices, crafts and herbs are commonly sold at the market. Furthermore, in Chefchaouen’s souq you will find woollen blankets and knitted crafts, typical of the region.
Things to consider when visiting Chefchouen (and Morocco in general)
Chefchouen is not only famous for its pretty colourful buildings, but also for its hashish. You might be
offered a deal several times when walking around the city. If you’re not interested, don’t worry, just say “no thanks” (or “Ia Sukran” in Arabic) and keep going.
You might experience some culture shock in Morocco. If you’re a woman, you might want to consider
dressing a bit more conservatively, to avoid unwanted attention and cat-calls. Even if you’re not travelling alone, many local men might make comments at you. Try to wear longer skirts, dresses or trousers.
If you don’t know French or Arabic, try to learn some basics of both languages (or at least one). Even if in
the larger cities English is understood, local people will appreciate.
Generally, hiring a local guide is a good idea. They might give you some very interesting facts and
information about the country and the city you are visiting, but don’t go to the restaurants, stores or hotels they recommend. Mostly, they are paid commissions and they are not truly encouraging you to go there because is actually a good place, only because they are earning a small commission.
As a rule of thumb, ask before taking pictures of shops and people especially. Some might not appreciate
and get simply annoyed or might even ask you for money.
These are most of the things you can do when planning a day trip from Fes to Chefchaouen. There are many more things to explore in the surrounding if you wish to stay longer. However, as mentioned, you can definitely explore the whole city in a day. The city itself is pretty relaxed and has a laid-back atmosphere to it, unlike many other bigger cities in Morocco.