Chefchaouen (or “Chaouen” to locals) is that blue city all over your Pinterest page. Located in northwestern Morocco, it is a popular tourist destination due to the fact that nearly the entire city is painted blue. There are many theories how this came to be – from warding off mosquitos to the Jews taking refuge from Hitler in the 1930s and introducing the blue as a symbol of sky and heaven. We were told a much more simplistic story when we arrived: that one man decided to paint his house a bright blue and some neighbors followed until eventually the whole town decided to join them. Because it now brings in so much tourism, the blue is here to stay. And for those wondering (as I did before I arrived) – yes, the whole city really is that blue. It’s not just one street or one block. Every twist and turn in this adorable town had us and the other tourists pulling out the camera.
We took a day trip from Fez so it was a few hours drive through the countryside. Although it was a bit of a journey we got to see even more of the country and made some pitstops at local stalls to buy fresh fruits and nuts.
When we arrived we had the day to explore. We started in the main square which is lined with cafes and shops and we quickly noticed that this was the tourist hot spot. Chefchaouen also has a reputation of being an easy place to obtain drugs and is the center of the marijuana plantation region. Walking through the main square we were bombarded with cafe workers asking us to come in for a meal and when we declined they immediately switched to offering weed. (Cannabis is still technically illegal in Morocco, but it’s widely tolerated, especially in Chefchaouen. So, smoke at your own risk.)
Ultimately we settled on a Moroccan cafe with outdoor seating, and enjoyed couscous and a Moroccan salad, which is known for being filled with tons of color and different vegetables. It was insanely cheap and amazingly delicious.
I heard differing opinions from other tourists, but I found the people of Chefchaouen to be much less aggressive than the other cities in Morocco. It had a bit of a European vibe (it is fairly close to Spain and at one point under Spanish rule) and overall the people were very friendly.
This is a city where you can truly wander without an itinerary or a map. We wound our way up and down staircases and through narrow streets and would somehow end up back in the center of town. The city isn’t huge, so it’s a perfect place to explore for a day with a camera.
It seemed around every corner was a beautiful street in vibrant hues of blue that just begged to be photographed. We stumbled upon the street that often comes up in pictures of Chefchaouen. At the time no one caught on but once we started taking pictures it seemed all other passing tourists recognized this famous little staircase and it became the photo hot spot.
We also met some other locals – cats. There were plenty of kittens roaming the city, like this little guy who was nice enough to pose for a photo.
This city was quite relaxing, and I could have stayed longer for that reason. It was one of the most beautiful and unique places I’ve ever visited and it was well worth the trip.
This little city in the north is like walking into a Pinterest board. I thought for sure my camera battery would just give out on me as I wanted to photograph every little blue detail of this town. If you visit Morocco, Chefchaouen deserves a place on everyone’s itinerary.