Clinging to the two horned mountain (Jebel Ech Chaouen), at 600 m in altitude, Chefchaouen the secretive offers a stunning panorama over the Laou Valley. Nicknamed the “holy city” for its numerous religious buildings, Chefchaouen’s medina is far and away the prettiest in the Rif region. With its peaceful atmosphere, the blue city offers all the simple charms of an artisan’s town. Founded in the 15th century, Chefchaouen was a bastion of the Sultan in his resistance against the Portuguese. To protect it from the repeated attacks of its western neighbours, access was long forbidden to Christians, but never to Jews.
- There is a beautiful view of the city from the bend in the road near the village of Ouezzane, just before the descent into the valley.
- The market place is on Monday and Thursday mornings on the Chari Al Khattabi Avenue, behind the post office on your way down. It Berber and Rif merchants sell a large range of spices. You’ll find the colours of women’s foutas, a piece of fabric worn in the Rif women over their skirts, stunning.
- The Mohammed V square, a beautiful circular site sheltering a flowery garden and dotted with wrought iron and ceramic benches, it another place worth seeing. Strolling between the orange trees and the laurel roses, don’t miss the frog pond!
- The medina and its maze of winding narrow shaded streets are perfect for exploring without losing your way. Passing through the medina’s small squares, soak in the picturesque charm of these blue doored houses and their flowery patios.
- You’ll then discover the merchants quarter and all of the blue city’s little bazaars, leading you to avenue Hassan II: venture into the covered passageway that leads to the ancient Kasbah. Once you reach the Uta El Hamam square, don’t hesitate to pause in one of the Moorish cafes.
- The Kasbah is a natural haven of freshness in the heart of the city. You have to climb to the top of the tower to admire the medina. The edifice harbours an Andalusian museum and its colourful garden. The most adventurous travellers wouldn’t dream of missing out on a visit of Chefchaouen’s terrible dungeons!
- The medina will be your departure point to go hiking in the mountains. Only a few minutes walk from the city, go to the Loup spring, a little peaceful paradise.
If you are travelling to Morocco in July, you should definitely attend the Alegria festival that celebrates various regional musical genres. Chefchaouen hosts a few other festivals and moussems, notably Sidi Allal el Hadj in August.
Excursions around Chefchaouen
The natural park is home to exceptional flora and fauna! The Chaouen province is a treasure for nature lovers.
- The Talassemtane forest is located at the feet of some mountains of the same name. Climbing through its cedar and oak forests, you’ll observe Morocco’s only pine trees, a stunning mountain landscape, still isolated and little known to tourists. By taking the Ketama road, you’ll be able to discover the park’s douars.
- The Ras El Maa and Tissemlal springs, that feed the blue city’s celebrated hammams, are a great place to stop and be refreshed. Admire the view over the valley during a picnic perhaps. (From El Makhzen square, climb to Bâb El Ansar, north east of the city).
- The Pont de Dieu (bridge of God) at Akchour is a beautiful half day hike that will take you to a picturesque douar. Keep walking through the mountain until you reach the Laou Valley. Not far from here, check out the Charafat mosque, surrounded by waterfalls: a moment of contemplation!
The city is located 60 km from Tetouan, and about 100 km from Tangier, the closest airport.