Roadtrippin' Morocco: Chefchaouen

chefchaouen

Do's:

  • Have dinner at Bab Ssour!
  • Get lost exploring the beautiful blue pathways of the Medina.
  • Relax by the town's 'waterfall,' a popular place for locals to meet up or do laundry.
  • People watch at the Plaza Uta el-Hammam, the medina's main square. 
  • Hike to Cascades d'Akchour, a nearby waterfall.
  • Immerse yourself in the culture and have an authentic Moroccan Hammam experience! For a firsthand account on the Hammam baths in Chefchaouen visit: emilystyle.com

 

Don't:

  • Expect English to be the main language. The locals seem to know French quite well, so my tip would be to pick up some basic French, or even better the national language, Arabic! 
  • Book accommodation outside of the Medina. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just not as pretty nor a place I wanted to walk around at night.  
  • Miss out on this gem of a town during your trip to Morocco. 

When I arrived in Morocco, I knew I wanted to somehow travel north to experience the blue mountain town of Chefchaouen. That's when I rented a car and drove 8hrs (in total) to the Rif Mountains, where I would cross the next item off my bucket list. I made a pitstop in a small town for dinner, where there was just one restaurant adorned with large pig carcasses dangling from the ceiling and big screen TVs on every wall. Gather a few years of backpacking under your belt and that won't even phase you anymore. Since we were clearly the only people from out of town, we were greeted with funny stares and mint tea as we ate and watched soccer with the locals.   

We eventually arrived in Chefchaouen a little after midnight, but I would strongly encourage you to arrive before nightfall as the outside area gets a bit dodgy at night and you want to avoid being followed by unwanted company.

I must admit, after a sunset camel ride in the Sahara Desert, I thought, 'what could possibly top that?' One word: CHEFCHAOUEN. 

With a great nights sleep, I began my day on the rooftop of the Riad Baraka. Let's just say this made me eager to explore! 

The moment I stepped outside the door, I felt as if I was seeing a flutter of snow fall from the sky for the first time. I was greeted by a brilliant blue world. The floor, the ceilings, the doors, the walls, the windows. It was everything I had imagined and more. The striking array of vibrant blues created a visual explosion for my eyes to gaze. You can't help but become captivated as you turn every corner. 

You'll want a full afternoon to explore every pathway you can find. As you walk along the streets, stop at the unique handcraft shops where you can pick up some native woven blankets or wool garments that aren't sold anywhere else in Morocco (remember to haggle)! When you're ready to take a break from walking, head down to the river (referred to as the 'waterfall'), where locals meet to do their laundry or to simply enjoy a warm afternoon. There are popular view points from the Kasbah and the Rif Mountains, but personally I think the beauty of Chefchaouen comes from within as opposed to above.  

As the day went on, I began to feel a bit under the weather, preventing me from hiking to the nearby waterfall Cascades d'Akchour. However, that was all everyone at my hostel was talking about. So if you're in Chefchaouen DEFINITELY set aside a full day to go on a hike and see the waterfall. Make sure to ask your hostel or hotel for some directions before heading out on your voyage, as I've heard the waterfall is hard for some to find. Here's a photo of Cascades d'Akchour from the worldwide web:

                        Última cascada (Miguel Angel M, 2015) TripAdvisor

                        Última cascada (Miguel Angel M, 2015) TripAdvisor

If you're more of a chiller or have ticked exploring and hiking off your list, the only other thing you MUST do while you're in Chefchaouen is have a meal at Bab Ssour. Probably the best meal I've had in Morocco! If the extremely hospitable staff doesn't reel you in, the rooftop terrace and cheap prices will. And when I say hospitable, I mean my waiter literally took it upon himself to go to the nearest pharmacy so that he could bring me medicine since I was still feeling sick. Aren't people beautiful?

Anyway, don't be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone food wise here, as everything coming out of the kitchen looked and tasted fantastic. 

My final recommendation: Set aside a solid 2 days for Chefchaouen (especially if you decide to hike the falls) as it's a side of Morocco you won't get to experience anywhere else.