The famous blue city of Morocco! Before coming here, I was a little skeptical of the Instagram pictures showing blue house after blue house. Is it really possible that a city could be painted entirely blue? This seemed a little fishy.
It turns out that the whole medina (old town) of Chefchaouen is painted different shades of blue, making the streets somewhat indistinguishable…. and completely amazing! Everywhere you turn, you’ll want to snap a new picture.
This unique city was founded in 1471 by the fleeing Moors from Spain. Later, the mountainous terrain was used to fight the Portuguese when they tried to invade Northern Morocco. It was conquered by Spain in 1920 before being returned to an independent Morocco in 1956.
It is not completely clear why the city is so blue. Some theories claim that Jews, fleeing Hitler, painted the city blue in the 1930s – seemingly in an act of solidarity. Another idea states that the blue keeps mosquitos away or that blue hides dirt on the houses.
While reasons for the extreme blueness aren’t totally clear, the result has made Chefchaouen an extremely popular tourist spot. And understandably so! Chefchaouen really is one of the most photogenic cities I’ve ever been to!
Despite an increase in tourism, Chefchaouen remains relatively calm and relaxed, something that is unheard of in other parts of the country.
The local population sits at around 40,000 and although there are plenty of venders throughout the medina, the vibe is distinctly laid-back. This is especially the case when comparing Chefchaouen to other large Moroccan cities like Fes and Marrakech….. where the old towns’ are overwhelmingly chaotic!
One reason for the relative calmness might coincide with the area around Chefchaouen being a prolific source of hash and marijuana. This region is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco, and you’ll see a lot of the locals smoking in their shops throughout the day.
Additionally, hash is readily available for tourists along with locals offering guide services showing visitors how plants are harvested on nearby farms.
While Chefchaouen is quite small and easy to navigate – compared to other medinas’ throughout Morocco – it is not uncommon to hear of people spending weeks in this peaceful mountain region.
I personally think that 2 days is a perfect amount of time, as it gives you an opportunity to roam around and browse through the hundreds of little shops that are tucked away.
Plus, you’ll have adequate time to enjoy the delicious local cuisine!
How far is Chefchaouen from Fes + Tangier?
Chef <——-> Fes : 4.5 hours via CTM bus which costs $85 Dirham (about $12 cad)
Chef <——-> Tangier: 3.5 hours via CTM bus which costs $45 Dirham (about $6 cad)
There aren’t too many places where it’s possible to find a city almost entirely painted one colour, and for this unique reason alone, it’s worth checking out Chefchaouen. Add in the friendly, laid-back locals and idyllic setting nestled in the mountains and Chefchaouen becomes an absolute ‘must-see’ if you’re planning to visit Morocco!
Shukran! (Thanks in Moroccan)