If you spend much time on Instagram, it is likely you’ve seen the pictures of a bright blue city that’s rustically charming and surprisingly completely blue. Not just the buildings, the steps, the doors, the everything – all accented by bright and colourful clothing hanging in shops and murals.
We were told a few different theories as to why so much blue. One being that the blue keeps the mosquitoes away, another that the Jews did it whilst seeking refuge from Hitler. It is said to symbolize the sky and heaven.
Visiting the blue city was the main purpose of our trip. While I wish I could’ve spent more time there, it’s perfectly doable as a day trip. We booked our tour through Time Out Marrakech, which despite the name, does day tours from various cities. They were incredibly easy to book with, responded well via email, and even more conveniently, via WhatsApp.
As it was a private tour, they picked us up directly from our B&B, the Dar Omar Khayam. We were having a leisurely breakfast in the courtyard and when we messaged this to the tour guide, they had no issues coming a few minutes later so we didn’t need to rush.
It wasn’t a traditional bus or van we were picked up in, but what looked like a personal car, though it may be different for larger groups. The guides consisted of two people; the driver and the translator. The driver didn’t speak very much, and the translator was great, not overly talkative, but still very polite and explained things along the drive and answered any of our questions.
The drive took roughly two hours, and we stopped at a few scenic places for photos.
Chefchaouen: Inside the Medina
Upon arriving at the medina, we were greeted by a local guide. He took us through the city and showed us around all whilst explaining its history. Occasionally he was hard to understand, he had an old man mumble thing going on, but his English was quite impressive. Considering that everything is blue, it’s quite easy to get lost in the narrow passages within the medina, so having a guide is pretty crucial unless just going for a leisurely stroll.
We stopped in main squares, shopping streets, quiet streets, and even looked into quiet residences and schools! Everyone there seemed to know this man and had no issue in letting him come in. Overall the place had an incredibly relaxed and friendly vibe and cats everywhere you look! (Sorry for those that are allergic, this is not the place for you).
The area is popular with tourists not just because of the blue medina. Most tourists come from Southern Europe due to the specialty shopping that can be done here – particularly woven blankets and wool garments. Others come for the cannabis. It is more likely than not that within a few minutes in Chefchaouen you will either be offered cannabis or see it. It is pretty much unrestricted in this area and untouched by the police. You can even visit a marijuana plantation should you so desire. Be careful though, it is still a grey area and it is not unheard of for intimidation tactics to be used to get a price they want.
The food is also a popular draw for locals and tourists alike. In the central plaza, there is no shortage of restaurants. From traditional Moroccan food to Western fare, you’ll have no problem finding something to satisfy your taste buds. Just good luck at finding a beer to go with it!
Whatever your reason for visiting Chefchaouen, the shops, the pot, the food, or just for a few cool shots on Instagram, you’re sure to have an amazing time!