24 Hours in Chefchaouen Morocco: Best Things to Do


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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to Chefchaouen Morocco! It is every Instagrammer’s dream to spend at least 24 hours finding the best things to do in Chefchaouen Morocco. There’s a reason this city is sometimes called The Blue Pearl, and it has nothing to do with an off-brand version of Pirates of the Caribbean. The walls of the city are entirely white and blue. I’ve been to cities like New Orleans and Santa Fe with strict building codes.

This is different. I’ve never seen anything like Chefchaouen. It feels like stepping into one of the magical kingdoms of Oz. The Winkie Country is entirely yellow, the Emerald City is green, and Chefchaouen is blue. Spend 24 hours with the best things to do in Chefchaouen Morocco and you’ll leave with enough gorgeous photos to last a lifetime.

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Of course it would be ideal to actually spend the night in Chefchaouen. However, I didn’t have enough time in Morocco to manage this. I took a day trip from Tangier as a private tour with Aziz Saint Laurent’s tour company. It’s obviously more money than a group tour, but everything was handled very professionally and thoroughly. If I hadn’t chosen this tour company, I would have left Morocco without seeing Chefchaouen and I couldn’t have lived with that.

You can book this tour of Chefchaouen Morocco easily for yourself by clicking here.

24 Hours in Chefchaouen Morocco: Things to Do

How to Get There

Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a box of tangerines. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your 24 hours in Chefchaouen Morocco. Just remember it’s easiest to get here as a day trip from Tangier.

But I can tell you that you can use a lovely airplane to get from most major cities to Tangier, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Tangier at the best time of day. I couldn’t find a direct flight from NYC to Tangier, but it is easy to get a flight that only has one stop in a city like Lisbon or London.

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You can even use Expedia to rent a car so you’ll be all set when you arrive at your destination. (I can’t drive, but if you can, this must be helpful.)

Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to the 24 hours in Chefchaouen Morocco itinerary ASAP.

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24 Hours in Chefchaouen Morocco: Things to Do

Where to Stay?

I spent my 24 hours in Chefchaouen Morocco as a day trip from Tangier, so I’m going to recommend my favorite hotel there.

The best kind of place to spend your time in Tangier is a riad. These are gorgeous private houses with courtyards and gardens that have been converted to hotels.

My personal favorite for my vacation in Tangier is Dar Souran. It’s in a gorgeous historical building, there’s a great breakfast spread, and the breakfast is served on a rooftop with amazing views. You can almost see Spain from the roof!

If you’re looking for a great deal on this hotel, click here. And if you’re looking for great deals on over 700 other hotels in Tangier, click here. This search engine will help you find the most affordable and convenient hotel during your 24 hours in Tangier.

24 Hours in Chefchaouen Morocco: Things to Do

What to Pack?

  • A great pair of sandals that will keep you comfy all during your 24 hours in Chefchaouen Morocco, if it’s sunny
  • Stylish boots because there’s a chance it will rain during your time in Chefchaouen Morocco.
  • A cell charger so you can keep your cell phone charged for a full 24 hours in Chefchaouen Morocco.
  • My favorite travel umbrella is the Repel Teflon Waterproof Umbrella. It is strong enough to stand up to a strong wind or just a powerful tagine.
  • The best travel adapter so you will be able to use American/Australian/British devices in Moroccan electrical outlets.
  • My favorite travel guide to Morocco.
  • Paul Bowles is certainly the most famous ex-pat writer who moved to Morocco, and you’ll need to read him if you want to visit Tangier and Chefchaouen. Start with his lovely travel writing.
  • Then continue to A Life Full of Holes, which Bowles translated from a Moroccan storyteller named Driss ben Hamed Charhadi.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded in a foreign country without help. You never know when extreme weather will strike or some other emergency. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you are attacked by a can of blue paint on the loose, or possibly some wild cats, when you’re enjoying 24 hours in Chefchaouen Morocco.
24 hours in Chefchaouen

24 Hours in Chefchaouen Morocco: Things to Do

Morning: Explore Chefchaouen Morocco

My guide came early in the morning to pick me up from my riad. It was about a two hour drive from Tangier to the Blue Pearl. There isn’t a ton to see along the way, but we more than made up for that when we arrived in Chefchaouen.

24 hours in Chefchaouen

In Morocco, there are two kinds of guides. Some are entitled to take you all around the country. Others are certified as experts in a particular city. So usually if you take a guided tour that goes to more than one city, you will pick up a local guide for a walking tour once you arrive in each city. I took many local guided tours when I was in Morocco, and they were all extremely knowledegable.

My guide for my 24 hours in Chefchaouen was an older gentleman with a cane, but he still managed to keep pace with me, a young lady. He also helped me get to know more than…

Three fun facts: 24 hours in chefchaouen

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1) why is it blue?

No one knows exactly why Chefchaouen is painted blue. My guide said he believed it was brought by the Jewish residents of Chefchaouen. I’ve done my own research and this is definitely a popular theory for the color. In Judaism, blue symbolizes the divine because it’s the color of the sky. That’s one reason the flag of Israel is blue and white.

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Many Moroccan cities like Chefchaouen have a mellah, aka a Jewish quarter. The mellahs were walled and kept the Jewish community separate from the Muslim community. They were similar in some ways to the Jewish ghettos of Europe. In fact the reason Chefchaouen had a sizable Jewish community is because northern Morocco is so close to Spain.

After the Jewish people and Muslims were evicted from Spain, many of them immigrated to northern Morocco together. My guide told me that Jews, Spaniards, and Muslim Moroccans are able to live together peacefully in Chefchaouen.

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Proof! I was visiting in December and I found this adorable Christmas tree!

Nowadays Jewish people in Morocco don’t live in ghettos anymore. Either they live in big cities like Casablanca or Marrakech, or more likely they have relocated to Israel.

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2) what kind of mosques are in chefchaouen?

My guide told me that there have traditionally been separate small mosques for men and women in Chefchaouen. It hadn’t occurred to me before that mosques might be separated for the sexes. Of course non-Muslims are not permitted to enter most mosques in Morocco.

But back home I’ve been to a mosque in Manhattan on a tour. We were told that men and women attended services together, but that they don’t sit together. Even though Morocco is a liberal Muslim country, NYC might be just a tad more liberal than most places in the world, even Morocco.

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The largest mosque in Chefchaouen is known as the Grand Mosque. Even though I couldn’t go inside, anyone is welcome to take photos of the exterior. It is located in the main square, Place Uta el-Hammam.

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3) who else visits chefchaouen?

There’s one final group that loves Chefchaouen, and that is backpacker hippies. There are a few reasons for that. One is that the air around Chefchaouen is extremely clean. It’s located in the Rif Mountains, and the bracing mountain breezes that flow through the city are most refreshing.

But my guide told me there is another scent popular with the backpackers, and that is marijuana. (He kept calling it kif, which made me feel like I had time traveled back to the 60s.)

Apparently the area around Chefchaouen is excellent for growing marijuana. So pot tourism has really taken off in Chefchaouen. My guide told me that in the high season for backpackers, you can smell the kif all over the city. I’m not a prude, but I’d rather smell fresh mountain breezes than skunk any day!

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24 hour treasure: kitties

My favorite ethnic group in Chefchaouen is the kitty cat. You can find them all over the city. They make the perfect accent to the blue and white walls.

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Here are kitties.

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There’s a kitty.

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Everywhere are kitties, kitties! Probably the best thing about my guide is that once I told him I love cats, he would point out every single cat we saw and help me take pictures. That’s what I call service!

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24 Hours in Chefchaouen Morocco: Things to Do

Afternoon: Chefchaouen Shopping

Now that we’ve learned about Chefchaouen’s history, it’s time to shop til we drop. Eating and shopping are the two best things to do in Morocco.

My guide pointed me to some of his favorite spots for food and souveniring. I’m sure he gets a commission, but I liked everywhere we went, so I was happy. It’s all part and parcel of the tourism business in Morocco. Now I’m prepared to share with you

Three fun facts about chefchaouen shopping

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1) what should I buy for lunch?

Of course the best thing to buy in any city is food. That’s just science. I was excited to experience a local dish I had never tried before, pastilla at a restaurant called Hicham. This dish is a meat pie that is traditionally filled with pigeon meat. Mine was just filled with chicken which was fine with me. I come from New York City, so I’m a little scared of pigeons.

The chicken filling goes inside a flaky dough called werqa. (It’s like phyllo dough but a bit thinner.) Then the whole thing is dusted off with powdered sugar.

I’ve mentioned many times that I go completely bonkers for any combination of salty and sweet. But even I would never have thought of putting sugar on a meat pie. You are a nation of mad geniuses, Morocco! That is definitely a compliment.

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Because of all the Spanish influence and tourists in Northern Morocco, you might see Spanish dishes on the menu in Chefchaouen. I never complain if that means I can eat flan! Look at that perfect jiggly shape on my blue and white dish. This dessert is the perfect diminutive size after I ate a whole imitation pigeon pie.

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2) what if I want to drop lots of cash?

Rugs are one of the big ticket items on any Moroccan shopping trip. Chefchaouen is known for Berber handicrafts, so you certainly might want to consider getting a rug here. I got mine at Local Berbere Artisanal, which definitely seems to have the best reviews in the city.

Many of you Internet Strangers out there will know that you are supposed to bargain with the shopkeeper when going on a spree in Morocco. I had never done this before and I was nervous. My parents raised me not to talk about money. How was I to convince this rug salesman that I was a proper lady?

Fortunately, the rug merchant remained professional throughout the process. I didn’t want to spend more than 130 dollars on a rug, which is a stupidly low price for a handmade rug. He kept trying to talk me up, but I said no, no, no. It was easy to stick to my guns because I had no extra money to spend at all.

Finally I turned to walk out of the store and he agreed to let me have this beauty. Behold!

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I felt so good about myself that I managed to score a real bargain in Morocco. My ancestors would be so ashamed of me for talking about money in such a vulgar way, but they are dead, so no one cares. The cherry on the pastilla was that the store agreed to ship the rug to my house for a small fee so I didn’t need to lug it all over Morocco. A winner is me!

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3) what is this man doing?

Even though Chefchaouen is on the tiny side, you can get anything you want there. I imagine they keep the shops well stocked for all the tourists. I especially enjoyed this opportunity to watch bread being made in a traditional oven.

Many Moroccan towns have communal clay ovens, called ferranes. You pay a small fee, bring your dough, and come back later in the day. Voila! You have your freshly baked bread and you didn’t need to use any of your own fuel. It’s so environmentally friendly. I think the communal bread oven should be the next big hipster food trend.

Now I’m worried I’ve made this older Moroccan baker sad by talking about hipsters. (Don’t worry about him too much though. I bought some of his delicious fresh bread, so he said I could take his picture even though he looks a bit startled.)

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24 treasure: the rif mountains

Don’t forget to take in the gorgeous surroundings of the Rif Mountains as you leave Chefchaouen. These mountains are the reason Chefchaouen is able to sell so many Berber crafts. Many Berber people live in these mountains. They actually attempted to become an independent republic in the 1920s, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Back then this part of Morocco was colonized by Spain. In most of Morocco, you meet people who speak French as a second or third language, but in the north the second or third language is just as likely to be Spanish.

24 Hours in Chefchaouen Morocco: Things to Do

Evening: Tangier Street Food

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be pretty beat by the time you finish the two hour drive back to Tangier. Head to one of the local sandwich kiosks and pick up a greasy French fry sandwich.

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It may not look beautiful, but no food looks beautiful after it’s been digested. More importantly, this sandwich is a fatbomb of happiness. Whoever thought of putting fried potatoes on an already carb-laden baguette deserves a medal.

chefchaouen morocco

After all that fresh air and cat hunting, I was ready for a night of blissful sleep in my room at Dar Souran. The accommodation is so grand I took this bird’s eye picture myself by standing on the second floor of the bedroom. If this doesn’t convince you to stay at Dar Souran, nothing will!

That’s 24 Hours in Chefchaouen Morocco: Things to Do

What are the best things to do in Chefchaouen Morocco? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Tangier? What is the real secret behind the blue walls of the Blue Pearl? And am I the greatest negotiator who ever lived, yes or yes? Email your answers to [email protected]

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that just because this itinerary is for 24 hours in Chefchaouen, that doesn’t mean you should only spend 24 hours with the best things to do in Chefchaouen. If you have another 24 hours with the best things to do in Chefchaouen, and want to visit Tangier, try this itinerary. If you want to head to the big city of Casablanca, try this itinerary.

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