For the wanderlust there is no destination unworthy of discovering. Each city, each town, each corner of this world is an experience waiting to happen — it’s just a matter of choosing the one that you’ll find next. If you’re tired of the overcrowded tourist destinations, and your heart desires a journey to a place filled with wonder and old-world charm, it’s time to find Chefchaouen.
Often called “The Blue Pearl,” Chefchaouen is a Moroccan destination right out of your dreams. Nestled in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is well known for its distinct blue-washed homes — the views both looking in and out of this mountain town are picturesque enough to fill the pages of an entire photo album. But the experience only begins there.
What You’ll See
Chefchaouen, like many old cities, is split into two parts: the old medina with its charming red-tiled roofed, blue homes and the ciudad nueva, and the new city. The eastern and western halves of Chefchaouen meet at the Plaza Uta el-Hammam, a city center where you can enjoy a meal or pick-me-up at one of the many lovely cafes or restaurants. The Plaza is also home to the city’s historical and well-preserved Kasbah. A place which will feed your interest for local culture and sights, Chefchaouen offers unbeatable views of the mountains and valley that surround it. You’ll get a chance to explore one of the many old mosques in the town and even relax by the city’s waterfall, where you’ll catch many locals catching up and doing their weekly laundry.
Founded in 1471 by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa—a descendent of Muhammad— Chefchaouen began as a small fortress built to fight the Portuguese invasions of northern Morrocco. During medieval times, the city was not only settled by Ghomara tribes, but also by Moriscos and Jews following the Spanish Reconquista. Spain seized Chefchaouen in 1920 and it became part of Spanish Morocco. After Morocco declared independence in 1956, Spain surrendered the city. Chefchaouen took on its current hue in the 1930s when the Jewish refugees who lived there painted the city blue.
What You’ll Do
Rather well known for being Morocco’s leading producer of marijuana, or kif, you’ll be prompted for some of the local goods before you even step on the street. Buy at your own discretion, but you won’t be judged enjoying a little pot on your trip here. Hashish is a part of the locals’ daily life, and if getting high is what you want to do on your vacation, you may have found your Heaven on Earth. This cool city is also a great spot to pick up some other unique local goods that you won’t find anywhere else. Look for things like handmade woven blankets and wool garments in addition to high-quality leather goods and cedar wood furniture. Goat cheese from this area is popular among visitors. And when you’re ready to take advantage of the blue city’s ideal location, you can take a rigorous hike up Jebel al-Kalaa, the mountaintop immediately overlooking the town, or enjoy a two-day hike through Talasemtane National Park. You’ll get the chance to check out the famed marijuana fields, trek through some paths on a mule and take in the breathtaking views of the Moroccan mountainside. And when you come back down to Earth, you can do absolutely nothing at all in this wondrous little city but still feel like you’re floating on a cloud.