Chaouen, the Blue Pearl of Morocco

Chaouen, also known as Chefchaouen, is a small charming city with about 40,000 inhabitants located in north-eastern Morocco, near the Mediterranean Sea and in the heart of the Rif Mountains. The town is very picturesque, with its narrow streets and whitewashed and indigo houses. This is why it is known as The Blue Pearl.

It was painted by Jewish refugees who lived here in the 1930s and its beauty is enhanced by the contrast of the brightly-coloured medina with the backdrop of the Rif Mountains. This beauty and the relaxed, peaceful atmosphere of the city make Chaouen a top tourist attraction.

Tourist attractions

Get lost in its alleys and admire the whitewashed houses, which the locals paint several times a year to repel insects and maintain the city's attractiveness. Stroll through the medina and discover the most beautiful traditional crafts in Morocco. In fact, this is the best city in northern Morocco for buying crafts.

It is one of the most visited cities in Morocco, not only for its beauty, but also because it is the perfect destination for disconnecting, getting away from the noise, and unwinding in a unique setting. In addition, it offers exquisite cuisine and dreamlike surroundings, which many nature lovers visit for the nearby natural reserves and excellent opportunities to practice adventure sports.

 

Getting to Chaouen

You can get to Chaouen by car from Ceuta or Tangier and the trip takes about two hours. There are two routes: an inland one which goes through Tétouan, although this road is in a poor state and is more congested, but with views making it worth the hassle; and another road along the coast, which is 25 kilometres longer but offers spectacular views of the northern Moroccan coastline.

There are regular buses from Fez and Tétouan and also from Casablanca, Rabat, Meknès, Tangier and Ceuta which bring you directly to Chaouen.

The bus station is a 15 minute walk from the medina uphill on Mohammed V Avenue. The walk may be difficult, especially during the hottest months, because it is a bit steep, so it may be better to take a petit taxi. There are always taxis in the area.

 

What to see in Chaouen

The medina is the most interesting spot for most visitors to Chaouen. Walking around the town with its whitewashed walls is a real escape from the hustle and bustle of other cities like Marrakesh, Rabat and Fez.

The waterfall (Ras El Ma) to the east of the medina is a meeting point for local residents who come to cool off, chat and do their laundry. It is a truly scenic place where you can catch a glimpse of everyday life in Chaouen.

The ruins of an old mosque (Jemaa Bouzafar) on a hill behind the waterfall offer spectacular views of the medina and its tower offers excellent views of the town.

The most interesting attraction is the Kasbah. It is very beautiful from the outside, but there is not much to see inside. The place is well preserved and the tower and the prison, among others, are well worth a visit. Moreover, the green courtyard is an oasis which is almost alien in the mountain landscape.

The hill where the Hotel Atlas is located offers great views of the city and the valley, especially in the evening. Seeing the sunset from here can be truly magical.

 

Ras el Maa

The waterfall (Ras El Ma) to the east of the medina is a meeting point for local residents who come to cool off, chat and do their laundry. It is a truly scenic place where you can catch a glimpse of everyday life in Chaouen.

Jemaa Bouzafar

The ruins of an old mosque (Jemaa Bouzafar) on a hill behind the waterfall offer spectacular views of the medina and its tower offers excellent views of the town.

Kasbah

The most interesting attraction is the Kasbah. It is very beautiful from the outside, but there is not much to see inside. The place is well preserved and the tower and the prison, among others, are well worth a visit. Moreover, the green courtyard is an oasis which is almost alien in the mountain landscape.

the Hotel Atlas

Offers great views of the city and the valley, especially in the evening. Seeing the sunset from here can be truly magical.

[Translate to English:] Compras en Chaouen

Chaouen is an excellent city for shopping in northern Morocco. You should bring dirhams because most establishments do not accept euros and it is not possible to pay by credit card. We recommend changing money at the ports, banks, hotels and at the borders.

 

The traditional craft trade is one of Chaouen’s main economic engines due to growing demand and excellent producers and artisans.

The best area for shopping is the medina and the areas around Uta el-Hammam square.

What can you buy? Chaouen is famous for its hand-carved, hand-painted furniture and you’ll see the craftsmen working in their shops. You can also buy mirrors decorated with thousands of motifs and typical metal or wooden tables commonly seen in Europe.

 

Berber carpets, rugs and quilts from the mountainous regions of the Rif and Atlas are also famous and, of course, djellabas, kaftans and all kinds of textiles made by women in rural areas.

Colourful ceramic plates are very typical souvenirs, but if you’re looking for something smaller you can buy soap or traditional beauty products such as argan oil and henna.