Views of the city's sky blue hues and surrounding Rif Mountains
Walls bursting with souvenirs for those in search of local treats
Lush greenery of Chaouen's streets shielding tourists and locals from the scorching sun
Quaint shop fronts and cave-galleries
Bright blue buildings leading up to the entrance of the historic Medina
An antique Moroccan tea set at Riad Cherifa, a lovely boutique hotel in the heart of the city
The city of Jodhpur in the Indian state of Rajasthan is called the Blue City of India because of its houses painted in different shades and hues of blue. Somewhere in North Africa, lies a small village that also follows the same concept: Chefchaouen.
Nestled in Morocco’s Rif Mountains, the city of Chefchaouen in Morocco, has a distinctive palette of blue and white buildings, which is a striking contrast with the arid setting of the region surrounded by desert.
Founded in 1471 by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami, the city served as a Moorish fortress for exiles from Spain. Nowadays, Chefchaouen is a rich cultural tapestry of Berber tribe, Muslims and Jews, along with descendants of the Moorish exiles from Spain.
The destination has some great options for food and accommodation. Riad Cherifa is a lovely choice for anyone who is looking forward to experience a traditional Moroccan ‘maison d’hôtes’ with the comforts of a modern hotel: speedy Wi-Fi, air conditioning, excellent breakfast and a pool – a real boon if you happen to be planning a trip in summer (let’s just say that here it gets hot quickly and cools only gradually).
Guesthouse-cum-restaurant, Casa Hassan can be a little hard to spot at first but simply ask around and you will find that Chaouen locals are most helpful – they might just walk you over to the eatery. Here, traditional dishes come in both the local sort and a vegetarian alternative, ideal for anyone with tricky dietary requirements, not always the easiest.
The town is void in terms of a buzzing city life – don’t go looking for a trendy bar or gallery, simply rejoice watching the cats hopping up and down the sky-coloured steps and alleys as they avoid the herds of playing children. It’s a place of simplicity and while it has become one of Morocco’s most sought after tourist attractions, it doesn’t carry an ounce of pretentiousness unlike hotspots such as Marrakech or Fes where a hip new resort launches monthly.
If you’ve got a day to spare before leaving the azure village, head out to Akchour Waterfall and hike up the trail leading to one of Morocco’s greatest natural sights.