Chefchaouen's old medina is breathtakingly beautiful and interesting place to visit. Everything indeed was covered in different shades of blue. For a person who loves architecture and street art, it was incredibly fascinating. Before our stay there I used to stalk photos from Instagram with Chefchaouen as a location (I mean we all do that!) and it seemed that the city is as attractive as it is said to be.
Despite its small size, the city of 35 000 (2004) inhabitants there are a lot of things to do. First, I need to say that Chefchaouen lacks in the amount of specific individual must-see sights, but it doesn't mean there's nothing to see. Oh no, just the opposite!
The Old Medina
It is a huge outdoor museum which doesn't make you bored! Wandering around the streets and seeing the lifestyle of locals were one of my ultimate favourite things to do. Even it might seem hard to navigate through the endless blue, you shouldn't be too worried about getting lost as the area isn't that big. We were wandering aimlessly around the old town going where the route looked interesting and ended up finding many unique places. There are a few ''main streets'' in the old town full of vendors and shops selling traditional handicrafts and souvenirs, but make sure you go off the beaten path and you'll be amazed. This is definitely one of the safest places to get lost!
One of few places mentioned on the internet about places to visit in Chefchaouen was Kasbah. It is a museum located just outside the old medina, just next to the taxi stop. Kasbah is one of the oldest and most significant buildings in Chefchaouen's history as it was built in 1700 century to work as a fortress to defend the city from invaders. Despite the fortress, the city has been conquered many times by Spaniards, Portuguese, and others throughout its history. Therefore, the city has a vivid ethnical variety.
The museum Kasbah is a place to go if you are looking for a history spike or just taking a calm relaxing walk in the garden inside the walls. The building itself doesn't amaze with it's simple and plain look, but the garden was like a secret hideaway from the bustle of the streets outside the walls. There is an entrance fee of 10 DH which ensures the calm mood inside. The museum consists of a section where the history of traditional handicraft and architecture is presented. There is also nice spots for an outlook to the streets and the mountains. The second section of the museum is the prison where a legendary local chief Abdu l-Karim was kept captured during the 20s by Spaniards who ended up ruling the city for the next 30 years. The prison was small but definitely raises goosebumps as all the shackles were still there so you could only imagine how the prisoners must have felt. P.s is it just me or does this place look like it could be from the Game of Thrones?
Inside the museum, there are well-written roll-ups where the history of the Rif area is explained step by step in Spanish and French. So if you know one of them, it is not a problem if you haven't familiarized yourself with the historical background. Make sure to check or ask the opening hours as the museum is not open too often.
Plaza Uta el- Hammam
Just outside the Kasbah's entrance door there is the famous square where the Grand Mosque built by Jewish in the 1400s is located. This square is full of cafés and restaurants. However, I highly recommend not dining there as the prices are higher and the quality of food is lower than in other areas of the town. The waiters are trying to bring customers passing by their restaurants by giving menus but you should just politely drop a ''no, thank you'' if you are not interested. Very often locals stop you and ask if you are interested in buying hashish, which is crazy! The dealing of hashish is very open and done like selling any souvenirs! However, sipping a mint tea on the rooftop cafés is a great way to take a moment to relax and watch the prayers climbing the mosque's stairs to go for an afternoon pray.
Ras El- Maa
A waterfall essential to the locals as a source of water located on the Eastern side of the old medina is a great place to visit. You can have a cup of tea or a coffee in the outdoor café located next to the waterfall. The locals are using waterfall for washing clothes and there are two small laundry houses built on the side of it where local women enjoy the sun and cold water while doing their daily chores. The authentic mood is very present there. In the surroundings of the waterfall, there are Berber women willing to dress you in traditional Berber outfits for a little pocket money. The women were very friendly and energetic and were willing to take at least 20 pictures of us!
One of the best things to do in Chefchaouen is hiking. The surrounding nature is a huge part of the region's identity. There are several paths that you can take according to your fitness level. The short hikes take from 30 minutes to 1,5 hours and are pretty easy. Even if you aren't into hiking, I recommend taking the stairs next to the Ras El- Maa which eventually bring you to the old mosque on top of the mountain where the view to the city is mesmerizing.
For longer hikes, there is a place called Akchour, around 25 kilometers away from Chefchaouen. The best way to go there is taking a taxi, which takes around 45 minutes. Akchour is reached by a well-guided path that eventually after around 1.5 hours of walking brings you to the waterfalls (cascades). You can choose to take it easy and stop by cafes or restaurants along the path. The best time to go there is early in the morning.
Shopping in Chefchaouen is more expensive than in Fés and the supply seems to be smaller. But there are some things you won't be able to get anywhere else that are worth buying. For example those traditional woolen rugs and garments. Just like all over Morocco, don't forget to haggle! If you can get 50% off the price, you are good, but usually less is fine.
Good to know
You can also visit the downtown, which is pretty much same as any other Moroccan town. You can find ATM and other necessary services. The bus station is located there.
Chefchaouen is a so called ''dry'' city, meaning there's no stores offering alcoholic drinks. Therefore, you need to bring your own drinks from bigger cities or find a hotel bar.
Chefchaouen is built to a hill meaning there are thousands of stairs, so if you have difficulties taking stairs, this city can be quite a challenge.