chefchaouen, morocco

During my upcoming 4 month trip around Europe one of my closest friends is meeting me for a few days in Marrakech, with Matt joining me in Fes at the end of my time in Morocco. I am pretty excited (understatement) about Morocco and the time planned with my friend and Matt, but in between the two visits I will be spending a small amount of time alone.  

For the expected time alone I had been looking for a small unique city to visit and came upon Chefchaouen. (here's how to pronounce it). 

A brief history of Chefchaouen: it was originally established in 1471 by the Moorish and Jewish refugees that came fleeing here from the Reconquista of Spain. However, It wasn't until the 1930s that the walls were painted blue.  Many Jews fled to the city in the 1930s while Hitler was in power, and they are the ones that pained the town a vivid blue that makes the city known today. In Judaism, blue represents the sky and the heavens in addition to reminding everyone to live a life full of spiritual awareness. In 1948 a large portion of the Jewish families left for Israel, yet the blue walls remain so vibrant today because every spring the villagers apply a new coat of paint to the walls.  The local government even supplies everything along with special paintbrushes.  

Also a fun fact that I learned is that the blue of the walls is rumored to keep mosquitos away. It also supposedly keeps the whole village cooler during the long summer.

Chefchaouen, also known as the blue pearl (rightfully so) is located in the northwestern region of Morocco (the red pin).   

Getting there: Morocco has a train and bus system to get around the country.  Trains are relatively inexpensive but only go to major cities (Marrakesh, Fes, Casablanca...etc).  From a big city you can take a bus to the main train station in Chefchaouen.  Once at the bus station it is still a 15 minute walk to the Medina but it is entirely uphill and the temperature in Morocco is usually pretty hot. So, the most recommended route is to take the petite taxis that are waiting outside the bus station.  I've read that one should always negotiate a price beforehand though! It shouldn't cost more than 10 Dh to get there. 

Accommodations: There are tons of raids (a traditional hotel in Morocco) and hostels in the city of Chefchaouen since it is a tourist run town.  Make sure you have arranged a place to stay before hand and do not listen to the touts who will try to scam you at the train station telling you your hostel/hotel is closed for renovation.  They will try and make you come with them for a much nicer and inexpensive place but the prices are much more expensive if you go through them because they make a hefty commission off of you. I have also looked into airbnb and prices are extremely cheap to rent rooms or apartments.  I found plenty of options for around $13 a night. 

There are a good number of things to do in Chefchaouen but most people come here to relax a bit away from the crowds of Marrakech and Fes. I know that is what I will be doing once I (hopefully) arrive.  I plan on exploring the Medina, which has the amazing blue walls everywhere you look.  In the center of the medina is Plaza Uta el-Hammam.

This plaza looks to be a great place to relax and enjoy people watching after a long day of winding through the blue walls of the Medina.  It also has the Grand Mosquée.

The original town founder's son built the Mosquée in the 15th century. It has a very unusual octagonal tower but unfortunately can only be admired from outside for many since it is closed to non-muslims. 

There is also a small waterfall called the Ras el Maa which is located east of the city.  People come here to do laundry and cool off.  It is advised to bring your own food, the cafe next to it is pretty expensive. 

From the south gate of the Medina you can also visit the hill of the Hotel Atlas. This is suppose to be a spectacular place to watch the sunset. 

I really hope that I can make it to this amazing place because after researching the place so much I am quite smitten to say the least. 

Disclaimer: Since I have a couple of days alone I was looking for a city to visit that is safe for a single female traveler.  Everything I have read says that Morocco in general is a safe place for females; you just need to dress conservatively and if you look Western have a thick skin because you will constantly be complimented to the point of marriage proposals from men. Since Morocco is very much uncharted territory for me I researched extensively about female safety and every single board, forum, review and comment said that while a woman may feel uncomfortable and receive a lot of attention, one always feel extremely safe in Moroccan cities.  I will definitely update this post (and probably do a completely new post as well) once I visit and see for myself.  

**This post is apart of my #wanderlustwednesday series I do here on my blog.  I have not been to this beautiful location but all information posted here is extensively researched.  If you have any questions on this place feel free to email me!

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3