After months of being captivated by a picturesque blue city that kept appearing in my Instagram newsfeed, I vowed to add Chefchaouen to my next Morocco trip. Chefchaouen lived up to all my expectations; it is truly a photographer’s paradise. Contrasting pops of colour, blue alleyways, quirky locals and vast mountain ranges – it is the perfect weekend escape.
How to get to Chefchaouen
Getting to Chefchaouen is relatively easy. The national CTM bus system has affordable and regular services from all major cities. There are also convenient train routes (including an overnight train between Marrakech and Tangier, from which you can then bus to Chefchaouen).
Getting to Chefchaouen by Bus
I flew into Casablanca and got a bus from there to Chefchaouen with CTM for 140 MAD ($19 AUD). On arrival to Chefchaouen there were plenty of taxis waiting at the station ready to pick up tourists and take them to their accommodation.
I had a really unfortunate situation with a fake taxi on arrival to Chefchaouen. It was 11pm at night so I was eager to get to my accommodation as soon as possible. Consequently, I hopped in one of the first “taxis” I saw. Do not hop into a taxi unless it is blue. The bus drops you off at the back end of the station; the official taxi rank is at the front entrance. All the cars parked near the buses are fake taxis. The real taxis are a very obvious blue colour (pictured below).
So what happened? The taxi I hopped in took me to the wrong hotel. On arrival to the correct hotel I was informed the detour was my fault and I had to pay double. The problem is, because I don’t like having cash on me, I had only got out enough money to cover the set price my hotel told me the taxi would cost.
The driver started yelling at me and got aggressive. I had told him the correct hotel name and address (I also showed him the location on a map, to which he assured me at the time he understood). The owner of the hotel I stayed at thankfully intervened. He ended up paying an extra 5 MAD on my behalf to calm the situation (I paid him back the next day!). It turns out that ‘going to the wrong hotel’ is a common ruse that fake taxis use to make you pay extra. As a note – you should only pay 15 MAD for a taxi from the bus station.
Things to note:
While you can buy bus tickets online in advance, I had an issue with my bank card. Because it is an international travel card the website did not accept it. As such, I bought my tickets at the station upon arrival to Chefchaouen. This was not an issue but just to be safe, for my return ticket I went to the station the day before to get my ticket back to Tanger (where my next train departed from).
There is a direct bus service to Chefchaouen from Fes. The distance between Fes and Chefchaouen is a lot shorter so if you have a choice of city to fly into, I would recommend Fes.
Getting to Chefchaouen by Train
After Chefchaouen, I headed back to Marrakech. Because there is a large distance between Chefchaouen and Marrakech I opted to use an overnight train. As previously mentioned, I caught a CTM bus back to Tangier from Chefchaouen. This cost 45 MAD ($6 AUD). Upon arrival to the Tanger bus station, I got a taxi to Tanger train station. The overnight ONCF train departed from Tanger at 9pm, arrived in Marrakech at 7am and cost 370 MAD ($50 AUD). The overnight train has a bunk bed option (4 persons per cabin). It was very comfortable, safe and I think it was worth the extra cost be rested for my first day in Marrakech. I also kept in mind this saved on a nights accommodation. You can book your train ticket online in advance however, I simply bought my ticket at the station on arrival.
I am conscious that this section might have made the process of getting to Chefchaouen sound quite long and onerous but despite having to transfer at Tanger, the journey is really enjoyable! I loved people watching when passing the small towns and taking in the landscape of northern Morocco.
Where to stay in Chefchaouen
During my visit I stayed at a charming guesthouse on the hill overlooking Chefchaouen. Hotel Alkhalifa is a family owned and run establishment. You could not ask for a more friendly reception for your stay.
You can book Hotel Alkhalifa directly through their website for approximately 450 MAD ($60 AUD) per night.
In addition to the welcoming atmosphere, lovely owners and amazing breaky (with a view!) – the location is ideal for exploring the city. You simply turn right, walk 100 metres and you are at the main entrance point. Along this main entrance ‘road’ is the alleyway where you can find the ‘iconic Chefchaouen shot’ with the colourful pot plants and bright blue walls.
Notably, Hotel Alkhalifa has a gorgeous terrace where you can eat breakfast and take in the view. The home-cooked breakfast was delicious and had huge portions. Such a great start to the day!
Things to do in Chefchaouen
There are not necessarily specific attractions in Chefchaouen and that is part of the charm. The only ‘must do’ is wander. Get lost in the streets, check out the stalls (remember to barter!), find cool alleyways and photograph cool doors!
Where to eat in Chefchaouen
I have to confess – by the time I made it to Chefchaouen I had been in Morocco for a few weeks so was craving a bit of western food. Because breakfast had such huge portions I only needed to find a place for dinner that night and luckily for me there was a pizza place a 10-minute walk from Hotel Alkhalifa. Pizzeria Mandala had a range of good quality pizzas that were very filling after a day of exploring.
For lunch on my second day I had a really nice traditional meal from one of the stalls in the main square.
Chefchaouen was a great way to end my second trip to Morocco. It is honestly one of the quaintest and most photogenic cities I have ever been to and is a great destination if you are looking to relax for a few days.
Suitcase And I was not sponsored to write this article. As always, the opinions in this guide are my own.