The picturesque city of Chefchaouen, also know as Chaouen, sits high up amongst the impressive Rif Mountains in the North of Morocco. The nickname given to this remarkable little city is ‘The Blue Pearl’, due to the various blue shaded buildings that sprawl along the surrounding mountain sides.
Having spent a lot of time in Morocco’s chaotic cities, Chaouen is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the country’s other destinations. The locals laid back approach to life is contagious, as you find yourself slipping into the habit of spending your days enjoying the city’s atmosphere, rather than feeling the need to pack in as much sight-seeing as possible.
Nevertheless, what there is too see in Chefchaouen is stunning, and arguably just as beautiful as any other location within Morocco. The narrow, winding streets of Chaouen’s medina can captivate you for hours with its almost magical feel. The decoratively painted blue and white coloured buildings that make this city so well-known, really do give it a charming and unique dimension that isn’t easy to come across in other cities. Down each alleyway are small shops selling an array of Moroccan crafts and restaurants that serve up some of the finest food you are likely to have throughout the country.
Once you tear yourself away from the enchanting medina, you will be rewarded with stunning views over the surrounding mountains and their accompanying valleys. A short walk up to the Spanish Mosque, which sits perched on top of a hill just outside the centre, offers stunning views of the city as the sun beats down on its bright blue buildings. It is not until you admire Chaouen from a distance, that you realise just how stunning the location of this city is.
There are also an array of walks that go up into the mountains behind the city. Whilst these walks provide a bit of a challenge in the heat they are just as rewarding, if not more so. If you do walk up them you are likely to encounter a rather different plant growing amongst the mountains. The Rif Mountains are renowned for the large quantities of marijuana (known by the locals as kif) that are grown there, which perhaps explains why all the locals appear so laid back!
Whilst Chefchaouen doesn’t appear to have enough things about it to hold travellers attention for too long, you will find it extremely difficult to leave the city after your few days there. The natural beauty of its location, combined with the city’s charming characteristics, make this destination a truly beautiful spot to unwind and relax.
With a plate full of seafood, a bottle of cold water (next best alternative to wine) and a view over the mountains as the Moroccan sun sets for the night…
You, like me, will probably regret ever making the decision to leave.