I have long been in love with Chefchaouen. It was 1998 when, driven by the reports of an unmarried lover from all over Morocco - but most especially from Chefchaouen - I visited the Moroccan "Blue Pearl" for the first time. I wanted the fate that never came back to Chefchaouen ... until now.
I have a bad memory, of course, but since that time Chefchaouen has been associated with blue color and a profusion of felines. He also remembered the delicious orange juice drunk on filthy glasses in the square Outa El Hamam, heart of the old town. And the mint teas. And the smell of charros and the apparent freedom with which he smoked in the Rif mountains. A rug that I bought at the time, after a lot of haggling, and yet, having been safely taken in price. And a painful massage in a hammam from the historical center.
I have a bad memory, he would say, but all those images were well creased in my memory chest. So that, as soon as I entered the square Outa El Hamam, my heart led me without hesitation to the corner where the Hammam El Balad - such public baths where I caught one of the most violent massages of my existence.
And twenty years later, there he was in operation, alongside the charismatic Pension La Castellana, where my uncle was always staying (and where I also slept the first time). My eyes smiled instantly. It was the fuse for a day of pleasure and rediscovered!
My visit to Chefchaouen
I wanted to chance - or, to be more precise, the official guide Abdelkader Malal - to enter the historic part of Chefchaouen by the port Bab El Mahrouk, one of the highest points in the city. It is a part of the city away from the now-touristic circuits, less embellished, perhaps more "authentic" - whatever that may mean today.
But perhaps because the main streets leading to Outa El Hamam square are still far away, the upper part of Chefchaouen is, so to speak, where local everyday life is less influenced by tourism, with no Chinese restaurants or handicraft shops.
Quietly, we walked to the door Bab Onsar through streets and alleyways (and I looking for known visual references), until Abdelkader suggested we separate for a few hours. The idea was to explore the medina individually - and that was all I wanted to hear!
Exploring the medina (without guide)
I could share a list here with things to do in Chefchaouen but this time I will refrain from doing so. Because, being there, the greatest pleasure is to explore the labyrinth of old town streets, with no direction or destination defined. Go down stairs just because. Entering dead ends of bright look and smile on his face. Talk to people sitting outside the houses. Carefree walk, without a script of Chefchaouen to comply. Without a list of things to visit, nor restaurants to eat, nor shops to buy.
Because, places like Chefchaouen demand freedom. Setting a path to the quest for the most-seen blue tones in Instagram is to limit the magic of discovery. And I do not wish this to the traveler-travelers.
The next day, before leaving for Tétouan and just as I did to visit the medina of Fez, also in Chefchaouen I started very early to walk the alleys of the old town. They were practically deserted, and not even the sun dared to warm the blue of the walls and facades of the dwellings. There were no tourists, only a few women carrying basins of clothing and a couple of men sliding down the cobbled streets in their beautiful you denied Moroccan
"I like to see the cities to wake up," my friend and traveling companion told me. João Leitão. The phrase got into my head - maybe because I felt exactly the same. And it was thus, out of the blue of the empty streets, that I took leave of the "Blue Pearl" of Morocco. With the certainty that - and this is an odious cliché of travel writing but that I will use it here in consciousness! - One day I will return. Inshallah!
More photos of Chefchaouen
Map: What to Visit in Chefchaouen
How to get to Chefchaouen
Tangier is just over an hour by plane from Lisbon; He did, just over two hours; and it is not very difficult to find cheap flights between Portugal and Tangier (or Fez). I flew with TAP, from Porto to Fez and from Tangier to Oporto, always with stopover in Lisbon. It was the perfect way to make a small circuit in the north of Morocco.
Once in Morocco, from Tangier or Fez to Chefchaouen, and assuming that you do not rent a car, there are two options: the Grand Taxi - shared taxis that depart several times a day (with reinforced offer early in the morning); and buses.
Where to stay
I was sleeping in two different locations and I can assure you that, for all those who are traveling in tourism, the medina region is undoubtedly the best area to stay in Chefchaouen. It is, in fact, where many of the best hotels in Chefchaouen are located.
One of them is the elegant Riad Cherifa, surely one of the best places to stay in Chefchaouen. But there is more. Also in the heart of the "Blue Pearl", the familiar Dar Antonio, the unpretentious Usha Guest House, The beauty La Petite Chefchaouen, the welcoming House La Hiba and well cared for Dar Dadicilef are other highly recommended traditional Moroccan inns. Much praised are also the Hotel Sandra and Casa Sabila, two of the most popular hostels where to stay in Chefchaouen.
If you want a bit more luxury and do not mind paying for it, watch what the Give Elries has to offer. It is a stunning little hotel in the heart of Chefchaouen.
If you prefer to stay outside the medina but still very close (to be able to walk), the Hotel Alkhalifa, and the guesthouses Give Jasmine e Dar Echchaouen - where I stayed for one night - are great quality options. Dar Echchaouen has a swimming pool.
Finally, know that I stayed another night in the Dar Ba Sidi & Spa, a very nice hotel, but that is too far from the city and where was a large group of tourists. Despite the undeniable quality of the venture, it would not stay there again.
Better would be, for example, the Dar Wadada; a guest house located in the mountains with great views. It is a very interesting alternative if you want to stay outside Chefchaouen.
There are, of course, dozens of other hotel options in Chefchaouen. If Chefchaouen inns that I recommend here are not to your liking (or are depleted), search for other quality options using the link below.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.
I traveled with the support of Morocco Tourism.