Commonly dubbed “the blue city”, Chefchaouen is a city in Morocco famous for its never-ending blue mazes. The name of the city can be translated into “horns” and it comes from the shape of the mountains that surround the city.
Chefchaouen is located in the middle of the Rif Mountains in northern Morocco, about three hours south of Tangier. The city was founded in 1471 as a fortress to fight against the Portuguese invasions. Afterwards, many Jews settled in Chefchaouen and it was later seized by the Spanish.
When I first arrived in Chefchaouen, I had no idea what to expect. I was surprised to see barely any tourists here, considering the attention the city has been getting lately as well as the fact that it is summer. It remains authentic yet you will find many people looking to get money out of you. As I got off the bus, I had a look at the map to go searching for my hostel and a young guy offered to explain and then he told me he would take me there. We had a nice conversation and once we got the hostel, he asked me for two euros. This kept happening to me. However, there are also many people who are glad to help and are very friendly – the trick is to recognize the ones who want money from you and learn to put your foot down – otherwise you’ll end up spending a lot of money on unnecessary things.
Hashis is a big thing here, and many will offer you some. In fact, I’d say that 98% of the inhabitants of the area smokes it and it is not uncommon to spot people smoking it in restaurants, taxis and more. The whole area around Chefchaouen is one of the main producers of cannabis in the country, so this might be why.
Most people in Chefchaouen are multilingual. You will not have problems if you speak in English as most of the people speak it. However, knowing French and more especially Spanish will get you very far.
Euros are accepted almost anywhere, so don’t worry too much about exchanging money. Do keep in mind that only bills are accepted, not coins as they are charged a fee for exchanging coins at the bank (however, they might be willing to accept them if you give them a few more to pay the fee). The exchange rate is roughly 10 Moroccan Dirhams for one Euro. If something costs 30 Dirham, that means you will have to pay 3 Euros. Do ask first if they accept Euros, though – to stay on the safe side.
The city is painted three times a year, usually before major festivals such as the Ramadam.
Aside from getting lost in this gorgeous place, another popular activity is hiking in the mountains around. Another attraction worth visiting is the Kef Toghobeit Cave.
Most major cities have bus routes to Chefchaouen, check on the official website