You’ve seen pictures of the aesthetically pleasing blue and white city all over your timeline, but did you know this place actually exists?
Chefchaouen, Morocco is the picturesque city known as the blue pearl. Situated within the Rif mountains, this village of blue alleyways and intricate door frames certainly feels like a different world. From local hammams to streetside shopping and scenic views, without a doubt the blue pearl should be the next destination on your summer bucket list.
Why So Blue?
Chefchaouen, sometimes referred to simply as Chaouen, was founded in 1471. Originally, the city consisted of a small stronghold forged to keep the Portuguese from invading. The blue pearl quickly expanded as the medina- a historic town square- built for people to live in. Local tribes joined by the Moors from Spain and a large Jewish population flocked to the area and influenced the culture in Chefchaouen greatly. Now that it has become a Moroccan symbol, the city sees more diversity. We’re all wondering the same thing. Why is Chefchaouen blue?
There are many myths and legends surrounding the city’s blue hues. Some say it’s a lasting Jewish authority, the walls painted blue by Jews fleeing Europe during World War II. Others believe the sapphire and azure act as a natural mosquito repellant. Perhaps the cool blue tones provide relief from the Moroccan heat, or maybe they are meant to reflect the blue skies where Heaven lies. Although no one is sure of the reason, we can’t get enough of the blue Chefchaouen walls and all they have to offer.
What To Do in Chefchaouen: Shopping
It wouldn’t be a proper vacation without some shopping! The maze-like streets of Chefchaouen are presently home to hundreds of local artisans and merchants selling their goods. Shiny handcrafted silverware and dishes catch the reflection of the hot Mediterranean sun. Vibrant flower pots, local spices, and woven rugs add color to the overwhelmingly blue streets. Traditional dress including woven sweaters, hats, and trousers offer insight into local fashion. You can also find beautifully crafted jewelry around every corner. Throughout the Chefchaouen Medina, you’ll be able to find vendors of all crafts selling high-quality goods.
Don’t worry too much about negotiating and haggling. Different from many cities, the vendors will offer bargain prices and rarely change their mind. We recommend small, timeless coin purses embroidered with gold and pastel Moroccan designs. At one dollar a piece, these coin purses can slide right in your regular purse and will always remind you of your time in Chefchaouen.
All in all, our favorite items to purchase in Chefchaouen include genuine Moroccan hair oils, facial creams, soaps, and spices. And the best part? There is a one-stop shop full of all these goodies and more. You will want to bring home one of everything in La Botica de La Abuela Aladdin. Enticed first by the scent, entering La Botica will put you into sensory overload. Colorful bar soaps hang from the ceiling and spices line the walls. Up a short staircase and toward the back of the shop you will find over a dozen scents, sizes, and formulas of hair and skincare products. Surprisingly, all of the products are handmade right in Chefchaouen and only consist of natural, local ingredients. One of their most unique items is a rub-on perfume block.
Last minute souvenir shopping has never been easier! Here you can buy a pre-selected grouping of several soaps, a shower scrub, and a body stone. These are the perfect gift to bring back to your mother, best friend, sister, wife, or friend being that they can be easily transported through the airport and contain all the essentials. Plus, your purchase will be gift wrapped altogether or separately in plastic wrap, ribbon, and potpourri. Our must-have product is the argan hair serum. Though we know you’ll want to return to Chefchaouen ASAP, stock up on your favorites from La Botica de La Abuela next time you’re visiting the blue pearl!
What To Do in Chefchaouen: Hammams
If you’re looking for a taste of local life in Chefchaouen, look no further than the Hammam. Similar to an old bath house, a Hammam is where Moroccans go to get a deep clean and enjoy their community. Of course, men and women have separate bathing times and you can expect to pay a small fee of around twenty-five dirham (equivalent to $2.50). Once in the bathing area, you’ll be given a large bucket to fill with water and a stool to rest on while you scrub. Depending on your comfort level, you can choose to bath in a swimsuit, undergarments, or go bare.
Don’t show up to the Hammam unprepared! You should bring your own rubber flip flops, soaps, shower scrubs, and towels. For baby soft skin, you can find a coarse shower mitt in a local convenience shop and thick, molasses looking argan soap. You will notice this is what all the locals scrub with! This is an authentic experience you can’t miss anywhere in Morocco, but especially in Chefchaouen.
For a luxe hammam experience, visit Casa Hassan. Serving as a local hotel and restaurant, Casa Hassan also offers traditional Moroccan spa services. Mud masks, skin scrubbing, full body massages, and hair cleansings are only a few services that will leave your skin smooth and refreshed in Chefchaouen. This may cost you a few more dirham, however at 250 dirhams ( equivalent to $25) for an all-inclusive luxury spa service, it’s truly a steal.
What to Do in Chefchaouen: Views
While we encourage you to explore the inner walls of Chefchaouen, there is nothing quite like the outside view of the blue and white buildings rising out of the mountainside. If you are a fan of the picturesque Amalfi Coast in Italy or Santorini in Greece, surely you can’t miss the breathtaking scenery of Chefchaouen. Leave the blue pearl’s medina for a short hike towards a stand-alone Spanish mosque atop a hill. The wide dirt walkway leading to the Mosque (and the best view of Chefchaouen) is lined with aloe and cacti. Its eventually crosses the Ras el-Maa river, where you may come across local women doing their weekly laundry.
Because the hike only takes around thirty minutes, we suggest you start your day early and reach the viewpoint for sunrise. Nothing quite contrasts the blue city better than the crimson and gold tint of the sun coming up. Not a morning person? Catch the view by moonlight and see the city come to life at dusk.
Are you looking for a unique travel destination? Discover Morocco’s blue pearl or another remarkable port of call with a personalized itinerary! Contact us at email@example.com for an experience beyond expectations.