You’ve seen the photos of the famous “Blue City” in Morocco, formally known as Chefchaouen, but how in the hell do you get there? This was my major question when I randomly decided to plan a solo trip to Morocco, and I didn’t have a ton of luck finding information online.
I also had no clue what most posts were talking about with buses and taxis, but when I ended up figuring it out on my own, it was SUPER easy! So this guide will break down exactly how to get to Chefchaouen, where to stay, and what to see, from the perspective of someone who has never been to Morocco before!
But first, let me help you out by phonetically writing how to pronounce Chefchaouen…say it with me now: “chef-SHAH-when” , that’s “chef” as in the person who cooks your food, ‘Shah’ like the ‘Shahs of Sunset’, and when like “when are you going to pronounce this name right?” Get it? Good, moving right along…
Where is Chefchaouen Located?
I can show you a map, but what you need to know is that it’s nestled in the Riff Mountains, and that it’s about an hour from any airport. That means you must either take a bus or a taxi to get there. Or, you can fly to said close by airport, and take a bus or taxi from there. I’ll go over all of those options.
Essentially it’s located in between Tanger/Tetoun and Fes, which means you’ll likely be taking a bus or taxi from one of those locations. I actually started in Casablanca and took a bus to Fes, stayed the night, then took a bus the next day to Chefchaouen to break up the trip since it’s long AF.
Why is Chefchaouen Painted Blue?
There’s a few different stories about why Chefchaouen’s homes and buildings are all painted vibrant shades of blue. One says that it used to be a Jewish area, and they painted it blue to distinguish it as such. Another says that the color blue keeps bugs away, which I suppose could be true since I didn’t see many bugs. A third suggest that the blue helps keep the homes cool, which is similar to what I heard in India’s blue city, Jodhpur.
Whatever the real reason is, I’m real glad they decided to do it, and stick with it, because it’s just so damn pretty!
Taking the CTM Bus
I have to say, the CTM Bus line in Morocco is freaking AWESOME. Not only is it cheap AF, but it’s safe, clean, comfortable, and reliable. Plus, CTM has it’s own bus stations, which means you won’t get confused with a bunch of other local bus lines and people.
You may be slightly nervous about taking a bus in a foreign country, but I did it several times, solo, and can guarantee you that it’s completely safe. This is the bus that mostly travelers take anyway, especially to Chefchaouen.
Booking Your CTM Bus Tickets Online:
CTM has a website that newly accepts international credit/debit cards (AKA your American cards), but you have to book your tickets 72 hours in advance. That’s fine if you’re planning your trip ahead of time (and may actually help you plan) but if you’re winging it like I was, you may want to just buy your tickets the day before at the bus station.
Either way, the website is super useful for showing you the times of the buses and how long the ride is. Don’t freak out that it’s in French, just translate the page in your browser, and if some words still don’t translate, use your common sense. 🙂
Booking Your Tickets at the CTM Bus Station:
Also super easy to do; you just google map the CTM station in the city you’re in (usually there’s only one), go there, tell them you want to go to Chefchaouen, and which time (usually there’s only 1-2 daily departures). Since there’s only a couple departures per day, you may want to go to the bus station a day or two in advance, just in case it’s full.
When I was leaving Chefchaouen I forgot to get a ticket in advance, but they were still available a few hours before the departure to Tanger.
Getting there from Tangier/Tetouan
CTM Bus Station: CTM Tangier
Ticket Cost: 45 Dh (about $4.50)
Time: 3.5 hours
Tangier and Tetouan are two different cities, but since they are so close, they’re usually grouped together, including for the bus ticket. By the way, Tangier is both spelled and pronounced “Tanger” in Morocco.
Anyway. Tangier has some pretty cheap flights if you’re coming from Europe, and it’s the closest airport to Chefchaouen. The bus ride is only about 3.5 hours (as opposed to 4.5 from Fes) and the ticket is less than $5.
Getting there from Fes
CTM Bus Station: CTM Fes
Ticket Cost: 85 Dh (about $8.50)
Time: 4.5 hours
Fes has the second closest airport, but it’s also in the middle of all the Imperial Cities, so it’s also a good option to make as a stopping point for a bus-roadtrip. Plus I know of a really cool AirBnB PALACE you can stay at.
But anyway, from the airport or wherever you’re staying, have a taxi take you to the CTM bus station, which shouldn’t cost you more than 50 Dh ($5).
Getting there from Casablanca
CTM Bus Station: CTM Casablanca
Ticket Cost: Casa to Fes 75 Dh then Fes to Chefchaouen 85 Dh
Time: About 9 hours total
This was the route I took, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing, but if I did it again, I would have started in Tangier, and gone to Casablanca after Chefchaouen, Fes, and Meknes.
But anyway, you’ll need to get two tickets if you’re coming from Casablanca. The first ticket is to Fes, and the second is Fes to Chefchaouen. If you time it right you can do the entire trip in one day, but I’d recommend breaking it up and staying the night in Meknes and another night in Fes (both Imperial Cities). Since you’re in the area anyway.
Don’t forget that there are only two departure times from Fes to Chefchaouen!
Getting there from Marrakech
I would not advise taking the bus all the way from Marrakech to Chefchaouen unless you have ample time in Morocco. It’s over 12 hours on a bus when you can probably just get a cheap flight that’s only 2 hours. I actually went from Chefchaouen to Marrakech by taking the CTM bus from Chefchaouen to Tanger, then flying from Tanger to Marrakech. It was $95 last minute.
But if you’re on a tight budget, have time, and don’t mind being stuck on a bus for a really long time, the route you’ll want to take is: Marrakech to Fes, then you need another ticket for Fes to Chefchaouen.
Or the faster flying option is:
- Fly from Marrakech to either Tangier, Tetouan, Fes, or if you must, Casablanca
- Take a taxi from the airport to the CTM bus station (or from where you’re staying if you decide to stay the night)
- Take the CTM bus to Chefchaouen
Getting from the CTM Bus Station in Chefchaouen to the Main Blue Area
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Behold!! Highlights from my solo trip to Chefchaouen, AKA the "Blue City" 💙of Morocco, which should also be called the "Kitten City", as you can see from the mini video! I'll have a full video on my YouTube soon, now that I've decided to start making destination videos, so please subscribe! YouTube.com/alyssaramos88. . 🎥Big shout out to @GoPro for hooking me up with the #goprohero6 and #karmagrip ! Having a gimbal is seriously a video GAME CHANGER, not to mention scares people away when I'm walking around with it 😂🙌 . #chefchaouen #morocco #bluecitymorocco #igersmorocco #visitmorocco #mylifesatravelmovie #solotravel #travelblogger #vlogger #video #goprogirl #goprotravel #travelchannel #tlpicks #beautifuldestinations
You don’t just walk off the bus and find yourself in the middle of the famous Blue City, you have to take an 8ish minute taxi to get there. The good news is that the taxis only cost 15-20 Dh ($1.50-$2), just be sure you get a “Petit Taxi” (they’re usually blue…how ironic).
There’s a good chance some will try to charge you 30Dh, especially the ones waiting (for tourists) outside of the bus station. If you’re not having any luck with them, just walk down the street a little bit and flag one down.
The main taxi drop off point inside the Medina walls of the Blue City is near Hotel Parador, so if you’re unsure of where exactly you’re staying (which you should be because the streets there are impossible), just say Hotel Parador and figure it out from there. And by “figure it out” I mean ask your AirBnB host to come get you.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
At first I was trying to look up hotels to stay at, but TRUST ME when I say, AirBnB is definitely the way to go! Not only are the places super cute, but most of them are in prime locations within the Blue City medina walls! Plus as I mentioned above, you can contact your host to come get you from a meeting point and walk you to their place since the streets there are super confusing.
There’s no cars on the streets by the way; they’re mostly narrow, sloping, cobblestone pedestrian streets. But they’re also very windy and staggered, and the numbers aren’t on most of them. Oh and GPS is usually a bit off.
Anyway! I can recommend the two AirBnB’s I stayed at since I loved both of them: the first would be great for a small group or family since it has two rooms, and the second is perfect for a solo traveler or couple. The second one had a way better view, but the first one was only a block away from the famous Instagram street.
You can find these two AirBnB’s as well as all of the other ones I stayed at in Morocco here: 6 AirBnBs in Morocco that Will Stun You
Note: I did not get paid by AirBnB to say any of that, so if you end up using it, and want to show me some love, please use my referral code, or any of the affiliat
e links on this post!
Where the Instagram Photo Spots are in the Blue City
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After taking about 8 hours of buses, taking my chances at renting a place with no address, and heading to a tiny mountain town solo, I walked around the corner and found this famous Instagram street in Chefchaouen! But don't let the look of effortlessness and flowy dress fool you…I walked back and forth until I found other travelers to take turns taking photos with so I'd feel comfortable even taking my jacket off! Because yes, I wear flowy dresses for photos (and in real life, but not in countries where it's inappropriate!) I decided to give the back end reality of this photo bc I'm pretty sick of all the people lately who have been throwing shade at travel bloggers (slash girls on IG) who wear pretty dresses, hats, and look away from the camera. SO WHAT?! I'll admit it's a bit frustrating for me at times since I've been doing it for 3 years and I hate to feel classified as "like everyone else", but I remain appreciative of the people who choose to make their photos about the places, not their faces. But while we're on the subject, I'd like to take this opportunity to say WHY I started not showing my face 3 years ago: 1. I got accused of "using my looks" to get free travel and followers. So I vowed to never show my face to prove I could do it purely with talent and hard work. 2. I travel solo and I take all of my own photos by using a remote on my phone. YOU try hitting a button on your phone while smiling at a camera. 3. I cant fake a smile for shit, and if I don't smile, I look like a bitch, so I show the back of my head, problem solved. Not to mention, every time I take a photo in public I get ridiculed for "taking a selfie" yet do it anyway to get these photos. So conclusively, I hope everyone keeps taking photos however they damn well please, and THANK YOU to everyone who likes what I do because they understand my underlying intentions, THANK YOU for everyone who thinks my photos are awesome, and THANK YOU for all the shade-throwers who have encouraged me to start filming more epic videos 😜 Rant over. 👊 . #solotravel #selfie #damnproud #mylifesatravelmovie #alyssaramostravels #morocco #chefchaouen #girlboss
There are two very distinguished “Instagram photo spots” in Chefchaouen; one is a stairway alley lined with brightly colored pots with plants in them, and another is a lone multi-story home. I’ve done my best to show on the map below where they are since they technically don’t have addresses.
There’s also a main loop of blue streets and buildings, which I’ve drawn a circle around in blue. Your best bet is to meander and wander around until you find your idea photo spot.
Here’s some photo tips and ideas:
- Wear colors that contrast with blue: You’ll notice in all of my photos I’m wearing white, golden-yellow, or hot pink. That’s because those colors contrast beautifully with royal blue. If you didn’t bring anything in those colors, don’t worry; there are PLENTY of market stalls selling souvenir clothing!
- Get creative with recurring things: For example, there are a lot of really cool doors you can photograph…as well as cats. Yes, cats. There are cats and kittens everywhere and they look awesome against the blue back drops.
- Hire someone to walk with you or make friends: Worried about setting your tripod down to take a photo? Hire a local guide (try asking your AirBnB host) or make friends with other travelers. I immediately befriended two New Zealand guys who walked around with me all day in exchange for some pro Instagram tips, and when they left, I paid some kids to watch my stuff while I took photos by myself.
What’s This About the Marijuana?
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re interested in Chefchaouen for the same reason I was: to take a bunch of really cool photos. BUT there’s a chance you may be interested in it for other reasons, which I did not even know about until I got there!
Apparently, the Riff Mountains are notorious for growing marijuana! Like, people go to Chefchaouen just to smoke weed, or hash, or whatever you call it.
Essential Safety Tips for Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen overall is pretty safe. It’s a tourist town, and the people there all depend on the tourists for their income, which is both good and bad. It’s good because it keeps crime rates low, but bad because everyone is on a constant mission to hustle you and make a buck.
For the most part, the shop owners in the medina are pretty easy going. If you say no (or better, “laa shukran” which means “no thank you” in Arabic) they’ll leave you be as you pass by. But if you give any notion that you may be interested, or will be back later, they take it literally and will wait for you/remind you as you pass by.
A lot of men will nonchalantly offer you hash as well (this happened way more to the guys I was walking with than me). I don’t smoke, but I heard from someone who did accept a local’s offer to smoke with them for free that he was later charged, and said he ended up paying because the guy started getting mad.
Covering up is a smart idea (I usually wore a long dress with a jacket and took it off for photos), especially if you don’t want guys constantly calling you “sexy” or trying to talk to you.