During my stay in Fez (more on that in the next post), I took a day trip to Chefchaouen, a small city in northwest Morocco which is famous for being all covered in blue, from the buildings to the streets. It’s considered a popular day-trip destination for people coming from other cities in Morocco, including Fez and Tangiers.
Now, I’d heard about Chefchaouen (“chef-shao-wen”) just from looking up photos of it online (where I usually get my source of travel information nowadays). Stumbling upon gorgeous photo after gorgeous photo of its blue-hued houses, I immediately knew that I had to visit. Mind you, this happened way before I’d considered visiting Morocco in the first place, but after that, I was set on going to the country. You could say that Chefchaouen was my top priority; Marrakesh and Fez were great, but it was the so-called “Blue Pearl” that was on my bucket list!
That said, my friend and I took a private van to Chefchaouen during our second day in Fez. Originally, we’d wanted to take the public bus over, just because it was cheaper (around 100 dirham, or 10 euros), but unfortunately, tickets were sold out for the day that we’d wanted to go (again, it’s that popular!). The only other option would be to hire a private van from our hostel for 1600 dirham (160 euros), split among six people- that is, if others wanted to join. It would be more expensive, but considering that my friend and I were set on seeing Chefchaouen while in Morocco, we decided to go ahead and pay for it.
At first, it was only the two of us, along with another girl who would be arriving later the first night, so that would be three people to split the cost. Thankfully, my friend and I also met another hostel-goer who arrived in Fez that afternoon who was planning to go to Chefchaouen the following day, so that would be four in total. However, it wasn’t until the morning right before we left that two other girls joined us, so it made out to be six people in total, which was perfect. Split among the six of us, it was rough 267 dirham, or about 27 euros each. Even though it got complicated with the other passengers paying me and my friend the difference in cost (since we’d already gone and paid before knowing about the others joining), in the end, we got a pretty good deal worked out for us!
Our private driver picked us up around 7h30 (it was early, since it would take 3-4 hours to get to Chefchaouen); we piled into the van and spent the next 4-1/2 hours speeding along the vast, open highway to the Blue Pearl. The six of us passengers, all of us being girls, bonded quickly and spent the time chatting and enjoying each other’s company on the long drive over. We made a brief stop at the El Wahda lake for some photo opportunities and a pit stop before finally arriving close to noon in Chefchaouen, first taking in the city from the distance with the Rif Mountains in the background before heading into the center.
Our driver dropped us off in the center to let us explore for the afternoon. Despite feeling hungry, the six of us decided to first explore the blue walls of the city, which ended up turning into a photo shoot. Three of the girls were dressed for the occasion (e.g. dresses and heels), whereas my friend and I wore comfortable clothes and shoes to wander the periwinkle streets.
Seriously, it was gorgeous: Chefchaouen certainly lived up to my expectations! Every corner we turned, there were more blue streets, blue walls, blue stairs…everything blue! Funny enough, the Eiffel 65 song “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” was stuck in my head as I made my way up the stairs, which was freakin’ hilarious even if somewhat annoying! All the same, the six of us had a fun time with our “photo shoot.”
Soon enough, we let our hunger take us to a small restaurant-cafe for lunch. For 95 dirham (9,50 euros), I had a three-course meal of Moroccan soup, chicken couscous, and a *sort of* lemon bar for dessert, all of which were tasty, but very filling! I ended up eating very little for dinner that night upon returning to Fez, but definitely was a good deal!
Now, my friend and I had paid round-trip for the private van, along with one of the other hostel-goers, since we’d only planned on doing a day trip. The other three girls, however, would only be doing one-way: two of them were planning on heading straight to Tangiers to take the ferry to Spain as soon as we finished lunch while the other girl would be staying one night in Chefchaouen before returning to Fez the following day. That said, we bid goodbye to the two girls on their way to Tangiers shortly after paying the meal, and the rest of us continued exploring the blue city for the rest of the afternoon. More photo shoots, as well as discovering this beautiful house interior: it actually belonged to a home-owner, and it cost about 10 dirham (1 euro) to enter and take photos. We did that, and it turned out to be one of the prettiest hidden gems in the city.
Now, Chefchaouen is a small city: aside from exploring the blue streets and houses, there wasn’t much else to see otherwise. We were pretty much done within two to three hours: the three of us bid goodbye to the other hostel-goer who would be spending the night in Chefchaouen and after a few more photos and some souvenirs, we took our private van all the way back to Fez, arriving back around 20h00.
While most of our day trip to Chefchaouen was spent driving (perhaps seven to eight hours total), nevertheless I’m so happy to have gone and seen the “Blue Pearl of Morocco.” It was far from underwhelming, and I got plenty of gorgeous photos for memories. Definitely worth the trip over, should you ever be in Morocco!
Final post on Morocco to come soon. Next up: Fez, Morocco!
— The Finicky Cynic
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