Is Chefchaouen the Prettiest City in the World?


If you're going to Morocco, you can't skip Chefchaouen! The entire old town is painted in these gorgeous shades of blue!

After having such a stressful time in Essaouira, I was drained from the hassle involved in travelling solo around Morocco. The men were incessant and followed me everywhere, the touts were out in full force and wouldn’t leave me alone, and stares had me on my constant guard.

Honestly, guys, I wanted to leave the country. I was so tired that all I wanted to do was book a flight out of Morocco and back to Europe. I had been in the country for four weeks and that felt like my limit.

Before I would allow myself to buy a one-way ticket out of there, however, there was one more city I had to see. It was the city that had drawn me to Morocco in the first place. The city that’s meant to be the most relaxing in the entire country. The city where every single building is painted the most gorgeous shade of blue.

It was time for me to check out beautiful Chefchaouen.

Chefchaouen from above
Views of Chefchaouen from my guesthouse’s rooftop terrace

And you know what? I’m so glad I went.

Chefchaouen felt unlike any other place I visited in Morocco. For starters, there was no hassle and no aggressive touts to be seen. When I first arrived at the entrance to the old town, I ended up lost and nervous in the maze-like medina, worried I wasn’t going to be able to find my hostel. A local guy approached me when he saw I was lost and helped me find my guesthouse — he led me from hotel to hotel, asking all of his friends if they’d heard of the place I was staying at. He walked with me for over half an hour and yet, once we found the place, he didn’t ask for any money afterwards! This did not happen anywhere else in the country that I visited and I was shocked.

In Chefchaouen, I was able to walk down the streets and not have touts running up to me and grabbing me, not have men shouting insults, not have people staring — everybody just left me in peace.

I could see why people say it’s the most relaxing place in Morocco, and it certainly was for me. I warmed to this pretty blue old town so much that I ended up extending my stay over and over, eventually staying there for well over a week!

Oh, and I haven’t even started talking about the colours of the old town! Because Chefchaouen was also the most beautiful place I’ve ever been on my travels so far. I must have taken over 500 photos during my time there as every single square inch of the city was so photogenic.

streets of chefchaouen

This was the view of the streets outside my guesthouse. Every morning, after breakfast, I’d wander along here, taking the exact same photos, because the colours were blowing my mind every time I saw them.

chefchaouen blue door

The doors in Chefchaouen were something special, too. The walls, the doors, the doorbells, the house numbers — everything was painted in a different shade of blue.

chefchaouen blue door

More gorgeous shades of blue…

chefchaouen blue steps

 

chefchaouen blue houses

One thing you’ll notice from my photos is the lack of people in them!

chefchaouen blue door

 

chefchaouen blue door

 

chefchaouen blue door

 

house in chefchaouen

 

doors in chefchaouen

 

streets of chefchaouen

I adored my time in Chefchaouen. It was the most relaxing and peaceful place I visited in Morocco, and it’s one of the few places I most want to return to. I even felt like it gave me the energy and determination to stick it out in Morocco until the end of the month.

 

 

It would be a huge understatement to say that I struggled while travelling in Morocco but, like most countries in the world, there were both good and bad parts, Chefchaouen was definitely one of the best.

Previous Essaouira: Attempting to find calm in Morocco
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95 Comments

  1. Sophie
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    Those colours are beautiful! I’ve never heard of Chefchaouen before. Morocco’s hectic atmosphere always puts me off the country as I don’t really deal well with that sort of stuff, but I think I would go solely to see somewhere like this!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Chefchaouen was like nowhere else in Morocco — a great place to relax and chill out :-)

  2. DebbZie
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    Such a gorgeous town. It looks like from a fairy tale book, Aladdin :p

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      It almost didn’t seem real! :-)

  3. Angela
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    Supposedly the reason for the blue is to keep them cool in summer and wards off insects but also due to the Jewish spiritual history from what I understand and have read. Very cool village though, I think this is the same village in Morocco that my sister in law traveled to a few years ago by looking at her pics hehe

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Nice! That’s so interesting. It definitely kept the town cool :-)

  4. jmayel el-haj
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    So many people i know have had the same problems that you experienced in Morocco. Male, Female and mixed groups.

    But for some reason Sacha and I have never had any of it happen to us and we’ve been there 3 times now and got married there too. Its strange.

    Bet it wouldn’t stop you going back to the sahara though. We got the most amazing photo of the stars over the desert while we were there. So magical.

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      I’m actually really keen to return, even with all the hassle! Glad to hear you didn’t experience any of that :-)

  5. September 7, 2012
    Reply

    Lovely. I just posted about Chef today, too! When were you there? We were there at the end of Ramadan.

  6. Tom @ Waegook Tom
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    AGH this is my absolute favourite shade of blue. I think I’d have loved the city from the looks of it to – I love the photo of the steps especially :)

    By the way, EWW to the dude in Tangier I mean seriously…really?!?! Ick, ick, ick.

    At least you had Chefchaouen and the Sahara Desert, though!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Yep, Morocco is just so tough. One day it’s the most incredible country I’ve been to and the next I can’t wait to leave.

  7. Jen
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    I am putting this on my list it is so very pretty, however your reviews of Morocco concerns me, I am all for traveling alone, but I think I will put Morocco on my travel with someone list.

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      I think it would be much easier to travel with someone else. Even the females who had male companions received harassment but it wasn’t as intense.

  8. Amanda
    September 8, 2012
    Reply

    SO much blue! And SO pretty! I can understand why you loved this place best.

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      It was just as calm as it looks in the photos :-)

  9. leandra / adbenturera
    September 7, 2012
    Reply

    feasted today on photos of this blue heaven in Nina’s album, then saw this! i’m def sold! i have to file my leave… ^_^

  10. September 8, 2012
    Reply

    Ah, look at the colors!! Can’t believe they are real!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      It was so beautiful :-)

  11. Sky
    September 8, 2012
    Reply

    Beautiful! I feel like I could definitely spend days wandering around and taking pictures!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      It’s the best way to spend a day in Chefchaouen! :-)

  12. That actually looks a lot like Jodhpur in India (the blue city) minus the cows and the filth. I’ve probably written this after all of your posts from Morocco, but I REALLY wish I’d had more time to spend there.

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Whereas I was wishing I had less time to spend there :-). Well, since I’ve left I’ve been craving to return…

  13. Drew Meyers
    September 8, 2012
    Reply

    Wow, some gorgeous photos indeed. The all blue one looks like an ice cave of some sort.

    I visited Tangeir for 1 day back in 2005. And yea – it’s not the greatest place in the world :)

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Tangier was the only place in Morocco where I couldn’t think of a single thing I liked about it!

  14. Dannie
    September 9, 2012
    Reply

    Having been to several of the places you went to in Morocco, i can empathise with you! I loved my trek out into the desert and sleeping under the stars, but disliked our guide who kept hitting on me the moment my partner left the tent. I loved Zagora which was so relaxed and where we got no hassle and people helped us without asking for anything.

    I also know the feeling of men trying to grope you! Whilst in Marakech and whilst stood with my boyfriend, men would try and rub themselves up against me and pinch my bum! I had to get him to stand behind me! Needless to say, i am definitely taking him with me when travelling to Jordan in November:-)

    That looks like a lovely place you visited.

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      It’s frustrating because I often felt like the sexual harassment from the men ruined the country for me. I adored Morocco but there’s only so much I can cope with before I go crazy… :-)

  15. Jaime
    September 9, 2012
    Reply

    I must say yes this is the most photogenic city in the world… I would put Venice at #2. I loved Chef. so damn much… it’s so beautiful. Great photos!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Like the desert, I heard about Chefchaouen from reading your site, Jaime! I’m so glad I got to visit it :-)

  16. Susan @ Travel Junkette
    September 10, 2012
    Reply

    What a beautiful color!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      I loved the colours! The perfect shade of blue :-)

  17. Chris
    September 10, 2012
    Reply

    gorgeous photos Lauren!
    Sucks that you had a bad time in Morocco though, I loved that place…although admittedly I avoided the big cities in favour for some sleepy surfer villages in search of waves!

    • September 26, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Chris! :) I imagine the sleepy surfer villages being a lot more relaxing :)

  18. September 10, 2012
    Reply

    These would make some seriously awesome postcards. =)

  19. September 11, 2012
    Reply

    Chefchaouen looks and sounds amazing. The blue colours are really beautiful!

    • September 26, 2012
      Reply

      It really was! The shade of blue was perfect :)

  20. September 11, 2012
    Reply

    It’s a shame you had such a hard time with the people.. usually the people are what make places great. On the other hand you are right.. those are some great photos! I’m surprised the entire place looks so uncrowded?

    • September 26, 2012
      Reply

      It was very quiet when I was there, very chilled out and peaceful, which was a nice change of pace from the rest of Morocco!

  21. Kurt W
    September 24, 2012
    Reply

    Great captures and write up. I just moved to Morocco and am anticipating being able to get some shots in at Chefchouen. Looks awesome!

    • September 26, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Kurt! It’s definitely an amazing place to photograph :)

  22. Rosa R.
    September 26, 2012
    Reply

    The photos are nice but I don’t like the title. The most photogenic city in the world? Are you kidding? Have you been to Santorini or any of the Greek islands? Have you been, for example, to Salvador Dalí’s town of Cadaqués at the Costa Brava in Spain? With so many beautiful sites in this world I doubt an old blue town in a country like Morocco would be the most photogenic..in the world!

    • September 26, 2012
      Reply

      … In your opinion.

      Just like my opinion that Chefchaouen is incredibly photogenic ;)

      The title wasn’t even a statement but a question – and while I haven’t been to every place in the world, Chefchaouen certainly is certainly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to.

  23. This place and the desert, those are two reasons of my travel in Morocco as well! Superb pictures!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Exactly. Morocco is such a beautiful country!

  24. Jaryd Krause
    March 3, 2013
    Reply

    Beautiful city, you took some really great photos, well done. I believe that traveling anywhere alone in Africa can be quite dangerous, especially as a girl. No wonder you were done with this place. I have been in Egypt for 5 months and I can’t stand the hassle in most of the country, although I am lucky as I live in a amazing place (Dahab, South Sinai, Egypt), nice and chilled by the Red Sea. Its nothing like the rest of Egypt and every traveler should visit here at least once in their life.

    Cheers for the blog

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Jaryd. I believe there are some places that are safer than others, like most regions of the world :-). I’d love to visit Dahab one day actually.

  25. Lindsay Lockhart
    October 24, 2013
    Reply

    oooOoo girl, I am a Peace Corps volunteer here in Morocco and to say the harassment is rough is a huge understatement, but still a beautiful and culturally rich place. I’m glad you found it in yourself to recognize the good, not just the bad :)

    • October 30, 2013
      Reply

      There are some fantastic sides to Morocco, and it ended up being one of my favorite countries… now, if only they could sort out their harassment that would be perfect! :-)

  26. hicham
    December 20, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I am a Moroccan who lives in the Netherlands, and I read your story with admiration. it’s very annoying that you have experienced such bad things in my country. on behalf of the Moroccan people, I offer my apologies.

    after all you are a good looking woman and moroccan men have a weakness for that :).. of course it doesn’t mean they can harass you. :) Sorry again for that..
    I hope I can visit chefchaoun once too.

    greetings Hicham

    • December 29, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Hicham :-)

  27. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs
    December 30, 2013
    Reply

    I love this place, but I love blue, so it was a heaven for me :) Great pictures!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Glad to hear you loved it, too! :-)

  28. January 4, 2014
    Reply

    I was there a few months ago and it really is like the pictures and like your pictures. It’s such a adorable town and far from any other hassle in Morocco. Although I didn’t have the worst time in Morocco, I have to agree that this town was awesome!

    • January 14, 2014
      Reply

      It makes such a nice change from the rest of Morocco :-)

  29. April 11, 2014
    Reply

    These are stunning– I’m aching to go now! Traveling as a woman, alone, can be really stressful and degrading in many parts of the world, which is sad.
    I’m still determined to see Morocco, and I’m looking forward to reading more about it on your blog!

    • November 22, 2015
      Reply

      You definitely should, Claire! :-)

  30. Gibran
    April 28, 2014
    Reply

    While going through the internet browse/ today, I came across your story about Morocco which I personally find interesting.It is true,that The government has made a conscious effort to make tourism the number one industry in the country under the guidance of king Mohamed the sixth.

    The government is planning and executing good projects that are aimed at improving the rail and road links. The open skies policy has also allowed more airlines to come in into the country. The airports are being upgraded or new ones build to match the international standard and support larger number of air traffic. There are popular ports like Casablanca and Tangier that often have cruise ships visiting. The road link as well as the rail link is also good between the major cities and tourist destinations making it the most popular mode of transport.

    The Moroccan economy has been growing steadily for the last few years. It has been one of the most politically stable countries and has been working hard to boost the tourism industry, which has a high potential for growth. Morocco is called the land of mystery and a place worth a visit. The sun shines bright nearly 300 days of the years and makes for a good setting for some great vacations visiting deserts, beaches and snow capped mountains. There is such diversity you can hardly want to miss anything. The strong culture lures one and all to explore the colorful lives of the Moroccans.

    Unfortunately such reported problems by tourists like the issue of harassment can give a negative reputation about the destination.So,the government and the responsible of tourism are required to do more efforts for the visitor safety.

    Thank you Lauren for your nice compliment on Chefchaouen city,,I live in a small city near Chefchaouen city,,,I do really feel happy when I head good things on my own area

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      Yep, this was definitely my highlight of Morocco!

  31. August 3, 2014
    Reply

    I stumbled upon this story while doing research for a solo adventure in Morocco thinking it would be somewhat easy to navigate and enjoy but your story nagged at the little voice in the back of my head of all the things that I was worried about could go wrong… I still have this romantic vision of Morocco and will still plan to go but maybe I will rethink the solo part. thanks for sharing all of your stories…what a wonderful life! :)

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Iris. Hope you make it to Morocco :-)

  32. Alice McLean
    August 15, 2014
    Reply

    Hey Lauren!

    I’m headed to Morocco for two weeks and thanks to your blog have decided that we do want to take a trip up to Chefchaouen! We weren’t originally planning on visiting there because of how far it is from Marrakesh and the other areas we’re planning on visiting… But it just looks too beautiful to miss!

    How did you get up to Chefchaouen? We were thinking night train – any recommendations? Do you think going for just 2 nights is worth the long trip?

    Would really appreciate your advice!
    Thanks!
    Alice

    • August 16, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Alice,

      I actually didn’t head directly from Marrakech to Chefchaouen — I went via Essaouira and Casablanca. I travelled by bus in Morocco, so haven’t experienced train travel there. I think it’s worth going there for two nights. It was my favourite place in Morocco and is very different to the rest of the country :-)

  33. Jamal
    January 7, 2015
    Reply

    I am very sorry you experienced that. I live in the US and my wife is American and lived in Morocco for 6 years. The last four years have been hard in Morocco when it comes to harassment. I aam visiting this February and I will take a taser with me just in case. Ait benhadou is also a good destination

  34. Atanas
    January 9, 2015
    Reply

    The touts in Chaouen are really annoying there. Spent a lot of time in the Medina before finding my hostel by myself. Didn`t want to ask anyone, cause everybody expects some payment for a simple thing as saying the directions. People constantly trying to speak to me in English, French, Spanish, chasing me down the streets… That`s the biggest disadvantage there. Apart of that – the view from the mosque on the hill over the town was magnificent, worth trying Moroccan breakfast (did you try it Lauren?) and basically – Chaouen is a fresh air after the hassle in Tanger.

    • January 10, 2015
      Reply

      Ah, that’s a shame that you’re experiencing the touts! I had someone show me to my hostel and *not* ask for money afterwards. I was shocked!

  35. JoeFon
    January 12, 2015
    Reply

    Dunno, I thought Chaouen was beautiful, but I did not find this place as relaxing as other people did. Actually,I thought it was not relaxing at all! First of all: from start to end (I stayed there 2 days) I got people trying to sell me hash, weed, opium etc. Some of them got pissed off if I said no. Shop owners were rude: I heard that in Morocco all you need is to smile, to be polite, even when you are refusing something: I got a couple of people telling me they “did not like my smile” just because they had nothing I wanted to buy. Countless people tried to get me to their farm in the mountains and got quite offended when I told them I was not there for that. And, if it was not enough, I got robbed 50 euros by a random junkie as soon as I grabbed a seat on the coach to Rabat: he threatened first to call the police because he thought we had hash; then he eventually got tougher and told me that those 50 euros (25 each for me and my mate) were just to ensure that we had a safe journey; since there were other 3 “accomplices” who were just ensuring the transaction was going good (one of them was the baggage guy who stayed on all the way to Rabat), I decided that maybe it was a good idea to hand over the 50 euros.
    I mean, I also found wonderful people there, saw great things, but I surely did not relax. I don’t like the way they think Tourist = Stoner or Tourist = Cash Machine. And I saw it more in Chaouen than in Marra.
    I liked the Blue Town but I would definitely never go back, since it completely ruined my experience of Moroccoan people

  36. Lee
    January 20, 2015
    Reply

    Hi, I just read your post on Chefchaouen and I can’t help but ask, why are the walls of the buildings here painted in blue and all shades of blue? Is there anything significant about the colour? No doubt it is amazing (my favourite colour is blue!) but it just got me wondering, why blue?

    • March 21, 2015
      Reply

      I don’t think there’s a definitive answer — some people say it’s to keep the temperature in the town cooler.

  37. January 22, 2015
    Reply

    How would you pronounce the name of this town?

    • January 23, 2015
      Reply

      chef-chow-en – first ch pronounced like the ch in church.

  38. February 17, 2015
    Reply

    Some truly stunning pictures here Lauren, I first went to Chefoufen 5 years ago after hitching from the UK; it doesn’t appear to have changed a bit!! :)

    • March 10, 2015
      Reply

      Great! Pleased to hear it’s still as you remember it :-)

  39. April 8, 2015
    Reply

    I’m from chefchawen, and I pass my childhood there, I confirm what you said in the post and I’m glade to hear such words from you about this blue peaceful city

  40. ABDELKARIM
    September 11, 2015
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experience… I had to say that it’s very sad that they don’t promote the beautiful cities of north Morocco we were always marginalized and absent from marketing spots and agencies …However cities like Tanger, Tetouan (Tetawen) , Chefchaouen (Chaouen), Alhoceima (Alhucemas – Villa San jurjo) are a good places to visit and also the people are very welcoming and peaceful …Here i try always to write about my city Alhoceima known as the perl of the Mediterranean having a great beaches surrounded by mountains with delicious and fresh fish

    • November 13, 2015
      Reply

      Sounds wonderful! Will have to check it out when I return.

  41. Hicham Abody
    October 13, 2015
    Reply

    hi!
    guys, hope everything is good there :D
    I am a Moroccan who lives in the Martil city, and i read those stories ( interesting and annoying) hhhh
    just to be clear Morocco is like others countries you can find good people as you can find bad people !
    so sorry for who had a bad story here and welcome anybody and anytime million welcome

    Best Regards
    Abody Hicham

    • October 22, 2015
      Reply

      Agree — good and bad happens in every place in the world. In Morocco, there just seemed to be a bit more bad than I’m used to.

  42. February 17, 2016
    Reply

    Hey Lauren,

    I loved Chefchauoen too, such a stunning place and very different from every other part of Morocco! I could wander the streets for day!
    Sorry you had such a crazy experience in the other parts of the country! I really enjoyed my time in Morocco but most of my travels there was on a tour with a local guide which made a big difference!

    Your photos are stunning, what camera do you use?
    Georgia :)

    http://www.bohemianbythesea.com

    • February 17, 2016
      Reply

      I use a Canon 550D with the kit lens and edit my photos in Photoshop :-) I think having a local guide would definitely help relieve the hassle — glad to hear you had a wonderful time!

  43. September 26, 2016
    Reply

    I have not been to Chefchauoen yet, but your post just really made me want to go

  44. naresh kumar
    December 19, 2016
    Reply

    i was seen this place many time in my night dream i realy want to vist hare. nice to read u

    • December 30, 2016
      Reply

      Hope you get to visit one day!

  45. Ait BenHaddou
    March 25, 2017
    Reply

    Lovely photos Lauren, Thanks for sharing.
    Chefchaouen named as well the “Blue pearl of north”. one of my favorite as well.
    Happy travel always Lauren,
    Peace out,

    • March 30, 2017
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the photos! :-)

  46. Vickie Capers
    June 23, 2017
    Reply

    I was in Morocco just a few weeks ago. I am 67 yrs old and was alone. It was Ramadan. This was basically a side trip as I had spent two wonderful weeks in Spain prior. I planned 8 days and cut it short by 2 days. I spent 2 days in Chefchauen, 3 days in Fes and 1 in Rabat.

    My issue was the constant effort to separate me from any money I had. The only place where I had a good time was Chefchauen. Fes was hard core. However, I always was able to find a restaurant. That was not the case in Rabat. The only restaurant I found was in my hotel which did not open until 8. At 8:30, I was told it would be one hour before I had food. And all they had was meat couscous or vegetarian. At 10:30, I left without any food and went back to my room to buy a ticket back to Madrid. I could have stayed in Chefchauen the entire time.

  47. ANJANA
    July 18, 2017
    Reply

    wow, these blue street is good to see. were you taken those images? anyway, those are making me so much tempted to visit Chefchauen atleast once in my life.

    • July 29, 2017
      Reply

      Yep! All of the photos are mine.

  48. Devin
    September 11, 2017
    Reply

    Do you mind me asking where you stayed while in chefchauen? I made a spur of the moment add on to my itinerary in Spain and will now be spending two weeks in Morocco. Chefchauen is high on my list, and after ready several articles about harassment in Morocco, I want to make sure I stay somewhere highly recommended by another solo female traveler who has experienced the country. Thank you so much!

  49. Mike
    March 28, 2018
    Reply

    Did anyone offer you hashish in Chefchaouen or Morocco for that matter?

    • March 28, 2018
      Reply

      Nope. I’ve actually never been offered drugs by anyone during seven years of full-time travel. I think I must look too young and innocent or something.

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