The Blue Pearl of Morocco
After our whirlwind day braving the madness of Fes, we were thrilled to get back into the van so we could enjoy some down time. The next 3.5 hours offered plenty of beautiful landscape, including wheat fields, rolling hills and ultimately the lush green forests that decorate the Rif Mountains.
The final leg of the journey was a slow, winding descent into the valley that houses one of the world’s most picturesque cities. But because it was after dark, we would have to wait till morning to experience the awestruck first impression that overcomes most tourists who visit The Blue Pearl of Morocco.
We drove the city streets for only a few minutes before finding our landmark – the Bab Souk Gate. We parked, gathered our things, entered the gate by foot, and walked for a few more minutes before reaching our accommodation for the next two evenings: Casa Perleta.
Many of the greatest and most beautiful things in life are blue: the North Carolina Tarheels; blueberries; manatees (well, kinda). You can add Chefchaouen to that list!
Also known as The Blue City, Chefchaouen is – quite simply – a fairytale land of blue. Both inside and outside of the medina, you’ll find streets, walls, roofs – even entire buildings – that are painted various shades of blue, all of them gorgeous. We had only one full day in Chefchaouen and we were determined to make the most of it. We certainly did just that, and if you’d like to follow in our footsteps, then we’re excited to share our guide to Chefchaouen: 6 Things to Do in the City of Blue.
1. Breakfast with a Blue Sunrise
We started with an early breakfast on the rooftop of Casa Perleta, which was the PERFECT way to get our first “taste” of blue (not to mention, some breathtaking views).
2. Get Lost in a Sea of Blue
Shortly after breakfast, we began to explore. The Medina of Chefchaouen is relatively small and easy to navigate, particularly when compared with the Medinas of Marrakech or Fes. It’s quite possible to wander the streets for only a couple of hours, and see pretty much everything inside the medina walls.
The beautiful blues hiding behind every turn make it very much worth the wander.
3. Have a “Cooking Experience” at Lala Mesouda
We’ll put it this way: our adventure at Lala Mesouda went far beyond anything that could possibly be defined as a “cooking class.” This was a cooking EXPERIENCE: a five-hour marathon that included shopping at the local farmer’s market, learning various techniques, cooking, laughing, and of course, EATING, with the owner and incredible kitchen staff.
And that was just the 10am–3pm session. We returned for dinner, spent another three hours at the restaurant, and closed the place down. Check out the full story here, and please, PLEASE – add this to your Chefchaouen itinerary, no matter how much time you have!
4. Hike up to the Spanish Mosque
After five hours in a Moroccan kitchen, we felt that a bit of exercise would be in order. Our afternoon destination: the Spanish Mosque outside of the medina, one of the city’s main tourist attractions. The hike takes about 20 minutes, and the panoramic view from the top is spectacular. Fields of colorful flowers surround the mosque, while herds of goats freely roam the hillsides. This may be the best place in Chefchaouen for a view of the entire city and surrounding valley.
travelhelix tip: although it’s not an overly-difficult hike, some of the rocks can be slippery so we recommend wearing some sort of athletic shoes – not sandals!
5. Enjoy a Blue Sunset Before Dinner
Whether it’s from a hilltop or a rooftop, find a great place to watch the sunset, and try to beat the crowd.
travelhelix tip: the Spanish Mosque also becomes a hotspot for sunset viewers, so if your goal is to capture some shots of the sun setting over The Blue City, get there at least an hour before sunset.
We chose to avoid the crowds and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop of Casa Perleta.
After that, it’s time to treat yourself to a delicious meal. We can’t say it enough: do yourself a flavor favor and head to Lala Mesouda, or her sister restaurant, Beldi Bab Ssour.
6. EAT SOME GOAT CHEESE!
Last but not least, you gotta try some local goat cheese. Chefchaouen is famous for it.
With only 36 hours in Chefchaouen, we managed to accomplish a lot. The city is small, but it’s impact on us was huge. We look forward to returning to the incredible Blue Pearl of Morocco, and we hope some of you are inspired to check it out for yourselves…