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Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

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Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

Everyone says Chefchaouen is one of the best places to visit in Morocco, so I decided to check it out. Starting from Tangier, I left my my luggage in the hotel, and went to the grand taxi stand with just my wallet, passport, and smartphone. The grand taxi station is right next to the central bus station in Tangier, which is not the same as the CTM station. Once I arrived there, I quickly entered a shared grand taxi and off we went. It cost me 70 dirhams. If you have luggage, there's a surcharge.

The reason why I wanted to get the the taxi instead of a bus is because this was a day trip. The new taxis get there in just 2 hours, but the bus takes about 3 hours. Roundtrip, that saves me 2 hours total. I was lucky because I didn't have to wait for both the first taxi to Chaouen nor the return taxi to Tangier. I specifically planned to go on a Sunday because I figured more Moroccans travel on the weekend, so there would be less time to wait for the taxis to fill up. If I had gone on a Tuesday for example, fewer people travel so I might have to wait a bit for the taxis to fill up. Both the taxis I took, going and returning, were the new generation taxis. They are faster and more comfortable than the old Mercedes taxis.

Going to Chefchaouen, I sat next to a guy from Greece, and we talked during the entire 2 hour drive over. He told me all about Greece and I told him about my country the USA. It made the time pass quickly. But either way, there are some very nice views on the road. You get to see mountains and a lake as you travel to Chaouen, which is what the locals call this town.

Once I arrived in Chaouen, I just walked, no taxi. Everything is uphill. You just keep walking up.

The medina (old quarter) is painted blue, which is very beautiful and great for taking pictures. This town is full of tourists, I saw travelers from China, Brazil, Greece, and lots of blonde and blue eyed men and women who looked like they were from Germany and Sweden or Northern Europe. I found some Americans as well. Chaouen is clearly very popular with tourists.

However, the medina is not the only thing to see! I walked to Ras el Ma, which is a small waterfall with some nice views. I also walked back down to this central square in front of the Kasbah. The restaurants here are very touristy and more expensive, so instead I walked away and found a restaurant away from the main tourist zone, called Twins. Instead of paying 70 dirhams like the other restaurants wanted to charge, at Twins I paid only 40 dirhams and got a big couscous with vegetables, a big piece of roast chicken, and caramelized onions and raisins. It was a very generous and delicious serving, for a fair price. It was also much less crowded than the restaurants on the main square.

After eating my delicious couscous, I went inside the Kasbah. The word Kasbah means fortress in Arabic. I paid 10 dirhams and walked around the garden, then went inside a former prison, which is more accurately described as a dungeon. But the highlight of the Kasbah was its museum. In my opinion, the actual museum was boring and not nice at all, but the reason why it was nice for me was for the views. You climb up several flights of steps, and from there you get beautiful views of the city, and its great for taking pictures.

Chaouen is a relaxed, calm, and very pleasant blue town. Keep in mind, only the medina (old city) is painted blue. The other parts of this town, including the Kasbah and main square, are not blue.

There were about 5 different guys who offered to sell me the local green herb, but I declined and told them I do not partake.

All in all, I only stayed in Chaouen for 4 and a half hours. For a solo guy traveling there without luggage or a backpack, it was fine. I saw most of what there is to see: the old town, the waterfall, the Kasbah, the market, and got to eat a delicious couscous at a good price. There aren't many things to do in Chaouen really, you pretty much go there to take pictures, look at the blue streets and houses, and enjoy the mountains which surround this town.

By the way, even though it's the middle of October, the sun was shining the whole time and the high was 30 Celcius, 86 Fahrenheit. It's a good thing I had good sunglasses, sunscreen, and wore loose breathable clothes. I think it doesn't start getting cooler until November. I do wish it wasn't so hot in the middle of October, but I managed.

I was very pleased and lucky that I got a new generation, comfortable taxi both ways, without any wait, for only 70 dirhams each way, 140 dirhams total.

My advice: If you are in Tangier, Fes, Tetouan, or Asilah, you should go see Chefchaouen. It's really nice and relaxing and picturesque. But if you are all the way down in Marrakech, Agadir, or even Casablanca, there is no need to go. Yes it's nice, but don't spend hours and hours to go there. Just go if you're already in Northern Morocco anyway.

Pro tip: Even though I very much enjoyed my 4 and a half hours in Chaouen, the city of Tetouan is closer to Tangier, also has mountain views, and also has a nice medina. The only real difference between Chaouen and Tetouan, quite frankly, is that Tetouan is whitewashed, not blue, and has MUCH fewer tourists. The medina of Chaouen is also a bit cleaner, precisely because they have so many tourists going there to take pics and post it on Instagram. But Tetouan is worth a try... you get almost the same experience. When I was in Tetouan it what mostly me walking around in a sea of locals, whereas in Chaouen I was surrounded by Germans, Americans, Spaniards, Chinese, and people from all over the world.

Edited: 15 October 2017, 21:54
15 replies to this topic
Castril De La Pena...
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1. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

Thanks for the report, I’ve added it to top questions for the Chefchaouen forum (under how to get to Chefchaouen from Tanger and Marrakech)

Marrakech, Morocco
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2. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

nice report

I will add that the other reason to visit Chefchaouen is to get out into the surrounding valleys for hikes

Castril De La Pena...
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3. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

And God's Bridge.

https://www.google.es/search?q=god%27s+bridge+chefchaouen&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj1qpefm_bWAhXIcBoKHYxJD04QsAQILQ&biw=1739&bih=1003&dpr=2

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4. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

Yes. Even though I didn't go to Akchour, I've read excellent things about it online. It's a place with a beautiful waterfall, about a half hour away from Chaouen. If I understand correctly, Akchour is where you find "God's Bridge." A good place to hike and enjoy the beautiful natural beauty. There are buses and taxis in Chaouen that can take you there for only a few dirhams.

Edited: 17 October 2017, 13:46
North Ayrshire...
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5. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

You are just as likely to be tripping over tourists on day trips to Akchour, on the one occasion I went there on a Sunday gangs of local youths were drinking cheap wine and smoking hash, leaving lots of litter behind them and making too much noise. By contrast if you walk up to the Azilan camp site then follow the piste further up you can either take the left fork to Al Kalaa village or the right fork which eventually leads to Azilan village, I found the rural setting on the mountains much more appealing than Akchour, some pictures here of the Al Kalaa piste.....

travellerspoint.com/photos/…

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On the Azilan piste there is a viewing platform where panoramic pictures of the town below can be taken if there is no low cloud....

travellerspoint.com/photos/…

There are a surprising number of caves in the mountains surrounding Chefchaouen, sometimes locals live in them, weather permitting!

travellerspoint.com/photos/…

I was intrigued by this small building on the old donkey trail leading up to the Spanish mosque, it turned out to be a communal bread oven!

travellerspoint.com/photos/…

A day trip to Chefchaouen is only recommended if the weather is fine and dry, sometimes it can be raining for days non-stop.

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1,431 posts
6. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

Yeah when I was in Chaouen on Sunday there was no rain, it was actually surprisingly hot and sunny for the middle of October. The Azilian panoramic views look very nice, but that must have been quite a steep walk uphill, right? Already when arriving at taxi stand in Chaouen, you have to walk up a steep hill to reach the medina. Continuing walking uphill until reaching those panoramic views must surely require good stamina and not getting out of breath.

Edited: 17 October 2017, 20:23
North Ayrshire...
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7. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

Chefchaouen is all about steep hills and inclines, but they don't mention this in the tourist brochures, so you have to be "fit of foot and sound of wind" to properly explore the town and its surroundings, and if it's raining forget about explorations, mudslides are common which make cobbled streets and unmetalled roads very slippery. If the Al Kalaa and Azilan pistes appear too daunting a much easier climb is from the "waterfall" (actually just a rectangular hole in the side of the cliff at Ras el Ma, the head of the water,)..... the old perilous donkey track ( now restored) leading from the waterfall to the Spanish Mosque is a much easier climb and you can pause to catch your breath halfway up to admire the scenery, there are usually small-time hash dealers hanging around the mosque but in my experience they are not of the aggressive variety, if you don't want to buy they leave you alone, again in my experience, it's the touts loitering around the Artisanal Centre in Calle Ahorra, the narrow cobbled street leading from Bab el Ain gate to Uta Hamman square, who are the nuisance small-time drug dealers.

The mosque is a good place to photograph the town's Medina below with the distinctive Kasbah in Uta Hammam Square, an interesting return journey back to the town can be made by using a shortcut through the disused cemetery, Sidi el Ouafi, the descent will of course be much easier, many of the small stone lair markers are those of children buried there on the hillside maybe a couple of centuries ago, giving a memorable indication and sense of the extent of child mortality rates in this primitive region. Some more pictures here.....

travellerspoint.com/photos/…

travellerspoint.com/photos/…

travellerspoint.com/photos/…

travellerspoint.com/photos/…

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Grand Rapids...
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8. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

FreeYourMind117, great to hear you had a smooth day trip down to Chefchaouen! What time of day did you leave for Chefchaouen and what time did you return? My transportation seemed to not be as smooth as yours, but I wonder if that was based on the time of day. My trip was also on a Sunday (I think a week before you went). Not to hijack your thread, but I was hoping to add comments on my experience with a daytrip from Tangier, since that additional info might be useful to someone reading. Please feel free to ask me to delete it if you think I should start a separate thread in regards to my trip.

Because of delays with the night train, I didn't get to the grand taxi stand until closer to 10:45. At that time I was told I was the only one waiting to go to Chaouen. They asked me if I wanted to pay 420 DH for the whole thing and I said I'd wait to fill it up and just pay 70. After about 20 minutes with no other people joining so far, I became concerned with how long it would take to fill it. With they day slipping by, I decided to just go with the for sure bus trip and went and got a bus ticket for an 11:30 bus (Diana Voyages). It cost 35 (and then another 10 for my bag which they collected as they were loading my bag). As we neared Tetouan, the bus stopped at a gas station and everyone got off and transferred to another bus that would then go to Chefchaouen. I'm not sure if that is typical or not. It took us right around 3 hours to get to Chaouen, and we were let off at the bus station, which is down a big hill from the town. Three of us took a taxi into the medina for 20 DH.

FreeYourMind117 accurately describes my experience in the city. I loved it. It was a beautiful city and fun to just wander around and enjoy the atmosphere. I ate lunch at Bab Ssour, which I enjoyed. Probably a little pricier than somewhere else, but I was hungry and it was close.

Going back I decided to try for the grand taxi again since I assumed all the buses may have been gone for the day (this was at 19:00). Three other people were waiting to go to Tangier when I arrived, so I figured that was a good sign. They said they would need two more to fill the vehicle. It was going to be 100 DH / person. Long story short, after an hour of waiting around, the four of us gave up and bought out the last two spots. 150 / DH still seemed reasonable to me, but I was surprised we still couldn't get two more people after an hour of waiting.

Regardless, Chefchaouen was still worth the visit and may have been my favorite city I visited in Morocco and I would recommend it. I just wanted to add some info on my experience so anyone planning a day trip could keep that in mind also. Though hopefully everyone else has a similar experience to the original poster with a smooth trip down and back!

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9. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

I arrived at the Tangier taxi stand at around 11:15 AM, and went back to the Chaouen taxi stand at around 5:30 PM. Both times there was no wait, enough people were ready to go right away, in the comfortable new taxis not the old slower Mercedes.

I don't know why you couldn't find other passengers on a Sunday, even after waiting a whole hour. That seems unusual, but yes this can be hit or miss. The bus also does not leave until every seat is full.

My travels around Morocco are not always this smooth. I went to Asilah, and on the way back the train was an hour late. Or sometimes there are only old grand taxis available instead of the much nicer new minivans.

By the way Asilah is almost as nice as Chaouen. A small beach town, really awesome place.

Edited: 18 October 2017, 19:26
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10. Re: Chefchaouen Trip Report - My Daytrip from Tangier

I'm thinking of traveling for the day from Tangier to Chefchouen by rental car. Any advise on this plan? I also heard one should not be driving between these cities after dark. True?

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