Chefchaouen (also known as Chaouen) is the stunning Blue City of Morocco. Nestled in the Rif mountains, this city has been pulling travelers for a long time. We included Chefchaouen in our Morocco Itinerary and the gorgeous place didn’t disappoint us. Here is our Tangier to Chefchaouen Day Trip Itinerary for you!
Tangier to Chefchaouen Day Trip Itinerary
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If you are looking for Chefchaouen day trip ideas means you have seen pictures on Instagram and other social media channels and want to see it for yourself. That’s great. Because Chefchaouen is NOT huge and everyday alley and lanes is painted in various shades of blue and are undeniably INSTAGRAM-MABLE! oh yea!
Where is Chefchaouen Morocco?
Chefchaouen is located in the northwest part of Morocco. The blue city was founded in 1471 as a means to defend northern Morocco from Portuguese invasions. In the early 20th century, Chefchaouen was invaded by the Spanish and formed a part of Spanish Morocco. Chefchaouen was returned to Morocco in 1956.
The blue houses are almost perfect and there are many theories as to why the city is painted in blue. It is believed that it was painted blue by the Jews who were fleeing from Hitler’s atrocities, others say the blue color keeps mosquitoes at bay. Some also believe it keeps the houses cool, just like India’s Jodhpur Blue City.
Many also believe that the color blue is symbolic of the sea and represents tranquility. Now you have to wander through Chefchaouen’s lanes to decide if they are peaceful. (Hint: It was stunningly tranquil and oh so beautiful)
There are only a few things to do in Chefchaouen and they are centered around the medina, kasbah (or fortress) and of course the Rif mountains. But getting to Chefchaouen is the most difficult part. There are direct flights and no trains to reach Chefchaouen.
Many travelers travel to Chefchaouen from Fes. But let me tell you Tangier is located much closer to Chefchaouen and makes for a perfect day trip itinerary. (Fes to Chefchaouen is 220 kilometers or 136 miles and Tangier to Chefchaouen is 120 kilometers or 75 miles)
Getting from Tangier to Chefchaouen and back
Tangier is a port city in the northern region of Morocco. It is located about 120 kilometers away from Chefchaouen (75 miles). Tangier is also spelled as Tanger (which is the Arabic version) and refers to the same city.
If you are traveling from Marrakech, you will have to take a train or flight to arrive in Tangier and then follow the same route to reach Chefchaouen, which will make you reach sooner. (Tangier has an international airport serving Tanger- Tetouan region in Morocco.)
You will find tons of places in Tangier to stay in. We stayed at Hotel Mamora – BOOK YOUR STAY AT HOTEL TANGIER MAMORA
There are 3 ways to get to Chefchaouen from Tangier.
Taking a private day tour to Chefchaouen
The tours that we researched and initially planned to use were all private tours and they can be purchased online (under cultural tours). The tour guide (or a private driver and guide) will pick you from the riad or hotel and take you to Chefchaouen. They will take care of parking and will guide you through the medina lanes, give you food recommendations and more.
Chefchaouen is surrounded by the stunning Rif mountains, tour guides normally stop (upon your request) to explore and take pictures.
Here is a recommended private day tour to Chefchaouen from Tangier in English
As part of the full day tour, you will be provided with a walking tour of the main square that features a kasbah from the 18th century and of course the medina. The guide will also provide insider tips about the area in this shore excursion from Tangier.
As part of the city tour you will also see the various souks in the medina showcasing many Moroccan traditional arts and also a Jewish quarter.
Other full day tours from Tangier to Chefchauoen
- Tangier day tour to Chefchauoen and Tetouan – Day tour to Chefchauoen with Tetouan exploration
Using public transport (buses) to reach Chefchaouen
There are no train options to reach Chefchaouen from Tangier, so buses are the only option. Two bus networks provide services to Chefchaouen.
Buses are clean and safe. Seat numbers are assigned when you get your ticket. They are the CHEAPEST way to reach Chefchaouen from Tangier.
Buses take a minimum of 2.75 hours to 3.50 hours one way to arrive in Chefchaouen. When you start from Tangier, there is a short detour or stop at Tetouan. Tetouan is located about sixty kilometres (38 miles) south of Tangier. Tetouan is also a good place to stay in Morocco.
If you are planning to stay in Chefchaouen and are carrying luggage, use the bag storage room at the Chefchaouen bus station before you check-in.
Diane Voyages or Nejme Chamal
- Diane Voyages/Nejme Chamal is a private bus agency in Morocco. They have multiple bus schedules to and from Chefchaouen.
- They operate from Gare Routiere which is Tangier city’s main bus station (at Place al Jamia Arabia)
- Price is 45 dirhams per person one way
- They don’t have a website, so you can’t purchase tickets online
- Here are their daily schedules to Chefchaouen (as of September 2019) – Starting at 05:45 am, followed by 08:00 am, 10:30 am, 01:00 pm, 01:30 pm, 05:45 pm
CTM Bus Network
- CTM buses are public owned network.
- They operate from Gare Routiere (like Diane Voyages) and also have a separate CTM bus station (located at La Rocade 9, Tanger)
- Price is 45 dirhams per person one way
- They do have a website where you can check the up to date schedules and even book tickets online. However, when we tried to pay for the tickets online, we found that their website didn’t have SSL encryption, so didn’t book in advance. (If you are a pro-planner, book a tour instead and set it up before your travel).
- Here are their daily schedules to Chefchaouen (September 2019) – Starting at 12:15 pm, followed by 02:45 pm, 06:30 pm, 08:30 pm
As you can see CTM buses start late, our recommendation will be to travel via Diane Voyages/Nejme Chamal in the morning and then return at 06:30 or 08:30 pm via CTM from Chefchaouen.
Renting a car and driving to Chefchaouen
A road trip to Chefchaouen is a good idea if you staying for 2+ days. We don’t recommend this option for a day trip. Parking is a hassle and you can’t take your car inside the medina. The driving route is filled with steep lanes and is mountainous. A day tour to Chefchaouen will provide you with the same flexibility, without the hassle.
Arriving in Chefchaouen and finding the medina
Once you arrive in Chefchaouen and reach the bus station, you will have to take a petit (blue) or grand taxi (white-sh) to reach the medina entrance. As soon as you exit the bus station (take the exit where the dingy washrooms are located. Washrooms will be on your left. To use washrooms, you have to pay 2 dirhams.)
You will see petit taxis driving by – if they don’t stop, put your hand up and ask them to stop. For 15-20 dirhams one-way, they will take to you the medina entrance. We paid 20 dirhams one way for the 2 of us. Grand taxis will charge slightly higher.
Private taxis (without any logos) will charge you 40-50 dirhams. If you can’t find any petit taxi, try to bargain for a better deal with a private taxi driver. We don’t recommend walking to the medina.
If you are taking a guided tour, good for you. You don’t the above directions (or bargaining skills)!
Chefchaouen Photo Tips, finding the Instagram lanes and what to wear
One of the main reasons for visiting Chefchaouen is capturing photos (other then cannabis and Rif mountain hikes). So here are some Chefchaouen photography tips for you to prepare prior to your trip.
Wear a contrasting color
Chefchaouen has various shades of blue houses – navy blue, light/sky blue, some turquoise-sy, and some almost blue-white-ish. So number 1 tip is don’t wear blue. Wear mustard yellow, light yellow, white, light pink shades. They work well against the blue background.
I wore a yellow dress as you can see from the pictures in this post. I had my cropped denim jacket on while walking the lanes, just took off the jacket while posing for photos.
Flowy dresses work well to create a dreamy effect. But you can also wear a midi skirt or flowy skirt. Just keep the colors in mind. Here are some dress options. You can click on the image to view the dress and purchase, if interested.
Wear comfortable shoes for walking, climbing and mini-hiking
Wear comfortable shoes for walking the medina and in and around Chefchaouen. There are steps and views on a height, so you will climbing and mini-hiking to reach such spots. I wore comfortable Sketchers Performance shoes (that are washable. Some lanes might be dirty so no open shoes).
To be honest, the entire medina is walk-able and Instagram-mable. There are 2 – 3 distinct lanes that are all over social media. We tried to put them on the map here.
One of them is a SUPER blue washed lane. To us, all the lanes looked like that. But the lane is called “the Blue Street” – as you can see from the map.
There is a lane, with a flight of stairs and pretty flower pots. This lane is located at the heart of the medina. As soon as you enter the medina walls, keep walking without taking any turns. You will find 5-7 shops and a wall with tons of souvenirs hanging near to it. That lane will be on your left.
When we walked the medina, that little area was the most crowded and people were waiting for their turns to take or pose for photos. (We went for lunch and then walked back to take pictures).
You can see the street name in the picture above.
Other then those two lanes, there is a paid set up which is someone’s patio. You can take pictures here for 5 dirhams. They have a set up of table-chair, tea pot and colorful flower pots.
The image below is from Calle sidi bouchka. It is pretty with colorful designs and has cute doors near it as well.
As we mentioned, there are many lanes with pots, steps, flowers that are totally photo-worthy. So take as many pictures as you like. We found sooo many lanes that were completely empty. If a local passed by, they didn’t stare at you or anything. They left us alone. (We did wait for them to pass before snapping again).
We found that taking photos at about 11:00 am ish or after 04:30 pm were best – fewer crowds and most empty lanes. In the late evenings, many residents would throw water on the steps to clean up so don’t wait too late.
If you take any of the flight of stairs and reach the top, you can capture the Rif mountains and blue houses.
What to do in Chefchaouen Day Trip Itinerary – Travel Guide
So here is what we did in our Chefchaouen Day trip itinerary. We boarded a bus from Tangier station and arrived in Chefchaouen. As we have mentioned earlier the buses were clean and on time. We reached Chefchaouen in about 3 hours.
Along the way we passed through many small villages, towns and Tetouan. Tetouan seemed very impressive. But there are no blue towns along the way (nor mesmerizing views). As soon as you hit the Rif mountainous terrain, it is beautiful. If you are taking a tour, definitely stop by to take the views in.
Chefchaouen bus station has a few amenities like luggage storage, a cafe, washroom (but its super dirty) and a waiting area. Buses will drop you at the complex, there are no lane numbers. You are dropped off at the station.
After drop off, walk towards the exit area. Buses enter and exit from one way only, use the opposite side (where the washrooms will be on your left) to exit. You can flag down a petit or grand taxi to take you to the medina entrance.
Chefchaouen medina is small and can be easily navigable without getting lost. Like we said, every lane is pretty. We walked the medina and identified spots where we wanted to take pictures.
We stopped by a few shops selling souvenirs and woven garments and other handicrafts. The sellers were not overwhelming. You could stop, see (take photos), buy or leave. No pressures.
We visited Chefchaouen (and Morocco in September). The weather was perfect. And less crowds.
Summer months June and July (and even April) are super busy in Northern Morocco, including Chefchaouen. Can you believe this tiny city has over two hundred hotels to serve summer European tourists? Definitely worth considering for a peaceful and a relaxed weekend getaway.
We climbed and walked a little to see some amazing views of the city – the Grand Mosque of Chefchaouen can be seen – due to its unique minaret. You will see it again as you leave Chefchaouen.
The heart of the medina in Chefchaouen is called – Plaza Uta El Hammam. This pretty plaza is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. You can also sit here for a bit to relax (under the shade). Consider this as a central square.
Near the plaza there are 2 hammams. Traditionally hammams were used for cleansing before prayers. From the Place Uta el-Hammam, you will find public hammams, which today is co-shared by men and women for bathing (at separate times).
This is not ideal for a day trip as you have to bring soap, slippers, towel and all that (better to do it in Tangier, Fes or Marrakech).
Location: Public hammam is located behind a large mosque, Jama’a Kabir, next to the Pension Castellana.
If you are staying in Chefchaouen for longer, try Lina Riad and Spa – they have an on-site spa, with an indoor heated pool, and complete services with traditional hammam and massage.
If you are hungry, now is a good time (and place to eat). There are tons of food options in Chefchaouen medina including a Chinese food restaurant. We opted for Lalla Massouda, for some homemade Moroccan cuisine.
We were there on a Friday and tried chicken tagines (and requested them to add chickpeas, because I LOVE chickpeas). Salil had couscous with chicken. They have tons of other items on the menu – very traditional and good taste. Food was decently priced.
Restaurant interiors were pretty in orange-red and washrooms were clean (score)!
Location: Avenue Hassan I, Quartier M’Daka +212 (0)5 39 89 91 33
Other popular restaurants include –
- Aladdin Restaurant
- Affordable prices and serves international dishes like Spanish omelettes.
- Provides great views over the medina core
- Location: Rue Tangier, +212 (0)5 39 98 90 71
- Jasmine Caféteria
- Good prices and decor, Jasmine cafeteria serves veggie pizza, spring rolls and other popular (fast food) and international meal favorites.
- Location: 151 Avenue Hassan I (Lmdakka). Open daily, 8am – 10pm.
After a late lunch, we spent time exploring and capturing some shiny Instagram lanes, minus the crowds. At the medina, there are beautiful Andalusian Gardens and a Kasbah Museum.
This kasbah area was built in the 18th century by Moulay Ismail. It is now a ruin, located next to the great mosque.
With all the walking, photographing and eating, it was time to bid adieu to Chefchaouen. We walked outside the medina walls in to the regular land. If you have time prior to your bus, you should stop by the Ras el-Maa. Ras el-Maa is a small waterfall. It means “head of the water”. Nothing spectacular, but worth stopping by if you want to kill time or grab a drink before starting for Tangier.
Of course, you won’t be able to hike or trek the mountains on a day trip. That’s for next time, right?
We were happy with our truck load of blue pictures and (not so blue) memories and proceeded to the bus station (via a petit taxi). We saw the sun setting on the beautiful Rif mountains as we drove away from the Blue Pearl of Morocco – called Chefchaouen.
This will remain as one of our favorite day trips! It was a great experience.
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Last Update: September 25 2019