A blue gem tucked away in the rugged Mountains
One look at Chefchaouen (or just Chaouen, if you want to fit in with the locals) and it’s clear how it got its nickname as Morocco’s “blue city.” Blue doors, blue walls, blue buildings, and blue trash bins mingle with the colorful pops of potted plants dotting the staircases.
Wander the markets and barter for leather goods, high-quality woven carpets, and the must-have goat cheese (but you’ll want to do so in Spanish, not the French or Arabic that rules the rest of Morocco). This is an endlessly Instagrammable city.
Less touristy than Marrakech or Fes, and steeped in centuries of Spanish and Jewish influence, Chefchaouen defies easy definition — or easy reach. The only way to get there is by (an admittedly long) car or bus ride. The city’s name literally means “look at the horns,” referring to twin, goat horn-shaped peaks that are part of the Rif Mountains and visible from just about anywhere in the town — a good orientation point. Another helpful landmark is the Spanish mosque (white! high-contrast!) with great views atop a short but steep mule-track trek to its top.
If you have the time, don’t miss an often-overlooked day hike to the Akchour waterfalls. The natural pools and views are well worth it, and you can even stop at small tea shops along the way if you need a break. Fair warning, the tea is cavity-inducingly sweet.