Aah, Morocco. The land of God, as it is supposed to mean in Berber. This mountainous country lying on the Northwest side of Africa, kissed by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean, and separated from European land by a tiny strait, is home to a magnificent Arab culture, which blends perfectly with Western customs.
■ Plenty of hidden gems are what make Morocco unique - a combination of modern metropolises, rural mountaintop villages, where Sahara's sandy landscapes meet millions-old rock formations.
Among these, there's one who is gaining popularity among serial travelers, who can't wait for taking a selfie among its blue-rinsed houses: we're referring to Chefchaouen, a 550-year old mountain town who has come to rise in recent years for being one of Morocco's top tourist destination, and characterised by its iconic predominant presence of the Blue color, mainly used to build out its architecture.
Chefchaouen is within easy reachability by being only a couple of hours drive away from Tangier, the main city and port facility of the Northern part of Morocco.
In fact, hiring a private car is the most popular way to get there, followed by bus transfers. A taxi or private ride towards Chefchaouen can cost about 1500 Moroccan Dirham for a return fare. Alternatively, the Tetouan airport is within a 50 km distance away, and serves the town efficiently if you're flying domestic routes (e.g. coming from Casablanca, or Fes).
A couple of hundreds of hospitality facilities every year welcome the ever-growing influx of tourists coming to explore its narrow streets and mountainous views, and, as such, there is often no accommodation shortage.
■ As of why the Blue color has been used to build the town walls, that's still covered in mystery. However, locals stress that one of the reasons is to attract more visitors, in order for the small village economy to thrive again! And, to a certain degree, it worked out to be the right decision: colorful small items spread around its old town, mixed to its walls tint, are a pleasure for the eyes!
As soon as we arrive in the proximity of the town, Chafchaouen blesses us with spectacular views of its Medina, or city center, and, roaming through small alleys, you'll notice the local population engaged in everyday chores.
■ Tiny shops and premises sell all kind of goods: souvenirs, grocery, clothing accessories, local fresh produce, refreshments and snacks, toiletry articles, and, among all, its iconic powder paint. Some also offer Western imported products.
Strolling around, small details catch our attention. Arab style windows and doors, livestock, glimpses of local life, vegetation, colorful garment worn by locals, and traditional delicacies are among the most appreciated ones.
The difference between Chefchaouen and other Moroccan towns? The former can be conveniently visited by walk or bicycle, without the need of motorised vehicles. The outcome? Smog particles and heavy traffic noises are rarely a cause for concern here.
The main places of religious cult to visit here include the Grand Mosque, located in the heart of old town and the now abandoned Spanish Mosque.
■ The latter is located on top of a hill, thus it is a good idea to climb your way up to the ruined building and have a spectacular view of the surroundings, especially for sunset or evening time. That's something you'll not easily get out of your head!
High rated dishes to try in Chefchaouen include: Moroccan style Couscous, local goat cheese, B'ssara, Harira, Moroccan Kefta skewers, Tajin, Moroccan style salads, and a wide range of vegetable soups.
■ Did you know? Most of the local eateries can charge a very low amount for a dinner, sometimes as low as 5$! That's right, 5$ can get you a full course Moroccan dinner and a relaxed cozy atmosphere.
■ Browsing Chefchaouen's overstocked souks, climbing its narrow stairs, purchasing souvenirs for your loved ones, relaxing in one if Chefchaouen's spas, visiting the Kasbah museum, represent some of the main activities to do in the Medina.
■ For all the outdoor lovers out there, hiking the Rif Mountains and its surroundings are a good way to explore the nearby regional area wilderness. In particular, the Akchour Waterfalls, just out Talassemtane N.P., can treat you with extraordinary scenic views of its surrounding waterflows.
Visiting Chefchaouen for 2-3 days can help you get more out of the Moroccan culture and the rural lifestyle that is still dominant in Morocco.
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