Morocco’s Blue Pearl: Visiting Chefchaouen with Kids
Chefchaouen is known as the “Blue Pearl” of Morocco due to the blue-painted walls throughout the old city. Visiting Chefchauen with kids is delightful- you’ll find friendly faces and low-pressure souvenir shops.
Chefchauen sits between the port town of Tangier and the more well-known city of Fes. Once considered off the beaten path, it is not solidly on the tourist track through Morocco, and for a good reason. Families will love wandering the blue alleys, taking photos with traditional headdresses, and browsing the shops. Here’s everything you need to know to visit Chefchaouen with kids, from where to stay, to where to eat and shop.
We visited Chefchaouen as part of a visit to Morocco during our Family Year Out when our kids were 5 and 7. Check out our 10 and 14 day suggested itineraries for visiting Morocco with kids!
Don’t Miss: How to Plan A Family Year Out
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At the bottom of this post, download a free pdf of Safety Tips for Traveling with Kids.
Is Chefchaouen, Morocco Family-Friendly?
Yes, Chefchaouen is very friendly! The locals love children, and will often stop to talk to them (in Arabic), and even offer them small gifts. The craftsmen were happy to show the kids what they were working on, and we got lots of smiles and friendly waves.
Chefchaouen is a laid-back city- you won’t be hassled, or find high-pressure salesmen. The streets are fairly quiet in the old medina, so the kids can wander freely. Due to the many flights of stairs in the old medina, you’ll find most streets free from cars and motorbikes.
There are stray cats and kittens everywhere which the locals take good care of. Our kids loved seeing all the cats, counting the kittens, and occasionally watching a local play with the cats.
Things to Do in Chefchaouen with Kids
There are many things to do in Chefchaouen with kids- but not so many things that you need to rush around, or worry about missing anything! Take your time, take lots of photos, and enjoy this beautiful city surrounded by mountains.
Wander the Old Medina
This should be one of your main goals in Chefchaouen- wander the winding alleys of the old medina, check out the blue walls, the old steps, intricate doors, and all the cats playing around the edges.
Get lost, and enjoy the process!
Watch Artisans Ply Their Trade
Keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for artists making their wares. They’ll be happy to show you and your kids what they are doing. Of course, they would also love to sell you some of their goods, but we found almost everyone very low pressure.
We were able to watch a woodworker using a wood-turner make some honey spoons- he actually made us one out of cedar that we bought after watching him make it!
We also watched someone weaving a tablecloth on a loom, and another artist creating images by chipping away paint from tiles.
Pose for Photos in Traditional Garb
You’ll find several opportunities to pay for posed photos. Some stairways have been decorated especially for foreigners to take their photos. As you walk along the main souvenir street heading towards the Spanish Mosque, you’ll find women with traditional head wraps decked out in glittery bangles willing to dress up your family for a fun photo backdrop.
You’ll also see people offering photos with exotic animals, from parrots to peacocks. Generally, the charge for photos is 5 dirhams (or about 50 cents).
Shop for Local Souvenirs
The old medina is packed with shops selling souvenirs, some more locally made than others. You’ll find lots of handwoven fabrics, slippers, clothes, wooden items, leather bags, teapots, ceramics, and more. You’ll also find lots of magnets and other more mass-produced items.
Chefchaouen is not known as the cheapest place to buy these things, but it is a stress-free place to shop, and we picked up a few items here. Be ready to negotiate (kindly), and remember that the most important factor is what the item is worth to you, not getting the lowest possible price. Often the extra dollar or two means more to the seller than it does to you.
Listen to Traditional Music
You’ll often find musicians playing traditional music in the main square. Our kids loved seeing the instruments and hearing the complex rhythms. You also will often find performers in some of the cafes.
Visit the New Medina on Market Day
On Mondays and Thursdays, the market is held down in the new medina. You’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and other perishable items. Head down the stairs from the old medina, until you see a strip of banks.
From here, follow the crowds of people farther downhill, you’ll pass vendors set up on the side of the street selling everything from pans to shorts. Once you see the covered market, you’ll see the temporary tents set up across the street. The calling of the vendors creates a musical backdrop to the scene. It’s a fun experience to walk through and see which fruits and vegetables are truly locally grown.
You may not find much French spoken here, so be prepared to use gestures to communicate if you decide to buy something.
Climb to the City Walls
When looking up from the old median, you’ll see the old city walls surrounding it at the top, with towers at the corners. You can head uphill and to your left to locate the wall. Pass through the arch in the middle, and then left to quickly reach one of the towers. There is a short flight of stairs to the terrace of the tower, where you can look down on the city.
We stumbled upon a group of local kids who were happy to point the way to the wall while showing off their ability to wrestle the local sheep at the same time.
Visit the Kasbah Museum
The castle-like walls of the Kasbah are easy to spot, sitting right on the main square. To enter the Kasbah you have to buy a ticket to the museum. It is inexpensive for Moroccans (10 dh), but a bit pricey for foreigners (60 dh). We didn’t enter the museums but could see many visitors taking photos from the top of the kasbah’s towers.
Take a Break in the Kasbah Garden
On the city side of the Kasbah, you’ll find a lovely garden to take a break in. There is shade, benches, and a water fountain. There is also a small playground for younger kids.
Stop for a Snack by the River
To the east of the old medina, the roads slowly wind you towards the river. You’ll follow the trail of souvenir stands, and soon hear the rush of the water. This is a nice place to take a break, and dip your feet in the water. There are cafes set up here where you can buy some fresh juice.
You’ll also find ladies with baskets of fancy headgear ready to dress you up for a photo.
Climb to the Spanish Mosque
From the river, continue up the steps, and you’ll wind your way to the viewpoint of the Spanish Mosque. The views along the trail are lovely in their own right.
At the mosque, you cannot enter but can sit on the edge of the wall and look down at the town. This is a popular place to visit for sunset, though we opted for late afternoon. During our stay, we didn’t see any fantastic sunsets, though I’m sure the light hitting the blue walls of town is lovely.
As you head around the mosque, there is a small cafe and a few tables if you’ll like to pause for a snack.
Where to Stay in Chefchaouen
You’ll want to stay in the old medina area (old town) of Chefchaoen. This is where the streets are free from traffic, and the houses are all painted a pretty shade or two of blue. Your taxi from the bus station will drop you off at the nearest entrance, then you’ll need to navigate up the steps until you find your hotel.
We stayed at Dar Antonio. It was easy to get to from the taxi drop-off (just one flight of stairs), and Antonio was very friendly, checking in with the kids, and offering suggestions around town. There is a communal kitchen you can use if you like.
The hotel is small, build on several levels with high, narrow steps. We had a family room with a double bed in an elevated area with a curtain (the kids called it “cloud town” based on the decor), and two single beds, one in its own area with a door. We also had a couch and two chairs.
Check Availability: Dar Antonio
Where to Eat in Chefchaouen
There are many cafes in Chefchaoen, many are located around the main square, Plaza Uta el Mamman, across from the Kasbah. You will also find fresh juice stands and snack shops sprinkled throughout the old medina.
On most menus, you’ll find traditional tagine, which is meat or vegetables cooked in a cone-shaped pot. Usually available in chicken, beef (kefta), vegetarian, and even goat versions.
You’ll also find a variety of couscous dishes and meat on skewers. We also enjoyed several varieties of Moroccan soup, sometimes called Harira Soup. This is made with a tomato base, chickpeas, and often some small noodles.
Many breakfast dishes are served with a condiment called amlou, which is an almond paste mixed with argon oil and some spices. It resembles cinnamony almond butter.
The Morisco Terrace
Located in the main square, across from the Kasbah, skip the tables outside and head upstairs (past the kitchen), to the quiet rooftop terrace. The tagine is delicious, and you’ll be out of the sun and away from the noise of the main square.
We enjoyed the breakfast platter of bread with honey, amlou, and goat cheese, as well as the Moroccan salad (tomato, onion, cucumber), and the chicken skewers.
This small restaurant has a small, traditional menu, which is inexpensive, and delicious. We had two bowls of Moroccan soup, vegetable couscous, and kefta tagine. Kefta is a version of tagine that includes beef meatballs cooked in a skillet with tomato and egg. Here they serve it with a side of french fries.
There are only a few tables here, but they have a lovely open-air view of the town. Don’t miss this restaurant!
This is a great cafe for when you want to take your time with a coffee and some lovely views. Their terrace is expansive, and the staff is friendly. You’ll find more tourists than locals, but it’s a solid place to spend an afternoon.
They have a great breakfast selection, with pancakes with bananas and fresh fruit for the kids, and delicious Berber eggs for the adults. We also tried dinner here- while we liked the Chaouen Platter which is a selection of different snacks including spiced cauliflower and goat cheese briouats. We didn’t love their hummus. They also offer cooking classes and other events.
This restaurant is all rooftop, located in the main square. It can get busy around sunset, due to its location. The food here is delicious- we tried the Falafel and Kefta plates, both of which came with Moroccan salad and a dish of creamy hummus. They don’t start serving dinner until sometime after 7 pm, prior to that you can only get drinks.
This place got great reviews, so we decided to try it despite the fact that they advertise all sorts of non-Moroccan food. We had brunch here- their avocado toast with eggs was delicious. You can also get various fruit smoothies- just ask the friendly servers which flavors are best for the day.
How Long Should I Spend in Chefchaouen with Kids?
You really only need a day or two to wander around Chefchaouen with kids. We stayed for three nights and were glad to have the time to move slowly, and not stress when thunderstorms appeared one afternoon. This is not a city with a lot of “must-do” items. Rather it is a place to wander, and take in the atmosphere at your own pace.
How to Get to Chefchaouen
To get to the mountain town of Chefchaouen, you must take a bus either from Tangier or from Fes. The CTM bus runs the full route from Tangier to Fes, stopping in Chefchaouen along the way. The ride is about 2 1/2 hours from Tangier, and 4 hours from Fes.
Read Next: 17 Fantastic Things to Do in Fes, Morocco with Kids
There You Have It: Visiting Chefchaouen with Kids
Everything you need to know to visit Chefchaouen with kids! You’ll love strolling through the blue-hued streets, browsing through colorful fabrics, and enjoying the calm atmosphere.
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