Today’s post will describe exactly how you can get from Tangier to Chefchaouen on your own and just for the day. I knew that two days in Tangier was more than enough to experience it and really see it, so I wanted to use our third day as an opportunity to travel to another city. After some quick research, it looked like Chefchaouen was the best option (there are other cities to see, but a blue city? Sounds pretty cool to me.). I did some research about getting from Tangier to Chefchaouen and I kept getting results for mediocre tour companies that charge ~90 Euros/ person for transport and a tour. The reviews of these companies kept saying the same thing: the taxi/ bus was great, but the guide and tour are mediocre. So…pay 180 Euros for a bus ride? No thanks. I knew there was a way to get there on our own, and found some information about it via Trip Advisor, but not all that much. Morocco isn’t exactly known for it’s incredible public transport, so without fancy websites and bus schedules, I knew our best option was to show up, buy some tickets, and hope for the best. And hey! we got there safe and sound and had a great day 🙂
Why is Chefchaouen blue? Well, there are a few popular theories. According to Wikipedia, these theories include:
- The blue keeps mosquitos away.
- The Jews introduced the blue when they took refuge from Hitler in the 1930s.
- The blue is said to symbolize the sky and heaven, and serve as a reminder to lead a spiritual life.
Not sure which is was, but there were far fewer mosquitos in Chefchaouen than in Tangier. Anyway…getting there!
When you walk in, expect to be bombarded by men asking where you want to go and then pointing you in the direction of their company of choice for you to buy a ticket. Head to that office, ask when the next bus to Chefchaouen is and then check the other offices.
Direct tickets should be 3-4 Euros/ person for one way (30-40 Dirham). The major company is C.T.M, but there are a number of other companies to choose from. We bought our tickets (with a different company) and waited for 45 minutes. I asked the guy at the desk if there would be a bathroom on the bus (insert LAUGHING and possibly rolling-on-the-floor-laughing here). Instead, I used the fancy bathroom in the bus station, which is very similar to the other bathrooms I used during this trip.
My shoes need to be washed…and burned.
Although they told us the trip would take two hours, between all of the stops the driver made (to pick up other passengers, to buy water, to buy lunch…the usual), it was closer to 3. Luckily for me (and my bladder), I fell asleep for most of it and woke up when we were in the mountains! I was truly amazed at how green Morocco was. You think ‘Africa’, you think ‘brown’. You think ‘Spain’, you don’t think ‘brown’. But Spain is brown and Africa is, well, GREEN.
Once we arrived (I was about ready to vomit and go to the bathroom in my seat), we headed straight for the taxi to take us to the Medina (old town). He charged 2 Euro for the trip, which was probably a lot, but sounded ok to us. (While writing this post, I read a little more on Google and it says do not pay more than 1 Euro. So, we were swindled a little). Either way, we had a pretty sweet ride! I should note that you can, in fact, walk to the Medina. I read that it takes about 15 minutes, but it’s a steep climb and taxis are cheap.
**PRO TIP: Before you get a taxi to head to the Medina, BUY YOUR RETURN TICKET FOR TANGER!!! Our driver asked us on the way to the Medina: “did you buy a ticket? The buses will be ‘completo’ tonight when everyone is going home.” Uh oh. Take my word for it and BUY your ticket, even if you’re not sure what time you want to go back. There were only two direct buses that night and guess how many weren’t completo when we finally made our way back down to the station??
This taxi screams “five-star safety rating!!!”
But true to fashion, we only walked for maybe 7 minutes before stopping for food. 🙂 We found a place that was bright and blue. It was full of tourists like yours truly, but the food looked good and reasonably priced (when I say reasonably priced, I mean 3-5 Euros or 30-50 Dirham/ plate).
Loved the salad, but love loved the bowl even more!
He ended up ordered another tajine with chicken and olives and I sipped on some bubbly 😉 Just kidding, I went to town on the bread basket and we shared an avocado smoothie. That man next to be was enjoying some Kindle reading after his meal, but the owner kicked him out. We were cracking up…
Chefchaouen was absolutely beautiful, but without all the tourist bags and rugs and trinkets, there isn’t really all that much to see. It’s a tourist hot-spot because as soon as you step out of the Medina, it’s not as blue and there certainly are not colorful bags hanging on the walls.
Eventually, we found the famous Rif mountains, known for their beautiful hiking and accessibility from the city. You can spend a few hours exploring Chefchaouen and then go for a hike- all in one day.
I, personally, was so full that unless you pushed me in a wheelbarrow, a hike just wasn’t happening. We headed back down the mountain and through the Medina, hoping to get to the bus station and buy some direct tickets to Tangier (a girl can dream, right?).
I think I should send this photo to the water bottle company so they can have an advertisement with a handsome guy.
We made it back to the bus station and attempted to buy direct tickets. No dice. “completo”, “completo”, “completo” was the response we got. I had read about this happening before arriving in Morocco so I knew it wasn’t a huge deal. If this happens to you, all you need to do is: purchase the earliest ticket to Tetuan and then buy another ticket from Tetuan to Tangier, which is more frequent. We bought a ticket for an hour later, and went on a hunt to find a REAL toilet (one guy in a restaurant told me to pay 5 Dirham/ 50 cents to use their bathroom and I asked if he had a toilet and he said “yes, yes! completo!” but I told him I wanted to see the toilet first. When I opened the door, there was only one of those disgusting holes. Noooooooooooooooooo!) We eventually found a cafe with a toilet (I got locked in the bathroom, but a fine gentleman let me out haha). We ordered a coffee and a mint tea, and a good 15 minutes later, it showed up. We were joking that they had to go buy the coffee and tea because none of the other men (always men) in the cafe were drinking anything. When the drinks did arrive, I don’t think we were too far off on our predictions. I’m no gardener, but this isn’t mint.
Pretty sure she just put some tree leaves in my tea and called it a day.
As for the bus, it eventually showed up. We were the only non-Arabs (as told by our clothing) and therefore didn’t know that when the bus comes, everyone will proceed to push and yell to get a seat and you, as the outsiders, will be left standing at the front of the bus while all of the Arab people stare back at you with a slight smirk of satisfaction and you will tightly grip the tickets that you paid for and think…”wtf just happened???”. If this happens, talk to the bus driver and demand that they give you a seat. We were given a seat in the back of the bus and he made the non-paying riders sit, basically, in the trunk of the bus. An hour and 30 minutes later, we arrived in Tetuan, to another suspect bus station.
Again, we checked that various offices and bought a ticket for the earliest bus to Tangier. This ticket cost us 15 Dirham (1.5 Euro/each) and the first leg of trip cost 35 Dirham, FYI. We had about 30 minutes to kill, so we stopped for a delicious salad in the bus station cafe.
Looking at that photo brings back nightmares. We still aren’t sure what that pink meat was and I tried to ask, but the waiter just gave me a big thumbs up and a smile. Friends, that’s never good. Hahaha.
We did eventually make it back to Tanger, grabbed a taxi, had another (more normal-looking) salad, and headed back to the hotel. I was completely beat from such a long day!
Another pottery piece I wanted. Next time!
On our final morning in Tangier, we had coffee and bread, then went for one last walk through the Medina and soaked it all in. For me, this was an incredible trip and with such a close proximity to Spain, I’m already planning to go back- maybe to Marakech- with everyone and their mother.