Skip Marrakech: This Is the City to Visit in Morocco

Conde Nast Traveler
Overlooking the city of Chefchaouen. Photograph courtesy of Lina Ryad & Spa

Morocco’s bustling cities, like Marrakech or Tangier, are clearly its main tourist attractions. But at times, the bustling medinas can be overwhelming and exhausting. Cue Chefchaouen, a.k.a the Blue City. (It even sounds relaxing). Named after its buildings, which are all painted varying shades of blue, it's situated in the Rif Mountains about two hours' drive from Tangier. Here's a quick guide to the city:

STAY HERE: The stylish Lina Ryad & Spa (Avenue Hassan I; +212 06 4506-9903; doubles from $188) boasts suites from $188 per night, with breakfast included, and also serves excellent food in-house—think Moroccan salads and an excellent pastilla. Also worth a stay: Casa Perleta (Medina -Bab el Souk; +212 05 3998-8979; rooms from $76), a charming riad tucked inside the medina with breathtaking views.

EAT HERE: Join locals in the heart of the medina at Casa Hassan’s Tissemlal Restaurant (22 Rue Targhi Chefchaouen; +212 05 3998-6153; three-course meal from $22), which serves up classics like chicken tagine and harira soup, as well as green salad with the region’s specialty goat cheese.

SHOP HERE: Take a walk to Aladan the Herboriste (on Place Outa el Hammam and rue Targui) to pick up argan oil, Moroccan spices, and soaps, and then peruse the local markets for rugs and jewelry. (Since the city is fairly off the grid, the prices on these handcrafted items are heavily discounted in comparison to the big cities).

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