Travel from Marrakesh to Chefchaouen
Planning the best way to travel from Marrakesh to Chefchaouen up in the Rif Mountains in Northern Morocco had me undecided which route to take. In the end i opted for the night train to Tangier, thus saving a nights accommodation, and then bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen. It is advisable to book the train ticket at least a day before as the train does get crowded.
So i used my map of Marrakech and took a walk from Jemaa El Fna to the train station zig zagging my way along the streets. Passing through the private road of Mansour Spa and along Olive tree and date palm lined streets after 35 minutes i arrived at Gare De Marrakech. One of the sights i noticed along the way was a very tall date palm which on closer inspection turned out to be a mobile phone mast cleverly disguised.
The building is a modern, shiny, well organised place with numerous restaurants and shops which includes, I am sorry to say, the American Junk Food Obesity Wagon, Macdonalds. Upstairs there is a very good viewing balcony looking over the platforms and the “End of the Line “. Marrakesh at the moment is the furthest south you can travel by train. There are plans to extend the line down to Ouarzazate in the Sahara and also west to the coastal towns of Essaouira, Agadir and south to Dahkla.
If you need to charge your electronics there are numerous sockets scattered around the walls which you are able to use and the Rest Rooms are clean and free to use.
Outside the station there is also a mobile phone charging station with seating around it. I did try unsuccessfully to charge my laptop there too but I in the end had to use one of the sockets in the main building.
Buying a ticket is straight forward. Just queue up, state your destination and pay…… BUT do check your ticket details to avoid the problem i had when i arrived to board the train the following day. Even though I had paid the correct fare for a couchette to Tangier the destination on my ticket said Casablanca. The sleeping car attendant refused to let me board so i walked back to the ticket office where a very helpful official sorted my problem out and i boarded the train with a few minutes to spare.
The overnight journey was uneventful. I slept very well and the train arrived exactly on time at 07.00 in Tangier. There followed a short taxi ride to the bus station where a bus would soon be leaving for Chefchaouen at 08.00. There are plenty of kiosks to buy some breakfast and a coffee. The trip took 4 hours up windy mountainous roads and i could feel the air cooling as we ascended. Moroccans for some reason are very often travel sick and carry plastic bags for this purpose, so be warned if you suddenly notice that the person sitting next to you has gone quiet !!!!!!
The bus arrives at Chefchaouen bus station located at the bottom of a very steep hill which you will need to walk up to arrive at the Medina. If you are not used to walking or have a very heavy backpack then maybe take a taxi otherwise you will have a good test of your fitness. If you are already at the bus station and you know which day you’re moving on, I would suggest that you buy your onward ticket when you arrive, to save yourself another climb back up to the medina.
Did you purchase your train and bus tickets ahead of time online? if so how/where do i do this, and if not, did you just go to the railway station and book it once you got there?
I am heading to Morocco on my own in a couple of weeks so am trying to organize everything now
I just went to the train station and booked the tickets a couple of days beforehand. Bus tickets should be reserved as soon as youknow your departure day. It only takes a little time to find the bus station and buy tickets. Enjoy Morocco 🙂
The train is the best option if you’re on a budget, but I think TangierTaxi deserve a mention if you want to get there with the least amount of hassle. It’s a private vehicle so it’s not cheap, but if there are a group of you or you are not on a tight budget, it is worth it. We used them on our last trip from Casablanca to Chefchaouen and would highly recommend. The website is http://www.tangiertaxi.com
You can also take a grand taxi if want to save. It should be cheaper, but not as comfortable. I don’t know if it would be easy to find a driver prepared to take you all the way to Chefchaouen because it’s a REALLY long way from Marrakech! Maybe you’d have to switch grand taxis half way, in Casablanca or Rabat for example.
I hope this helps someone!
this is a great itinerary! Thanks for the tips because I hope to be in Morocco next summer and would love to bounce between cities.
Sorry you had a snafu but I have to admit, Casablanca would have been a fun accident!
As for the sickness, yuck! Nothing worse then the person next to you barfing their guts out to make you suddenly ill too!
I’m planning a honeymoon to Morocco and I’ve thought of this itinerary:
Casablanca > Rabat > Meknes > Fes > Chefchaouen > Tangier > Night train to Marrakech > Casablanca
Honestly, the places I really want to go is Fes, Chef and Marrakech. Would you recommend staying a night at the other places? The only reason I included them in is because it’s along the way or it’s a place for transportation.
You dontsay how long youwill be going for, but i would definitely include Chef, Fez, Marrakesh in the itinerary.
By any chance you know if there are direct buses running the marrakech – chefchaoun route?
Non that i know of.The best route is by train.
I will be travelling to Morocco in September for a total of 7 days – arriving and departing from Marrakech. It seems that the journey to Chefchaouen is an arduous one and my question is: in your opinion, is it really worth it? I do not intend to spend more than a day there since I then plan on resuming my journey south to the desert and the Atlas Mountains. What is your advice please?
It will take you at least 2 days to make a return travel and if you only intend to stay for one day then i would suggest that its not worth your while. There is somuch to see and do there, you will need at least 3 days in Chefchaouen.
If you only plan tospend 7 days in Morocco then you should concentrate on one destination only.
Your post was very helpful.
Curious, you said it was 4hrs journey from Tanger to Chefchaleoun. But, how long was the ride from Merrakesh to Tanger?
What was your total travel hours from Merrakesh to Chefchaleoun? So I can have an ideal what I’m looking at due to my tight schedule.
Did you take the same route coming back? Or did your trip ended in Chefchaleoun? Because for me I would have to travel back to Merrakesh for my flight back home!
I took the overnight sleeper from Marakesh to Tangier….. about a 10 hour journey arriving Tangier early morning. On the return trip to Marakesh i went via Meknes by bus from Chefchaouen and then train from there to Marrakesh. I stayed overnight in Meknes as i didnt have any time contraints.
Thank you for the post. It was indeed helpful! We are travelling from chefchaouen to marrakesh and I’m trying to find a direct night train. Do you know if that is possible?
Also, would you rather suggest we travel via tangier or meknes to marrekesh?
Friendly South African ??
There is no railway at Chefchaouen. you need to travel to Tangiers and take the bus from there
as per the comment above, which bus provider took you from tangier to chefchaouen?
I didnt choose any company. I just took the first bus leaving from the Tangiers bus station for Chefchaouen.
If i read that correctly, you did not buy the bus ticket from Tanger to Chefchauoen in advance? And just hopped on the first bus leaving?
Also, when buying your train ticket. Is the final destination Tanger or Tanger Morora?
Yes Marcus, you understood correctly. Just take the first bus. Tanger Gare De Ville is the name of the final station in Tanger.
Hi silverbackpacker, are you able to share the cost of the train ticket from Marakech to Tangier and the bus to Chefchaouen? Thank you in advance! 🙂
I seem to remember that the train fare from Marakech to Tangier was around $20. The bus fare to Chefchaouen i cant remember but it was no more than $5. Sorry i can’t help you more than that. I have misplaced my notebook where i have everything written down.
We want to do the overnight train from Marrakech to Tangiers and then bus up to Chefchaouen as well. We can get our tickets for the overnight train a few days before hand in Marrakech no problem but did you just get your bus ticket to Chaouen when you arrived in Tangiers? Was it a local bus company or a CTM bus? I was hoping to stop and have a little breakfast and a look around in Tangiers in the morning. How often do the buses to Chefchaouen run? Maybe we should just keep going and get the 8am bus like you. I have heard Tangiers is full of hassle and maybe it would be a few hours of stress rather than a leisurely breakfast by the sea as I imagine. Any advice? Thanks,
Yes i made my way to the bus station and bought a ticket there. There was a bus leaving very soon after i arrived there. Im not sure about the frequency of the buses as i just wanted to get to Chefchaouen. You really need to have time to explore a new city and in my opinion not worth it just for a few hours.
While researching on Morocco transportation online, I just happened to find your blog about your train n bus experience from Marrakesh to Chefchaleoun. That is what I am also planning to go there like yours.
I have a few questions to ask you:
1. How many couchette (sleeping bed) are there in each train cabin?
2. Is it safe for a female traveler to take overnight sleeping train from Marrakesh to Tangier?
3. I m not sure what you mean “save yourself another climb back up to the medina”. Is the bus station in Tangier named “MEDINA”? You mean to buy the ticket on spot when you arrive there? What is the name of this bus company?
4. Is it possible to book the train and bus tickets online from my home country online?
Hope to hear from you soon.
Hi Selena. There were 4 berths in my couchette. It is very safe in my opinion for a female. There is a coach manager in each coach whose job is to ensure safety and comfort of passengers.
The bus station is at the bottom of a hill. Tickets need to be bought in advance. So if you do not buy one when you arrive then you will need to walk down again from the top of the hill to do so. The Medina is the name given to the walled city/town.
I do not know about booking online but if you check out seat61.com there may be some information there. I bought my tickets as i travelled.
You will need to buy your tickets from Marrakesh the day before travel at latest as trains do get full.
Hope this helps.