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Visit Morocco’s aptly named ‘Blue City’

2 Mountain highs in Chefchaouen

Whatever its nickname may suggest, the ‘Blue City’ of Chefchaouen makes an ideal escape for anyone impatient to throw off the shackles of the long, glum winter. Perched high in the Rif Mountains near Morocco’s northern tip, its maze of blue-painted houses, winding lanes and terracotta roofs makes it one of the country’s prettiest destinations. Its remoteness meant it was isolated from outsiders for centuries, and the result is an easy-going place that still feels like a world unto itself. The best way to take it in is by exploring the medina, wandering its narrow lanes and poking amongst its tiny shops and stalls heaped with local wares: from bright spices and brass teapots to handwoven camel-hair blankets. Don’t miss Plaza Uta el-Hammam, the shady square where the town’s landmarks, a medieval mosque and walled fortress and museum, stand, and a great place to take a breather and join the locals sipping mint tea. For a different perspective on the town, head up into the surrounding hills, where scenic riverside paths swiftly offer up panoramic views. Chefchaouen also makes a great base for longer walks – the waterfalls, gorges and mountain villages of Talassemtane National Park are right on its doorstep.

Chefchaouen was originally built in 1471 as a fortress to ward off Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Air Arabia Maroc and Royal Air Maroc fly direct to Tangiers from London Gatwick and Heathrow respectively (from £140; airarabia.com) Chefchaouen is then two hours by car (hire from £130 per week; europcar.co.uk; direct taxi from airport from £45).

Hidden in the medina, Lina Ryad & Spa has spacious blue-and-white rooms with touches of Moroccan design, plus a hammam and roof terrace with views over the mountains and medina (from £85; linariad.com).

For more info on Chefchaouen, head to visitmorocco.com.

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