Walking through the White Medina of Tetouan: Off the Beaten Path in Morocco
Morocco is home to lots of ancient medinas. The winding lanes and historic souks (markets) of these old towns usually attract plenty of tourists, but for some reason Tetouan is rarely visited by foreign tourists. We spent a day walking through the white medina of Tetouan (and some other parts of town); here’s a quick look at what you’ll see in this off the beaten path city in Morocco.
Tetouan’s white medina is full of ancient lanes, houses, tanneries and Berber markets. It’s a picturesque place and is probably nicer than the far more popular (and nearby) medina in Tangier. It’s a lot more “local” than the other medinas that we visited in Morocco — the small shops and market stalls cater more to Tetouan’s inhabitants than tourists. This makes it a far more relaxing experience as touts aren’t constantly harassing you.
We hadn’t heard much about Tetouan before visiting so we didn’t have any must-see sights in mind. We just started walking and stumbled on some really cool places. We wandered into a tannery — it definitely wasn’t as grand as the one in Fez but it still smelled just as bad. We walked through lots of narrow, deserted lanes — the only sign of life was the washing that was hung outside the white walls. It was really quiet for most of our walk; I guess the people living in the stylish white houses were at work.
A view over Tetouan
While walking through the medina we noticed a set of stairs leading up to a viewpoint. I went ahead as Gia didn’t fancy climbing so high if there was nothing to see up there. As soon as I reached the top I yelled down at her to come up. From the top of the hill we looked out over Tetouan and the nearby Rif Mountains. It’s not until you see the city from above that you realise how beautiful the surrounding scenery is. There’s also an old kasbah (fortress) up there.
Walking back to town
We decided to keep walking up and over the hill, which eventually led us back to the medina. We passed by a graveyard and a few locals who were hanging out above town admiring the views. We ended up seeing a lot of Tetouan and were pretty tired by the time we got back to the hotel.
Tetouan was once ruled by the Spanish and some of that influence can still be seen today. We stayed in a hotel (Pension Iberia) which had a great view of Plaza Primo. It was cheap though and it wasn’t until after we paid that we realised there was no shower! I think they were doing repairs — hopefully they decided to put a shower in. This is the ideal area to stay as it’s a short walk to the bus station and there are some good eating options nearby.
Getting to Tetouan
We travelled to Tetouan from Chefchaouen which only took a couple of hours. If you’re walking from the bus station to a hotel you’ll probably get approached by a “guide” who will demand a tip for showing you the way (or possibly the way to another hotel). We knew where we were going so politely declined, but it took a few goes before he got the message. Tetouan is also close to Tangier (around an hour and a half by bus) which was our next destination.
Tetouan is the perfect place to visit if you want to get off the beaten path in Morocco. Its winding white lanes and dramatic mountain backdrop are worth at least a day to explore, and if you stay a little longer there are apparently some good beaches nearby.
Are you planning a trip to Morocco? Check out my Morocco archives!