The 3 Blue Cities Competition: Chefchaouen vs. Jodhpur vs. Santorini

The 3 Blue Cities Competition: Chefchaouen vs. Jodhpur vs. Santorini

By Claire | Updated Sep. 28, 2023

Blue reminds people of heaven and visually comforts people's minds, so the blue cities possess a fascination irresistible to most of us. Each blue city has its own personality. The following introductions and travel info will help you choose the right blue city for you to visit.


Situated in northwest Morocco at a height of 600 meters in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is one of the nation's top cities to visit thanks to the beautifully-painted blue houses of its old Medina area. 

It is said that Jews who escaped from Hitler and settled down in Chefchaouen painted their houses blue, the color of heaven, to ward off the heat, but some locals claim the color is useful in keeping mosquitoes away.   

  • Words: Relaxation, Mountain Scenery, Instagram Hot Spot, Hiking, Souvenirs, Cats
  • To Visit:

Morocco is a country with a long history. The old Arabic way of life is well preserved in many areas, making it possible for people to experience something different. But relaxation is needed after absorbing diverse historical and cultural experiences.

Chefchaouen is an ideal place for relaxation, a fairyland come to life. Find a Riad (guesthouse or hotel) in the blue town from which you can enjoy a leisurely walk or a more taxing hike in the mountains. It will be better still if you are a cat lover. Cats are everywhere, another charming aspect of the town.

Take a leisurely walk around town.

Take lovely photos. There is an 'Instagram hot spot', (a section of blue stairway with flowerpots neatly placed along both sides), but there are many photo opportunities. You will be pleasantly surprised by how varied the blue architecture can be. Please remember to ask if you want to photograph local people for politeness and to avoid objections.  

Hiking. Given its location it's pretty easy to hike up into the Mountains from Chefchaouen. The 45-minute walk to the Spanish Mosque for a panoramic view of the city is among the easier walks. For something more taxing, you have the 4-5 hours hike for Akchour waterfall, or to God's Bridge in the Talassemtane National Park.

Learn to cook local cuisine in a family home. (It is best to book ahead with a formal travel agency to avoid scams). 

Go to the main shopping street of old Medina and search for souvenirs. Chefchaouen is a good place for high quality Moroccan souvenirs at a reasonable price. Its postcard stall is often featured on Instagram.

Watch a sunrise or sunset at the Spanish Mosque, located atop a hill on the east side of Medina.

Who Should Go: This is a great place for everyone. Friends, couples and families will find it a great experience. It is particularly suited to photographers and cat lovers.

From June or September to mid-November

Duration of Stay: Two full days are normally sufficient: one day for the city area including the sunrise or sunset at the Spanish Mosque and one further day for hiking in the mountain to either Akchour waterfall or God's Bridge. If wish to explore the Talassemtane National Park more widely you will need to book additional days.


Jodhpur is the second-largest city of the Rajasthan state of India, and one of the most interesting cities in the country. It sits in the Thar desert, so is sometimes referred to as 'Marwar' ('The Region of Death'), but this vibrant city has lively markets and is a rich historical and cultural resource.

  • Words: History, Local Life, Ancient Fortress, the Desert, Change
  • To Visit:

As one of the Four Great Ancient Civilizations, India has many great relics worth visiting, including those in Jodhpur. Besides its historical charms, the vitality of its local culture permeates the interlacing alleys and markets.

Blue houses are dotted around the center of the old city area near the Mehrangarh Fort. The general hue of the town is an earthy yellow, and the blues are like paintings on Kraft paper. The color traditionally signified that the properties belonged to the Brahmins, the highest caste in the Indian system.

With Jodhpur's increasing popularity the local government required house owners to paint their houses blue, but recently this requirement was ended. Now the locals paint their homes green, brown or yellow as they prefer. This may change the appearance of Jodhpur over time, but the change is itself an interesting phenomenon to experience in this ancient city.

Visit the Mehrangarh Fort, the most important relic of Jodhpur, standing magnificently 400 feet up on the hill to overlook the whole city. It was built by the Rajput king Rao Jodha in 1459. There is a series of palaces within, alongside a museum providing fascinating insights into imperial life. 

Coffee at the cafe in Mehrangarh Fort. Besides the amazing architecture and its fascinating history, another highlight of Mehrangarh Fort is a small cafe in a courtyard where concubines of the king were in service. This cafe offers cool relief with cross ventilation in summer, pigeons and doves also enjoying its relaxing atmosphere.

Walking the alleys that connect the blue houses. Carefree zebus (Indian cattle), curious children at play, and the daily life of local residents may be experienced here. Between the blues of the walls, sometimes bright, sometimes mottled, you can discern local life more clearly along with the distinctive wet-market odor that pervades the alleyways.

Photography. The people of India are generally relaxed about forming a backdrop to your pictures, so feel free to photograph their activities along with the houses.

Other historical sites include the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada, the Mandore Garden, and Ghanta Ghar.

Visit street markets around Ghanta Ghar to see more local activities.

Learn exquisite Indian painting at the Umaid Heritage Art School located not far from Ghanta Ghar's market. This art school received a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence in 2015, and the owner often teaches traditional hand painting for free.  

Friends, couples, families, photographers, and history lovers will all find Jodhpur of interest.

Normally 1–2 days will be sufficient. Photographers should go to the blue area around noon or early in the afternoon when lighting is optimal. This will interrupt your day, so you may need to stay in Jodhpur a little longer.


Santorini is a charming complex of Greek islands, (including Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea and Nea Kaméni). It is actually a currently dormant volcano, which makes the now peaceful area even more fascinating.

"Romantic" is the word that first comes to mind when considering Santorini. It is a dream destination for couples from all over the world, ideal for weddings and photography. It is called the "supermodel of the Greek islands" by Lonely Planet.

The scenery varies between the islands. The "blue area" is in d'Oia in the north of the main city of Firá. The houses are predominantly white, their blue color restricted to some of the roofs, doors, window frames or fences, but everything seems washed by a hazy blue light from the sky and the sea.

At sunset, when the street lights bathe the city in an afterglow, the views are breathtaking and dreamlike. Then the blue is more conspicuous and in stark contrast with the black sand of the beaches, the red coastal rocks, and the yellow and coffee-colored alleyways.

Artistic or wedding photography.

Walk around and enjoy the scenery.

Enjoy the sunset at d'Oia where numerous tourists arrive as night falls.

Who Should Go:An exotic location for weddings, married couples, lovers and photographers. Friends and families will also find it a tranquil and relaxing place.

1–2 days are sufficient for the hurried traveler, but for photographers and those seeking tranquility a longer stay is recommended.

Want to have your 'blue' trip organized, but prefer to avoid the stiffness of set tours? Contact Global Highlights by clicking here. Our exclusive travel adviser can assist you with a tailored service.

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