A whole new country, a whole new continent, a whole new vibe. With the thought of Africa, Morocco, Casablanca, and Marrakech, I was very excited to step outside of Europe even if only for a week or so. If you’re also lucky enough to be visiting Marrakech, you can check out this comprehensive guide on Marrakech things to do.
The original thought of visiting Morocco came from watching an episode of The Amazing Race and after watching the contestants run around, I was hypnotized by all the colours and the sounds. I can only imagine what a place like that would do to the rest of my senses.
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Planning to Visit Casablanca?
Since we would be coming from Portugal and landing in Casablanca, I thought we should take the opportunity to explore the White City (It does, after all, have a famous movie released in 1942 named after it).
Casablanca is one hectic city and the rules of the road that I am accustomed to in Canada are let’s say… Non-existent. That being said, it’s a wonderful city and we managed to discover some real gems, one of the biggest being food.
Morrocan lamb cooked in a Tagine (Damn), I would seriously fight a person for even looking at my lamb…it’s that good.
History of Casablanca
- During the 14th century, under the Berber Dynasty Merinids, the town rose in importance as a port and in the early 15th century, became independent once again. It emerged as a safe harbour for pirates. This led to attacks by the Portuguese, who destroyed the town in 1468 AD.
- The Portuguese used the ruins to build a military fortress in 1515 AD. The village that grew up around it was called “Casabranca”, meaning “White House” in Portuguese. They eventually abandoned the area completely in 1755 AD following an earthquake that destroyed it.
- In June 1907, the French attempted to build a light railway near the port and passing through a Moroccan graveyard. Moroccan residents attacked the French workers, and riots ensued.
- French troops were landed in order to restore order, which was achieved only after severe damage to the town. The French then took control of Casablanca. This effectively began the process of colonization, although French control of Casablanca was not formalized until 1910.
- It was especially during the years of military governor Hubert Lyautey that Casablanca became Morocco’s economic center and Africa’s biggest harbour.
- The famous 1942 film Casablanca underlined the city’s colonial status at the time—depicting it as the scene of a power struggle between competing European powers, carried out without any reference to the local population, and with the film’s vast cosmopolitan cast of characters (American, French, German, Czech, and some other nationalities) including not a single Arab.
Getting to Casablanca
Casablanca Airport has several options for those passengers who wish to transfer to and from downtown Casablanca. The following means of transportation are available at Casablanca Airport.
From the underground train station at Casablanca Airport (Aeroport Med V), you may transfer to either Mers Sultan, Casa Port, Casa Voyageurs, or L’Oasis. Total trip time just takes 45 minutes. Opening hours: From 06:00 am to 10:00 pm.
CTM operates a bus line that will take you within 45 minutes to downtown. The single ticket fare is MAD 20.00. Further services to other Moroccan cities are available.
Get within 45 minutes to downtown Casablanca from the airport. Find the taxi at the ground level, outside the arrivals hall. A one-way trip to downtown is about MAD 250.00 – 300.00.
Casablanca Airport offers its passenger car rental options at both terminals. Alternatively, you can book your car prior to your arrival through our search engine, it is easy and fast to use!
Mohammed V Airport can be reached via the A7 Casa-Berrechid motorway via Bouskoura / follow the signs to highway Marrakesh and take the Airport exit. From Rabat use the A3, then the A5, or also follow the signs to highway Marrakesh and take the Airport exit. From Marrakech, follow the highway to Casablanca-Rabat and take the Airport exit.
Day 1 in Casablanca – Places to Visit
Read on for inspiration on fun stuff to do in Casablanca. The city is the center of business and economy, while at the same time it offers tourist spots to both domestic and foreign tourists. So, if you only have 48 hours to enjoy the city, then here’s a playlist of what to do in Casablanca on Day 1.
Habous (also known as New Medina) is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Morocco. It’s filled with markets where tourists and locals shop for trinkets, clothes, fabrics, souvenirs, fresh produce, and much more. Alive with activity and filled with the sounds of haggling and busybodies, Habous is a must-see on any Moroccan trip.
The market is where most traditional items of Casablanca can be found and sold at relatively fair prices. You will surely get a lot of best buys for you to take home. Make sure you pick up a scarf or a piece of jewelry for your friends and family back home.
Hassan II Mosque
Casablanca Morocco is teeming with mosques, which only shows how rich the culture of the locals is. But there is one mosque that you shouldn’t miss, the Hassan II Mosque. It has the most elegant details and architecture that every local in Casablanca takes pride in.
If you’re interested in seeing the mosque, you can take a private half-day tour of Casablanca. Your professional guide will walk you through all of the fascinating historical details to help you appreciate every intricacy of this amazing building.
Museum of Moroccan Judaism
Museum of Moroccan Judaism is a Jewish museum in Casablanca. This museum is particularly special because it is the only one of its kind in the Arab world. The museum would be a fantastic spot to learn about some local history, check out the collection of Berber jewelry, ancient Jewish artifacts, and the reconstructed 1930s synagogue inside.
Now that you’ve seen some cultural and historical destinations in Casablanca, why not try something that’s all about fun? Corniche is the beachfront district in Casablanca’s Ain Diab neighbourhood, where you can enjoy an afternoon stroll looking out at the ocean.
There are also plenty of luxury hotels on the shoreline where you can stop for a bite to eat. Many of the hotels also have swimming pools open to the public where you can take a dip after a long day of sightseeing.
Another option is to simply lay a towel out on the sand, bring some local treats from the Medina market, and enjoy an ad hoc feast on the beach. Corniche is a great spot for checking out the ocean, people-watching and enjoying some lovely sunshine.
Day 2 in Casablanca – Things To Do
For more incredible Casablanca tourist destinations, check out the spots below. These Casablanca attractions are sure to pique your wanderlust and get you excited about your vacation to Morocco.
Visit the Parc de la Ligue Arabe (Arab League Park)
The Parc de la Ligue Arabe (or Arab League Park) is a beautiful urban park in Casablanca, right in the heart of the city. This is a charming and impressive place to take a stroll, boasting lines of tall palm trees, lush gardens, and 15 hectares of land to explore.
The garden was planted way back in 1918 to mimic the gardens of Paris at the time. And today, it is the oldest park in all of Casablanca. If you can’t go a day without posting your trip on Instagram, this spot will give you endless gorgeous pictures to share with your friends.
Marvel at the Cathedral du Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart Cathedral)
Built back in the 1930s, the Cathedral du Sacre Coeur is a beautiful combination of Moroccan and European architectural styles. The cathedral sits right on the edge of the Arab League Park, so you can walk on over after you’re done exploring there.
Sky-high towers stretch up into the clouds and the sunlight reflects beautifully off the building’s blinding white exterior. The minarets and windows look extraordinary from the street and will make for an excellent photograph you can treasure for years to come.
Check out the Royal Palace (The King’s Palace)
The Royal Palace is a prized piece of history in Morocco and an impressive feat in Islamic architecture. One of the many palaces of King Mohammed VI, this architectural landmark is near the New Medina in the city.
Only royals can get inside, but tourists love to photograph the palace’s exterior, which boasts that signature Moroccan tilework you see all over the country. You can look around the pristine manicured gardens in front of the palace.
Tour the Villa des Arts
The Villa des Arts is a small non-profit gallery built-in 1934. The gallery hosts several exhibitions on contemporary art from Moroccan artists. You can browse through the different art displays inside or take a look at the sculptures that are sometimes out on the lawn.
If you’re interested in Moroccan art and culture, you’ll adore this museum. Although small, the art deco building is set behind a gorgeous garden fountain, and the high ceilings inside look breathtaking.
Where to Stay in Casablanca
Now that you know what to see in Casablanca on your vacation, you’ll need to figure out where to stay. Below are some luxury, mid-range, and budget-friendly options for your vacation accommodations.
Luxury Hotels in Casablanca
For many people, the best part about visiting Casablanca is staying in the gorgeous luxury hotels in town. Moroccans really come to play when it comes to high-end luxury, and the hotels below will blow you away.
Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca
Situated on the Boulevard de la Corniche, the Four Seasons Hotel has dramatic sea views and a luxury location in the Anfaplace Living Resort area, which includes upscale residences and the Anfaplace Shopping Center.
The hotel has an outdoor pool and three indoor-outdoor restaurants with ocean views, while Le Spa at Four Seasons Hotel offers Moroccan treatments. Travelling with youngsters? There’s a range of family services available.
Hyatt Regency Casablanca
Also close to the old medina, the Hyatt Regency Casablanca puts you near a string of open-air cafés on United Stations Square. The Habous Quarter, an excellent place for exploring and shopping, is a short cab ride away.
Some rooms have views of both the Atlantic Ocean and Hassan II Mosque, which is dramatically lit at night. Others face the Art Deco district. After a day of sightseeing, relax at the outdoor pool. There’s a variety of in-house dining, including Moroccan cuisine, under an Arab tent at Dar Beida and alfresco meals poolside.
Grand Mogador City Center
Grand Mogador City Center is in a newish business district high-rise with an on-site restaurant, health club, and café. It’s in a quiet, suburban location a bit removed from the city’s most popular attractions and that’s reflected in the price.
Mogador is a wallet-friendly option for those who don’t mind a short taxi ride or a longer walk in exchange for affordable luxury. Large bathrooms have separate showers with rain-shower heads and generous-sized tubs.
Mid-Range Hotels in Casablanca
If you’re looking for something slightly more affordable than the luxury hotels above, try these mid-range hotels in Casablanca. They are just as charming and comfortable but at a more reasonable price point.
Art Palace & Spa
Art Palace & Spa has 25 unique, spacious suites named for stars like Audrey Hepburn and James Dean, so this central boutique hotel is anything but a cookie-cutter stay. The O-Zen SPA has an indoor pool, hammam steam bath, treatment rooms, and salon. There is a restaurant on-site, and for added value, breakfast is included. Rooms have a Nespresso coffee machine.
Budget Hotels in Casablanca
If you’re travelling on a budget (or you want to save your cash for fancy Moroccan restaurants) you can stay at one of the hotels below. These accommodations are budget-friendly, so don’t worry, they won’t go burning holes in your pockets.
Best Western Hotel Toubkal
Best Western Hotel Toubkal puts visitors near the main Casa-Port train station, handy when planning to explore Morocco via rail. Spacious, clean rooms have mini-fridges, and executive rooms and junior suites are also available. There’s a gift shop, concierge, and restaurant. This hotel is a short walk to the souks of the old medina, as well as shopping, cafés, and restaurants.
Ibis Casablanca City Center
Also handy to the Casa-Port station, the recently renovated Ibis Casablanca City Center offers excellent value, targeting business travellers in a 266-room mid-rise hotel, which has spaces for meetings and events.
In-house restaurant Wok&Co serves lunch and dinner, and there is a generous breakfast buffet available. For families, it’s close to the tram stop, where you can take a streetcar to the Parc Sindibad kids’ theme park, about five minutes away.
Best Restaurants in Casablanca
If you’ve never tried Moroccan food before, you’re in for a real treat. And if you have, no matter. What could be better than tasting Moroccan cuisine in its home country? Try some of the restaurants below to experience some delightful taste explosions.
Chez El Kabbaj
Aside from the good Moroccan food that is being served in Chez El Kabbaj, which is by far among the best and always packed, you will also love the fresh foie gras.
Old Medina Market Food
Start the day strolling around one of the largest and oldest medinas in Morocco and find great food to try out. There is plenty for the eyes to see here but the most important thing is to get a feel of how Moroccans go about their day and try some of the local delicacies.
Designed to recreate the bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the movie classic Casablanca, Rick’s Cafe is one of the best places to stop by while or after a long stroll through the busy Old Medina.
It offers the best Moroccan food and is conveniently situated just outside the busy Old Medina, away from the hustle and bustle.
This is one place you wouldn’t want to miss with its array of restaurants, all serving tasty Moroccan food. After your meal, you can take a stroll along the coast or stay in one of the exclusive seaside clubs.
Before you call it a day, treat yourself to real Moroccan food at Sqala. It can easily be found at Boulevard des Almohades in Casablanca city, right in the Sqala – an 18th-century fortified bastion at the north of the city’s business and economic center.
Final Thoughts on Things To Do in Casablanca, Morocco
From museums and mosques to opulent palaces and restaurants, there is an abundance of beautiful things to see in Casablanca. You can check out the local markets, try the exceptional Moroccan food on offer, or simply head to the beaches of Casablanca for a relaxing day in the sun. Activities aside, your trip to Casablanca is bound to be one for the books. If you’d like to continue your trip and hop over to Europe, Portugal comes highly recommended. There are some fantastic places in Portugal worth visiting.
Hopefully, you get to try each and every spot on this list and enjoy an epic vacation in Morocco. Happy travelling!
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