Casablanca Travel Guide
Introduction to Casablanca
Known by most people as the subject of a classic 1940s film of the same name, Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city. A centre of industry, commerce, and culture, its bustling nature doesn’t exactly endear itself to tourists at first glance.
However, there are still plenty of worthwhile attractions here that will keep you busy for at least a couple of days.
Cultural Attractions in Casablanca
Make the Hassan II Mosque your first destination in Casablanca. The largest of its kind in Morocco, this Islamic hall of worship is known for having the world’s tallest minaret within its inner sanctum, reaching 689 feet into the sky.
Mounted with a beam of light that points towards Mecca at night, this mosque is a sight to behold at night. The mosque is also open for tours during the day (outside of prayer times), when non-Muslims can see its grand interior, decked out with marble and glass floors, gigantic pillars and arches, mosaics, and chandeliers.
Be sure to dress modestly (headscarves for women, and no exposed shoulders or knees for everyone), though, or you might be turned away at the front gate.
Next, spend some time within the Old Medina of Casablanca. Like medinas in other Moroccan cities, it is full of old buildings, shops, and souk stalls selling everything from leather goods to exotic spices.
When you are ready to take a break from the chaos, though, find your way to Rick’s Cafe. Inspired by the film, it re-creates one of its most iconic sets in stunning detail, right down to the pianist, who plays numbers from the movie.
Plenty of Moroccan standards are served here with an exceptional level of quality, so if you are looking to have a splurge meal, make reservations to eat here.
Those looking to satisfy their hunger for artistic excellence in Casablanca will want to pay a visit to Musee Abderrahman Slaoui. A contemporary art museum with an assortment of paintings, jewelry, and glassware situated within a well-designed, intimate space, it displays the collection that businessman Abderrahman Slaoui accumulated over the course of his life. For lovers of beautiful and expensive things, a stop here while in Casablanca is a must.
Located across from the Old Medina of Casablanca is the Quartier Habous. Also known as the New Medina, this space was built by the French starting in 1918 in response to an influx of migrants who were making their way into the city from the interior.
As such, the buildings, while distinctly Moroccan in style, have a French flair to them, and they are in better shape overall compared to structures in the older part of town. Like the Old Medina, the streets of the Quartier Habous are filled with market stalls, shops, cafes, and restaurants.
However, there is a special emphasis on artisans and booksellers here, making the Quartier Habous a great place to pick up souvenirs or a new paperback for the road.
If you want to mix with the locals when they are off work, spend some time on The Corniche. On evenings and weekends, residents come here en masse to cool off in the stiff sea breezes blowing off the Atlantic. As a result, there are many things to do along its length, with restaurants and cafes with al fresco seating, malls, beach clubs, among other diversions.
If you really need to beat the heat, Ain Diab Beach is where locals head when they feel like taking a dip in the ocean. Take note, however: the Atlantic is not the Mediterranean. The water is here is lukewarm at best, and is often chilly. It is also notorious for having a nasty riptide at times, so swim with care.
Looking to sample the best local food in Casablanca? Marché Central is where you’ll want to head, as this market is well-known for serving up huge platters of fish, steaming bowls of seafood soup, and fresh loaves of bread.
This place is another excellent location to hang out if you want to watch as everyday Casablancans go about their lives.