Best Things to Do in Casablanca (Morocco)
Casablanca Located on the coast, is known as Casa the white city, and is the largest city in the country, with a population is more than 5 million. Renowned as the economic and commercial heartbeat of Morocco, it offers more than meets the eye of its visitors. With stunning coastal vistas, an iconic mosque that dazzles the senses, and a diverse culinary scene that tantalizes taste buds, Casablanca promises a memorable experience. Discover the best things to do in Casablanca, from exploring the vibrant markets and immersing yourself in the rich history at the Museum of Moroccan Judaism to marveling at the grandeur of Hassan II Mosque. Stroll along the scenic shoreline, indulge in delectable dishes at local restaurants, and create unforgettable memories in this enchanting city. Let the allure of Casablanca guide you to its most captivating highlights and make your visit unforgettable and full of experiences.
1 – Visit Hassan II Mosque
Completed in 1993 and gracefully perched on a platform overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, the iconic Hassan II Mosque commands attention as the second-largest mosque in Africa. It stands as a remarkable testament to architectural brilliance and spiritual devotion. While predominantly reserved for Muslim worship, the mosque opens its doors to non-Muslims through selected guided tours, providing a fascinating glimpse into its splendorous interior. Lasting approximately an hour, these tours allow visitors to marvel at the mosque’s grandeur and experience the unique sensation of praying on a transparent glass floor, seemingly suspended above the sea itself. Moreover, the mosque’s spacious courtyard, with a capacity to accommodate an additional 80,000 individuals, warmly welcomes all admirers of its breathtaking architecture.
2 – Rick’s Café
When exploring things to do in Casablanca, a visit to the renowned Rick’s Café is a must. Inspired by the iconic fictional setting in the timeless Humphrey Bogart film, “Casablanca,” this enchanting piano bar was brought to life in 2004 by American ex-diplomat Kathy Kriger and architect Bill Willis. Stepping inside Rick’s Café feels like entering a portal to the past, where palm trees sway, brass chandeliers illuminate the space, and table lamps exude a warm ambiance. As you savor delicious cocktails and get in the nostalgic atmosphere, a baby grand piano nestled into an archway fills the air with melodious tunes. It’s easy to believe you’ve become part of the 1942 cinematic masterpiece, joining the ranks of the memorable characters. Prepare to create your own unforgettable story at Rick’s Café, where reality and fiction intertwine in a truly magical experience.
3 – Morocco Mall
Discover the allure of Morocco Mall, the largest shopping center in Africa, located at the end of the La Corniche area. This modern hub offers a plethora of entertainment options for everyone. With a wide range of shops, from popular brands like H&M to luxury labels like Dior, and an abundance of dining choices, the mall ensures a fulfilling experience. Dive into an underwater wonderland at the indoor aquarium, witness the captivating fountain display, and enjoy indoor ice skating and a fairground. For a taste of traditional Morocco, explore the indoor souk (market). However, to truly get in the authentic charm of Casablanca, visit the Old Medina. Morocco Mall is a captivating destination where modernity meets tradition, promising a memorable day filled with diverse activities for all.
4 – Royal Palace in Casablanca
Located near the New Medina, the Royal Palace in Casablanca is one of King Mohammed VI’s esteemed residences. With its grand exterior, vast open square, and an abundance of guards, the palace exudes regal splendor. While access to the interior is typically restricted, it is still worth visiting to admire the magnificent façade. The Royal Palace in Casablanca stands as a testament to Morocco’s rich royal heritage and enduring monarchy. Its imposing presence and architectural beauty make it a captivating sight to behold. Take a moment to appreciate the grandeur and prestige associated with this iconic structure, which represents the power and legacy of the Moroccan monarchy.
5 – Sky 28
Indulge in a touch of luxury and exquisite libations at Sky 28. This exceptional bar presents a tasteful ambiance where you can unwind while enjoying panoramic views of the city. Sip on meticulously crafted cocktails that may come with a higher price tag but are undoubtedly worth every sip. When seeking evening activities in Casablanca, Sky 28 is a splendid choice, allowing you to soak in the illuminated cityscape while escaping the bustling energy of the Old Medina. The addition of live music enhances the experience, creating a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Treat yourself to an unforgettable night at Sky 28, where refined elegance, breathtaking views, and a delightful selection of beverages harmoniously combine for an enchanting evening in Casablanca.
6 – Place Mohammed V
Discover the architectural brilliance of Henri Prost by visiting Place Mohammed V, the administrative hub of Casablanca. This bustling square is adorned with prominent public buildings that have influenced Moroccan architecture, including the law courts. It also boasts a striking statue of Marshal Lyautey, the first French Resident-General in Morocco, serving as a tribute to his historical significance.
A focal point of the square is the grand fountain, dating back to 1976. At certain times of the day, visitors can enjoy a mesmerizing water show accompanied by melodic music. This spectacle adds a touch of enchantment to the ambiance, captivating onlookers.
Place Mohammed V is not just an architectural miracle, but also a vibrant gathering place where history and culture converge.
7 – Explore Casablanca’s Medina
Discover the charm of Casablanca’s medina, despite its distinct character compared to the medinas of Fes and Marrakech. While it may not exude the same historical ambiance, this 19th-century district with its intricate maze of alleyways offers a captivating stroll.
The presence of the Sqala, a sea-facing defensive wall dating back to the Portuguese era of coastal control in the 18th century, adds a touch of historical significance. As you navigate the medina’s vibrant fusion of market streets and residential areas, you’ll immerse yourself in the pulse of Casablanca’s daily life.
Exploring the southern section of the medina, you will encounter intriguing kebabs (shrines) dedicated to revered Muslim holy men. These sacred sites provide glimpses into the spiritual fabric of the local community.
Though different from its counterparts, Casablanca’s medina still holds its allure, offering an opportunity to experience the city’s vitality and cultural heritage. Enjoy a delightful journey through its narrow passages, where the medina reveals its unique charm and offers insights into the beating heart of this dynamic metropolis.
8 – Enjoy Some Sea Air along the Corniche
Indulge in breathtaking sea views and refreshing ocean breezes near downtown Casablanca by visiting the Hassan II Mosque and strolling along the eastern end of the Corniche road. From this vantage point, capture stunning photographs of the mosque extending into the Atlantic Ocean.
As you continue along the Corniche road, heading west, you will reach Ain Diab, the city’s vibrant beachfront district. Here, luxury hotels and restaurants line the shoreline, creating an atmosphere of elegance and sophistication. While the public stretch of the beach may not be pristine, private beach clubs thrive, attracting sun worshippers who bask in the rays and enjoy the club’s swimming pools.
On sunny weekends, Ain Diab’s section of the Corniche becomes a bustling hub for people-watching. Local families flock here for picnics and leisurely walks, adding lively energy to the surroundings.
Immerse yourself in the lively ambiance of the Corniche, where the majestic mosque, luxurious beachfront establishments, and the vibrant local scene converge. Whether capturing stunning views, enjoying beachside relaxation, or observing the vibrant tapestry of local life, the Corniche offers a delightful experience for visitors and locals alike.
9 – Visit Casablanca Cathedral du Sacre Coeur
Built in the 1930s, this cathedral in Casablanca exhibits a graceful blend of European Art Deco architecture and Moroccan style. Although it had suffered neglect and interior deterioration over the years, restoration efforts are currently underway. While it cannot be visited at the moment, the grand white facade is still worth a walk for architecture enthusiasts.
Another notable church in central Casablanca is Notre Dame de Lourdes, constructed in the 1950s. This modernist-style church is adorned with a vast stained-glass window, illuminating its interior with vibrant colors.
These architectural gems offer a glimpse into Casablanca’s diverse heritage. Despite the temporary inaccessibility, appreciating the exterior beauty of the cathedral and the modernist charm of Notre Dame de Lourdes contributes to an understanding of the city’s rich architectural tapestry.
10 – Shop in the Central Market & Souq Haboos
Marche Central, located between Rue Allal Ben Abdallah and Boulevard Mohamed V, is a lively and essential destination for tourists seeking an immersive experience in Casablanca’s vibrant city life. this market serves as a bustling hub where locals converge to buy and sell many cool things and a variety of goods, with a notable emphasis on seafood and fish stalls.
For visitors, Marche Central offers a diverse array of stalls, including those selling local spices, spice mixes, and culinary condiments like argan oil, ideal for foodie gifts. Additionally, you will find shops showcasing traditional crafts such as baskets and metalware, adding an artisanal touch to the market.
In the market’s courtyard, an abundance of affordable restaurants awaits, serving generous portions of authentic Moroccan dishes and fresh seafood sourced directly from nearby fishmongers.
Marche Central’s architectural style is distinctively Mauresque, combining elements of traditional Islamic and European designs. For a more souvenir-oriented experience, head to Quartier Haboos and explore Souq Haboos, a small district built in the 1930s, which also features the Mauresque style and offers traditional Moroccan handicrafts like carpets and ceramic tiles.
Explore the lively ambiance of Marche Central and Quartier Haboos, where the sights, sounds, and flavors of Casablanca intertwine, providing an enriching cultural encounter and a chance to bring home cherished mementos of Moroccan craftsmanship.
11 – Visit the Museum of Moroccan Judaism
The villa located in an oasis and have a great view is a testament dedicated to the rich history of the Moroccan Jewish community, which spans more than 2000 year. With its roots deeply intertwined with the local Jewish population, the villa once served as a cherished Jewish orphanage.
Inside, visitors can explore a captivating collection showcasing photographs, traditional costumes, religious artifacts, and dioramas that narrate the vibrant heritage of Moroccan Jews, with a particular focus on Casablanca Jewish community. Notably, the villa houses a meticulously reconstructed synagogue originally from Larache, offering a glimpse into the sacred spaces of worship.
Get yourself in this wonderful villa and uncover the enduring stories, cultural treasures, and architectural marvels that bear witness to the lasting legacy of the Morocco Jewish community.
12 – Explore El Jadida’s Listed Citadel
Located 102 kilometers south of Casablanca, El Jadida is a captivating coastal city that boasts a UNESCO-listed 16th-century fortress known as Cite Portugaise. As you enjoy a journey south along the coast, a visit to this fortress is highly recommended.
Climb up the ramparts to enjoy breathtaking views of the sea before wandering through the preserved lanes that weave through the fortress. In the northeast, you will see the Al-Hosn prison, which was later returned to the Al-Jadida Synagogue, adding to the history of the site.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the atmospheric cisterns at the heart of the fortress. These remarkable structures served as a filming location for Orson Welles’ renowned movie “Othello,” adding an extra layer of intrigue to the experience.
Put yourself in the rich history and captivating atmosphere of El Jadida Cite Portugaise, where stunning sea views, preserved architecture, and cinematic connections await.
13 – Where to Stay in Casablanca
For a convenient and immersive stay in Casablanca, choose accommodations in the city center or near the old Medina. This central location allows easy exploration of both modern attractions and historic sites, with the famous Hassan II Mosque just a short taxi ride away. Alternatively, opt for an oceanfront stay in the upscale Anfa neighborhood, offering luxurious accommodations and scenic views. Whether you prefer the vibrant city atmosphere or the tranquil coastal setting, both options provide access to the best of Casablanca. ( Melliber Hotel, Barcelo Casablanca Hotel, Val D Anfa Hotel, Casablanca Marriott Hotel ).
14 – Private Morocco Tours from Casablanca
Enjoy an unforgettable journey through the highlights of Morocco, starting from Casablanca. This comprehensive tour takes you to the country’s prominent cities and attractions, ensuring a rich and immersive experience. Begin in Casablanca and continue to Rabat, Meknes, and Fes, where you will explore the fascinating history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture. Venture into the Sahara Desert for a breathtaking encounter with its vast landscapes and enjoy camel rides across the dunes. Discover the World Heritage kasbahs, marvel at the vibrant souks of Marrakech, and relax in the charming coastal town of Essaouira. Throughout the tour, all your needs will be taken care of, from accommodations and meals to transportation and camel rentals. Discover the history, culture, cuisine, and beautiful places of Morocco with this unforgettable trip from Casablanca.
History of Casablanca
You can go back from the past to get to know the city of Anfa in Casablanca, which later became a Berber emirate after the Arab invasions. The Berbers, after adopting Islam, established the principality of Berghouata and rebelled against Arab rule. However, they were eventually defeated by the Almoravids in the 11th century.
Casablanca has undergone significant transformations over the centuries. It fell under the influence of the Merenids in the 13th century but eventually gained independence as the dynasty weakened. The town faced destruction by the Portuguese in 1468 and again in 1515 as a result of piracy concerns. However, it was rebuilt in 1575, fortified, and renamed Casa Branca by the Portuguese in their bid to control the area. Constant attacks from surrounding Muslim tribes led to the Portuguese abandoning the town after a destructive earthquake in 1755.
Under the reign of Sidi Mohamed ben Abdallah (1757-1790), Casablanca experienced a revival. The town was reconstructed with notable structures such as a mosque, madrasa, hammam, and fortifications. It was renamed Dar El Beida, meaning “The White House,” by the locals, a name later translated to Casablanca by the Spanish.
Today, Casablanca stands as a vibrant city blending its rich history with modern development. It serves as a significant economic and cultural center in Morocco, attracting visitors with its diverse architectural styles, bustling markets, and lively atmosphere. The journey from its humble origins in Anfa to the cosmopolitan city it is today showcases the resilience and evolution of Casablanca throughout its fascinating history.