Immortalized in its namesake movie from 1942, the city of Casablanca, established in 1906, is at present Morocco’s commercial capital, the largest and most populous city and definitely the main port. At first glance it may seem to be chaotic, giving an impression of a city entangled between the Western Europe art, architecture, culture and the traditional Moroccan elegance. Yet, after a visit to the city, you would be forced to wonder why many travelers decide to skip it in favor of spending more days in the luxurious beach resorts elsewhere in Morocco.
We did not want to give Casablanca a miss, and hence we made it the starting point for our 7 Day Morocco Itinerary before moving out to the more renowned attractions like Marrakesh, Essaouira etc.
While such a big city is practically impossible to be covered in a day, we tried to get the most out of it without breaking a lot of sweat. How do you get the most out of this city? Read below to know:
- Hassan II Mosque: The main attraction of Casablanca, it is located on the shoreline north of the Marrakesh Medina. Completed in 1993, it is the 13th largest mosque in the world and definitely the largest in Morocco. Its 210 meters tall minaret is the highest in the world. With the prayer hall being able to accommodate 25000 worshipers at once, this grand mosque is definitely a sight to behold. Entry is only through guided tours, which costs 120 Dirhams or 12 Euros. Please have a check on the opening timings, especially on Fridays, when the times can vary depending on the prayers and occasional visits from the royal family members. We happened to be on a Friday, and there were only 2 tours available, one starting at 3 pm and the other at 4 pm, each lasting 45 minutes. The ticket office opens at 2:30 pm and is located close to the big parking area. Check the schedules here.
- A walk within the Medina: Although the Medina of Casablanca does not retain the same vibes of Marrakesh, yet a walk through its shades past the craftsmen, traders, butchers, bakers and the local houses- and you will experience something new and different in every corner.
- Having lunch at the La Sqala: Situated atop the ochre-colored fortified walls, just around one edge of the Medina and overlooking the port, the Restaurant Café La Sqala is a food-lovers’ delight. The central gazebo, the delicious Tajines and the smiling people make up for a lovely break after enduring the sun and the heat.
4. Walk along the Place Mohammed V in the evening: The central plaza of the city and home to many important buildings, this is the place where you can mix with the locals, who come here for an evening stroll around the central fountain.
While there are many other hidden gems in the city, I present my personal experience during our visit. This is no complete list. This is just my list for you. Feel free to explore more and add to it. Time permitting, you could also take a walk along the Corniche (Beach District) or pay a visit to the Cathedral.
If you are short on time, you can hire a taxi to travel. It should range somewhere between 20-50 Euros, and can be a very efficient mode of traveling within the city.
There are some mosques and shrines within the Medina and make sure that you respect the local sentiments while you pass by, especially on a Friday afternoon, when there are loads of people gathering outside religious places for prayers.
If you need to apply for a visa for Morocco, I have summarized the steps for you here.