Casablanca Travel Guide

Casablanca Travel Guide

Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco, is a vibrant and modern city that offers visitors a unique blend of cultures. This bustling city boasts a cosmopolitan atmosphere, an eclectic culinary scene, and unique architecture that draws inspiration from both Moorish and French Art Deco styles. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Casablanca is a popular destination for travelers from around the world.

As you explore this fascinating city, you’ll discover a wealth of experiences that will leave you with lasting memories. Whether you’re wandering through the narrow streets of the old Medina, admiring the stunning Hassan II Mosque, or sampling the delicious street food, there’s something for everyone in Casablanca. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and friendly locals, this city is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Morocco or Africa.

Getting to Casablanca

If you’re planning a trip to Casablanca, there are several ways to get there. Here are the most common ways to reach the city:

By Plane

The easiest and most convenient way to get to Casablanca is by plane. The city is served by Mohammed V International Airport, which is located about 30 kilometers south of the city center. There are several major airlines that fly to Casablanca, including Royal Air Maroc, Air France, and Emirates.

By Train

If you’re coming from another city in Morocco, you can also reach Casablanca by train. The main train station in Casablanca is Casa-Voyageurs, which is located in the city center. Trains run regularly from major cities like Marrakech, Rabat, and Tangier, and the journey times vary depending on the distance traveled. Ticket costs are reasonable and start at around MAD 30.

By Car

If you’re driving to Casablanca, you can take the A3 highway from Rabat or the A1 highway from Marrakech. The journey takes around 1-2 hours depending on your starting point. Keep in mind that driving in Morocco can be challenging, especially in big cities like Casablanca. Traffic can be heavy, and the roads can be narrow and winding.

By Bus

Another option is to take a bus to Casablanca. CTM and Supratours are the two major bus companies in Morocco, and both have regular services to Casablanca from major cities like Marrakech, Rabat, and Tangier. The buses are comfortable and air-conditioned, and ticket costs are reasonable.

Accommodation in Casablanca

When it comes to accommodation in Casablanca, travelers have a wide range of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels or budget-friendly accommodation, Casablanca has something for everyone.

Luxury Hotels

Casablanca is home to many stunning, luxury hotels that make wonderful places to stay while in the city. Some of the most popular and best hotels in Morocco can definitely be found in Casablanca. Here are some of the top-rated luxury hotels in Casablanca:

  • Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca
  • Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche
  • Movenpick Hotel Casablanca
  • Hôtel Le Doge

These hotels offer a range of amenities and services, including spa treatments, rooftop pools, and fine dining restaurants. They are also located in some of the best areas of the city, providing easy access to Casablanca’s top attractions.

Budget Accommodation

For budget-conscious travelers, Casablanca offers a range of affordable accommodation options. These budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses are a great option for those looking to save money while still enjoying a comfortable stay. Here are some of the best budget accommodation options in Casablanca:

  • Hotel Central
  • Hotel Anfa Port
  • Hotel Bellerive

These hotels offer basic amenities and services, including free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and 24-hour reception. They are also located in convenient areas of the city, making it easy to explore Casablanca’s top attractions without breaking the bank.

Transportation in Casablanca

Getting around Casablanca is relatively easy and affordable. The city offers a range of transportation options to choose from, including public transportation, taxis, and car rentals.

Public Transportation

Casablanca has a well-developed public transportation system that includes trains, trams, and buses. The Casa Tramway is a popular mode of transportation that covers more than 47 kilometers and has over 70 stations. The trams are clean, safe, and comfortable, and a single journey costs 6 dirhams. For tourists, there are three different types of tickets or cards available.

Buses are another option for public transportation in Casablanca. They are affordable and cover most parts of the city. The basic fare for a bus journey is 4 dirhams. However, buses can be crowded during peak hours, so it’s best to avoid them during those times.

Taxis

Taxis are a convenient and affordable way to get around Casablanca. There are two types of taxis available: Grands Taxis and Petits Taxis. Grands Taxis are for long journeys, while Petits Taxis only operate within the city limits. You can easily hail a taxi on the street or book one through an app. Taxis are metered, and the fare starts at 2.50 dirhams.

Car Rentals

If you prefer to explore Casablanca at your own pace, renting a car is a good option. Car rental agencies are available throughout the city, and the rates are reasonable. However, driving in Casablanca can be challenging, especially during rush hour. It’s best to avoid driving during peak hours and to be cautious while driving.

In summary, Casablanca offers a variety of transportation options to choose from. Public transportation is affordable and covers most parts of the city. Taxis are convenient and metered, and car rentals are a good option for those who prefer to explore at their own pace.

Sights and Attractions

Casablanca is a city that offers a mix of historical and modern attractions. From the stunning Hassan II Mosque to the bustling Medina, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. Below are some of the top sights and attractions to check out during your visit to Casablanca.

Historical Sites

Casablanca has a rich history, and there are several historical sites worth visiting. The Quartier Habous is a traditional Moroccan neighborhood that was built in the 1920s. It is home to several historic buildings, including the Mahkama du Pacha, a stunning building that was once the residence of the Pasha of Casablanca.

The Medina is another historical site that is worth exploring. This old city is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways, and it is home to several historic buildings and landmarks. One of the most impressive is the Cinéma Rialto, a beautiful Art Deco building that was built in the 1930s.

Modern Attractions

Casablanca is also home to several modern attractions. The Corniche is a popular promenade that runs along the coast, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Morocco Mall is another modern attraction that is worth checking out. This massive shopping center is home to over 600 stores, as well as an aquarium and an indoor ski slope.

Art and Culture

Casablanca has a thriving art scene, and there are several cultural attractions worth visiting. The Villa des Arts de Casablanca is a contemporary art museum that showcases the work of local and international artists. The Marché Central is another cultural attraction that is worth checking out. This bustling market is a great place to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Casablanca.

Food and Dining

When it comes to food and dining in Casablanca, visitors are in for a treat. From traditional Moroccan dishes to international cuisine, the city offers a diverse range of options to suit all tastes and budgets. Here are some of the top picks for food and dining in Casablanca.

Local Cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is known for its rich flavors and spices, and Casablanca is no exception. Visitors should try traditional dishes like tagine, a slow-cooked stew made with meat, vegetables, and spices, and couscous, a dish made with steamed semolina grains and served with vegetables, meat, or fish. For a sweet treat, pastilla, a savory pastry filled with pigeon meat and almonds, is a must-try.

Seafood Restaurants

As a coastal city, Casablanca is known for its seafood. There are plenty of restaurants that specialize in fresh seafood dishes, such as grilled fish, seafood tagine, and paella. Le Cabestan, located on the corniche, is a popular seafood restaurant with ocean-front dining. Another great option is La Mer, a seafood restaurant with a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea.

Cafes and Tea Houses

Cafes and tea houses are an important part of Moroccan culture, and Casablanca has no shortage of them. Visitors should try the traditional mint tea, a sweet and refreshing drink that is often served with pastries or nuts. Cafe de France, located in the heart of the city, is a popular spot for coffee and people-watching. For a more traditional experience, head to Cafe Maure in the Hassan II Mosque, which offers stunning views of the sea.

Shopping in Casablanca

Casablanca is a shopper’s paradise, offering a wide range of traditional souvenirs and modern shopping malls. Whether you’re looking for a unique keepsake or the latest fashion trends, Casablanca has it all.

Traditional Souvenirs

If you’re looking for traditional Moroccan souvenirs, Casablanca has plenty of options. The city’s souks and markets are filled with handmade goods, including pottery, rugs, and leather goods. Souq Habous and Anfa Place are popular spots for souvenir shopping.

One of the most popular souvenirs to bring back from Morocco is argan oil. This oil is made from the nuts of the argan tree and is used for cooking and skincare. You can find argan oil in many shops and markets throughout Casablanca.

Modern Shopping Malls

For a more modern shopping experience, head to Morocco Mall. This mall is one of the largest in Africa and features over 350 stores, including high-end fashion brands like Gucci and Prada. In addition to shopping, the mall also has a movie theater, aquarium, and indoor theme park.

If you’re looking for more affordable shopping options, there are several other malls throughout Casablanca, including Anfa Place and Twin Center. These malls offer a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as entertainment options like cinemas and bowling alleys.

Language and Culture

Local Language

The official language of Morocco is Modern Standard Arabic, but the most commonly spoken language in Casablanca is Moroccan Arabic, also known as Darija. French is also widely spoken, especially among the older generation and in business settings. English is becoming more common, especially among young Moroccans who are eager to learn and practice the language.

As a visitor to Casablanca, it’s always a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in Moroccan Arabic or French to help you communicate with the locals. Some useful phrases to know include:

  • “Salam alaykum” (peace be upon you) – a common greeting
  • “Shukran” (thank you)
  • “La” (no)
  • “Naam” (yes)
  • “Kayfa haluk?” (how are you?)

Cultural Events

Casablanca is a vibrant city with a rich cultural history. Throughout the year, there are many cultural events and festivals that take place, showcasing the city’s diverse heritage.

One of the most popular cultural events in Casablanca is the Mawazine World Rhythms Festival, which takes place in May or June each year. This festival attracts musicians and performers from all over the world, and features a wide range of music genres, including traditional Moroccan music, jazz, rock, and hip-hop.

Another important cultural event in Casablanca is the Berber Festival, which celebrates the Berber culture and heritage. This festival takes place in September and features traditional music, dance, and food.

Travel Tips

Planning a trip to Casablanca? Here are some travel tips to help you make the most of your visit.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Casablanca is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) when temperatures are mild and pleasant. Summers can be hot and humid, with temperatures reaching up to 90°F (32°C). Winter (December to February) can be chilly, especially at night, but it’s still a good time to visit if you don’t mind cooler temperatures.

Money and Prices

The official currency in Morocco is the Moroccan dirham (MAD). It’s best to exchange your money at a bank or authorized exchange bureau to get the best rates. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops in Casablanca, but it’s always a good idea to carry cash for smaller purchases and street vendors.

Prices in Casablanca are generally affordable, but they can vary depending on the season and location. For example, prices for food and souvenirs can be higher in tourist areas like the Old Medina. It’s always a good idea to haggle when shopping in the markets to get the best deals.

Travel Guides and Maps

Before your trip, it’s a good idea to research travel guides and articles about Casablanca to get an idea of what to expect. Guidebooks like Lonely Planet and Rick Steves offer detailed information about the city’s history, culture, and attractions. Online resources like TripAdvisor and Travelocity can also provide helpful reviews and recommendations from other travelers.

Maps are also essential for navigating the city. You can find maps of Casablanca at most hotels and tourist information centers. Google Maps is also a great resource for finding your way around the city, especially if you have a smartphone with GPS.

Remember to always be friendly and respectful to the locals, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. With these travel tips in mind, you’re sure to have a memorable trip to Casablanca.

Other Moroccan Cities

If you have the time, consider exploring some of the other beautiful cities in Morocco. Here are two cities that are definitely worth visiting:

Fez

Fez is a city that is rich in history and culture. It is one of the oldest and largest medieval cities in the world, and it is home to many historical sites, including the University of al-Qarawiyyin, which is the oldest continuously operating university in the world. The city is also known for its leather tanneries, which have been operating for over a thousand years.

Some of the top things to do in Fez include visiting the old medina, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, exploring the Bou Inania Madrasa, and checking out the Dar Batha Museum. Fez is also famous for its delicious food, so be sure to try some local dishes while you’re there.

Marrakech

Marrakech is a vibrant and bustling city that is known for its colorful markets, beautiful gardens, and stunning architecture. Some of the top things to do in Marrakech include visiting the Jardin Majorelle, which is a beautiful garden that was designed by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, exploring the Bahia Palace, and checking out the Koutoubia Mosque.

Marrakech is also known for its delicious food, so be sure to try some of the local dishes while you’re there. Some popular dishes include tagine, which is a slow-cooked stew that is typically made with meat, vegetables, and spices, and harira, which is a hearty soup that is often served during Ramadan.