Just as it inspired a famous movie, Morocco’s main port excites visitors with its history, beaches, nightlife and very large mosque.
The sprawling city of Casablanca is Morocco’s cultural, commercial and financial center, a very Westernized city. Notice the casual dress and large numbers of men and women socializing in restaurants, bars and on the beach. With grand architecture, long stretches of coastline and large parks, you’ll find many places to explore.
Glimpse old Casablanca by wandering the alleys of the Old Medina. Shop in the sprawling souk to see stalls laden with vegetables, leather goods, traditional handicrafts, silks and spices. Enjoy varied street foods including coconut cookies, shrimp rolls and freshly squeezed orange juice. In a former home on the edge of this old part of the city is Rick’s Café, a re-creation of the saloon featured in the Oscar-winning eponymous movie. You must remember this: The movie was actually made in a Hollywood studio and not in Casablanca.
On a headland overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is the Grand Mosque Hassan II, one of the world’s largest mosques. Take a guided tour of the 22-acre (9-hectare) complex to see the vast prayer hall, fountains and elaborate architecture. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter.
Alongside the mosque is the long strip of public beaches and private beach clubs making up the Corniche. At night the area’s clubs and discos draw a large, youthful crowd. Just offshore is a rocky outcrop containing the Shrine of Sidi Abderrahman which can be accessed via a bridge. Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the monument, but can explore the old neighborhood built up around it.
One of Casablanca’s prettiest spots is the Arab League Park, a vast open space with manicured lawns and palm tree-lined boulevards. Come here to promenade and relax in cafés.
Fly into Casablanca's Mohammed V airport and get around by train, bus, taxi or rental car. Casablanca is about 150 miles (241 kilometers) from Marrakesh and about 180 miles (290 kilometers) from Fez. Close to the city are numerous traditional villages also worth visiting.