Casablanca is one of the most famous cities in Morocco, but many visitors choose to skip it while exploring the country. At the first glance it feels like big business city with not much things to do. Even locals say that they got no places to see. Most of the traveller use it as a gateway and prefer spending their time in Marrakech or other more popular places. One of the most frequent question is whether it worth spending a day or two in Casablanca or skip it and use as a transportation hub.
I also had concern about it, but quickly after starting to plan my itinerary i have found that Casablanca is the major hub of Morocco with lots of good connections and budget flights to Europe, so usually it is the most convenient and budget-wise way to get to the country. I decided to stay here for couple of days at the end of my 3-weeks journey around Morocco and i wasn’t disappointed!
In this article i will tel you why Casablanca is worth visiting and spending your time here!
Casablanca is home of the tallest minaret in the World
Hassan II Mosque is the major point of interest in Casablanca. This huge mosque is one of few mosques, which is possible to visit for tourists in Morocco (most of them are only for muslims). It got the tallest minaret in the world and generally 13th largest mosque in the world (though some sources claim it to be the 3rd largest, so probably it changes from time to time). Anyway, it is huge, beautiful and really interesting to visit. Hassan II Mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean and it’s got a roof, which is possible to open to see the sky from the main hall.
To get inside Hassan II Mosque you need to buy a ticket in the museum next to the Mosque and get there with the tour, which is part of the ticket. I came there few minutes before 12pm, bought a ticket and easily get inside. The tour itself is a bit messy and not too informative, but it’s the only way to get inside if you are not-muslim.
Climb the Lighthouse
If you go to the coast of Casablanca, you will definitely notice a very romantic lighting house. This place is kind of unofficial symbol of Casablanca and still in use. Thought it is not official sightseeing point, it is possible to get inside to see the great views around it and the lighthouse itself. Just go there during the day and there is a big chance that someone will approach you and suggest to show you around and get you inside of it. In other case just find the door and climb. There will be a guard on duty at the top of it and he will ask for some money, tip him something. Firstly he asked for 200 Dhr (around 23$) from each of us, which is ridiculous, but i simply suggested him 50Dhr for all of us and said something kind of “this or nothing”, he was ok with it.
It was really cool as i never been inside the lighthouse before! The structure, the optics, the view were wonderful and it was really unexpected hidden gem to see in Casablanca. To get inside you need to climb around 250 steps, which was ok, not too tiring. Everything is in good conditions as the lighthouse is in use, so the visit was completely safe. Highly reccomended!
Check “New” medina
If you have spend some time in Morocco, there is big chance that you already saw several medinas. The one in Casablanca (actually, there are 2 medinas – old a new one) is cool to browse around as it is clean and nice, good place to enjoy and stroll around. It is not so authentic as the one in Fez, but it’s good to see this one to compare them.
Shopping for Moroccan style souvenirs
Morocco is so famous with fabulous patterns, carpets, plates, ceramics and stunning mystical lighting for interiors. There is a big chance that while travelling around the country, you decided that you want it all for you. If you depart from Casablanca, the best idea is to leave all the shopping for the last days not to carry all the stuff with you. Marrakech got very nice market area next to the Royal palace. It is clean, safe and not to busy, but still got everything you need to bring back home with you!
Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco
With the population of more than 3,3 mln people, Casablanca is the most populated cities in Morocco. It is the business hub of Morocco and generally speaking, it does most of the work in the country, so it is wealthier than other parts of the country. Walking around posh living areas is like walking in the Beverly hills. Art deco mansions with high walls around them are pretty, the areas are beautiful and safe and it’s hard not to think that this is really nice place to live.
As Morocco’s principal centre for recreation, Casablanca have pleasant beaches, parks, and attractive promenades along the seafront.
You can enjoy cool coast
Casablanca is not a beach destination, but still it got a great coastline. As Atlantic ocean is not too good to swim, it is more a place to spend time, enjoy the sunset, stroll around, maybe play some games or do some healthy physical activity.
When i was in Casablanca, i stayed in the area of Anfaplace Shopping Center, where it’s cool to do some local people watching and enjoy time next to the ocean. In the area of Plage Ain Diab there are several beach clubs if you want to enjoy some day relaxing. The area of Boulevard de la Corniche is planned to be a great spot to spend time jogging or walking around (when i was there in April 2018 it was in progress of renovation, but it already looked really nice).
The best modern shopping in Morocco is in Casablanca
Morocco Mall is one of the best malls in the country and the place, where you can find several famous luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Dior. There are also mass-markets shops like Zara and H&M, lots of food options, big supermarket, IMAX cinema and aquarium with an elevator inside of it. So if you feel for some modern style shopping or want to spend a day in more familiar environment, that’s the place that you need!
See how the movie was turned into reality
Famous “Casablanca” movie is one of the greatest Hollywood movies of all the times. Though it is more than 75 years old, it is still the most quotable movie in the world (“We’ll always have Paris”, “Here’s looking at you, kid”, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’”). Historically the movie wasn’t too correct, but it was a breakthrough of it’s time and considered one of the first blockbusters in Hollywood history. Surprisingly, it is still interesting to watch it as part of history and it doesn’t feel boring like some other classical movies.
The movie was filmed in Hollywood and got not much in common with the Casablanca itself. For instance, there never were so many foreigners as it is presented. Still, you can find the famous Rick’s Cafe from the movie Casablanca in the city, although it isn’t the real one from the movie. Opened in 2004, this restaurant is meant to recreate the bar and is set inside a former mansion. Even though it’s pretty touristy, it’s worth going thereto to say that you’ve been. At night they play jazz, so probably it’s a nice place to spend a night with a cocktail.
Casablanca is a crossroad of cultures
The area that we today know as Casablanca was once ruled by the Spanish, French, and Almoravids. Berbers were the first people to settle here, in the 7th centur, in 11th century it was captured by the Almoravids and during it’s time it was a base for pirates. Historically Casablanca is one of the major crossroads in the world and that is the reason why it is included in tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. All those influences are still visible inside the city and exploring it with this idea in mind can bring you interesting perspective and explains why it is so diverse.
Stay at Four Seasons Casablanca
If there is a place to choose for your stay in Casablanca to make it special one, it will be definitely Four Seasons! Located next to the beach, this 5 star hotel in Casablanca is made to be a wonder in the city! Four Seasons is made to exceed every expectation and could be easily called one of the greatest hotel chains in the world. Everything here works for you and your needs: rooms are spacious and amazing with everything you need inside from glorious bed to coffee machine and good toiletries, outside pool is great and comfortable and food options are amazing.
Apart from the room, i love some extra amenities that are available for the guests. Firstly, Four Seasons Casablanca got very good equipped gym with high end amenities. I really enjoyed my 10km run there watching TV, which really helps to enjoy it. Secondly, next to the gym they got a spa area, which could be used by all the hotel guests: they got great sauna, hot jacuzzi and special shower experience, which i have never tried before and it was cool to try it. Works perfectly to recharge and awesome for a good night sleep!
Classical Four Seasons room breakfast is a dream came true occasion and surely worth experiencing at least once! This image is so posh and beautiful, that you need to do yourself a favour and enjoy it! Other food options inside the hotel includes Mint restaurant at the main lobby, which serves classical dishes and Moroccan specialities. During the weekend you can enjoy High Tea in Moroccan style with the selection of classical Moroccan Mint tea and finest classical teas along with buffet style sandwiches and deserts.
The restaurant next to the pool serves classical feel-good relaxed dishes: from Pizza (btw, really great one, one of the best i have ever had) to healthy salads and seafood platters, which are exceptionally well prepared and amazing for a great lunch.
Disclaimer: My stay in Casablanca was partly sponsored by Four Seasons Casablanca. Still all opinions here are completely mine!