Things to do in Casablanca
Casablanca, Morocco‘s largest city, is known as the cosmopolitan, industrial and economic heart of the country. Its name (الدار البيضاء addar al-baïda in classical Arabic, dar beïda or House, in Moroccan dialectal Arabic, literally “the white house”), is present in the great leagues of art and world history.
In the world of cinema, Casablanca has left an indelible mark. The film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman occupies a prominent place in the list of the best films in history. Hollywood chose this Moroccan city to immortalize it as an exotic and colonial place. While you don’t expect to find Bogart on every corner, the city has a unique charm and vibrant energy.
Casablanca is not a quiet city, but a huge, bustling metropolis that attracts visitors from all over the world. The presence of stylish Western suits and brand-name sunglasses contrasts with traditional Moroccan djellabas, creating a unique blend of cultures and styles. In addition to being an industrial and economic center, Casablanca also has important tourist attractions, such as the impressive Hassan II mosque, the medina and the central market.
In the history of mankind, this city carries great weight because it was here in 1943 that the momentous meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill took place, in which the D-Day invasion of Europe was decided. Hitler’s secret services were deceived into believing that it would take place in the White House in Washington and not in Casablanca, Morocco.
Casablanca, Morocco, is a city with a long and interesting history. Before the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, the area was inhabited by the Berbers. In the 10th century, King Al-Mansur founded a fortress in the area, which was known as Anfa. For several centuries, Anfa was an important port city and commercial center in the region.
In the 15th century, the Portuguese invaded and destroyed Anfa, and built a fortress called Casa Branca in its place. The fortress became an important commercial center for the Portuguese, but was eventually abandoned in the mid-17th century due to the lack of potable water in the area.
In 1755, an earthquake devastated the city of Lisbon, Portugal, and many of its inhabitants migrated to the Casablanca region. Portuguese refugees helped rebuild the city, which was renamed “Dar al Baida” (the white house) by the local Moroccans.
During the 19th century, Casablanca was a small and steadily growing port and in 1906 became the administrative center of the French Protectorate in Morocco. Under French rule, Casablanca underwent significant development and modernization, becoming the industrial and economic center of the country. The city was also an important center of resistance against French colonial rule during World War II, and the famous 1942 film “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, immortalized the city in popular culture.
After Morocco’s independence in 1956, Casablanca became the country’s largest and most prosperous city. Today, it is a vibrant metropolis with a rich culture, history and a steadily growing economy.
How to get there:
There are several options for getting to Casablanca, such as flying into Mohammed V International Airport, which is one of the largest airports in Morocco and is located about 30 kilometers south of the city center. You can also arrive by train from other cities in Morocco or even from Europe, as there are direct connections from some European cities.
Another option is to hire a tour with a travel agency, such as Tourism Morocco, which offers customized tours to Morocco including Casablanca. These tours can include private transportation, tour guides, accommodation and tourist activities according to the client’s interests.
It is important to note that, in general, organized Morocco tours offer greater comfort and safety, as they have private transportation and local guides who know the area well. However, they also tend to be more expensive than traveling independently.
What to see in Casablanca:
Casablanca is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city in Morocco with a wide variety of places and tourist attractions to visit. Below are some of the things visitors can do and see in Casablanca:
The Grand Hassan II Mosque: is one of the most impressive sites in Casablanca and one of the largest mosques in the world. This beautiful mosque was built on the water and has a 210 meter high minaret which makes it the tallest in the world. The interior of the mosque is equally impressive, with marble mosaics and carved wooden ceiling. It also has a giant prayer hall that can accommodate up to 25,000 people.
The Casablanca Corniche: is an extensive coastal strip that stretches from the Hassan II mosque to the Ain Diab district. Along the Corniche, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, stroll along the promenade, enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes, or simply relax on one of the beaches.
The Old Medina: is a historic part of Casablanca that is worth a visit. The Medina of Casablanca is not as large or as touristy as that of other Moroccan cities, such as Marrakech or Fez, but it still has a great deal of charm. The Medina’s narrow streets are lined with small stores, workshops and street vendors selling everything from clothing to jewelry and handicrafts. You can also visit the United Nations Square, the Clock Tower and the Moulay Youssef Mosque.
Things to do in Casablanca
The Habous Quarter: is a neighborhood of Casablanca that was built during the French Protectorate. The Habous Quarter is characterized by its cobblestone streets and French colonial style buildings. Here, visitors can visit the King Hassan II Mosque, Mohammed V Square and the Habous Central Market.
Casablanca Central Market: is a vibrant and lively place to visit. Here, visitors can find a wide variety of products, from fresh fruits and vegetables to clothing, spices and handicrafts. It is a place where visitors can enjoy the daily life of the city and meet the locals.
The Museum of the Jewish Quarter: is a small museum that offers an insight into the history of the Jews in Casablanca and Morocco. The museum has a wealth of artifacts, photographs and historical documents that tell the story of the Jewish community in the country.
Mohamed V Square: is a large square in the center of Casablanca that features impressive art deco architecture. Here, visitors can see the Supreme Court of Morocco, the Town Hall and the Casablanca Theater.
Continuing with the sights of Casablanca, there is much to explore in this fascinating city:
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: this museum houses a large collection of modern and contemporary art by Moroccan and international artists. The museum is located in the Anfa neighborhood, near the city’s financial district, and offers an insight into the Moroccan art scene.
The Arab League Park: is one of the largest and most popular parks in Casablanca. Covering an area of over 30 hectares, the park features extensive green areas, fountains and ponds, as well as several attractions for children, including a small zoo and an amusement park.
The Villa des Arts Museum: is another museum worth visiting in Casablanca. This museum is housed in a French colonial building in the center of the city and features a collection of contemporary art and temporary exhibitions of Moroccan and international artists.
The Sacred Heart Cathedral: is a catholic cathedral located in the center of Casablanca. Built in 1930, the cathedral is an example of French neo-Gothic architecture and features a beautiful stained glass window designed by the famous French artist Gabriel Loire.
Things to do in Casablanca
The Royal Palace of Casablanca: although not open to the public, this palace is an interesting place to visit for its imposing architecture and historical importance. The palace was built in the 1920s and is the official residence of the King of Morocco when he visits the city.
The Villa Jardin Park: is a public park located in the center of Casablanca that has a great variety of plants and flowers, as well as a small lake with swans. It is an ideal place to stroll and relax amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
Casablanca Fish Market: located near the port, this market is one of the most popular places in the city to buy fresh fish. Visitors can watch the fishermen unloading their catch of the day and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants serving fresh fish at the market.
All in all, Casablanca is a city full of surprises and cultural treasures, from the impressive Hassan II Mosque to the city’s museums and parks. Visitors can enjoy a unique and enriching experience exploring the history, culture and beauty of this fascinating Moroccan city.
Shopping and handicrafts:
Casablanca is a city with a rich handicraft tradition and a wide variety of markets and stores to buy local products and souvenirs. Here are some options for shopping and handicrafts in Casablanca:
Marché Central: this is one of the most popular markets in the city, where you can find a wide variety of local products, from spices and olives to leather goods and traditional clothing. It is also a good place to sample the local cuisine.
Habous Quarter: this neighborhood is known for its handicraft stores, where you can find carpets, pottery, leather and jewelry. It is also a good place to buy local products such as argan oil, dates and argan oil-based beauty products.
La Galerie de l’Aimance: this art gallery and craft store is located in the Anfa neighborhood and is known for its high quality products such as ceramics, jewelry, textiles and decorative objects.
Mahaj Riad: this establishment offers a wide variety of Moroccan products, from carpets and textiles to ceramics and decorative objects. They also organize art and craft workshops.
Morocco Mall: this is Morocco’s largest shopping mall and features a wide variety of international and local brand stores, as well as a section dedicated to Moroccan handicrafts.
Cooperative Artisanale de Casablanca: this cooperative of artisans offers a wide variety of high quality products such as carpets, leather, ceramics and jewelry. They also organize workshops to learn about Moroccan craftsmanship and to create your own products.
Souq Bab Marrakech: this open-air market offers a wide variety of products, from spices and food to handicrafts and traditional clothing. It is a lively and colorful place to explore and buy souvenirs.
Is Casablanca dangerous?
As in any city in the world, there are certain risks and precautions that must be taken to ensure personal safety. However, in general, Casablanca is considered a relatively safe city for tourists and visitors.
Some precautions to take include avoiding walking alone in unfamiliar areas at night, being aware of pickpockets and fraudsters in crowded tourist areas, and exercising caution when using ATMs and carrying large amounts of cash.
It is also advisable to be informed about areas of the city to avoid and seek safety tips if traveling to Casablanca or any other city in the world. As always, it is best to be prepared and take precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable stay.
Nightlife and alcohol
In Morocco, the majority of the population practices the Muslim religion, which means that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited by Islamic law. However, in Casablanca, being a more open and cosmopolitan city, there are some nightlife options where you can enjoy alcoholic beverages.
Sky 28: A bar located on the 28th floor of the Kenzi Tower Hotel that offers panoramic views of the city. It is a popular place to have a cocktail and enjoy live music.
Theatro: This nightclub is one of Casablanca’s most popular and features three floors of dancing space and a stage for live shows.
Rick’s Cafe: Inspired by the movie “Casablanca”, this bar and restaurant is one of the most emblematic places in the city. It offers live music and a wide selection of cocktails and dishes inspired by international cuisine.
Black House: This nightclub has a dark décor and an elegant atmosphere. It offers a mix of electronic and pop music, as well as a wide selection of drinks.
Things to do in Casablanca
Buddha Bar: This bar and restaurant offers a mix of electronic and world music in a relaxed and elegant atmosphere. It is a popular place to sip cocktails and enjoy Asian cuisine.
Le Carré: This nightclub is known for its electronic music and chic atmosphere. It has a large dance floor and a well-stocked bar.
L’Avenue: This bar and restaurant is located in the heart of Casablanca and offers live music and a wide selection of cocktails and international dishes.
Tam Tam: This nightclub is popular with young people and features a wide variety of music, from pop to hip-hop to electronic music.
It is important to note that the consumption of alcohol in public is prohibited throughout Morocco and caution is necessary when going out at night in Casablanca. In addition, it is important to respect local customs and traditions regarding alcohol consumption and to behave responsibly at all times.
Where to eat:
Casablanca is a cosmopolitan and diverse city, and has a wide variety of restaurants and places to eat. Below are some of the recommended places to enjoy gastronomy in Casablanca:
Restaurant El Gousto: this restaurant offers a mix of Italian cuisine and seafood. Customers highlight the quality of the food and the excellent service.
NKOA: this is a fusion restaurant offering high quality dishes and service. Customers have had an excellent experience at this place.
La Closerie: this French restaurant/bar is highly recommended, according to customer reviews. The food is of high quality and the ambiance is perfect for enjoying a relaxing dinner.
Organic Kitchen: This restaurant offers international and European cuisine with vegetarian options. Customers recommend it as a super dining option.
La Pergola: this is a very good French/seafood restaurant according to customer reviews. It is an ideal place to take a friend or enjoy a romantic dinner.
Atelier Oriental: is a Lebanese and African food restaurant that customers describe as a very special and quiet place. It is perfect for a relaxing dinner.
Brasserie La Tour: this French and Lebanese restaurant is highly recommended by customers. The dishes are tasty and reasonably priced.
Le Cuisto Traditionnel: this African and Moroccan restaurant has very good reviews, although some customers have mentioned that it can be a bit expensive. However, it is highly recommended by many.
Restaurant La Bavaroise: this French and Mediterranean restaurant is highly recommended by customers. The meat is of very good quality and the ambiance is very European.
Blend Gourmet Burger: is a contemporary restaurant that offers gourmet burgers with an incredible taste. Customers highlight the charming atmosphere and the delicious food.