Casablanca is situated in the central-western part of Morocco and is the most populous city in Northern Africa, called the Maghreb region. It is the largest city in Morocco, home to 3.7 million people in the urban area, and it is considered the business and financial center of Morocco.
It was my first time visiting Morocco and like many others, I didn’t know what to expect. Whenever I am traveling, I keep an open mind about what I can encounter there, what kind of situations might appear, or just how my stay would be in that environment.
Why visit Casablanca?
If you are wondering if you should visit Casablanca, the answer is: absolutely yes. It is a very rich cultured city, where the old way of life is combined with the new, the ancient streets and buildings stay almost side by side with the new shopping centers and shops.
You will be immersed in an unforgettable experience, learn about a new culture, and eat really good food! The people are very welcoming and warm, they try to help you with any questions you have, and they make you feel like you’re wanted there. The fact that I was traveling with a Moroccan might have also helped the situation.
Planning your trip
You can either book a group trip, hire a tour guide to show you the best places to be in town, or you can choose to go freestyle and go visit everything on your own. I always choose the latter because I like to have the freedom to see everything I want at my own pace and spend as much time as I want in a place. But the first two options are also great, depending on your preferences. You can rent a car to move around, or use taxi services, as well as taxi apps, such as Uber. If you will use a regular taxi, it is good to set a price before getting it, just to have a clear idea about what will be the price that you’ll be paying at the end.
What to see?
There are so many things to see in Casablanca, and you have a lot of options to choose from. I will list a few that I have visited.
Hassan II Mosque:
The Hassan II Mosque is the second largest functioning mosque in Africa and is the 7th largest in the world. It is facing the Atlantic Ocean, built partially on rock and partially on the ocean, using a platform. The roof is retractable and the walls are hand-crafted marble. In the area you can find a school, a very comprehensive library, a hammam (Moroccan bathhouse), and conference halls.
I found it extremely impressive, every detail on the walls, all the colors, all the precision; the big doors with incredible designs, the hand-placed pieces, the architecture. The moment you step your feet in, you feel like you’re in a special place right away. Men and women pray separately, and they have separate washing places as well. It is definitely one of the must-see places when you are in Casablanca.
When you are in any big Moroccan city, you have to go and see the Medina. It is a big ancient market, where you can find everything and anything, from food to clothes, or beauty products specifically Moroccan. It is generally filled with independent little stores, with artisan and hand-made products, either decorative, kitchen items, leather, home lamps, perfumes, and everything in between.
From my experience, all medinas look different in different cities and have a distinct vibe from others, which makes them even more unique. If you like to be surrounded by a lot of people and like the busyness of big crowds, and also enjoy unique products, you shouldn’t miss going to the Medina, even if it’s only to experience it. It is definitely worth it.
The Habous district began its development during the French protectorate. It served as housing for the French migrants and its purpose was of separating the foreign inhabitants from the Moroccans. Now is pretty much a part of the Medina, with different stores and local artisan shops, a nice walk in between the small streets.
If you are a fan of nightlife and enjoy going to clubs and fancy restaurants and bars, La Corniche is the place to be. It is a string of beach clubs and nice cocktail bars, where all the action happens, and the DJ’s light on the fire. The views are spectacular, all of the places facing the Atlantic Ocean and its huge and impressive waves. On the terraces, you can sip a fine drink, while dancing in front of the beautiful scenes. If you go to Casablanca, it’s a place you can’t miss.
I’ve had a good experience in Morocco in general. I have been there for a few weeks, visiting different cities and parts of the country. It is definitely a place that you have to see in a lifetime, its beautiful culture is indeed amazing and worth seeing. I liked how the attention to detail is put in every artwork, on every mosque wall, and on the cups and plates that you can find in the Medina. I loved the warmth of the people, the amazing food and delicious sweets, the amazing clothes, and the bright colors. It was on my list for a very long time, and finally made it happen. If you think of booking that ticket, don’t hesitate!