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Casablanca

 

Casablanca is a less obvious holiday destination in Morocco. It is a vast, sprawling and modern city with more than 3 million inhabitants. However, it is primarily of interest to visitors for the mighty Hassan II Mosque, which is open to non-Muslim visitors.

Casablanca also has an international airport, which offers a port of entry for visits to Rabat, Meknes, Fez and the north - all linked by an excellent railway network.

Overview

The City

Casablanca is the 6th largest city in Africa, with the second most significant airport for visitors to Morocco (after Marrakech), a huge port and an abundance of commercial and industrial activity. The image immortalised in the legendary film “Casablanca” (shot in 1942 in Hollywood, not Casablanca) has long gone, and has been replaced by an energetic modern city.

Due to the limited range of attractions in the city for visitors, and because the city centre is not easily accessible from the airport, most travellers move on to places with more to captivate them such as:

  • South to the coastal lagoon at the village of Oualidia or further to the city of Marrakech; or
  • North to the capital city of Rabat and on to the Imperial cities of Meknes or Fez.

Casablanca is linked by an excellent train service to (the sourth to) Marrakech, (to the north to) Rabat, Meknes, Fez and ending in the northern town of Tangier.

Climate

The coast is often breezy in summer and therefore feels several degrees cooler than inland. It has a similar climate to Rabat, but it is hotter and more affected by pollution due to the heavy traffic and industrial activity.

Location

Casablanca is positioned on the Atlantic coast around a third of the way down the Moroccan coastline.

The international airport is located around 50 minutes' drive south east of the city and is not easily accessible for those newly arriving in the country.

Casablanca is served by a good road network and an excellent train service, which allows visitors access to:

  • Marrakech, the bustling centre of Morocco for most visitors around 4 hours south;
  • Oualidia, the peaceful coastal village and lagoon approximately 1 hour's drive south west;
  • Rabat, the country's capital and first of the Imperial cities heading north about an hour’s journey; and
  • Meknes and Fez, the fascinating Imperial cities around 3 and 4 hours' journey north east.

Accommodation

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Double Suite

Hotel Maamoura

Rating

> Destinations > Casablanca

Hotel Maamoura is a carefully restored early 20th century building that is now one of the most popular hotels in Casablanca. Its spacious suites and rooms offer value-for-money in a quiet, convenient central location, and it has a restaurant and highly efficient and welcoming staff.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£40 per night, B&B Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

2** Classic Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Attractions

Things to do and see

The principal attraction in Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque, designed by Michel Pinseau and completed in 1993 on land reclaimed from the Atlantic. Its scale is breathtaking, boasting the world’s tallest minaret (210m tall), and able to accommodate more than 100,000 worshipers; it is built over the ocean, hence the novelty of viewing it via a huge glass floor.  It is open to (respectfully dressed) non-Muslims, one of only 2 Mosques in Morocco where this privilege exists.

Other local points of interest are:

  • The fine Art Deco architecture of the Ville Nouvelle (the New Town) designed by Henri Prost centred around Place Mohammed V
  • The Old Medina which lacks the charm of many others in the country, though its walls and clock tower have been restored in recent years, and the cafes and people watching in the medina are worth a trip for visitors to the city 
  • Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur, the Catholic Cathedral designed with European and Moroccan influences is on the edge of the Parc de la Lingue Arabe, the largest public park in the city
  • The beach area of the Corniche
  • The Port with the imposing El Hank lighthouse (45m tall) marking its western entry

Due to the sprawling nature of the city, we do not recommend Casablana as a central base from which to explore the surrounding areas or to have day trips and outings.