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Rabat

 

Rabat is often passed-by by holiday makers to Morocco but is a relaxed and elegant city with a cosmopolitan air and is all the more genuine a city to visit. The capital city of Morocco has a long and fascinating history; Roman remains, a huge 12th century Mosque, a beautiful hilltop Kasbah and a wonderfully relaxed souk.

It is located on the Atlantic coastline and linked by an excellent railway network (to the south) for Casablanca and Marrakech and (to the north) for Meknes and Fez.

Overview

The City

The capital of the Kingdom of Morocco since independence in 1956, Rabat is the centre for political administration; with just fewer than 2 million inhabitants, it is the second in economic importance to Casablanca, which is roughly twice its size and has much more industry and traffic. 

Rabat is an elegant city with a cosmopolitan culture, where the pace of life is surprisingly relaxed; its Arabic name means “refuge”. The broad tree-lined avenues, imposing buildings and its Atlantic Coast setting on the bank of the Bou Regreg river give a feeling of space, whilst the medina and Kasbahs offer the mystery of its more distant past. It also has a number of attractions that one might expect of a capital city, including a zoo.

“Rabat blends all Morocco’s variety in such a neat, well-proportioned package that if I were to choose one destination to capture the spirit of the country as a whole, this would be it”. Max Rodenbeck (veteran Middle East correspondent).

Location

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

It is just north of Casablanca, which has the nearest international airport, and is on the train network that heads from Marrakech up to Fez and on to Tangier.

Rabat is well positioned to be part of an itinerary that may include:

  • Marrakech, the bustling centre of Morocco for most visitors around 3.5 hours south;
  • Casablanca, which has an international airport around 90 minutes south;
  • Meknes and Fez, the fascinating Imperial cities around 3 and 4 hours east; and
  • Chefchaouen, the beautiful and peaceful Rif mountain town around 5 hours north east.

Accommodation

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Riad La Belle Etoile

Rating

> Destinations > Rabat

Riad La Belle Etoile is a cosy little riad with many traditional features, set in Salé (across the water from Rabat). It offers massages, hammam and the decor gives a taste of the real essence of Morocco.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£50 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.

3*** Boutique Information

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

Roof Terrace

Euphoriad

Rating

> Destinations > Rabat

This beautiful 7 bedroom riad is entirely restored in 2015 by the architect and decorator Chafiq Kabbaj, this 19th century Rabat Pacha’s residence reflects the notable family’s way of living in traditional ‘Rbatie’ society, while offering comfort and sophistication of a contemporary life

Standard Double Guide Price:

£130 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.

4**** Chic Information

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

Riad Kalaa

Rating

> Destinations > Rabat

Riad Kalaa is an exceptionally well restored riad well located in the kasbah. It has good food, heated pool, a small bar, massage room, hammam and a large terrace offering outside dining and views of the old town. Rooms include units ideal for families.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£90 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.

4**** Chic Information

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

Attractions

Things to do or see

In the city

  • Mausoleum of Mohammed V which houses the tombs of the present king’s father (King Hassan II), uncle and grandfather, and the neighbouring 12th century Hassan Tower, of which the stunning minaret remains incomplete, both lie close to the river.
  • The Kasbah des Oudayas (or Udayas) is the oldest part of the city and is sited on a hill overlooking the sea and estuary just north of the medina. It is a pretty and quiet residential area with a beautifully decorated main gate, Bab Oudaya (built in 1195), a museum of Moroccan art and art galleries, and lovely palace and gardens, as well as being known for its annual jazz festival.
  • The Chellah, housing both Roman ruins and a medieval Muslim necropolis, lies to the south of the Ville Nouvelle and, although abandoned and overgrown, is an atmospheric site adorned by storks’ nests.
  • The Ville Nouvelle exhibits some fine Art Deco architecture set beside palm lined boulevards and boasts the best theatre in Morocco.
  • The World Rhythm Festival held annually in May, has music from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America and, of course, Morocco.

Outside of Rabat

  • Oulja, 2 miles south east of Rabat, a village with a large pottery cooperative and weavers.
  • The Jardins Exotiques, 8 miles north of Rabat, features mature, exotic gardens, which are both romantic and fun for children.
  • Beaches. Rabat is on a fabulous stretch of the Atlantic coast, with miles of sandy beaches and surf spots both to the north and south.

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