Top 10 essential things to do and see in Casablanca, Morocco
Land of Morocco’s main international airport, Casablanca is the main gateway to the country for many visitors. Industrial and economic locomotive of the country, it does not compete with the exotic charms of Marrakech and Fez. Much of its architecture has a European touch, and the city has a modern look that you don't see in other parts of the country. Despite everything, you will find some pearls to visit in Casablanca. The Medina district is charming and much smaller, and easier to discover than elsewhere. And the colossal Hassan II mosque is unmissable.
To help you organize your stay more simply, here is a list of essential things to do in Casablanca!
1. The Hassan II Mosque
On the shore, just beyond the northern tip of the medina of Casablanca (old city), the Hassan II mosque dominates the whole city. Completed in 1993, it is the fourth largest mosque in the world, covering
9 hectares with the tallest minaret in the world (201 m tall). The prayer hall can accommodate 25,000 worshipers while the courtyard (which has a retractable roof) can hold another 80,000. Its decoration from surprisingly complex Moroccan craftsmanship covers every inch of its surface. Located by the sea, its location is quite spectacular. Non-Muslims can visit the mosque on guided tours that start at the west entrance of the mosque several times a day.
2. The old medina
Although the old city of Casablanca does not have as much atmosphere and exoticism as the Medina of Fez or Marrakech, this maze of alleys still hides a lot to discover. There are typical traders who sell their goods. It is a run down and disjointed neighborhood with an authentic residential atmosphere, and a great place to take the pulse of life in Casablanca. There are also interesting Koubba (sanctuaries) to see south of the Medina. It was completely destroyed during the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, and rebuilt in 1770. You can admire the ramparts around the old medina.
3. Mohammed V Avenue
Main square of the city, Place Mohammed V has a large fountain (with colored lights at night) and is surrounded by fine examples of French colonial architecture. The place is not superb as such, but if you come across it, you will have a moment to rest and watch the active life around you. The main post office is located here, as well as the Palais de Justice, the French consulate, and several large banks.
4. The Corniche
The Corniche of Casablanca (seafront) is an excellent place to stroll along the water. Much of the coast is now home to luxury hotels and restaurants. This is where locals go to relax and have fun. A little away from the city center, you can swim in the swimming pools of beach clubs and take a deckchair, or simply enjoy the sea breeze. In the evening, the nightlife is lively there.
5. The Church of the Sacred Heart
This elegant church was built in the 1930s and its architecture is a harmonious blend of Gothic and Art Deco. Unfortunately, it has been left without restoration for the past few decades, but even in its current state of disrepair, the structure is still just as beautiful. Not far away, you can see Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes cathedral, built 24 years later. Do not hesitate to visit the vast garden and public park of the Arab League.
6. Art-deco buildings
At one point in history, part of Morocco was a French colony. Consequently, Casablanca has preserved an architectural heritage from the colonial era of the 1930s. Art Deco buildings dominate the center of the city and a stroll is recommended to appreciate the beauty of certain buildings. Start at Place des Nations Unies and walk towards Boulevard Mohammed V.
7. The Habous district (new medina)
Here is another facet of the white city to discover. It is a district built by the French between 1918 and 1955 to create a new Medina. It looks like the old traditional Moroccan cities with a few more things: larger streets and modern facilities. In addition, it houses various traditional markets as well as the Royal Palace which is worth seeing while strolling.
8. Visit a hammam
You must try a steam bath and scrub in a traditional hammam when you visit Morocco, so why not in Casablanca? Try Solidarité Féminine or Les Bains Ziani.
9. The Central Market
The lively central market of Casablanca is essential if you want to immerse yourself in the heart of city life. Right in the city center, this is where locals come to buy and sell everything, including Moroccan slippers. It’s a great opportunity for photographers and a lot of fun for everyone.
10. Away from Casa: Mohammedia
This sleepy seaside town offers some beautiful beaches, and is a relaxing alternative to a stay in Casablanca. Although home to the second largest port in Morocco, Mohammedia and its tranquil charms have not been touched by the industry. The small Medina is a delight to stroll around, while the New City is beautifully landscaped with large boulevards bordered by palm trees. On the beaches, cafes and restaurants are active on summer weekends, when the inhabitants of Casablanca seem to come to escape to Mohammedia.