From wandering the medina to admiring the art and architecture, these are the best things to do in Casablanca. We’ll show you why this often-overlooked city deserves its own spot on your Morocco itinerary.
Casablanca is often bypassed in favor of the more exotic souks of Marrakech, Fes, and Chefchaouen, or the adventure of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara. However, the modern city deserves its own spot on your Moroccan itinerary.
Related: Plan Your Morocco Itinerary – The Best Places to Visit in Morocco
Why You Should Add Casablanca to Your Morocco Itinerary
Ironically, Casablanca is where many visitors first land in Morocco. Instead of immediately hopping on a connecting flight or train to Marrakech, spend a day or two in Morocco’s biggest city.
You might be surprised at what you find as there are so many things to do in Casablanca. Casablanca is so much more than a transit hub.
There are also plenty of places to visit in Casablanca to make a few day’s stay worthwhile.
Tour Tip: If you really can’t spare a few days in Casablanca while transiting the airport, A 4 hr Layover Sightseeing Tour with Airport Transfer might be worthwhile. Enjoy a private tour of the highlights, including the Hassan II mosque.
It may not be as evocative or atmospheric as other Moroccan cities, but Casablanca is Morocco’s cosmopolitan, economic heart.
A city where businesses and creatives thrive and where Moroccans come to seek their fortune. Casablanca is the real Morocco of today.
Wondering What to Pack for Morocco? Whether you are exploring the souks in Marrakech, riding a camel through the Sahara, or hiking the Atlas Mountains. We’ve got you covered with our complete Morocco Packing List.
Casablanca feels like a once glamorous and sophisticated city on its way back. Beautiful French Colonial architecture, grand old hotels, and crowded European style cafes line the sidewalks.
Restorations and beautifications are taking place all over the city while the old walled Medina remains unchanged with the hustle of traditional Moroccan trade.
Locals apologize for Casablanca (Or Casa as they call it) not being as touristy as Marrakech. The fact there are fewer tourists is part of the city’s appeal.
Casablanca has an authentic big-city vibe, whereas Marrakech comes off as a Disney version of what we believe Morocco should be.
Casablanca, Morocco FAQs
Casablanca is on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco, in the central-western part of the country. It’s the country’s economic center and home to the international airport where most visitors land.
Casablanca is the biggest city in Morocco – yes, even bigger than the popular cities of Marrakech and Fez. It’s considered the most modern city in Morocco and the industrial and economic hub of the country. For tourists, perhaps the biggest draw is the French architecture and overall European feel, along with the fact that it’s not as touristy as the other Moroccan cities.
Absolutely. Though not as touristy as the other cities in Morocco, Casablanca is a great destination to add to your Moroccan itinerary. There are many things to do in Casablanca, no matter your interests.
If you have time, I recommend adding both cities to your itinerary. Casablanca is more modern with lots of hidden gems, while Marrakech is one of the most popular tourist cities in the country and likely what you envision Morocco to be.
Casablanca is considered one of the safest cities in Morocco, and you should have no issues walking in any of the areas recommended on this list. You’ll still want to take the normal precautions, but walking around Casablanca is generally quite safe.
If you’re short on time in Casablanca, the things I’d recommend prioritizing are visiting the Hassan II Mosque, wandering the New Medina, and checking out the incredible architecture and street art. If you can, squeeze in lunch at Marche Central and visit the Royal Palace or the Sacre-Coeur Cathedral.
Best Things to Do in Casablanca, Morocco
From experiencing modern Morocco to discovering the cities’ ancient heritage, there are enough things to see in Casablanca to keep the average traveler busy for a few days.
Visitors may have to try to discover Casablanca’s less obvious gems, but once you get going, you’ll find that including Casablanca on your Morocco itinerary can be very rewarding.
Here you will find some of the best places to visit in Casablanca.
1) Visit the Hassan II Mosque
The big drawcard in Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque. Commissioned by King Hassan II, it is the tallest building in Morocco and one of Morocco’s top architectural wonders.
The third-largest Mosque outside of Mecca, the Hassan II Mosque took seven years to build and can accommodate 25,000 worshippers inside and an additional 80,000 outside.
Most mosques in Morocco are closed to westerners and tourists, but Mosque Hassan II is one of the few in Morocco that welcomes visitors outside prayer time.
Take advantage of this rare opportunity to take a tour. Tours are offered at set times daily, except on Fridays.
If you visit the Hassan II Mosque, ensure you dress respectfully and conservatively. Also bring a pair of socks, as you’ll be required to remove your shoes for part of the tour.
Hassan II Mosque Tour Tip: If you prefer a guided tour of the mosque, you can take a fascinating 1.5 hr tour with a guide, including hotel pickup and drop off and entry to the mosque. See here for tour details.
The Hassan II Mosque sits right on the shore overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The promenade on either side is filled with families, food hawkers, and enthusiastic boys playing soccer and diving into the ocean from the highest walls surrounding the mosque.
It’s a lovely place to sit and soak up the atmosphere of Casablanca. You could not leave Casablanca without visiting this magnificent mosque.
2) Mahkama Du Pacha
While at the mosque, you should also grab tickets for a guided tour of Mahkama Du Pacha, another stunning building in the city.
Mahkama Du Pacha was initially a pasha’s residence but is now a government building (hence the guided tour), but it’s a fine example of Moorish architecture. You’ll find the walls covered with tiles and intricate floral designs throughout.
Tour Tip: A Half Day Casablanca Medina and Beyond Cultural Walking Tour includes a visit to the Mahkama Du Pacha and other Casablanca highlights and gems.
3) Get Lost In the Casablanca Medina
Though lacking some of the medieval characters of other Moroccan medinas, Casablanca’s compact 19th-century marketplace is still worth a visit. The Medina in Casablanca is one of our favorites in Morocco.
Unlike many other tourist destinations such as Marrakech, you can wander the maze of tiny laneways in the Medina and not be hassled to “buy, buy, buy” and unlike Fez, very few will try to hustle you, apart from the occasional rug salesman.
The Casablanca Medina is busy with people doing their daily business. Vendors are not relying on the tourist dollar to make a living.
It is really quite relaxing in a hustle-bustle kind of way.
Until 1907 when the French took over Casablanca, the entire city was contained within this small 18th-century fortified area.
Modern Casablanca has since spread in all directions, leaving the historic walled quarter hidden in the city bustle. A maze of dark, narrow alleyways, sprawling souks, and decaying buildings.
Strolling through the Old Medina, you’re unlikely to find real treasures in the fairly non-descript array of shops selling clothing, hardware, and daily necessities.
However, you will find colorful spice stalls and lively butcher and fishmonger markets around the narrow lanes and tree-shaded squares.
Busy local cafes and Boulangerie’s brimming high with cakes and pastries so sweet; honeybees literally swarm over them are the perfect spots to sip mint tea and watch the world go by.
The lively local atmosphere makes the medina a lovely route for those walking between downtown Casablanca and the Hassan II Mosque.
The New Medina, also known as Habous Quarter, is where you’ll find the souvenirs you may want to buy in Morocco – rugs, leather, and more.
4) Walk The Streets-Street Art & Casablanca Architecture
In addition to some striking street art throughout the city, Casablanca boasts a fabulous mix of traditional Moroccan style and French Colonial architecture.
A style known as Mauresque architecture. A walk around Central Casablanca is an activity in its own right and one of the best free things to do in Casablanca.
5) Moroccan Art Deco
Casablanca is the Art Deco hub of Morocco. A breath of fresh air in contrast to the traditional and medieval architecture of Morocco’s other top destinations.
French architects enthusiastically embraced the Art Deco movement in the early 20th century leaving Casablanca with a distinctly unique style.
A reminder of the European-style urban sophistication that has underpinned life in Casablanca for the past century.
There are plenty of beautiful buildings to see in the downtown area. If you stroll down Boulevard Mohammed V, you’ll end up at Place des Nations Unies, a busy square with many restaurants.
While some are unfortunately in crumbling disrepair, several elegant buildings have been carefully restored and renovated into hotels and restaurants.
Some notable buildings with incredible architecture include the clock tower at the Wilaya government building, Grande Poste, Banque d’Etat, and the Sacre Coeur Cathedral. Though truly, if you wander – you’ll find incredible architecture and street art all around you.
6) Lunch at Marche Central
Right in the heart of the city is Casablanca’s central market-Marché Central.
Much smaller and less hectic than the Old Medina, you will find flowers, cheese and deli meats, fresh honey, fish, and an array of quaint butcher shops in the small marketplace.
The Marché Central is also a great place to go for lunch. Small cafe-style restaurants serve basic French and Moroccan food to the local lunch trade.
Tables in the central courtyard are crammed with diners feasting on cheap but filling platters of fish, grilled vegetables, bread, and salads.
Stop for a tagine with the lunch crowd and be prepared to use your hands. No cutlery here, just a piece of delicious, crusty flatbread. It is a great place to get a feel for the local culture.
Central Market Tour Tip: Take a guided Central Market Food Tour with Tastings and Lunch with a guide. This 4-hour tour takes you on a tasty tour of the market place sampling local products, finishing with a sumptuous restaurant lunch of the catch of the day, which you get to choose fresh from the markets. See here for full tour details.
7) Visit The Royal Palace
The King’s Palace in Casablanca is said to be an Islamic architectural masterpiece.
Surrounded by fragrant orange groves and ornate water features, it is nothing short of royal opulence. However, the only way to glimpse inside is to wait for the heavily guarded gates to open to let someone in or out.
The palace serves as the king’s and his family’s residence in Casablanca. The king has equally luxurious residences all over Morocco, and while you may not be able to go inside, the exterior is certainly worth seeing with the hope of a glimpse inside the gates.
8) Take the View from The Sacre-Coeur Cathedral ( Casablanca Cathedral)
The Sacre-Coeur Cathedral, built in 1930, is an architectural masterpiece designed by French architect Paul Tournon. Neo-Gothic style with Moroccan Muslim and Art Deco influences is a surprising sight in Casablanca.
The cathedral was an important landmark in Casablanca during French Catholic rule. After the independence of Morocco in 1956, the Cathedral ceased its religious function and was abandoned.
It has since been used as a school and a cultural center, and now it hosts exhibitions and fairs. It’s one of the top Casablanca tourist attractions.
The cathedral is open to visitors, which includes access to the towers. The views from the towers over Casablanca to the Atlantic Ocean are spectacular.
The tower stairs are very much in a state of disrepair. Crumbling concrete and brick covered in feathers and deposits from nesting pigeons.
Although there are no railings, it seems safe enough and is worth climbing for the top views. A donation will be expected if you decide to climb the towers.
9) Notre Dame de Lourdes
Unlike the Casablanca Cathedral, the Notre Dame de Lourdes is still active and holds regular services. But at other times throughout the day, you can simply enter to appreciate the stunning stained glass artwork.
Built in 1954, the Notre Dame de Lourdes is a Modernist construction and features art by Gabriel Loire, whose stained glass work can also be found in many churches across Europe and North America.
10) Museum of Moroccan Judaism
The Museum of Moroccan Judaism can be found in a villa once used as a Jewish orphanage. It’s filled with relics that tell the story of Morocco’s Jewish community over the past 2,000 years.
You’ll find photographs, costumes, religious artifacts, and more within the museum walls. While the museum is dedicated to the Jewish community throughout the entire country, there is an emphasis on Casablanca’s Jewish community.
The museum also houses a synagogue not originally built in Casablanca – it was built in Larache and then later transferred and reconstructed in Casablanca to be part of the museum.
11) Stroll the Atlantic Coast at La Corniche
Further along the coast, not far from Hassan II Mosque, La Corniche is Casablanca’s fashionable beachfront district.
The city’s waterfront boulevard, lined with umbrella-shaded beach cafés, oceanfront restaurants, and chic lounges offering pool and beach access, is Morocco’s version of the French Riviera.
With warm weather all year round, the area is popular with locals and tourists.
On a good day, the area will be busy with people enjoying the beach – swimming, surfing, and playing beach volleyball.
La Corniche offers the chance to go for a refreshing walk on the beach and glimpse Morocco’s less traditional and more holiday side.
12) Visit the Local Port
For a little taste of the local life, stop by the port. Here you’ll find the fisherman that used to be the backbone of Casablanca. Before the city became a shipping port, it had been a fishing port.
Local fishermen still take their boats out daily, and while you could likely convince one to take you too, it’s worth it to buy some fresh fish for dinner. It’s also nice to just wander along the port.
13) Enjoy Casablanca’s Cosmopolitan Nightlife and Dining Scene
While Marrakech may be the destination of choice for the fashionable set, Casablanca has an exciting nightlife and restaurant scene fueled by locals and visitors.
A constant stream of new, more affordable, and on-trend restaurants are shaping Casablanca as a culinary destination in its own right.
Drinking isn’t common in a predominantly Muslim country like Morocco except in the most tourist-dense areas. Casablanca is the exception.
Casablanca is the most liberal and progressive of Morocco’s cities.
Brazenly flirtatious young men, scantily-clad women, and designer labels are the norm in many chic neighborhoods such as the beachfront district of ‘Ain Diab.
Sophisticated cocktail bars attract the glamorous, but other places draw a good crowd of locals and tourists, such as jazz clubs and piano bars, live music venues, and street performances.
When the sun goes down, Casablanca is to Morocco what Tel Aviv is to Israel – Babylon, a city brimming with a modern outlook and a vital social scene.
14) Have a Drink at Skye 28
When it comes to the best things to do in Casablanca at night, relaxing in the sophisticated atmosphere of Skye 28 is one of the best options.
You’ll get epic city views, plus they often have live music. It’s the perfect place to lean back, relax, and enjoy a cocktail.
15) Stop by Rick’s Cafe
Even the tourist traps in Casablanca have good reasons to check them out. Sometimes, saying, “I’ve been there!” is fun. Rick’s Cafe is one of those places. American-owned Rick’s Cafe, inspired by the bar in the iconic film Casablanca hits the mark with a sultry atmosphere and elevated culinary experience.
The bar is decorated as portrayed in the movie, and the drinks are decent. Note that it’s one of Casablanca’s top attractions for tourists, so it can be very busy. It’s always worth reserving at Rick’s if you want to dine there. But if you’re in the area and have some time, why not stop by, even for a drink?
16) Forêt de Bouskoura-Merchich
If you’re looking for some green space for a morning jog or bike ride, head to the city outskirts to Forêt de Bouskoura-Merchich. This is an ongoing project with over 3,000 acres of predominately eucalyptus forest. The area is earmarked to expand to include things like a lookout tower, playground, nature center, and more.
For now, you can find bathrooms, trails for walking and biking, and some picnic tables.
17) Morocco Mall
Yes, a mall is making this list of what to do in Casablanca – because the Morocco Mall isn’t just any mall. It’s the second-largest mall in Africa, with dozens of international retailers like Gucci, Dior, Zara, H&M, Adidas, and Nike.
But there are also handcrafted items from artisans, dozens of different restaurants to choose from, and a cinema. It’s certainly worth a look.
18) Tamaris Aquaparc
One of the top things to do in Casablanca with kids is to visit the Tamaris Aquaparc, located about 15 kilometers from the city. It’s the perfect family activity, with a wave pool, lazy river, and slides ranging from family-friendly to high-speed. There’s also a shallow kids’ pool for the little ones.
Other amenities at the waterpark include a snack bar and a bowling alley.
Day Trips from Casablanca
Most of the best things to do in Casablanca can be crossed off your list in a few days, but if you decide to stay in Casablanca a bit longer, there are a few easy day trips to consider.
If you’re looking to relax on the beach, Mohammedia is the place to be. Only 28 kilometers from the center with regular train connections, Mohammedia is much quieter than Casablanca and home to gorgeous beaches.
It’s actually Morocco’s second-largest port, and there are plenty of places to explore, including the medina and New Town, but the beach is definitely the biggest draw card of the area (even for local Moroccans).
Azemmour is perhaps one of Morocco’s best-kept secrets, along the Atlantic coastline just 88 miles from Casablanca. In addition to some of the best beaches in the country, Azemmour has a handful of historical sites worth visiting.
The famous fortress dates back to the 16th century, while the ramparts, which you can walk on, are the main attraction. It’s a charming little town that most people skip right over, so if you get the chance, make a day trip out of the historical sites and the beach.
21) El Jadida
Just a bit farther south of Casablanca, you’ll come across Jadida. This is another small city with just a few attractions, primarily the citadel, now listed by UNESCO. It’s a beautiful 16th-century fortress that faces the sea.
You may recognize the center of the citadel, as it was featured in the film Othello. Another interesting spot not to miss is the synagogue, which was originally the prison.
Where to Stay in Casablanca
Accommodation in Casablanca is very reasonable, and there is an abundance of reasonably priced self-contained apartments for rent as an alternative to staying in a traditional hotel.
We stayed in a lovely large inner-city self-contained apartment for about the same cost as a hotel.
Best Time to Visit Casablanca
Casablanca has a moderate climate, meaning you can visit the city all year round.
Winter – December through February are the coolest months, with daily temperatures around 65°F. You may get some rain in December and January.
Summer – July to September are the hottest months with average temperatures of 80-90°F.
As always, the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall are the best times to visit Casablanca. The weather will be nice with fewer crowds.
Is Casablanca Worth Visiting?
Yes, absolutely. Casablanca is well worth a day or two on any Moroccan itinerary.
These are just a few ways to experience this exciting city without scratching the surface. Don’t miss Casablanca just because it doesn’t rate high on the tourist lists.
It is a charming and fascinating city offering a different view of the well-trodden Moroccan tourist trails.
How to Get to Casablanca
Casablanca is the transportation hub of Morocco and where most international travelers enter the country, so it’s fairly simple to get to. Below you’ll find directions on how to get to Casablanca from the airport and other cities in the country.
Flights to Casablanca
The Mohammed V Int’l Airport is the busiest gateway to Morocco, with plenty of direct flights to Europe, the USA, and Canada. The airport is about 30 km from the city center—roughly a 40-minute drive.
How to get from Casablanca Airport to City
- The most efficient way to travel to and from Casablanca Airport is to take the ONCF train. Trains depart hourly to the city. The journey takes approx 45 min.
- Private transfers with a meet and greet from the airport to the city center are available starting from $50 USD for up to four people. Check availability here.
- Trains in Morocco, including the airport line, often experience delays, so leave yourself plenty of time when leaving for the airport.
- Buses also leave regularly to the center.
Domestic Flights within Morocco
Royal Air Maroc operates domestic flights from Casablanca to all major cities in Morocco. Generally, this is an expensive way to move between cities.
The train is the most convenient way to travel between major cities in Morocco. They are reliable, comfortable, fast, and efficient.
Overall, the trains in Morocco are comfortable and relatively inexpensive. All services offer first and second-class compartments.
First-class tickets are not much more expensive than the standard fare but are recommended, especially for longer day trips, as they will be airconditioned and have more room and allocated seating.
You may have to stand in Second-class compartments during peak hours until a seat becomes free.
- Trains from Casablanca to Rabat leave half-hourly—approx travel time for one hour.
- Trains between Casablanca and Fez roughly every hour. Approx travel-time is five hours unless you catch the morning express, which takes only three hours.
- Services from Casablanca to Marrakech run every two hours. Approx travel time 3.5 hours. You can read more about the trains from Casablanca to Marrakech here.
- There are approx. 15 services per day from Tangier to Casablanca. Up to four of these services are on the old rail line. Approx travel time is about five hours. You will need to change trains at Sidi Kacem.
- The new Casablanca—Tangier high-speed rail line has now been completed and offers around ten services a day between the two cities. Travel time is a little over two hours.
The highways in Morocco are very good if you prefer to hire a car.
You can compare Morocco’s best car rental deals with no hidden fees and free cancelation here on Discover Cars.
Distances from Casablanca are approx:
- 4 hour’s drive from Fez
- A little over an hour from Rabat
- nearly three hours from Marrakech
- 3.5 hours from Tangiers.
Transfer Tip: Private transfers between Casablanca to Marrakech are a great way to travel and are relatively inexpensive. One way transfers start at around $170 USD for a group of four. Check availability here.