Casablanca, the commercial hub of Morocco, is always in the shadow of other Moroccan cities like Marrakech and Fes. What people don’t know is that, this relatively small city is packed with great attractions. While it’s almost impossible to experience everything, even if your trip lasts a week, this itinerary is designed to allow you to visit Casablanca’s most famous attractions as well as the ancient ruins of Volubilis. Read on for suggestions on how to make the most of your time in Casablanca.
Things to know before travelling in Morocco:
Language – Moroccan Arabic and Berber are the most widely spoken languages in Morocco. Their second language is French and in cities like Tangier and Chefchaouen they are fluent in Spanish due to their proximity to Spain. English is emerging, especially in major cities, so you can get by without learning the language. However, speaking at least some Moroccan Arabic or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by locals.
Currency exchange – The official currency of Morocco is the Moroccan dirham. Currency can be changed at banks, Bureau de Change at the airport, authorized money changers and some hotels. Credits cards are commonly accepted in most mid-range to high-end restaurants and hotels in major cities. You may also use debit cards, but watch out for ATM fees and foreign transaction fees, which can be very high per transaction.
Clothing – Unlike any other Muslim countries, Morocco has no practical rules and regulation when it comes to clothing due to their close proximity to Europe. However, it is advisable not to show too much skin. Modest dress is best for men and women. For women, avoid revealing clothes so you won’t get unwanted attention. Jeans and shorts not higher than mid-calf, knee-length skirts partnered with T-shirts or blouse are acceptable. For men, loose cotton shirts, T-shirts and pants are okay. Lastly, while visiting places of worship, you should be fully clothed.
Getting there – Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) is located approximately 30 minutes south of Casablanca. Round-trip airfare from London starts at 260 USD; from Cairo – 480 USD; from Lisbon – 220 USD; from New York – 970 USD for a direct round-trip or save 200 USD if you decide to fly through Madrid.
Accommodation – There are many types of holiday accommodation in Casablanca, from luxury hotels and picturesque B&Bs (riads) to cheaper accommodation like hostels. Riads are the most common type of accommodation because of its unique architecture and decoration promising a one of a kind Moroccan experience. Most riads in Casablanca are centrally located near Souks and Medina so it gives you better access to tourist attractions and food choices.
Hotels to consider in Casablanca:
Getting around – The city is quite compact so visitors can easily explore on foot. If you are short on time or you prefer less time walking, you may take taxis, which are generally inexpensive. Remember to negotiate the fare with the taxi driver before you get in.
Detailed Itinerary Best of Casablanca, Morocco in 48 Hours
Your adventure in Casablanca starts today! Schedule a flight that will arrive early in Mohammed V International Airport (CMN), which is located approximately 30 minutes south of Casablanca. Travel time by train is approximately 30 minutes and one way fare is 30 Moroccan Dirhams (around 3 USD). Check into your preferred accommodation and minimize your jet lag by spending a lot of time out in the sunlight so your body can adapt to its new surroundings. If your flight gets in early enough, head to a nearest restaurant or cafe for a quick breakfast. Wear a comfortable walking shoes as you will do a lot of walking for today.
Come to grips with Casablanca’s history and culture by taking a stroll through Marche Central de Casablanca, the city’s main market situated along Mohammed V Boulevard. The market has plenty of interesting stalls selling fresh food, craft ware, leather goods, handmade jewelry and Moroccan-style souvenirs. If you’re not yet certain what to buy, you can return to the market on your last day. Then, grab some authentic Moroccan lunch at one of the hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the market.
Later this afternoon, make your way to the souks of the Old Medina. The souks are literal labyrinth of shops selling everything: bags, scarves, baskets, carpets, shoes, lamps, perfumes, clothes, socks, fruit, crafts and a bunch of spices you never know exist. Then, make your way to the United Nations Place and Mohammed V Square, where you can admire some of the best structures with Art Deco style architecture. After dinner, head back to your chosen riad / hotel and sleep early for your tour the next day.
On the morning of Day 2, get set to experience the glories of Hassan II Mosque (SOUR JDID, Casablanca, Morocco), one of the world’s largest mosques which took 6 years to complete and over 6,000 craftsmen to build. Perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean, King Hassan II ordered the mosque to be built along the seafront as a translation of the Koranic verse “The throne of God was on the water.” To see the mosque’s extravagant interior, guided tours are available and might be a great choice for tourists wishing to know a little bit more about the mosque.
After your mosque tour, embark on one of the most interesting day trips out of the city by heading to the spectacular ruins of Volubilis. This ancient Roman city features some of the most impressive architectural wonder of the ancient Morocco, enough to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Volubilis can be reached by train, on the way to the city of Meknes, and travel time is approximately 3 hours. You may also join an arranged tour, however, do-it-yourself tours will give you complete control of the trip. Travel back to Casablanca or you can choose to stay in Meknes.
After a whole day of adventure, go to a hammam (traditional bath) for a relaxing bath experience. Ask your hotel receptionist on where to find a local hammam and do not forget to bring your own toiletries to the bathhouse.
This is the end of our 48-hour suggested itinerary. The sequence of activities and attractions above are just a guide and you can definitely change it to suit your interests. You may opt to continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in Casablanca or visit nearby Fes (train takes three and a half hours, and one-way ticket costs between 9 and 22 USD, depending on the class of service) and Marrakech (train takes 3 hours and one-way tickets costs between 7 and 17 USD, depending on the class of service). The decision is all yours!
Have you been to Casablanca or anywhere else in Morocco? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Unidentified water sellers on the street of Casablanca Morocco. Water sellers are dressed in colorful dress ringing brass bells and offers water from his traditional leather pouch (Eterovic / Bigstockphoto)