How to spend one day in Casablanca

travel blogger how to spend one day in Casablanca

Following the hype of Casablanca from the 1942 movie, I was excited to explore Morocco’s largest city. Now, let me be honest….it didn’t live up to it’s hype! In reality, Casablanca is busy and dirty, with not much more to see than can fill a one or two day itinerary. Saying that, it is worth visiting Casablanca even if it’s just for the Hassan II Mosque and Rick’s cafe! So, if you are worried that you only have one day in Casablanca, worry not – it’s the perfect amount of time! I would recommend spending one night there, with a day to see the city, and then moving on to Marrakech, Fez or Rabat by train.

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How to get to Casablanca

Most people fly into Casablanca Airport and spend one day in Casablanca before or after a flight. A Taxi from Casablanca airport to the centre of Casablanca will cost 300 Dirhams in a taxi. Taxis within Casablanca are the ‘Petit Rouge’ (small red) taxis. Make sure that you negotiate the price before you get in the cab. I would recommend that you pre-book an official transfer if possible, although it may cost a little more, it will remove a lot of stress at Casablanca airport.

Some people arrive in Casablanca by train from Marrakech, Rabat or Fez. The trains in Morocco are great value and very comfortable. You can book online with ONCF or just turn up at the station.

Please note that there are two train stations in Casablanca – Casa Port and Casa Voyageurs. Most trains from other national train stations (such as Fez, Rabat and Marrakech), arrive at Casa Voyageurs which is to the East of the city.

If you arrive at Casablanca Voyageurs train station, AVOID going out to the labelled Taxi rank – it is hellish for touts who will overcharge you by about 10x! Go out the OPPOSITE side to the labelled taxi rank where you will see the IBIS Hotel, cross over the road and flag a ‘Petit Rouge’ taxi there and negotiate a good price or insist he puts the meter on. It should not be much more than 25-30 Dirhams into the centre of Casablanca.

It is even possible to do Casablanca as a guided tour day trip from Marrakech. If you don’t like port cities and don’t have a burning desire to get a feel for the city, then this would be enough – just be prepared for a long journey there and back. Read more about some of the best Casablanca tours here.

Is Casablanca worth visiting Casablanca sign

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Where to stay in Casablanca

Central Casablanca is not the nicest or cleanest of cities. I would recommend that you book a hotel along Casablanca Corniche such as the Four Seasons or the Pestana Casablanca. If you prefer to stay near the train stations for onward travel, you can go for the IBIS right outside Casablanca train station, and then get taxis to the sites such as the Mosque and Mohammed V Square.

I stayed at Hotel Majestic in the city centre, but sadly it wasn’t the most positive experience (a few health and safety issues and poor paint jobs) and so I can’t say that I would recommend it there.

How to spend one day in Casablanca

Start your day by visiting thee stunning Hassan II Mosque. Then enjoy lunch at Rick’s cafe and after that head to the Medina, Mohammed V Square and Arab League Park. Finish your day in Casablanca with an meal and cocktails on the Corniche.

If you are an inexperienced traveller or don’t have much time on your hands, you may prefer to book a tour guide. However, if you are a confident traveller and like to ‘do it yourself’ then this itinerary can easily be followed independently.

Cats Casablanca promenade
Cats on Casablanca Promenade, Morocco

8am Traditional Moroccan Breakfast

Wake up early and enjoy a traditional Moroccan breakfast in your hotel. Most hotels and Riads in Morocco have breakfast included, which usually consists of breads and cakes with honey, jam, eggs and olives. It is usually complimented with coffee and traditional Moroccan mint tea.

9am Visit Hassan II Mosque and Museum

Start your day by visiting the iconic Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. The intricate architecture and seaside location make it a must-see. It is quite a modern mosque and was completed in 1993 after six years of construction. The mosque was partly funded by King Hassan II and the remaining funds were raised by public subscription or donation. It cost approximately $500 million to build.

Hassan II Mosque Casablanca

You will need to buy your ticket at the ticket office before entering the mosque. Women do not need to cover their head to visit the Hassan II Mosque, but both men and women will need to remove their shoes to enter. Respect that it is a holy place and remain calm and quite when you visit the inside.

There is also a mosque museum which contains displays of parts used in the construction of the mosque and explains how it was built and decorated. It contains displays of materials used in the construction of the mosque including wood, gypsum, and various decorations carved on stone. It is a small but interesting museum and I would recommend it as a good add-on for people visiting the mosque, especially for anyone interested in Islamic art and architecture.

It will take around an hour to visit the mosque and get pictures, plus another half an hour (at least) for the museum. If you want to see both the mosque and the museum, buy the combined ticket (billet combinee, which works out cheaper than buying the two tickets separately.

When you come out of the mosque, get some photos of the mosque from the promenade, with the sea as a backdrop. Also, you can grab a picture of the adjacent lighthouse.

11am Marina Shopping

Walk down towards the docs where you can pass by the Marina shopping centre and you can walk through the shopping mall and also have a look at the docks from this point. However, the Marina shopping centre is not the big designer one (for that you need Morocco Mall).

12-1pm Rick’s Cafe (book in advance)

Head to Rick’s Café for a cultural and cinematic experience. This recreated establishment from the movie “Casablanca” offers a classy atmosphere, delicious food, and a chance to immerse yourself in the movie’s ambiance. It is pricey and touristy, but still worth it. Remember to book in advance here.

Ricks cafe Casablanca

I recommend the duck confit and the lamb chops (perfectly cooked!) Expect to pay around 300 Dirhams (approximately £30 or $35) for a main meal and drink. They also do gorgeous cocktails.

Dinner Ricks cafe Casablanca

2pm Casablanca Medina

Behind Rick’s cafe, you will find the old town of Casablanca or Casablanca Medina. Remember to barter if you want to buy something, and don’t be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ to any pushy salesmen or touts.

3pm Mohammed V Square

Next, jump in a petit taxi to Mohammed V Square, a scenic square with a central fountain, surrounded by several important buildings. On this square, you will see government buildings and the Justice centre. After a photo stop there, you might also want to explore some of the Art Deco buildings in and around the square and the roads leading down to Lella Yacout, such as the old post office.

Mohammed V Square fountain Casablanca

4pm Arab League Park

You can walk to the Arab League Park from Mohammed V Square (keep your belongings close to you in this busy city). The Arab League Park is a beautiful Urban park lined with palm trees. On the corner you can find the Cathedral, which, although is no longer in use as a Cathedral (it is a cultural centre), it is worth seeing for the architecture.

5pm Royal Palace

If you have the desire to go, now is a good time to hop across to Habbous district to see the King’s Royal Palace in Casablanca. It is around 10 minutes in a cab from the Arab League park. However, be aware that you will only be able to take photos from the outside – visitors cannot go in, of course!

6pm Morocco Mall

If you are a big shopper, you might want to jump in a cab to Morocco Mall at this point, to experience the largest shopping mall in Africa. It’s opening hours are 10am-9pm and so it’s a good place to visit in the early evening as it is still open, even when other attractions are closed.

7pm Dinner at La Sqala

Enjoy dinner at La Sqala, a restaurant located in a historic fortress. The setting is charming, and the menu offers a mix of Moroccan and international dishes. Again, it is a little touristy, but worth it!

9pm Nightlife at Ain Diab (The Corniche)

If you still have the energy after all that, why not consider exploring the Ain Diab district for a taste of Casablanca’s nightlife. Otherwise known as the Corniche, here you will find beachside bars, clubs, and cafes where you can unwind and enjoy the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

This itinerary provides a mix of historical, cultural, and modern experiences, but feel free to customize it based on your interests and preferences.

Tips for Visiting Casablanca

  • Casablanca can easily be seen in just one day, and is easily doable as a day trip from Rabat.
  • If you do decide to stay over night in Casablanca, stay in one of the hotels along the Corniche.
  • Casablanca has a mix of taxis and public transportation. Consider hiring a taxi or use ride-sharing services for convenience.
  • There are trams in Casablanca that are cheap and easy to use, so consider this as a form of transport.
  • While Casablanca is more liberal than other Moroccan cities, it’s respectful to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Avoid wearing shorts and cover your shoulders (both sexes).
  • Respect local customs and traditions, for example, avoid being drunk during Ramadan and be respectful of the Islamic culture.
  • If taking photos of people, always ask for permission first.
  • Keep your bag and belongings close to you, there have been reported bag snatchers in Casablanca, sometimes on motorbikes.
  • Avoid the taxi touts – cross over and flag one down on the street. Insist that the cab drivers use their meter and set it to zero. Otherwise, agree a taxi fare beforehand.
  • Take your inhalers if you are asthmatic, as air quality in Casablanca is not too good.
  • Keep to the side of the road as much as possible – some streets do not have pavements or sidewalks.
  • Avoid walking in the medina or poorly lit areas alone at night.

Further Reading

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