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Often overlooked by instagram-seeking faux-tographers, bloggers, and travelers alike, Casablanca is Moroccos most populous city. Due to its size, it takes quite a bit of time to tease out the gems- more time than a lot of tourists have. I’ve taken time to create a Casablanca guide for anyone that wants to experience this cities complexities and inner beauty on a time constraint.
Though it’s not on the top of a travelers’ list, this jungle shouldn’t be overlooked. The sprawling city is filled with souks (markets), street art, the 2nd largest Mosque in Northern Africa (with the tallest minaret) and some of the most friendly people I’ve ever encountered. It might not be as striking as other locations in Morocco, but there are quite a few unsung gems in and around Casablanca that mustn’t be ignored.
Here’s a few books to help you get excited for your trip:
I loved “A House in Fez”! If there’s anything better than a great book about the locale you’re visiting, please let me know. I’m currently reading “Lost in Tangier”- also brilliant.
Top Things to Do In CasaBlanca
Grab your LonelyPlanet Moroccan Guide here:
At first sight, the city is dirty. It’s edgy. It can be a bit smelly…but there is charm just beneath the dust thats settled over these streets.
Let the city show you its secrets. Though I’ve had a few people warn me about “safety” in Casa, I honestly don’t feel like its any more unsafe than the USA. I wandered around the streets and medina with my camera in hand, searching for great street art and spots of beauty
Search for Street Art
Strolling along Casa’s streets, its hard not to be bombarded with sensory overload. The noise and the cars tend to overwhelm the senses. Though Casa’s older neighborhoods boast their fair share of picturesque French colonial and traditional Moroccan architecture, it’s not as atmospheric as other imperial cities in the country. What Casa lacks in ambiance it makes up for in culture.
Climb the Sacre Coeur Cathedral
After exchanging a small bribe (20Dh/ ~$2 USD), climb the cathedral spires and view the city from a relatively-safe space, meters above the hubbub. It’s quiet, and serene, and offers a wonderful view of the old medina, the rainbow skyline, and the palm-tree laden streets that lead out of Casa.
At first I was a bit apprehensive about attending an event in an old slaughterhouse. The idea is off-putting, until you realize that this slaughterhouse, for whatever reason, resembles a religious center rather than a death camp.
The slaughterhouse was taken over by an artistic collaboration, and tons of artists have created amazing artwork in and around the structures. Recently, the state of Morocco has taken back ownership of the building, so most of these artists have been removed from the premises, leaving only their murals behind. Only the circus group remains.
The circus itself is in Arabic, but enjoyable nonetheless for the English speaker. It’s run by Theatre Nomade, a group that performs up and down the Moroccan coast for guests.
Here are the dates for the upcoming shows
Drink at the tallest building in Casablanca (and Morocco….)
Skybar at the Twin Center is a mere 28 floors up, but hey, there’s a few wines and a nice ambiance, so why not?
Find your inner Photographic Edge at the Menora (Lighthouse)
I read a great blog post by Maroc Mama about the lighthouse in Casablanca. If you have an extra day and want to hang out by the water, you can’t beat the views from the far side of the light house. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time in nature, which I found lacking in the city.
Walking along the Cornish also gives lovely views. The government is well underway towards revamping the whole area. To one side, you have the ocean, and the other is full of housing with huge colorful murals.
Visit the (2nd) Largest Mosque in Africa
6,000 traditional artisans toiled for over 6 years to build the Hassan II Mosque. Each tile was placed on the ground, upside down, before compilation and creation of the giant mosaics. As you approach the magnificent structure, the details begin to materialize before the eyes. Each tile is intricately placed to join into the whole, forming pleasing geometric patterns.
Window Shop for Witches Brew
You might not be able to get a photograph of the Medina comfortably. Some are photo-phobic and don’t appreciate having their businesses photographed, and others might ask for money. (The Marrakesh medina is infamous for this). Take a peek here for further information.
Enjoy an Avocado-Orange Juice Smoothie
Yeah, okay. Sounds odd, right? But this is surprisingly good. Think creamsicle, but healthy (no added sugars, win!). I am seriously addicted to these things!
You’ll need to rent a decent wetsuit, and be sure to check the conditions as the waves can be quite intense in some areas.
If you are more in the mood for a relaxing beachside day, check out The Best Beaches in Casablanca by Bewildered In Morocco
Casablanca is truly Moroccos unsung gem. Though a bit too big to be a tourist city, it has many hidden gems. Check out The Pink Backpack’s guide to Casablanca for more ideas!