Casablanca may be the largest city in Morocco and the economic centre of the country, but it rarely graces the top of people’s list of places to visit in Morocco. Even if Marrakesh, Rabat, or Fes are a priority for you, don’t overlook this city, as there are plenty of things to do in Casablanca.
While many may know Casablanca best from the iconic 1942 American film of the same name, the unique mix of French colonial heritage, traditional Arab culture, and Art Deco buildings make it a must see. Here are 11 things to do in Casablanca.
1Hassan II Mosque
Constructed in the 1990s, the Hassan II Mosque is one of the most famous buildings in Casablanca. It was built to commemorate the 60th birthday of the previous king of Morocco and is also among the largest in the world. Located along the coast, this beautiful building is one of the few mosques open to non-Muslims, so you can admire the vibrant tiles, splendid interiors, and even the on-site hammam.
Located near the mosque is the wonderful beachfront district of La Corniche. Full of exciting entertainment spots, dining options and beaches, the area is particularly popular with surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers. However, you can also while away the time walking along the beach and exploring the many shops.
Like most Moroccan cities, Casablanca has an old medina, filled with labyrinthine narrow streets and cafés. Though much of the 19th-century medina is now a residential area, you can still explore the charming streets and look for the small shops, and unique sights hidden in the medina. Don’t miss the Berber Mosque and the Bab Marrakesh gateway with its clock tower.
4Museum of Moroccan Judaism
The Museum of Moroccan Judaism is the only Jewish museum in the entire Arab world. It is dedicated to the history, religion, traditions and daily lives of the once large Jewish population in Morocco. The museum has numerous exhibits including paintings, ornaments, clothing etc., as well as complete displays of Moroccan synagogues. It presents an interesting look at Jewish heritage and the history of Moroccan society and civilization. You can also explore Casablanca’s Jewish Cemetery to understand the city’s Jewish past.
5Parc de la Ligue Arabe
The pretty Parc de la Ligue Arabe, or the Arab League Garden, is the biggest open space in Casablanca. Designed in 1918, it has palm-tree-lined avenues, small cafés, many terraces, and lots of pathways where you can take a stroll and admire the flora.
6Sacre Coeur Cathedral
Although the Cathédrale de Sacré Coeur has now been abandoned, this stunning white former Catholic church is still quite impressive. The entrance is flanked by two towers, topped with domed bell chambers. It was built in the 1930s and used until the 1950s. You can also visit the unusually shaped Notre Dame de Lourdes with its pale walls and stained glass windows.
7Villa des Arts
Housed in a beautiful Art Deco building near the Parc de la Ligue Arabe, the Villa des Arts is one of the largest museums in Casablanca. It promotes contemporary Moroccan art and culture with work by both local and international artists. The museum houses around 800 permanent works, and also has regular events and exhibitions.
8The King’s Palace
The King’s Palace in Casablanca is one of many official royal residences across the country, and it is just as grand as the rest. Its detailed architecture, opulent displays, and ornate gates are protected by a host of guards. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed inside the palace itself. However, it’s worth it just to make a short stop and admire the outside.
The Scala (or Sqala) is the remains of the 18th-century Portuguese-style fortress that overlooks the sea. Many sections of the outer walls have been recently painted a bright yellow, but you can still see what it once looked like. The walls are still fitted with cannons, and the ramparts offer excellent views of the sea.
Located at one end of La Corniche is the Morocco Mall, one of the biggest modern shopping centres in Africa. Though it is filled with an extensive range of shops, cafés, and restaurants, traditional shopping is best left to the medina. However, there is also a range of attractions inside the mall itself, such as an indoor ice skating rink, a fairground, a fountain display, and even an aquarium. The Morocco Mall truly has something for everyone.
11Place Mohammed V
The Place Mohammed V is the main square of Casablanca and is surrounded by beautiful buildings and trees. It is also the administrative heart of the city, and here you can see the Wilaya administrative building; the Grande Poste, the city’s main post office; and the beautiful Mahkama du Pacha courthouse, among others. However, like the Royal Palace, you cannot enter many of these buildings.
Of course, there are lots of other things to do in Casablanca, though visitors shouldn’t expect to see many places from the iconic film, which was shot in Holywood. If we’ve missed any places to visit in Casablanca, be sure to share them in the comments below.