What shouldn't I miss in Casablanca?
April 6, 2010 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Off to Casablanca! What must I not miss?

It's my first trip to Morocco. I'll be staying in Casablanca for a week and have some things planned, but what are you really glad you saw or did while there?
posted by goo to Travel & Transportation around Casablanca, Morocco (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you got much more than a week in the country? My first recommendation would be to leave Casablanca and get to Fes or Marrakesh.
posted by turkeyphant at 6:35 PM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: Nah, only a week and some days of quality sand time are essential - it's been a long winter! Day/ overnight trips are definitely doable though, if you have any specific suggestions for Fes or Marrakesh.
posted by goo at 6:53 PM on April 6, 2010

Best answer: Leave Casablanca as soon as you can, after (maybe) seeing the Hassan II mosque and checking out some of the old Art Deco architecture around the center of town.

PM me if you want some ideas - it's about 2-3 hours to Fes on the train, and 4-5 hours to Marrakech, so you might want to plan on at least a two day trip, if you can get away for that long.
posted by HopperFan at 8:15 PM on April 6, 2010

I've gotta agree with the above: For me Casablanca has got to be one of the most disappointing travel destinations! (Especially as a big fan of the movie!)

Apart from the world's second largest mosque, and some market stalls selling delicious fresh fish, I couldn't find many reasons to stay. You're only hours away from the mind-blowing cities of Fes and Marrakech - I'd recommend you try to spend some of your time there.
posted by sleepy boy at 7:05 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Agree that Casablanca isn't a wildly thrilling place to visit. Also agree with the suggestions to go to Fez and Marrakech. If you don't have the time to get to either of those places, you should get on up to Rabat which is about 90 minutes away from Casa by car. Rabat is a totally underrated city in my opinion; there are several cool touristy things to see like the Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of King Mohammed V. The best part about Rabat though is that the souk is authentic but manageable for a novice; the beautiful kasbah is worth a wander around, as are the Chellah ruins.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 7:39 AM on April 7, 2010

Best answer: My coworker is from Casablanca! Here's what she recommends (at work, so I can't post links but these are google-able and she says you could ask anyone and they will know where these are):

- Rick's Cafe, from the movie.
- The mosque, which is near Rick's Cafe. Do not go during prayer times. Prayer times are listed on the first page of the newspaper every day. (Some people go during prayer times, so that they can get in free. This is rude, of course.)
- Corniche (Ain Diab) is the beachfront area, also near Rick's and the mosque. They have many beach clubs (like water parks, but very nice). Tahiti Beach Club is the best one. It is too cold right now for swimming, but they have nice views and restaurants.
- Maarif, which is the shopping district.
- Glacier Oliverie, one of the best places for ice cream and sorbets. There is one in Maarif, and one on Avenue Hassan II. This is the place to go. It is a cafe, that serves food as well as the famous ice cream and sorbets.
- Pasteries are also do-not-miss. Specifically, go to Patisserie Amoud, which has two locations in Maarif as well.
- Centre Ville, which is the French Art Deco area (to view the architecture).
- Quartier Habous, a medina (bazaar)
- La Scala is a do-not-miss restaurant. Recommended: Seafood dishes, lamb tagine, and going for tea (about 4:00 PM) during which you can have Moroccan pancakes and mint tea.

For even more ideas and recommendations, she says to look at the "Coins sympas ou sortir au Maroc" Facebook page.
posted by Houstonian at 8:39 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I'm afraid I have to agree with everything written here. Casablanca is pretty awful - all of the hassle of Morocco without any of the charm. Actually, it doesn't even feel like you're in Morocco. But Rabat, Fes and Marrakech are all fantastic. Search for Marrakech on here - there are several good threads of things not to miss. And as for Rick's in Casablanca, don't even bother. It doesn't resemble Rick's Cafe and is ridiculously overpriced for really terrible food.
posted by meerkatty at 10:31 AM on April 7, 2010

I have a few links to go with my previous post.

La Scala. As I mentioned, it's a restaurant now. But, it is also a historical building. When Portugal was attacking Morocco to colonize, this served as a fort. The people rushed inside, behind the doors (there are lots of doors). There is a cannon outside -- the original that was used to defend Casablanca.

Rick's Cafe. From the movie. Take a look at the About Us page. An American woman worked for the embassy in Casablanca, and wanted to stay. She bought an old Moorish home, found investors, and redid the interior to look like the movie. The man who plays the piano actually has a tie to the movie: His mother was Bogart's cook!
posted by Houstonian at 11:19 AM on April 7, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all, particularly Houstonian - I will definitely spend time in Rabat and Fes as well (and maybe Marrakech, if I can also get enough sand and salt water time!).
posted by goo at 1:05 PM on April 7, 2010

Fes was fun (and MUCH better than Casablanbca), but I really loved Chefchouen, which is a totally charming mountain town. If you want sand & salt water, go to Essaouira.
posted by gretchin at 11:15 AM on April 8, 2010

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