Casablanca in Morocco is a popular stop on itineraries that sail towards the Canary Islands, as it offers something a little different to a typical few days of sun, beaches and shopping. It’s a chance to explore an entirely different culture and to learn about a different way of life. I’ve visited Casablanca twice and although I know it’s not everyone’s favourite place, I’ve enjoyed both of my visits.
I wanted to use this blog to give you some ideas on what to do during your time there, so that’s exactly what I am going to do.
The first thing most people think of when they hear the word ‘Casablanca’ is Ricks’ Café. The café was opened in 2004 and was built as an exact replica of the bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the movie ‘Casablanca’. I’ve never been inside, but have passed it several times and it certainly stands out among its neighbours. I know many people that have visited the interior – had dinner and drinks there – and they have all said how wonderful it is. If you want to experience this on your own, it is within easy reach of the port, but if your cruise ship is offering an organised excursion it may be wise for you to book that tour – just in case they close specifically for tours.
Another ‘must see’ during your time here is the Hassan II Mosque. It is simply stunning. It cost $3 billion to build and offers space (inside and outside combined) for 105,000 people to pray. During my first trip to Casablanca, I combined an exterior visit with a city tour – which was a lot of fun – but on my second visit I went inside the mosque and it really is spectacular. The best and easiest way to see it – if you want to go inside – is via an organised excursion. Everything is taken care of for you and, of course, you have your guide on hand to answer questions and give you some history on the mosque. Make sure your knees and shoulders are covered if you do wish to go inside.
The Old Medina is not something for the light hearted, but if you can stand some hustle and bustle (and keep in mind the way out) then you are in for a real treat! I absolutely love the Old Medina and it’s a great place to do some shopping, but make sure you haggle on the prices! What starts off at 20 euro can often be sold to you for 5! It can get incredibly busy in there and I’d not advise you visit if you have walking difficulties. The Medina sits behind the old city walls within United Nations Square, so it’s not difficult to find. Usually, your cruise line will offer a shuttle bus service to United Nations Square, which is the main shopping area of the city, and the Medina is just a 2-minute walk from the drop-off point. It’s filled with crafts, Argan oil products, clothing, shoes and so much more. It really a small world contained within a city.
For those of you who are not always comfortable exploring on your own in foreign lands, then an organised excursion really is the best option for you. However, if you do want to stretch your travelling wings, then there is no shortage of taxis within the city. My advice would be to take the shuttle bus into United Nations Square and ask the person there that is responsible for the buses to get you a taxi. This way, you can be sure that your driver is a registered driver and you can agree a price before leaving. During my first visit to Casablanca, I hired what they call a ‘petit taxi’ and went on a short city tour. It was cheap and the driver was very friendly, he also waited for my friend and I at every stop. One thing to note is that taxis there are not like the ones we are used to at home – most of them probably wouldn’t be allowed on the road in the UK, but it’s an entirely different system out there.
Whatever you decide to do in Casablanca I hope you have a wonderful time!