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The movie of the same name may immediately leap to mind, but contemporary Casablanca is a world away (literally – the 1942 film was shot in Hollywood). Today, in Morocco’s most populous city, expect to find striking architecture (from art deco to modernist), a surfers’ haven, chic restaurants and Maghreb glamour.
Where to Stay
- Hôtel & Spa Le DogeHôtel & Spa Le DogeFor the boutique setting
- Sofitel Casablanca Tour BlancheSofitel Casablanca Tour BlancheFor contemporary luxury
- Four Seasons CasablancaFour Seasons CasablancaFor the seaside escape
Eat & Drink
Vegan and gluten–free fare at Organic Kitchen This airy spot is a health–conscious restaurant, juice bar, café and local food market – all rolled into one. Vegan and gluten–free diners will find plenty of options here. Grab a tropical tumeric and coconut–milk smoothie, a Buddha bowl, or provisions for your own beachside picnic.
Hearty French cuisine at La Bavaroise Founded in 1989 by Casa native Aziz Chabine, this brasserie has become a classic in Casablanca dining. Come for the chargrilled filets sourced from local, grass–fed cattle, but don’t skip the oysters flown in fresh daily from Dakhla.
High–end sushi at Iloli Casablanca is unexpectedly enamoured of Japanese food, and Iloli’s Yusuke Furukawa is among the most notable chefs serving it here. At this contemporary restaurant, his culinary approach is half artistry, half meticulous science; tuck into the kishimen udon, goma dofu and sashimi, carefully (and gorgeously) prepared in the open kitchen.
Cinematic vibes at Rick’s Café The restaurant concept – bringing the bar of Casablanca movie fame to life – may sound gimmicky, but somehow it works. Credit goes to the fresh, seasonal menu, which makes the most of produce from local markets. The goat–cheese salad with ripe figs is a staple.
Slow–cooked tagines at La Sqala Inside the romantic confines of this former Portuguese fortress, dig into the savoury/sweet/spicy flavours that define Moroccan cuisine. Hand–rolled couscous delicately flavoured with smen, a tart fermented butter, and slow–cooked tajines are among the standouts at this chill café/restaurant.
What to Do
Medieval architecture in Rabat Just a one–hour train ride from Casablanca, Morocco’s capital city has something for culture seekers of all stripes. Check out the Roman–Moroccan ruin of the Chellah necropolis, the medieval kasbah towering over the mouth of the Bou Regreg river, or the new Musée Mohammed VI d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (opened in 2014).
Head–to–toe pampering at Four Seasons Casablanca Spa A classic Moroccan steam–bath ritual calls for a borderline aggressive scrubdown; you can opt for the task–oriented experience at a neighbourhood hammam, or a more relaxing version at a luxury spa like the Four Seasons’. Follow your all–over exfoliation with a massage using skin–nourishing argan oil – Morocco’s most famous beauty ingredient.
Art deco gems in Mohammed V Square Casablanca was planned by the French and meant to display their prowess and dreams for Africa. When they left Morocco in 1956, their legacy included a downtown full of Art–deco gems. In the pedestrian–friendly downtown, architecture buffs can discover the Palais de Justice and the Wilaya clock tower, and pop into the Grande Poste to see the French–colonial interiors.
Islamic–Moroccan architecture at Mahkama du Pacha This court of justice was once the Pacha of Casablanca’s palace. The grandeur lives on in the intricate mosaics, polished marble columns, hand–carved cedar ceilings and carefully hewn stucco. Hire a licensed tour guide for easy access and a historical perspective.
Cultural history at Musée du Judaïsme Marocain Today, Morocco is a nearly entirely Muslim country, but as recently as a few generations ago, it was home to a notable Jewish population. Opened in 1997, this institution aims to recover that lost heritage – many objects were rescued from synagogues across the country. It has the distinction of being the only Jewish museum in the Arabic world.
Sunset strolls along La Corniche The Corniche is a wide boulevard walkway that plays host to two playful urban beaches, Lalla Meriem and Aïn Diab. Sun worshippers flock to them all week, while families go crabbing on weekends. The boulevard makes for a picture–perfect stroll at sunset, when it’s cast in shades of pink and red.
Hipster souvenirs at TO Concept Store Inspired by Colette in Paris and launched by ex–restaurateur Toufic Reda, this concept shop aims to allow Casablancans to travel vicariously – by way of discovering cool stuff imported from around the world. The quirky giftables include T–shirts and sunglasses, gadgets, books, jewellery and candles.
Chic Moroccan footwear at Zyne Marrying her Moroccan heritage with her knowledge of French fashion (her resumé includes stints with Sonia Rykiel and Christian Dior), Casablanca–based designer Zineb Britel has reinvented the babouche. The result is a line of handcrafted mules, elevated with embellishments to style–statement status.
Fair–trade goods at Le Marché Solidaire At first glance, this looks like a mega–supermarket, but this 9,700–square–foot “solidarity market” is a pilot project launched in 2017 by the Mohammed V Foundation. Aisle after aisle is stocked with fair–trade products from Moroccan women’s co–operatives – about 4,000 items from 200 co–ops in all, covering packaged foods, cosmetics, textiles and much more.
Handcrafted home accessories at Quartier Habous At this French–built outdoor shopping mall, also known as the new medina, you’ll find everything from hand–spun pottery from Fez and Safi to carved cedar statues from the Middle and High Atlas Mountains. Surprisingly, it’s also one of the best places in Morocco to find a handwoven Berber carpet. Before you go, stop by Pâtisserie Bennis Habous, beloved for its cornes de gazelle since 1930.