How to Spend 24 Hours in Rabat, Morocco

The buildings in Rabat's Kasbah of the Udayas are painted blue
The buildings in Rabat's Kasbah of the Udayas are painted blue | © C_KI / Pixabay
Rabat is an unmissable stop for any traveller in Morocco. Beautiful and enchanting, the capital city is famous for its seaside location and its iconic landmarks, including the historical Hassan Tower. Experience all of Rabat with Culture Trip’s 24-hour guide.

Morning

The Hassan Tower was built in 1195 © Earleliason / Getty Images

Charming French-influenced patisseries are scattered all around Rabat, and what better way to start your day than by picking up some coffee and pastries at one of these bakeries? Try Boulangerie Pâtisserie Amoud or Majestic – two well-known spots that sell classic Moroccan treats like fekkas (Moroccan tea biscuits) or almond briouats (a fried, savoury dessert).

After filling your belly, head to Hassan Tower. Built in 1195, the iconic landmark was intended to be the largest mosque in the world. But today you’ll find an incomplete minaret of an ancient mosque and a stretch of marble ruins. Despite not being complete, Hassan Tower is considered one of Rabat’s most important (and stunning) historical sites. Beside it lies the mausoleum of Mohammad V, one of the most revered examples of Moroccan architecture.

Afternoon

Painted blue and white walls, decorative doorways and intricate geometric architecture details are typical in the Old Town of Rabat © Frans Sellies / Getty Images

After admiring the beauty of the mosque, head to the Kasbah of the Udayas – Rabat’s beautiful ancient citadel. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it offers some of the best views in the city. As you explore this historical landmark, wander through its narrow blue alleyways until you get to the end of the road where you’ll have stunning views of the ocean. Finish off by visiting the lush Andalusian Gardens located next door for a moment of tranquillity among exotic plants and flowering trees.

The Andalusian Gardens in the Kasbah of the Udayas is a small fortified complex and a UNESCO World Heritage site © Kotangens / iStock

You’ll probably be hungry at this point. From the Andalusian Gardens, walk next door and you’ll find several vendors selling snacks like steamed snails and popcorn, as well as a string of lunch spots. Situated by the water, Blue Berry serves international dishes. Go for a crèpe or m’semmen (traditional flatbread) and watch the boats as they come and go in the bay. You can even take a ride yourself if you’d like – taxi boats charge only a few dirhams (less than £1) for a water tour along Rabat’s beaches.

Moroccan artist Maria Karim displayed work inside the Mohammed VI Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art during the first International Biennial of Contemporary Art © AFP via Getty Images

You can’t visit Rabat without immersing yourself in art, so take the tram to the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – which, luckily, has a lovely café attached with a great lunch menu. Here, you’ll enjoy looking at a selection of art from both Moroccan and international artists. After your visit, take a short walk to Villa des Arts, an open-air art gallery and gardens, to have a look at the exhibitions or just lounge beneath the Villa’s trellises.

Evening

The ancient Medina is a great place to buy handmade ceramic souvenirs © Gavran Boris / Getty Images

Get out your wallet, because you’re about to spend some money as you visit Rabat’s ancient Medina. Walk through the winding alleyways and crowded stores of this old city to get an authentic feel of Rabat. This is where you’ll find some of the best shopping in the city, offering everything from traditional tapestries, argan oil, handmade jewellery and fresh produce. When you exit the Medina on the south side, where it meets Avenue Mohammad V, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Rabat’s best restaurants. Craving tajine? Try the slow-cooked savoury stew at Le Petit Beur or Tajine Wa Tanjia, both are known for offering the best of Moroccan cuisine. Want some stellar tapas and sangria? Look no further than Casa Jose Tapas. For some tasty Lebanese food, visit Rabat’s most beloved Lebanese restaurant, Yamal Acham.

For dinner, opt for vegetable couscous and meat and prune tagine garnished with fresh coriander and sesame seeds © Nicola Margaret / Getty Images

Finish off your evening by visiting one of Rabat’s lively bars. Despite the city’s bar scene being fairly small, it offers a great selection of venues that show you a different side of Morocco. Visit El Palantino or Le Diwan, a chic hotel situated in central Rabat if you’re looking for an upscale atmosphere. If you want to hang with the locals, take a taxi to Rabat’s Agdal neighbourhood to check out its pubs and dive bars.