The Best Things to See and Do in Casablanca

The huge Hassan II Mosque, the second largest in Africa, is a must-see on a visit to Casablanca
The huge Hassan II Mosque, the second largest in Africa, is a must-see on a visit to Casablanca | © Andrey Danilovich / Getty Images
Photo of Rebecca Wilkinson
14 February 2017

Casablanca, the commercial centre of Morocco, often comes behind the likes of Marrakech and Fes for tourism, but it should not be overlooked, whether for its art deco splendours or the modern recreation of Rick’s Cafe from the legendary film starring Humphrey Bogart.

The French colonial legacy of the city, entwined with Arab culture, ensures there is plenty to see in Casablanca. Alongside art deco buildings such as the old Cathédrale de Sacré Coeur and stone alleyways, visitors can marvel at the glass-floored Hassan II mosque and dive into gems such as the tiny Abderrahman Slaoui Museum.

Hassan II Mosque

Mosque
Map View
King Hassan II mosque in Casablanca at dusk
© Sharrocks / Getty Images
Completed in 1993 and set on a platform overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the iconic Hassan II Mosque is the second-largest mosque in Africa, and one of few open to non-Muslims (through selected guided tours lasting around an hour each). It can accommodate up to 25,000 worshipers and offers Muslims the chance to pray on a glass floor, giving the unique feeling of praying directly over the sea. Everyone is welcome to admire the beautiful piece of architecture at any time from the spacious courtyard, which can accommodate a further 80,000 people.

Rick’s Café

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Continental, $$$
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memories of Bogart in Casablanca, Morocco
CXJG18 memories of Bogart in Casablanca, Morocco | © Dave Samboulis / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’re looking for things to do in Casablanca, you have to include the famous Rick’s Café. Based on the fictional location in the classic Humphrey Bogart movie Casablanca, this piano bar was developed by American ex-diplomat Kathy Kriger and architect Bill Willis, and opened in 2004. With palm trees, brass chandeliers, table lamps, cocktails and a baby grand piano tucked into an archway, you can be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into the 1942 flick on a visit to this bar. You may count yourself among the usual suspects…

Morocco Mall

Shopping Mall
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Morocco, Casablanca, Morocco Mall
E65JT1 Morocco, Casablanca, Morocco Mall | © Tuul and Bruno Morandi / Alamy Stock Photo
Located at the end of La Corniche area is Morocco Mall, the biggest shopping centre in Africa. A modern hub, Morocco Mall offers enough to entertain anyone, whether you’re with the whole family or travelling as a couple, for the whole day. On top of the extensive range of shops, offering anything from H&M to Dior, and a vast range of food options, Morocco Mall also hosts an indoor aquarium, complete with a small shark, a fountain display outside and even indoor ice skating and an indoor fairground. There really is something for everyone. For a taste of old Morocco, there’s even an indoor souk (market), but the Old Medina is the place to go in Casablanca for a more traditional experience.

Abderrahman Slaoui Museum

Museum
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Morocco, Casablanca, Abderrahman Slaoui museum
© Tuul & Bruno Morandi / Getty Images
The tiny and beautiful Abderrahman Slaoui Foundation Museum is a small building hidden in the middle of downtown Casablanca city. Named after Abderrahman Slaoui, a Moroccan businessman and art collector, the museum is a showcase of his collection of decorative Moroccan art. With old posters, Moroccan jewellery, figurative paintings by Muhammad Ben Ali Rbati, landscape paintings by Jacques Majorelle and crystal objects, a morning spent in this gem will give you a new appreciation for the art of Morocco and beyond. New exhibitions are shown regularly, featuring contemporary Moroccan artists.

Museum of Moroccan Judaism

Museum
Map View
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY Philippe SAUVAGN
© Abdelhak Senna / Getty Images
The only Jewish museum in the Arab world, the Museum of Moroccan Judaism offers an insight into the history, religion, traditions and daily lives of Jews in Morocco. Its exhibition rooms contain paintings, ornaments and clothing, as well as complete displays of Moroccan synagogues. It demonstrates not only the Jewish influence on Moroccan society, but highlights the history of interfaith coexistence in Moroccan civilisation.

Sky 28

Bar, Moroccan, $$$
Map View
159160748
Courtesy of Kenzi Tower Hotel
For a taste of luxury and unique beverages, head to the Sky 28. The bar offers guests the chance to sit in a tasteful atmosphere, overlooking the city and drinking a pricey yet worthy cocktail. If you’re wondering what to do in Casablanca at night, this is a good choice, as you can admire the illuminated city and escape the hustle and bustle of the Old Medina. Live music creates a chilled and comfortable atmosphere.

Parc de la Ligue Arabe

Cathedral, Park
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The Arab League Park (Parc de la Ligue arabe ) is an urban park in Casablanca, Morocco
© Jaouad.K / iStock
South of Place Mohammed V lies the Parc de la Ligue Arabe. Designed in 1918, this park, complete with a palm-tree-lined avenue, is Casablanca’s biggest open space. Perfect for games and walks, and offering a choice of small cafes, the Arab League Park gives you the chance to relax and admire the African flora, or venture to the Cathédrale de Sacré Coeur, the neglected place of worship on the edge of the park that hints at the art deco past of Casablanca.

Place Mohammed V

Architectural Landmark
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Place Mohammed V and city skyline, dusk
© Scott E Barbour / Getty Images
A visit to the administrative hub of Casablanca, Place Mohammed V is a chance to experience first-hand the work of architect Henri Prost. Surrounded by public buildings which set the scene for further buildings throughout Morocco, including law courts, the square is also home to the statue of Marshal Lyautey, the first French Resident-General in Morocco from 1912 to 1925. In addition to this monumental statue, the square features a grand fountain dating back to 1976 where, at certain times of day, you can stop for a music-accompanied water show.

Villa des Arts

Building, Art Gallery
Map View
Morocco, Casablanca, Villa des Arts
© Tuul & Bruno Morandi / Getty Images
Part of the ONA Foundation, one of Morocco’s primary cultural foundations, the Villa des Arts is one of the largest museums in Casablanca and is near the Parc de la Ligue Arabe. It promotes the contemporary arts in a framework of Moroccan culture and heritage and features around 800 permanent artworks, as well as temporary expositions of international and contemporary artists. Here you’ll find a different perspective on Moroccan culture. The building itself is a beautiful piece of art deco architecture dating back to 1934. Hosting numerous cultural events, the Villa des Arts attracts locals and tourists all year round.

Royal Palace

Architectural Landmark
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Gate to the palace of the king of Morocco
© SvetlanaSF / Getty Images
Near the New Medina you’ll find one of King Mohammed VI’s numerous palaces. The monarch has other palaces in Marrakech, Fes and Rabat, and the King’s Palace in Casablanca is just as grand as the rest of them, with its enormous open square at the front, a surplus of guards, and a grand exterior which anyone can enjoy. The palace is rarely open to anyone outside the king’s circle, but it’s worth a visit to see it from the outside.

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