What to Do on a Layover in Casablanca

Cathédrale Sacré Coeur | © Rais67/Wikimedia Commons
Cathédrale Sacré Coeur | © Rais67/Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Yasmine Guermoudi
Web Content Writer20 August 2018

With several things to see and do, why not get out of the airport and go around Casablanca during a layover instead of waiting at the airport? With many means of transportation including trains, tramways, buses, taxis, Uber, and Careem on hand depending on one’s budget and the amount of time they have, here are some ideas for fitting in some sightseeing while waiting for the next plane to board.

Three hours

If there are only three hours before a connecting flight arrives, it’s best to not go that far since Casablanca’s airport is outside the city.

The nearest neighbourhoods are Bouskoura and Californie, both suburbs for the more affluent with massive fancy houses with green gardens and golf courses.

In Bouskoura, grab something to eat in one of the many restaurants and in Californie, check out the small mall with different fast foods and even a massive supermarket.

There’s not time to do much more as Moroccan airports can be quite slow getting travellers through security checks and the like.

Casablanca's iconic Hassan II Mosque | © Anna & Michal / Flickr

Six hours

Six hours allow the chance to go farther into Casablanca. Take a train from inside the airport to the Old Medina stop, Casa Port, and see some of Casablanca’s beauty.

Walk five minutes from the train station to the Medina and take in the narrow streets with endless stalls full of traditional hand-made goodies, ladies offering henna tattoos, authentic leather garments, and more. Stop at any restaurant in the Medina and they will more than likely serve deep-fried seafood and mint tea while cats stroll through the tables looking for any leftovers.

After spending a good couple of hours inside the Old Medina, discover the New Medina. Built by the French during the French Protectorate in 1912, enjoy its wide streets, white buildings with a Europe-meets-Morocco kind of architecture, and wooden doors and stairs. These buildings were built by the best French architects of the early 20th century to mark the French’s presence in Morocco and are a real piece of art in the streets of the Kingdom.

After touring the two Medinas, catch the train from the Casa Port Station back to the Airport Station.

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/luc/3929488332/"> Traditional Moroccan goods for sale in Casablanca's medina | © Luc Legay/Flickr

Nine hours

With nine hours in Casablanca, there’s a lot to see and do.

From Casa Port, take a taxi to Parc de la Ligue Arabe and enjoy this large park with endless palm trees, greenery, and the soothing sound of birds.

After strolling through the park, check out the nearby Cathédrale Sacré Coeur, a Roman Catholic church built in the 1930s with beautiful architecture, coloured glass, and much more. There are occasional art exhibitions that present contemporary paintings from up-and-coming artists.

Spend a couple of hours here and then take a cab for the five-minute drive to the Hassan II Mosque. This famous monument is the largest mosque in Africa and the second largest in the world. The incredible tile work, marble, and the beautiful minaret are some of the highlights of this mesmerising mosque; it’s a must-see when visiting Casablanca.

Take a walk on the seafront and enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean. One more cab ride to the Old Medina since it’s near the train station. While there, have a look, buy some souvenirs, and hop on the train back to the airport.

Cathédrale Sacré Coeur | © Rais67/Wikimedia Commons

12 hours

Depending on when the 12-hour wait occurs, there are plenty of places to visit. Get on that train to Casa Port to visit the Medinas. While there, walk into the bazars, spot a traditional Moroccan rug worth taking home, and haggle until the price drops.

The Medinas are a good spot to spend a couple of hours shopping and taking in the real beauty of Morocco with the narrow streets, the leather babouches, and the henna tattoos.

After all that walking around, haggling, and spotting pieces to take back home, it’s time to relax and eat. Hop on the tramway in the New Medina headed towards the beach, Ain Diab.

To do it like the locals, grab a sandwich from a nearby street stand to eat on the beach or have lunch at the many fast food places and restaurants on the seafront. After eating, enjoy the beach and tan among the sounds of waves and people playing football.

Spending a day at the beach can be exhausting, so drink a glass of fresh Moroccan mint tea.

For the most Casablancaesque experience, take a cab to Rick’s Café—yes, the famous café of the movie Casablanca—and have a drink in a restaurant with authentic Moroccan décor and pianists playing classics.

Rick’s Café is within walking distance of Casa Port, so walk back to the station to catch a train back to the airport.

Rick's Cafe | © Didier55/WikiCommons

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