Planning Your Trip
Things to Do
What to Eat
The coastal city of Casablanca is the largest in Morocco, with a cosmopolitan atmosphere, an eclectic culinary scene, and unique architecture that draws inspiration from both Moorish and French Art Deco styles. There are many reasons to visit Casablanca. Some come to visit Hassan II Mosque, home to the largest religious minaret in the world ; others come to unwind on the Atlantic beaches or to surf the winter swell. Some visitors are drawn by the romance of the iconic movie "Casablanca," but stay for the gritty, authentic insight the city offers into modern Moroccan life. Whatever your reasons are for visiting the White City, use our planning guide—which includes tips on when to visit, what to eat, and where to stay—to help you to get the most out of your trip.
Planning Your Trip
- Best Time to Visit: Although Casablanca is a year-round destination, summer (June to August) is traditionally considered the best time to visit. The weather is warm and dry, although not as uncomfortably hot as it is in Morocco’s interior cities at this time. Many important cultural events, including the Festival de Casablanca, are held in the summer.
- Language: As in the rest of Morocco, there are two official languages in Casablanca; Standard Arabic and Tamazight (also known as Berber). The most commonly spoken European language is French, although many people can speak some English as well.
- Currency: Moroccan dirham.
- Getting Around: The Casa Tramway offers a convenient, efficient, and affordable way to get around Casablanca. If your chosen destination isn’t covered by the tram’s two lines, private taxis (known as petit taxis in Morocco) are a useful alternative.
- Travel Tip: Although summer offers the best weather, consider traveling in spring or fall to avoid crowds of vacationers and inflated prices.
Things to Do
Casablanca is very different from Morocco’s Imperial Cities, where medieval architecture and atmospheric souks are the main attractions. Instead, the city offers a more authentic, everyday Moroccan experience. Join the locals strolling hand-in-hand along the seafront promenade known as La Corniche. Feast on fresh seafood and rich tagines in hidden restaurants, or wander through the Old Medina to the port and the remains of the city’s 16th-century Portuguese fortress. Throughout the city, architectural landmarks abound, from those built in classic Moorish style like Makhama du Pacha to graceful European structures like L’Église du Sacre-Cœur.
- Shop for souvenirs in the Quartier Habous, a neighborhood built by the French in the 1930s. Its design and architecture blend the best of Moorish and Art Deco influences to create a unique style known as Mauresque. Wander along cobbled streets beneath ornate archways and arcades, shopping for traditional Moroccan crafts at artisan stalls along the way.
- Take a stroll along La Corniche, Casablanca’s seafront promenade. Stop for a swim in the sea or a picnic on the beach, rent a surfboard, sip cocktails at an ocean-view seafood restaurant, or take a guided tour of the city’s most famous landmark: the overwater Hassan II Mosque.
- Discover Casablanca’s rich cultural scene with an exhibition at Villa des Arts de Casablanca, perhaps, or a concert at the historic Cinéma Rialto. The city's most famous cultural events, the Festival de Casablanca and Jazzablanca, usually take place in late summer and April respectively.
Find out more about how to spend your time in Casablanca with our helpful guides on the best things to do in Casablanca, the ultimate 48-hour Casablanca itinerary, and the best day trips from Casablanca.
What to Eat and Drink
Thanks to its large size and culturally diverse population, Casablanca has one of the most eclectic culinary scenes in Morocco. You will find cuisines from around the world represented here, from the complex dishes of India and China, to sophisticated Japanese delicacies, to comfort foods full of the flavors of Italy and Mexico. However, it’s also a great place to sample classic Moroccan dishes. Must-try staples include tagine (a rich stew of meat and vegetables, flavored with spices, nuts, and dried fruit), couscous, and pastilla (a savory pie made from meat wrapped in layers of paper-thin pastry). Above all, though, Casablanca is renowned for its seafood. Restaurants at the port and on La Corniche offer the chance to savor fresh-caught fish, oysters, and lobsters while admiring views of the ocean from which they came.
Alcohol is more prevalent in Casablanca than in many smaller Moroccan towns, and you will be able to order imported beer, wine, and spirits from most international restaurants and upscale hotels. Some places even offer wine from Moroccan vineyards. However, traditional Moroccan restaurants usually don’t serve alcohol for religious reasons. There are plenty of delicious alcohol-free alternatives, including freshly squeezed orange juice, dark Arabic coffee, and of course, Morocco’s most ubiquitous beverage: mint tea.
Where to Stay
Casablanca’s accommodation is as diverse as its restaurant scene, with everything from traditional Moroccan guest houses to 5-star hotels by international luxury brands. Where you stay is a matter of personal preference. Those that like to be at the heart of the action should chose a central location close to Mohammed V Square and Place des Nations Unies, two of the most important public squares in Casablanca. The Gauthier district is a trendy choice, with plenty of fashionable hotels and a wealth of restaurants, bars, and shopping boutiques within easy walking distance. Alternatively, many of the city’s most luxurious hotels are located away from the city center on La Corniche or El Hank peninsula. Both of these areas boast spectacular sea views and easy access to Casablanca’s beaches.
Read our article on the best hotels in Casablanca to find out more.
Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) is the largest airport in Morocco and one of the five busiest in Africa . It’s the main port of entry for most visitors to the country, and getting from the airport to the city center is easy via train or petit taxi. If you’re already in Morocco, you can catch a train or a long distance bus to Casablanca from most major cities. Trains are operated by national rail network ONCF, while the two biggest bus companies are CTM and Supratours. Both methods of transport are safe and affordable.
Culture and Customs
Morocco is an Islamic country, and as such, non-Muslim visitors should be careful not to cause offense with behavior that would usually be acceptable at home. In particular, both genders (but especially women) should dress conservatively in clothes that cover the shoulders and knees. This is especially important if you plan on visiting Hassan II Mosque, as you won’t be allowed in otherwise.
In Morocco, you should always use your right hand to shake hands, give a gift or tip, and to eat. This is because the left hand is reserved for bathroom duties in Islamic countries and is considered unclean. Other important customs include always removing your shoes before you enter someone’s home, never drinking alcohol in public places (i.e. on the street), and keeping public displays of affection to a minimum. The latter is especially relevant for LGBTQ+ travelers, since homosexuality is still illegal in Morocco .
Money Saving Tips
- The first and most important way to save money in Casablanca is to remember that prices are often negotiable. This is true for souvenirs and food for sale in the Old Medina and the Central Marketplace, for taxi fares, and sometimes even for sightseeing tours. A good rule of thumb is to offer half of the original asking price and then haggle until you both agree on a price somewhere in the middle.
- If you use the Casa Tramway to get around, explore the different passes and choose the one that gives you the best value (this will depend on the length of your stay and how often you will be using the tram). For example, a weekly subscription card works out cheaper than a standard prepaid card if you plan on using the tram more than 10 times within the week.
- If you use the petit taxis to get around, try to choose one with a working meter. This can be quite difficult, so alternatively be sure to agree on a price before you accept the ride. Remember that taxi fares in Casablanca increase by 50 percent after 8 p.m.
- Restaurants in Casablanca are generally affordable by Western standards. However, if you’re dining on a shoestring, remember that street stalls and local restaurants (especially in the Central Marketplace) charge a fraction of the price compared with smart restaurants geared towards tourists. They can be just as tasty, too.
- If you plan on making a few day trips from Casablanca, grand taxis (shared minibuses) are the cheapest way to travel. However, buses and trains are also affordable and are both safer and more comfortable.