White villas, romantic scenery, couples in love, and fresh breeze – that’s what many visitors think of Casablanca. Prior to going there. When they come, they experience something completely different; crowded streets, tall buildings, and a terrible traffic jam. Don’t get me wrong, Casablanca can be nice however, there’s one condition: you have to know the places to go to!
Sometimes I hate this city, sometimes I love it. When someone asks me to show them around, I always try to focus on the best, non-touristy spots. Let me unveil the hidden gems of this city in just one day!
IN THE MORNING…
The best place to start off your day is the Old Town, in Arabic called Medina. It’s in the city center, and you can easily recognise it. How? Thanks to the tall walls surrounding it and rounded wide entrances. Years ago Medina used to serve as the city center. You would go to school there, get your clothes tailored there, get grocery shopping from your neighbour, or pray in the nearby Mosque. Nowadays the Old Town is just a tiny part of the big metropolis of Casablanca, and a small part of it is also a tourist attraction. What can you buy there? Leather goods, clothes, cookies, argan oil, cosmetics, you may also go for a delicious, thick smoothie in one of its juice bars, in Arabic called “Mahlaba”.
Alternatively, if you are interested in a more authentic experience, you may take a taxi all way to the district of Habbous. It’s quite far from center and less touristy than the Medina.
Fancy seeing the city from above? Drop by the Sacré-Coeur Cathedral, a place that gives a splendid view and is not tapped by tourists. Having climbed countless steps, you’ll enjoy the cityscape: ocean, port, tall buildings and the Old Town. It’s a perfect viewing point that photographers will highly appreciate! Sacré-Coeur Cathedral is located on Rue d’Alger in the city center, close to the tram station Hassan II and Mohamed V Square.
DURING THE DAY…
I have two options to choose from. First one, for backpackers, budget travelers, and people who truly enjoy tremendously “local” places. The port of Casablanca. There’re two fancy, expensive restaurants; a small bar run by the Subsaharians; and some shabby (yet serving delicious seafood!) stalls. For the third option you have to stroll deep to the port. How? Follow the smell. A lunch for two will cost you 5 euros.
For the travelers who choose luxury and comfort over inexpensive spots, I’d recommend a chic, and well-established restaurant La Sqala. Its interior is stunningly beautiful, you’ll hear Moroccan music and enjoy wonderful, Arabic-style mosaic. The food there is super delicious however, quite expensive – a lunch for two will cost you around 50 euros.
After the lunch you can hit one of the biggest mosques in all Africa – Hassan II Mosque. Its architecture is truly breathtaking! The mosque is built on the ocean and, trust me, sunsets seen from there are just unforgettable! One thing that may really drive you nuts are tourists and the overwhelming number of the locals spending Sunday afternoon there. Hard to find a place to relax.
IN THE EVENING…
What’s better than a sunset seen from the beach? One of Casablanca’s biggest advantages is the fact that you can admire them every single day! For the most astonishing views go to La Corniche, the coast, for a long walk. Chilly breeze, the sounds of waves, and pinkish sun falling asleep… Magic in the air!
To finish your trip well, and slow down after a day full of action, you can drop by Sky28. It’s a bar located on the 28th floor of Twin Center in the very heart of Casablanca. It’s a bit posh, definitely not a place for backpackers, but the views are worth every single dirham spent! A perfect way to say goodbye Casablanca and go to bed with good memories.
About the Author: Polish blogger (BewilderedinMorocco) living in Casablanca, Morocco. Traveler passionate about teaching and writing. Believes that getting out of one’s comfort zone is the best way to learn. Appreciates nature, spooky rooftops, and untapped, hidden gems over famous, touristy spots.