Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city, principal port and financial capital. Although it is widely known for the romantic notions portrayed in the eponymous 1942 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca is much more than nostalgic romanticism; it is a thriving economic centre filled with sophisticated venues for the arts as well as eateries and nightclubs to satisfy the yearnings of every visitor.
Casablanca is a must-visit city rich in history and architectural heritage. It is at once ancient and modern, simultaneously displaying its past while dynamically moving into its future. Upon entering the city from the airport, you will note that building styles in the business district range from Mauresque and Art Deco with Islamic influences to fiercely contemporary. As you enter the metropolis, the Technopark and Casanearshore Park will greet you; as you travel around on foot, you will discover a rich blend that characterises the city overall—from the antiquity in the old city, to the Art Deco furnishings in the Post Office in Place Mohammed V square, to the modern sprawling Hassan II Mosque, consecrated in 1993.
Investigate inside those Art Deco villas—many of them now house museums and art galleries. Check into events listed by La Fabrique Culturelle des Anciens Abattoirs de Casablanca, a centre for concerts, dance influenced by funk and hip-hop and art expos by local masters. After exploring the streets and boulevards, rest and delight in the French cuisine of the chic Le Cabestan restaurant or the Mediterranean fare of Bleu, both offering superb dining and remarkable views of La Corniche waterfront on the Atlantic. Then experience the splendour of a Moroccan sunset while you dine.
People and Traditions
The Moroccan people embody the pulse of the nation. They continue to embrace their rich Berber heritage while enthusiastically becoming immersed in the fast-paced rhythm of international business and trade. Meanwhile, their songs of worship fill the air. Almost 99% of the population practises Islam.
In the cities, souks (open-air markets) are a way of life. The locals in Casablanca sell a variety of Moroccan goods that capture the traditions and beauty of life in this timeless city. The Moroccan people are friendly and vivacious and are known to extend a warm welcome to their visitors.
The climate in Casablanca varies considerably from season to season. It is quite cold in winter and can be extremely hot in summer. December, January and February are the coldest months with an average temperature of 13°C. July, August and September are the hottest with an average 23°C. Spring and fall average 18°C. February is the rainiest month. Travellers to Casablanca should bring an item or two of warmer outerwear, even when visiting in summer, as nighttime temperatures can drop significantly. Western style of dress is typical throughout the city. Dress in the way that is most comfortable for you.
A sun-drenched day is the perfect time to leave downtown and make your way to the seaside. La Corniche, Casablanca’s waterfront boulevard, offers upscale shops, restaurants and lounges, beach cafes and raw bars--hot spots in which to meet locals and visitors alike while relaxing near fire pits or on outdoor terraces complete with riviera-style views and pleasant breezes.
For a uniquely personalised culinary experience, take a hands-on cooking lesson in the host’s kitchen including a private tour to a nearby market where guests learn about delectable spices and ingredients used in Moroccan cuisine. Or enjoy a farm-to-table experience at La Ferme de Bouskou, where visitors are treated to dairy farm tours, cheese tastings and suggestions for suitable wine pairings.
A principal landmark is the stunning Hassan II Mosque, situated on a promontory facing the Atlantic Ocean. Inland from the harbour is the medina (the old city), still partially enclosed by the ancient ramparts. No visit to Casablanca would be complete without a journey within these fortified walls. Stroll through the shaded alleys in the shadow of the Great Mosque and delve into the origins of this ancient section of the city that is very much alive within the modern-day metropolis. Enjoy Art Deco treasures around Place Mohammed V including the main Post Office and the Courthouse. The French architectural influence extends to landmarks like the beloved Cinéma Rialto. Overlooking the gardens of the Arab League Park is the pristine white Gothic Revival-style Cathedral of the Sacré Cœur, offering yet another form of architecture in this diverse locale.
Join an architectural tour offered by the non-profit association, Casamémoire, which serves to protect the historic buildings of Casablanca. You will gain a deeper appreciation for the variety of styles and venues found in this fascinating destination.