Casablanca may be famous as the title of a classic film, but Morocco’s largest city is so much more than just the setting of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s 1942 love story. It’s a thriving financial centre, one of the largest ports in Northern Africa, and is rich in cultural history—having been colonised by first the Portuguese, then the French, and finally gaining independence in 1956.
Now, Casablanca is well-known as a port of entry to Morocco and even offers some great sights for first-time visitors. Here are some tips for anyone who’s planning a vacation to this cosmopolitan city.
Transport in Casablanca
Casablanca is the financial capital of Morocco and is the country’s biggest hub, with an international airport, train station and thriving port. Getting to and from Casablanca is easy, but can be particularly expensive. The country’s airline, Royal Air Maroc, is extremely expensive by European standards thanks to a lack of competition. This is, in part, due to the government’s vested interests in the country’s national airline. This can make Casablanca an increasingly expensive destination, especially if you are making the journey from Marrakech to Casablanca, for example.
The good news is that Casablanca is well-connected by train. You can reach Casablanca by train from Tangier and Marrakech, although the trains are not always frequent and the punctuality of the country’s national train operator, ONCF, is often a hot topic of discussion amongst Moroccans. Of course, this website is about taking taxis in Morocco, so we are going to focus on that in this article.
Taxis in Casablanca
Casablanca is full of grand taxis and petit taxis. Their ubiquity makes it almost impossible not to be able to find a taxi during the day. At night time, it can be a bit more difficult, but you can always find availability through Uber on your mobile phone (as long as you have Wifi or mobile internet).
Casablanca is well-connected to other major Moroccan cities by motorways. The trip from Casablanca to Marrakech can be done in under 3 hours thanks to the newly-constructed toll road.
How Much Is a Grand Taxi in Casablanca?
Using our grand taxi fare calculator, here are our estimated prices for a taxi to Casablanca:
Rabat to Casablanca: 420dhs (about €40)
Marrakech to Casablanca: 1150dhs (about €105)
Fez to Casablanca: 1390dhs (about €130)
Tangier to Casablanca: 1597dhs (about €140)
Agadir to Casablanca: 2230dhs (about €200)
These prices do not include a tip, and are to be used only as a guide. You may find you pay more or less, depending on how well you can haggle in Morocco. You also need to take into account other factors, such as the time of day, and any public holidays or celebrations that may be taking place while you are in Morocco.
Inside the city of Casablanca, my recommendation would be to take Uber wherever possible. It’s more expensive than taking a petit taxi, but only slightly so, and it’s so much more convenient than having to find a petit taxi stand, haggle with the driver, and then have to wait for the vehicle to fill up. Furthermore, lone female travellers may prefer the accountability of Uber and the ability to check your driver’s rating before ordering the car, particularly at night time.
In addition, there are a small number of companies that offer private transport within Morocco. You can expect to pay slightly more than for a grand taxi, but the vehicles are new, air-conditioned and normally have English-speaking drivers. Find out more about private transport in Morocco.
By far, the most famous attraction in Casablanca is the King Hassan II Mosque. This the third largest mosque in the world and is quite new, having been inaugurated only in 1993. The mosque bears influences from Islamic, Moorish, and modern architecture, with beautiful mosaics, a well-tended garden, and an open roof. Tours are offered from Saturday to Thursday throughout the mornings and early afternoons and are well worth the relatively pricey entrance fee of 120 MAD.
Another Islamic building is the Shrine of Sidi Abderrahman, which is located on a tiny island and can only be reached at low tide. Like most other mosques and religious buildings, non-Muslims are not allowed into the shrine itself. However, anyone can walk around the small neighborhood around the shrine and see a glimpse of the shrine’s white walls from the beach.
You can also visit the Mahkama du Pacha, a parliamentary building designed in the Hispanic-Moorish style. The ornate interior has 60 beautifully furnished rooms. Entrance is free when the building is open on Monday through Saturday, but it can be difficult to get in and you must find a guide first.
Just Walking Around
Like many other cities in Northern Africa, Casablanca has a medina, or an old, walled area in the middle of the city. While Casablanca’s medina may not be as famous as some others in Morocco, it’s still fun to wander around the narrow streets and discover authentic goods. Note that there is also a New Medina of Casablanca, which is not the same thing.
For those who’d rather explore a more open area by the beach, head to The Corniche, an old resort area that today still has many nightclubs, hotels, and cafes lining the road. The location and atmosphere of this area, also known as the “South Beach of Morocco” makes for a pleasant stroll.
Casablanca has several malls, but the most famous of these are the Morocco Mall and the Anfaplace Mall. The Morocco Mall is the second-largest shopping mall on the continent of Africa and offers a huge selection of both famous international brands and exclusive ones, all housed within a modern, western-style building. The Anfaplace Mall, though smaller, has more or less the same feel.
For those looking for more traditional wares, the area in and around the old medina is a good place to look. If you’re planning to travel to other Moroccan cities however, you can find a larger variety and likely lower prices in Marrakech and Fes.
Casablanca offers a good selection of both Moroccan and western cuisine. Breakfast is an easy meal to be had at one of the city’s many cafés where you can find everything from toast and omelets to egg tagines at budget prices. For a nice dinner, head to Dar Beida, located in a Berber tent in the middle of the Hyatt Regency. The restaurant offers delicious, Moroccan cuisine, an enjoyable atmosphere, and even belly dancing shows.
For a more historical experience, you can check out La Sqala, situated in an old fortress at the edge of the medina and complete with cannons and portcullises. As can be expected, the place is particularly popular among tourists but still has a fun atmosphere with good food. Movie buffs will enjoy grabbing a meal at Rick’s Café, designed after the café of the same name in the Casablanca film. The place is a recreation of the cinematic setting and boasts a great bar, excellent service, and live piano music.
Others will enjoy the Marché Central, a market stuffed with food stalls and small restaurants serving all kinds of dishes. If you can brave all the stall owners yelling and trying to attract customers, you’ll get to taste some great food with particularly fresh ingredients.
Good to Know
Casablanca is a safe destination, provided you stay in the tourist-friendly neighborhoods in the north. Nevertheless, you should still exercise your common sense: keep an eye on your belongings and don’t walk alone at night. Swimming at the beach is usually not a great idea, as the ocean right off the coast often has rip currents.
Casablanca has a warm climate that doesn’t see too much variation throughout the year, although the hottest months are still July and August. Summers in the city are dry and the temperatures rarely become unbearably hot. Winters are cooler and also the rainy season, with most precipitation happening in November.