Morocco's largest city and an eclectic fusion of culture, history and jaw-dropping scenery, the iconic city of Casablanca is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Renowned for its diverse range of landscapes, cosmopolitan bars and restaurants, outstanding beaches and a myriad of bazaars and markets, this stunning city boasts a plethora of attractions and places of interest for the would-be visitor. Whether you're looking for the sunshine, beach holiday or an upmarket resort with premier facilities, Casablanca has it all.
Casablanca was founded as a Berber settlement more than 3,000 years ago, before ceding the city to the Romans. By 1468 A.D., however, the city was destroyed by the Portuguese (in part because of its links to piracy) and a new fortress was erected there. Nonetheless, the Portuguese came under constant attack from the natives and the great earthquake of 1755 ensured that they fled the city. By the late 1700s, a new marina was built and by the 19th Century, the city's trading agreement with the Europeans ensured that the city flourished. In the 20th Century, however, Casablanca was conquered by the French and by the 1920's, the population had grown to more than 100,000.
Morocco gained its independence from France in 1956, but the French, Spanish and Portuguese influences have remained, particularly in terms of its stunning architecture, sumptuous menus and cultural mix. The city is also renowned as the playground for the rich and famous and is home to a number of billionaires. This beautiful resort entices families, couples and solo travellers to its borders and is gaining a reputation as the ultimate destination for everyone.
Things to Do
Whether you're a history enthusiast, dedicated foodie, confirmed shopaholic or intrigued by the intoxicating fusion of architectural influences in the city, Casablanca boasts more than enough attractions to keep you entertained day and night during your stay.
For the history enthusiasts
Built in 1930 by Paul Tournon, the Cathedrale du Sacre Coeur is a stunning piece of architecture built in the Neo-Gothic style. Ivory columns flank either side of the interior of the Cathedral which also hosts a number of art exhibitions and fairs. Browse the streets of the Old Medina, with its pre-20th Century architecture, and wander the myriad of alleyways in this vintage part of town.
For the foodies
Located in the La Corniche region of the city, Le Relais de Paris is one of Casablanca's finest French restaurants. Dine on one of the lavish steaks or freshly caught fish as you marvel at the sun setting over the sea. Just north of the centre and housed in an 18th-century fortified bastion, La Sqala boasts an impressive menu of Moroccan specialities. Guests are also free to dine in the beautiful gardens where there is also live entertainment three times a week.
For the beach lovers
Ain Diab Beach, located in the centre of the city, is one of Casablanca's most popular beaches and is lined with cafés, restaurants and bars. Monica Beach is situated approximately 20 km from the city and is preferred by those who prefer a quieter, less crowded beach. Alternatively, if you're looking for a truly secluded beach which is far from the frenetic activity of the city, travel 80 km south of Casablanca to the rustic, charming town of Azemmour and its beach of the same name. This beach is flanked by huge sand dunes and offers the perfect get-away-from-it-all experience.
For the shopaholics
Head to Quartier Habous Bazaar and browse the stalls of each vendor. Traders and local artisans offer brass, copper and silver items and a wealth of Moroccan artefacts and souvenirs. Fresh fruit, vegetables and newly caught fish and seafood are also on offer. None of the items are priced, however, and you will be expected to haggle. If you're searching for department-type stores, then head to Alpha 55 at Avenue Mers Sultan. Here you will find clothing and homeware, and there are also departments selling handcrafted Moroccan silver jewellery at relatively low prices.
Calendar of Events
This marvellous city is very proud of its heritage and each year boasts a variety of festivals and events to celebrate its history and diverse culture. From Jazz festivals to dance performances, festival-goers will be treated to a fine selection of mixed entertainment and celebrations.
Jazzablanca Festival. One of the most popular events in the city, the Jazzablanca Festival occurs between April and May. Jazz artists from around the globe entertain here, such as Al Jarreau and Diane Reeves, and performers also host a number of competitions. Although the festival draws lovers of the genre, it is also a family-friendly event and suitable for children.
Feast of the Throne. Celebrated every August, the Feast of the Throne is hosted at the lavish and opulent Royal Palace. The event celebrates King Mohammed VI's ascension to the throne in 1999 and takes place each August. Although the main event is held in the palace, smaller and less formal events are held in the local villages surrounding the city. This is a family-friendly event and participants are treated to live music, dance and entertainment.
Boulevard des Jeunes Musiciens. The Boulevard des Jeunes Musiciens spans four days in June and is dedicated to the region's young musicians. Over the four days, Moroccan youth of all ages are invited to compete in their particular musical genre of choice. Although the event is hosted for the budding young artists of Morocco, visitors to the event are welcome.
Festival of Casablanca. The festival of Casablanca is one of the largest events hosted by the city. The festival takes place in July, spans seven days and is a celebration of the region's culture and diversity. The festival is an explosion of colour as participants dress in flamboyant costumes and regalia. Festival-goers can enjoy live music, art and a variety of workshops.
Contemporary Dance Festival. The Contemporary Dance Festival is held in October and showcases performances by a variety of artists from around the country. The event is held in Casablanca city.