Casablanca's Subtle Charm

Morocco's largest city, Casablanca, unfolds with a cosmopolitan flair. Visit the city's vibrant souks, tour its mix of old and new architecture and check out the largest shopping center in Africa.
By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström
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Photo By: Lola Akinmade-Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Photo By: Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Friendly locals

For being in such a big city, people are still very much down-to-earth and friendly in Casablanca. Among them are the city's traditional water sellers, who are known for their postcard-worthy costumes, complete with wide-brimmed hats and shiny brass cups for serving water.

Traditional Hammams

Not your typical spa experience. While in Casablanca, try out a traditional hammam, in which you'll be vigorously scrubbed down and cleaned by a local masseuse. Since you'll be in nothing more than your birthday suit, the experience may feel a little uncomfortable yet also exhilarating!

Souks

Casablanca is known for cosmopolitan shopping, courtesy of Morocco Mall -- the largest shopping center in Africa. Meanwhile, in the city's medina you'll find a few traditional souks, which primarily sell affordable everyday wear like clothes, bags, shoes and jewelry.

Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca's most iconic attraction, Hassan II Mosque is the largest mosque in North Africa and the third largest in the world, with room for roughly 25,000 worshippers. Its minaret, nearly 690 feet high, is the tallest in the world. At sunset, young boys and men typically play pickup games of soccer in the shadow of the mosque.

Cafés

Greatly influenced by French culture, Casablanca is home to many cozy cafés and restaurants. One such place is Sqala, a tranquil restaurant located within the yellow-clay walls of Casablanca's 18th-century fortified bastion (sqala) amid the rustic setting of flower gardens.

Old Architecture

While Casablanca is a bustling economic city, its old-time architecture, designed and built by the French over a period of decades, still lingers. You'll find Art Deco designs among Casablanca's Moorish buildings, creating an interesting mix of architecture within the city.

Resorts

With its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Casablanca is a relaxing getaway with many seaside resorts. The city is also a major North African cruise port for cargo, as well as a hub for many Mediterranean cruises.

Beach life

Casablanca's beachfront promenade, de la Corniche, is always packed with visitors who enjoy taking strolls, picnicking, horsback riding and playing pickup games of soccer on nearby beaches that line the Atlantic shores. Some of the city's coolest clubs and nightlife can also be found along de la Corniche.

Sunsets

Photographers, take note. If you love golden hour light, Casablanca definitely delivers. As the sun begins to set while waves from the Atlantic crash along its shores, you'll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful sunsets.

Street food

While Moroccan cuisine like tagine (a casserole in an earthenware pot) require you to sit, share and enjoy it slowly among family and friends, you'll also find street food vendors from whom you can buy local Moroccan fast food like kefta (ground meat) and briouats, fried dough pockets filled with seasoned ground beef or lamb.