Morocco's distinct and authentic culture (unchanged in many ways) is perhaps the primary reason to explore the country. You'll find traditional villages that still live today as they have through history. Cities like Casablanca and Chefchaouen lift the veil and let you see the way locals live day-to-day. Visit small towns and Berber villages in the mountains, peruse artisan collectives, and get off the beaten path to discover Morocco's incredible countryside.
Casablanca is the country’s most modern city and a conglomeration of stark-white buildings. The present city, known colloquially as “Casa” or “El Beida,” was founded in 1912. Straddling east and west, it's Morocco's commercial and financial capital where tradition and modernity co-exist.
In the 7th century, Casablanca was no more than a small Berber settlement clinging to the slopes of the Anfa Hills. However, for strategic and commercial reasons, it was already attracting the attention of foreign powers. In 1468, the town was won by the Portuguese, who destroyed the city’s private ships. In the early 15th century, the port became a haven for pirates and racketeers. Anfa pirates became such a serious threat later in the century that the Portuguese sent 50 ships and 10,000 men to subdue them, leaving Anfa in a state of ruins.
By the mid-1800s, Europe was booming and turned to Morocco for increased supplies of grain and wool. The fertile plains around Casablanca soon supplied European markets, and agents and traders flocked back to the city. Spanish merchants renamed the city Casablanca, and by the beginning of the 20th century, the French had secured permission to build an artificial harbor.
The city's handsome Moresque buildings, which meld French-colonial design and traditional Moroccan style, are best admired in the downtown area. Visitors who spend time there in the Quartier Habous and the beachside suburb of Ain Diab will enjoy a blend of local flavors, historic charms, and modern amenities. This old pirate lair continuously looks toward the future, embracing the European-urban sophistication underpinning life here for the past century.
Although Casablanca’s old Medina isn't a big attraction, its “New Medina” certainly is! Known as The Hobous, this neighborhood was established in the 1930s by the French, contrasting nicely with its old town. Here, you can walk around the charming streets and admire art deco architecture. Pop into some artisan shops to browse local crafts, including olives, textiles, and spices.
Next, meander over to Mohamed V. Square, an airy plaza featuring tall palm trees and French Colonial architecture. Stroll around the gardens, enjoy the fountain, or relax on a bench to people-watch. If you'd like to take a longer walk, you'll find Arab League Park nearby, home to 30 acres of walking paths and green spaces. Bordering the park on its northwest side is the Sacred Heart Cathedral.
After your stroll, grab a coffee, lunch, or a drink at the famous Rick's Cafe. If your main reason to visit Casablanca is to follow Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart's footsteps, then the iconic cafe is a must-see. Once inside, you'll recognize the scene in the legendary film!
Casablanca is set on the Atlantic Ocean and offers a scenic beach promenade, perfect for a stroll. In the late afternoon, you can join the locals and follow the Boulevard de la Corniche between two of the city's beaches. Often called Morocco’s “Miami,” you'll find several buzzy cafes, restaurants, and bars along this stretch to grab a sunset drink or dinner. You can also visit the El Hank Lighthouse and enjoy views of the Hassan II Mosque as it starts to glow at dusk.
Discover other cultural activities in Morocco.
Itineraries with Off-The-Beaten-Path Casablanca
Enjoy northern Morocco's top cities with this 4-day loop from Casablanca. Wander the blue streets of Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains before stopping in the Roman town of Volubilis. End your quick trip in the culture capital of Fes as you roam the winding souks of the medina, visit local artisan workshops, or try your hand at a cooking class.
Discover Morroco's historic and modern cities on this 6-day tour of the country's urban centers. You'll get a sense of Morocco's evolution across the centuries, from its Roman ruins in Volubilis to its modern commercial capital, Casablanca. You'll also visit the seaside splendor of Rabat — which showcases the influence of French-colonial heritage — as well as the exquisite Imperial City of Meknes. Finally, you'll immerse yourself in Marrakech, the "Red City," where you'll be welcomed with fantastic cuisine, a bustling Medina, and gorgeous architecture.
This adventure-packed trip showcases Morocco's highlights, including Marrakech, Casablanca, Fes, and the desert. Start in Marrakech for colorful markets and architecture, then head inland to explore kasbahs and sleep under the stars in a desert camp amid the Sahara dunes. Visit Fes' narrow streets and the medieval medina before ending the trip in Casablanca to see the Hassan II Mosque and the world's tallest minaret.