We arrived in Casablanca off of our international flights in the late morning/early afternoon and although we were planning to head to Marrakech the next morning, we wanted to see as much of Casablanca as we could in the time that we had. We headed to our Airbnb, which was located by the Grand Mosque. We opted to eat some snacks and relax a little before heading out. Our relaxation was cut short by the call to prayer which was louder than we expected since we were right next to the Grand Mosque. After peeking out of our windows and people watching, we decided to change and head out for the day.
Our first stop was to tour the Hassan II Mosque, better known as the Grand Mosque. It is the largest Mosque in Africa and one of the only Mosques that non-Muslims are allowed to enter. It is unique in that it is is constructed right over the atlantic ocean allowing worshippers to pray over the water. You can only enter the Mosque if you are a part of a tour so we were sure to book ourselves on the next available English speaking tour. We were able to get tickets last minute without any difficulty.
While we waited for our tour to start, we explored the grounds and marveled over the architecture of the building. We did find the inside impressive but felt it wasn’t as impressive as the outside, we will admit that we got separated from our tour for some time and just kind of wandered around without hearing the information being shared about the building. We did, however, find a beautiful Hammam in the lower level!
Our next stop on our self guided tour of Casablanca was to explore the area around the Mosque. We took a nice stroll along the ocean and watched the water hit the side walls with so much force that those standing too close to the wall were getting wet! We also located an area where local children were climbing down rocks and getting into the water to swim. We always find it interesting to see what the locals enjoy in their leisure time while we are traveling.
Along the Mosque is a really nice walking path that was packed with activity, lots of families enjoying time together and children running around and even a few photoshoots. There were benches to sit and enjoy the view along a park area in the middle and the path itself had a railing separating it from the ocean.
After our stroll around town we headed back to our Airbnb to freshen up for our dinner reservation at Rick’s Cafe. We made this reservation in advance before we even headed to Casablanca. Although I have never seen the movie myself, it seemed fitting to add this to our itinerary since we were in Casablanca. The inside was beautiful with a top terrace that overlooked an area below. We were lucky enough to have a table on the top terrace. We ordered wine to start and had a few appetizers. Elise and I both ordered a form of seafood as our main meal. The food was mediocre but the experience was great. After dinner, we walked out to one of the many taxis and without knowing negotiation etiquette we hopped in and paid the same amount to go about 2 miles to our Airbnb that we paid to get to Casablanca from the airport. Oh well, we’ll chalk that one up to Morocco first-timers! Since we were still powering through our jet lag, we crashed that night so that we could get up early for our trek to Marrakech!
- Things to know:
- Call to prayer happens 5-6x/day and can be very loud. Consider bringing ear plugs for early morning or late evening calls
- Rick’s cafe allows smoking inside
- Fridays are Holy days and some places may be closed because of this
- Do not walk around the old medina at night alone