55 Best Sights in Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco

Abderrahman Slaoui Museum

Fodor's choice

One of the city’s few museums, the Abderrahman Slaoui is hidden away in a splendid Art Deco villa. Permanent exhibits feature a collection of the nation’s treasures, including delicate crystal perfume bottles, Jacques Majorelle paintings, vintage prints, and 300-year-old jewelry from Fez. The museum has a café spilling out onto the rooftop, and a shop. Guided visits are available for 100 DH and there are creative art workshops in subjects such as photography, tapestry, and drawing and painting for children.

Chellah Ruins and Gardens

Chellah Fodor's choice

All that remains are ruins, but Chellah was an elaborate, independent city before Rabat ever existed. Presumably founded by Phoenicians, it dates from the 7th or 8th century BC. You'll see the remains of the subsequent Roman city, Sala Colonia, on your left as you walk down the path. Though these remnants are limited to broken stone foundations and column bases (with lots of resident storks), descriptive markers point to the likely location of the forum, baths, and market. Sultan Abu Saïd and his son Abu al Hassan, of the Merenid dynasty, were responsible for the ramparts, the entrance gate, and the majestic portals. The Merenids used Chellah as a spiritual retreat, and at quiet times the baraka (blessing) of the place is still tangible.

The entrance to the Merenid sanctuary is at the bottom of the path, just past some tombs. To the right is a pool with eels in it, which is said to produce miracles—women are known to toss eggs to the eels for fertility. The ruins of the mosque are just inside the sanctuary; you can still see the beautiful arches and the mihrab (prayer niche). Birds nest on the impressive minaret. On the far side of the mosque is a beautiful wall decorated with Kufi script, a type of Arabic calligraphy characterized by right angles. To the left of the mosque is the zaouia (sanctuary), where you can see the ruins of individual cells surrounding a basin and some ancient mosaic work. Beyond the mosque and zaouia are some beautiful, well-maintained walled gardens. Spring water runs through them at one point, and they give Chellah a serenity that's quite extraordinary considering that it's less than a mile from the center of a nation's capital. From the walled gardens you can look out over the River Bou Regreg: you'll see cultivated fields below and cliffs across the river. On the right is a hill with a small white koubba.

Cité Portugaise

Fodor's choice

El Jadida's main attraction is the atmospheric Cité Portugaise, which was built for military purposes in the early 1500s, overtaken by the Moroccans in 1769, and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Impressive (and still imposing) stone walls make it difficult to miss. The Portuguese city was originally a rectangular island with a bastion on each corner, connected to the mainland by a single causeway. Take the entrance on the right where you'll see that the Portuguese street names have been retained.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Complexe des Potiers

Fodor's choice

Salé has long been known throughout the country, and beyond, for its local pottery. At this particular complex (just off the road toward Fez, to the right after the river from Rabat) visitors can browse through a whole series of pottery shops, each with its own style; you might also get the chance to chat with a potter or maybe even try your own hand at clay work. Other crafts have been added as well, notably bamboo and straw work and mosaic-tile furnishings.

Hassan II Mosque

Fodor's choice

Casablanca's skyline is dominated by this massive edifice, decorated with magnificent zellij (mosaic tiles). The building's foundations lie partly on land and partly in the sea, and at one point inside you can see the water through a glass floor. The main hall holds an astonishing 25,000 people and has a retractable roof so that it can be turned into a courtyard. The minaret is more than 650 feet high, and the mezzanine floor (which holds the women's section, about 6 feet above the main floor) seems dwarfed by the nearly 200-foot-high ceiling. Still, the ceiling's enormous painted decorations appear small and delicate from below.

Funded through public subscription, designed by a French architect, and built by a team of 35,000, the mosque was erected between 1987 and 1993 and is one of the largest in the world, its minaret being the tallest. It was built in Casablanca primarily so that the largest city in the kingdom would have a monument worthy of its size. Except for the ruined Tinmel mosque in the High Atlas Mountains, this is the only mosque in Morocco that non-Muslims are allowed to enter. One-hour guided tours of the mosque are offered daily (six per day, Saturday to Thursday; four on Friday). There are reduced hours during Ramadan. Be sure to dress conservatively, and note that you will be required to remove your shoes at the entrance.

If you fly out of Casablanca, try to get a window seat on the left for a good view of the mosque in relation to the city as a whole.

Buy Tickets Now
Hassan II Mosque, Bd. de la Corniche, Casablanca, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco
sights Details
Rate Includes: 140 DH

Jardins Exotiques

Fodor's choice

Just 10 km (6 miles) north of Salé, you'll find the extraordinary Jardins Exotiques, which were created in the mid-20th century by a Frenchman named Marcel François, who used to play classical music to his plants. Planned to represent different regions (like Polynesia, Brazil, or Japan), the gardens are a haven for birds and frogs. There are two circuits of different lengths and the walkways and bridges make this a wonderful playground and educational experience for children, too. Since François's death in 1999, the property has been maintained by the government and has recently been well restored. A touching autobiographical poem forms his epitaph at the entrance.

Many people combine a visit to the gardens with a day at the beach at Plage des Nations, another 10 km (6 miles) along the coast. A private taxi organized by your hotel costs 300 DH for the return trip, including the driver's wait while you explore the gardens. 

Kasbah des Oudayas

Souissi Fodor's choice

Rabat's early history is based around this kasbah: built strategically on high ground over the mouth of the Bou Regreg River and the Atlantic, it was originally constructed for defensive purposes. Still inhabited, it once comprised the whole of the city, including the castle of Yaqoub al Mansour.

Walk up the steps to the huge, imposing ornamental gate, built, like Bab Rouah, by the Almohads. The gate's interior is now used for art exhibits. Enter the kasbah and turn right into Rue Jama (Mosque Street). The mosque, which dates from Almohad times (it was built in the mid-12th century), is on the left; it was supposedly reconstructed in the late 18th century by an English Muslim—Ahmed el Inglizi. Continue to the end of the road past a house called Dar Baraka, and you'll emerge onto a large platform overlooking the Bou Regreg estuary. Here there is the magnificent view across the river to the old quarter of Salé, and you can walk down to the water's edge. Go back along Rue Jama until you come to Rue Bazo on the left; this winds down the kasbah and past picturesque houses. Turn left, walk to the bottom of the street, and proceed down to the banks of the Bou Regreg to see the beautiful Jardin des Oudayas (Oudayas Garden), a walled retreat that you can explore at your leisure, and stop for tea at Café Maure. The garden (which is wheelchair accessible) was laid out in the early 20th century, but its enclosure dates from the beginning of the present Alaouite dynasty in the 17th century. At the top of the garden is the Musée des Oudayas (Oudayas Museum), featuring traditional costumes, and a 12th-century Koran. 

Buy Tickets Now

Musée Mohammed VI d’Art Moderne et Contemporain

Centre Ville Fodor's choice

Inaugurated in 2014, this striking must-see museum is an exquisite showcase of contemporary art pieces from across the nation. The permanent collection charts the evolution of Moroccan artwork from the 20th century onward, while the skillfully curated temporary exhibitions focus on fascinating themes. There's a nice café here, too.

2, av. Moulay Hassan, Rabat, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, 10000, Morocco
sights Details
Rate Includes: 20 DH includes entrance to the nearby Museum of History and Civilisations, Closed Tues.

Abou el Hassan Merenid Medersa

Turn left around the corner of the Great Mosque, and you'll see on your right the Abou el Hassan Medersa. Built by the Merenid sultan of that name in the 14th century, it's a fine example of the traditional Koranic school. Like the Bou Inania in Fez or the Ben Youssef in Marrakesh, this madrassa has beautiful intricate plasterwork around its central courtyard, and a fine mihrab (prayer niche) with a ceiling carved in an interlocking geometrical pattern representing the cosmos. Upstairs, on the second and third floors, you can visit the little cells where the students used to sleep, and from the roof you can see the entire city.

Rue Ash al Shaiara, Salé, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, Morocco
sights Details
Rate Includes: 60 DH

Ahmed el-Amine

Perhaps Azemmour's most renowned resident artist, Ahmed el-Amine has been painting in and around the medina for nearly two decades. He still lives here, working out of this studio.

6, Derb el-Hantati, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco

Bab Rouah

Centre Ville

Currently an art gallery, this city gate was built by Yaqoub al Mansour in 1197. To see it, go outside the city walls and look to the right of the modern arches. Originally a fortification, the gate has an elaborately decorated arch topped by two carved shells. The entrance leads into a room with no gate behind it; you have to turn left into another room and then right into a third room to see the door that once led into Rabat.

Av. de la Victoire, Hassan, Rabat, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, Morocco

Battlements and Fortresses of Salé

A heavily fortified town for centuries, Salé still has many traces of its eventful history preserved within the old medina walls. Many landmarks in the area have been named as national heritage sites or monuments. Borj Bab Sebta is an 11th-century, square-shape fortress situated at the Sebta gate into the old medina. Borj Adoumoue, also called the Old Sqala, is an 18th-century bastion, where cannons gaze over the waters to this day. Nearby is Borj Roukni, also called Borj Kbira, or the large fortress, a semicircular, 19th-century edifice built to counter attacks by the French. There’s also a fantastic kasbah (although in need of preservation) known as the Gnawa Kasbah, built by Moulay Ismail in the 1700s. This lies near the beach 3km north of the medina and is now home to the National Circus School Shems'y.

Bouznika Bay

This bay is one of the prettiest in the region and much loved by both Rabat and Casablanca locals. For this reason, it gets exceptionally crowded when the weather is hot: crowds hit the golden sands and surfers stream into the waves. It’s a lovely place out of season, too—perfect for picnicking and exploring the tide pools. During summer, there is a good selection of restaurants and cafés. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking. Best for: surfing; swimming; walking.

Plage de Bouznika, Rabat, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, Morocco

Church of the Assumption

Walking down Rua da Carreira, you'll see on the left the old Portuguese Church of the Assumption. Erected in 1628, it's a fine example of late-Gothic Manueline-style architecture.

Eglise de l'Assomption, Rua da Carreira, Cite Portugaise, El Jadida, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco

Contrabandiers Beach

Connected to Temara Plage by a walkway across the rocks, pretty Contrabandiers Beach draws throngs of sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers in summer. As is always the case on this coastline, currents can be extremely dangerous, so don't plan to take a dip unless you're a strong swimmer. Locals will rent you a beach umbrella, and there are usually several vendors who walk up and down the sand selling ice cream and other snacks. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards (in summer); parking. Best for: swimming; surfing; walking.

Skhirat, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, Morocco

Dar Es-Soltane Caves

On the coast at Temara, just south of Rabat, is a series of caves that are some of the earliest identified sites of human habitation. The easiest one to visit is on the landward side of the coastal road, across from Contrabandiers Beach, though you can't go inside. It's easy to spot, with a grassed area and iron railings in front, and is known as El Harhoura. Casts of the prehistoric human skeletons discovered here in the 1930s by Armand Ruhlmann are on display in the Museum of History and Civilizations, in Rabat.

Temara, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, Morocco

Djemâa Kabir

A few steps from the tomb of Sidi Abdellah ben Hassoun is the great mosque known as Djemâa Kabir. Built by the Almohad dynasty in the 12th century, this beautiful structure is the third-largest mosque in Morocco, after the Hassan II in Casablanca and the Kairaouine in Fez. Non-Muslims cannot enter.

Zanqat Sidi Abdellah ben Hassoun, Salé, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, Morocco

Downtown Casablanca

The area of the city bordered by Avenue des FAR, Place des Nations Unies, Place Mohammed V, and Avenue Abdullah Al Mediouini contains the remaining examples of Mauresque and Art Deco architecture built by the French in the early years of the Protectorate (1912--56), when Casablanca was the jewel in the French Empire's crown. While much has been lost, the city is restoring large swathes of these buildings including the Central Market and the enormous Hotel Lincoln, both on Boulevard Mohammed V. Some excellent examples are Le Petit Poucet bar also on this boulevard, the Cinema Rialto on Rue Bouchaib, and the Bank al Maghrib on Boulevard de Paris. Many apartment blocks in this area sport pretty wrought-iron balconies and swags of cement flowers and fruit on the buildings.

Forêt Ibn Sina


This large, fenced park has several wide, well-packed dirt trails that pass through wooded areas. It's the perfect place for a run or a walk. There are always gardeners around to keep it tidy and plenty of other people taking the opportunity for a bit of exercise close to the city center. Access is next to the Sofitel Jardin des Roses. 


At the end of Rua da Carreira (Rue Mohammed Al Achemi), you can walk up ramps to the walls of the fortress. Looking down from the heights, you'll see a gate that leads directly onto the sea and, to the right, El Jadida's fishing harbor.

Rua da Carreira, Cite Portugaise, El Jadida, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco

Galerie Akwas

The medina's original gallery exhibits the work of artists from across the nation. It was founded by Abderrahmane Rahoul, former director of the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Casablanca, who is a well-known and highly respected visual artist himself.

4, Bab El Makhzen, Azemmour, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco

Grand Mosque

Beyond the Portuguese Cistern on Rua da Carreira is a fine old mosque, and its original construction makes it one of the focal points of the city. The beautiful white minaret is unique in that it has five sides, all with rounded edges.

Rua da Carreira, Cite Portugaise, El Jadida, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco


Also known as the New Medina, the Quartier des Habous was built by the French in a 1930s tourism drive, to offer a sanitized version of a "real" medina. Today it's a curiously attractive mixture of French colonial architecture with Moroccan details. Capped by arches, its shops surround a pretty square with trees and flowers. As you enter the Habous, you'll pass a building resembling a castle; this is the Pasha's Mahkama, or court, completed in 1952. The Mahkama formerly housed the reception halls of the Pasha of Casablanca, as well as a Muslim courthouse; it's currently used for district government administration. On the opposite side of the square is the Mohammed V Mosque—although not ancient, this and the 1938 Moulay Youssef Mosque, in the adjacent square, are among the finest examples of traditional Maghrebi (western North African) architecture in Casablanca. Look up at the minarets and you might recognize a style used in Marrakesh's Koutoubia Mosque and Seville's Giralda. Note also the fine wood carving over the door of the Mohammed V. The Habous is well-known as a center for Arabic books; most of the other shops here are devoted to rich displays of traditional handicrafts aimed at locals and tourists.

This is the best place in Casabalanca to buy Moroccan handicrafts.

You can also purchase traditional Moroccan clothes such as kaftans and djellabas (long, hooded outer garments). Immediately north of the Habous is Casablanca's Royal Palace. You can't go inside, but the outer walls are pleasing; their sandstone blocks fit neatly together and blend well with the little streets at the edge of the Habous.

Quartier Habous, Casablanca, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco

Hassan Tower


At the end of the 12th century, Yacoub al Mansour—fourth monarch of the Almohad dynasty and grandson of Abd al Mu'min, who founded Rabat—planned a great mosque. Intended to be the largest in the Muslim world, the project was abandoned with the death of al Mansour in 1199. A further blow to the site occurred with the strong tremors of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and this tower is the only significant remnant of al Mansour's dream. A few columns remain in the mosque's great rectangular courtyard, but the great tower was never even completed (which is why it looks too short for its base). Note the quality of the craftsmanship in the carved-stone and mosaic decorations at the top of the tower. From the base there is a fine view over the river. Locals come here at dawn to have their wedding photos taken.

Rabat, Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, Morocco
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free

Jack Beach

The most frequented beach in Dar Bouazza is a great place for swimming and surfing in the summer. On the far side, there’s a tidal pool area and, when tides are low, the long stretches of soft sand are ideal for strolling and exploring the coast. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards (in summer); parking. Best for: surfing; swimming; walking.

Rte. P3012, Dar Bouazza, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco

Jewish cemetery

El Jadida was once home to a very large Jewish population—traces of which are still visible in the city's Mellah, the Jewish quarter of the old medina. If you walk around the walls to the other side of the fortress, you get clear views over the Jewish cemetery.

Cimitiere Juif, El Jadida, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco


Just off the beach about 28 km (17 miles) south of Oualidia, the koubba of an unnamed saint is built on a rock in such a way that it's only accessible at low tide. Some of the cliffs here are truly magnificent, reminiscent of the Atlantic coast of Ireland.

La Corniche

Get a feel for Casa's Atlantic setting by stopping at a Corniche café to relish the sun and breeze. The lovely landscaped walkway along the sea is a favorite with families. On weekends, this area is bursting with people settling in the seafront line of cafés and restaurants, basking in the beach resorts, and walking up and down the wide pavement. In the evenings, nightclubs and bars open their doors for all kinds of partygoers. You can also walk along the extended Corniche from the lighthouse at El Hank to the Hassan II Mosque. 

Le Corniche, Casablanca, Casablanca-Settat, Morocco

La Ferme Pedagogique

When you need a break from the city bustle, this environmentally friendly farm makes a very pleasant getaway for both adults and children. On-site you can discover organic plants and herbs, as well as visit and look after animals. Food and drinks are available if hunger hits.

Lake Sidi Bourhaba

Slightly inland from Mehdiya is the lovely freshwater Lake Sidi Bourhaba, internationally famous for the number and variety of birds that pass through on their way to the south side of the Sahara desert. Ornithologists flock here nearly as eagerly as the itinerant birds themselves, looking especially for the rare marbled teal along with another 200 species.

Kenitra, Gharb-Chrarda-Beni Hssen, Morocco