Whether you’re spending a few hours or days in Casablanca, this city has so much to offer. In my case, I had a full 8 hours to squeeze as many activities as I possibly could.
How to Get to Downtown
The best way to plan for a long layover is to start at the furthest point and work your way to the airport. This means that you want to start at Casa Port or Hassan II Mosque (the very tip of Casa).
You have two simple ways to do this. First, you can take the train right from the airport and head to Old Medina, which is a few minutes from the Casa Port train station. Be careful of the train times, I missed the train by 2 minutes, and the next available travel time was an hour later.
This leads to option 2, hire a local taxi! Many of the taxis outside the airport will offer to do a full day tour for a set price. Make sure to haggle for a reasonable price. This isn’t my forte, so I paid a hefty 900 dirhams ($100) for the 8 hours round-trip tour. If you need his contact to setup a tour before hand shoot us a message!
What to Do
Hassan II Mosque – one of the most striking buildings, the Hassan II Mosque stands tall at the waterfront. If you’re lucky, you’re layover will be at the start of the day. That way you’ll get to visit this landmark before the crowds flood.
La Cornishe – grab a taxi and go down to the waterfront strip of cafes and ocean view restaurants. Grab a bite at Tropicana Terrasse and get going.
Ain Diab Neighborhood – if you’re in a cab, make sure to ask the driver to get to Old Medina by driving through Avenue de la Côte D’Emeraude. It’s a like taking a stroll through the neighborhoods of Los Angeles – beautiful tree filled streets and white painted homes.
Old Medina – get lost in the many souqs in medina, where hundreds of shop owners are proudly displaying their products. Don’t be afraid to bargain, they will be more than willing to cut a deal.
While in Old Medina, wander the streets and ask for Maison De Tissage or “Dar Al Nassig.” You’ll get a peak of the Dar El Makhzen Mosque.
La Saqla – built within an old fortress of a sultan, this open space garden restaurant is the perfect pit stop for traditional tajines.
Cinema Rialto – a prime example of art deco from the 20s and 30s, the Cinema is preserved and continues to operate to date.
Quartier Habous – we’re closing up our day in the markets of Habous. Remember you still have a 40-minute ride to the airport. To be honest, there isn’t anything new in the markets themselves. Most of the trinkets are duplicates of items you can grab at the Old Souqs. Keep reading to see what you should be doing in Habous.
The key is to venture past the quarters and into the neighborhoods hidden in the small alleys of the market. This was my favorite part of the day – you’ll get your fair dose of old Moroccan doors (it will feel as if your layover was in Marrakesh).
If you have time, make sure to take a quick tour of Makhama du Pasha in the center of the Habous Quarters. Currently, an administrative building it’s sometimes difficult to gain access. But certainly worth the try!
Patisserie Bennis Habous– you can’t leave without some traditional Moroccan sweets! Family owned and run since 1938, is this magnificent bakery tucked in the quarters. You’ll find dozens of almond pastries freshly brought out by bakers in white coats. The shop itself is as impressive as the sweets – decked in blue and yellow tile walls and beautiful mosaics. Very travel friendly, ask for an extra coat of wrapping and they will gladly help you!
After you’ve grabbed your delights, head to the airport. Unfortunately, there isn’t a close tram that can take you straight to the airport. Your best bet is to take a petit taxi from Habbous to the Casa Voyageurs train station. From there you can take the train straight to the airport!
& that’s a wrap! If you stumble upon additional sights, make sure to tag #tayaramuse so we can check it out!