A Perfect 24 Hours in Casablanca, Morocco: Things to Do

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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours of the best things to do in Casablanca. For any film geek, it’s a dream come true to spend 24 hours in Casablanca finding the best things to do! There’s Humphrey Bogart! Here’s Ingrid Bergman! Over there is Claude Rains! And they’re all singing La Marseillaise!

But of course, the real Casablanca isn’t anything like a movie. And I was shocked (shocked!) to find some people don’t have such a positive impression of Casa. They think it’s not as exciting as Marrakech, not as sophisticated as Tangier, and not as blue as Chefchaouen. All of those things might be true. (And nothing is as blue as Chefchaouen.)

But Casablanca is still worth visiting in its own right. The waters are gorgeous, the Hassan II Mosque is a world-class sight, and of course there’s food. I know how to show you good food anywhere. Just trust me as you follow me to Casablanca. I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

24 Hours in Casablanca, Morocco: Things to Do

Where to Stay?

Casablanca is a big city, so you’ll want to pick something with a central location, especially if you are traveling alone. I enjoyed my stay at Hotel Le 135. The room was clean, comfortable, and in an convenient location. The staff spoke excellent English and French. (French is very widely spoken in Casa.) In fact, the staff is the main reason I recommend the hotel because they were so friendly and helpful, and I liked the non-alcoholic welcome drink you get when you check in. I am a woman of simple pleasures. 

If you want a great deal on this hotel, click here. And if you want to explore great deals on over 900 hotels, just click here.

24 Hours in Casablanca Morocco: Things to Do

What to Pack?

You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.

Morocco can get very hot, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.

Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!

24 hours in Casablanca things to do

24 Hours in Casablanca Morocco: Things to Do

Morning: Hassan II Mosque

The Hassan II Mosque is definitely the most notable tourist attraction in Casablanca. You can’t spend 24 hours in Casablanca without seeing it.  It’s the largest mosque in Morocco, and the fifth largest mosque in the world. You might look at it and guess that the mosque is ancient but in fact it only dates back to the historical year of 1993. Yes, this mosque is younger than the movie Casablanca. In fact, it’s younger than I am. I don’t really like finding out that anything is younger than I am, much less a major landmark.

24 hours in Casablanca

One thing that makes this mosque so special is that it’s actually open to tourists. Most mosques in Morocco are not open to non-Muslims. So if you want to have the experience of going inside a Moroccan mosque and learning about its practices, you absolutely have to come here. Guided tours run regularly at very reasonable rates. And if you have to wait a bit for your tour to start, you’re only stuck with this view of the outside of the mosque.

24 hours in Casablanca

Poor you! Once your tour starts, your friendly and motivated guide will gladly share with you…

Three fun facts about the hassan ii mosque

24 Hours in Casablanca
1) who was the architect?

Our guide–I always give my guides fake names so I will call her Yvonne after a minor character in Casablanca— explained to us that the mosque had been built in honor of the late king of Morocco. I assumed it was in honor of Hassan II, but actually it was built in honor of Hassan II’s father, Mohammed V. I don’t know why they didn’t name it the Mohammed V Mosque, but that’s probably just one reason people don’t put me in charge of honoring kings.

The architect hired for the project was Michel Pinseau, a Frenchman. Yvonne explained that this surprised some people because Pinseau was not a Muslim. But in the end, everyone was pleased with Pinseau’s use of traditional Moroccan elements in his design.

24 Hours in Casablanca
2) who paid for the mosque?

You can probably tell from my photos that the mosque cost a pretty penny to build. In fact, it cost about 58.5 billion pennies. So how did Morocco raise all that dough? Morocco used every possible means to raise the money, including loans from foreign countries. But one of the biggest sources of income was the fact that almost every Moroccan donated money to build the mosque. For many Moroccans, it’s a source of pride that their country has one of the world’s most important mosques. And because most adults donated, I’ve heard some Moroccans say that the mosque belongs to all Moroccans.

24 Hours in Casablanca
3) what is this room?

Before praying, Muslims are supposed to wash themselves. You don’t need to clean your entire body, just areas like your face, hands, and feet. Men and women wash separately. Of course the washing room in the Hassan II Mosque is just as grand as the rest of it. Yvonne explained that the room is made of a special kind of plaster that can absorb water. This way it will be easier to maintain the washing room. Good to see all those small donations were being spent in practical ways!

24 Hours in Casablanca

24 Hours in Casablanca, Morocco: Things to Do

Afternoon: Explore Casablanca

Now that we’ve seen the Big Magilla of Casablanca, it’s time to sweat the small stuff. Let’s hit the road and find some of Casablanca’s hidden treasures. I promise by the end of the afternoon, you’ll agree that Casablanca is not a city you should skip on any trip to Morocco.

Approximately top 5: 24 hours in Casablanca

24 Hours in Casablanca
1) “I came here for the waters”

Casablanca is right on the Atlantic Ocean, so as soon as you leave the Hassan II Mosque, why not go for a stroll on the beach? You’ll find a lot of locals walking along beside you, so you can tell yourself you’re being a traveler not a tourist. And if you feel like plopping your tourist cap right back on your head, you can take out your camera and snap some amazing photos of the Hassan II Mosque.

24 Hours in Casablanca

But the one thing I want to know is that in the movie Casablanca, they say there are no waters in Casablanca because it’s in the desert. But Casablanca is on the coast! It is completely surrounded by water. Did Humphrey Bogart lie to me? NOOOOOOO!

24 Hours in Casablanca
2) Getting snacky at the Place des Nations-Unies

If you like street food, the Place Des Nations-Unis is the place for you. And any intrepid street food junkies out there have to eat Morocco’s greatest street meat delicacy, snails. The street vendors cook the snails gently in a fragrant and spicy broth. When you place an order, you get a bowl full of S and S. (Soup and snails.)

First you eat the chewy meat out of the snails with a little fork. (The only taste you get will be the fiery taste of the soup.) Then you put your face to the bowl and slurp up the soup. Finally, just plop the bowl back down with the vendor.

The best part of this experience was tasting the many different flavor combinations in the soup, the second best was eating something so unusual, and the third best was eating street food out of a china bowl. I’ve eaten plenty of dirty water dogs in my day and they never give you china.

24 Hours in Casablanca
24 hour treat: cane juice

For those with a sweet tooth, like me, don’t pass up the opportunity to suck on some cane. There are vendors with giant traveling juicing machines who will frappe up a piece of sugar cane right in front of you. The result is literally sugar juice, yet it still feels healthier than having a soda.

24 Hours in Casablanca

If you need something more substantial and are terrified of snails, join the locals in getting a fresh lamb shawarma on the Place des Nations-Unies. Casablanca is a fairly francophone city, so I chose to communicate in French here instead of English. But I think you could still make yourself understood enough to order a shawarma. Get it to go and you can watch the street performers in the Place des Nations-Unies while you dine.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably also have an old weirdo try to chat you up. Just pretend to only speak Japanese until he goes away. That’s my go-to move.

24 Hours in Casablanca
3) Exploring the Medina

Casablanca’s medina (Old Town) isn’t as famous as the medina of Fez or Marrakech, but it’s definitely still worth spending some of your 24 hours in Casablanca here. As with any medina, the fun part is just to get lost and enjoy yourself. (But don’t get so lost that you are stuck in the medina confused and alone at night. I don’t want you to sue me for giving you dangerous advice, Internet Stranger!)

Go shopping in the small stalls, buy some tea and a pastry from an old lady who doesn’t speak any English. Live a little!

24 Hours in Casablanca

My favorite thing in the medina in Casablanca is this randomly purple wall. Why is it here? Is it the home of Grimace, the McDonald’s mascot? The Great Grape Ape? The Cheshire Cat? All of the above because they’ve founded a home for lonely purple fictional characters? I simply must know.

24 Hours in Casablanca
4) Cat Hunt

Speaking of the Cheshire Cat, one of the most fun activities in any Moroccan city is going on a cat hunt. Put your bow and arrow away Internet Stranger! We’re not literally hunting cats. The feline friends are beloved in Morocco, so that’s a good way to get in serious trouble. We’re merely going to be hunting the beasts with our camera.

24 Hours in Casablanca

My favorite cat was this resourceful little dude who apparently knows how to take public transportation. (The sign on the back of the vehicle translates to “You travel smart, and the city breathes better.”) This kitty is indeed traveling smart! Here’s looking at you, cat!

A Perfect 24 Hours in Casablanca, Morocco: Things to Do 4

24 Hours in Casablanca Morocco: Things to Do

Evening: Dinner at Les Fleurs

Since finding out that Humphrey Bogart misinformed me and there are loads of waters in Casablanca, my life has never been the same. However, being of generally cheerful disposition, I decided to look on the bright side. And for me, my favorite bright side is food. Since Casablanca is on the Atlantic Ocean, it is known for its fresh fish. And that makes Casa one of the best places to try Moroccan fish tagine.

At this point in my travels, I had joined up with a group tour with G Adventures. Our first night of the tour met up in Casablanca on Christmas Day, so we all went out to Restaurant Les Fleurs together because our guide recommended it. Tagine generally uses preserved lemons, and that citrusy flavor went perfectly with the local fish.

Plus I can honestly say that eating Casablancan fish tagine with a group of strangers is the oddest Christmas dinner I have ever consumed in my life. But I guess the problems of one world traveler from New York City don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

That’s 24 Hours in Casablanca, Morocco: Things to Do

What would you do with 24 hours in Casablanca? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Casablanca right now? Why was that wall mysteriously purple? And of all the gin joints in all the world, why did she have to walk into mine? Please leave your thoughts below!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that just because this itinerary is for 24 hours in Casablanca, that doesn’t mean you should only spend 24 hours in Casablanca. If you want to visit Tangier, try this itinerary. If you want to head to the blue city of Chefchaouen, try this itinerary.

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