24 hours in Casablanca
Written by Tara Stevens Illustration by Fernando Volken Togni
Surround yourself with magnificent Moorish architecture and luxurious décor in this oasis of calm in the busy city centre.
Immortalised by the film Casablanca in 1942, there’s a certain irony to the fact that it wasn’t actually shot here. Rick’s Café never existed until 2004 (see below), and until recently the city had pretty much been ignored by globetrotting tourists.
Unlike most of Morocco’s cities, where much of the life is centred throughout the medina, Casablanca’s greatest asset is its sprawling, vivacious Ville Nouvelle. Public transport is limited, but the petit taxis – like little ladybugs darting through the streets – are cheap, reliable, and the easiest way to get from A to B. Simply flag one down wherever you are, bearing in mind that they may stop to pick up other passengers if they are going your way. You can also commission one to do you a whistle-stop tour of the town to get orientated.
Use the little red petit taxis (typically four-door Fiat Unos) for short journeys, and grand taxis (usually an old, white Mercedes) for long distances.
Congested, chaotic, and often hair-raising, avoid driving in Casablanca and leave it to the experts: take a cab.
Most trains in Morocco go through the main station Casa Voyageurs, a good jumping-off point for Rabat, Marrakech, Tangier, and Fez.
The new town is too big to cover by foot, but smaller neighbourhoods like the medina and Habous are impossible to navigate any other way.