How to Spend a Long Layover in Casablanca, Morocco
Do you have a long layover in Casablanca? Are you wondering how to best spend your time?
A few years ago I was in this exact situation and was able to explore some of the city’s gems in just a day. Here is exactly how I spent one day in Casablanca:
How to Spend a Long Layover in Casablanca:
Due to an itinerary change that resulted in my 1.5 hour layover turning into a 1.5 day layover, Royal Air Marocc offered me one night in a nearby hotel. To my delight, everything was organized by Royal Air Maroc upon my arrival and I was soon on my way to the hotel on a complimentary hotel shuttle.
With so much uncertainty due to the last-minute flight changes, I had not set any expectations for where I would be staying. I ended up at the Sky Atlas Hotel, which isn’t particularly close to town but very conveniently situated near the Mohammed V International Airport. The grounds resembled a tropical resort with palm trees and a large swimming pool. My room was modern and immaculately clean with a flat screen TV and wifi. What more could I ask for? (If you prefer to stay right in town, there are some absolutely gorgeous apartments on AirBnb — take advantage of $30 off your booking if you haven’t tried AirBnb yet).
After a leisurely nap to recharge in the comfort of my AC room, I set off for town to make the most of my one day in Casablanca. I decided to hire a taxi driver for the afternoon and evening, but if you prefer to book a tour ahead of time, there are both tours of Casablanca and day trips to Marrakech from Casablanca. There is also a Casablanca food tour through Traveling Spoon (get 20$ off here)
Hammad II Mosque: Casablanca’s Masterpiece
My first stop was to see the Hammad II Mosque – an exquisite architectural masterpiece towering over the Western coastline.
I was not able to catch a tour because they are only offered in the morning, however as a trade-off I conveniently arrived just in time to watch the sunset. Simply walking around the mosque was worth the taxi ride – that’s how beautiful it is.
The main square was filled with people! Some of them were gazing with just as much wonder as I was at the beauty of the mosque. Others were relaxing on the large stone steps, or walking down along the promenade, weaving in and out of food stalls.
The exterior of the mosque has giant ornate doors and gorgeous mosaic patterns!
I found myself meandering down the oceanside path to get a wider view of the mosque.
I sat on the concrete wall that towers over the sea and was approached by a few families who wanted to say hello or take a photo. The sheer kindness I experienced was humbling!
After about 20 minutes, the sun began to set and the mosque lit up, creating a soft glow around the entire square. It was so beautiful!
Moroccan Cuisine in Casablanca:
Next, I wanted to try some authentic Moroccan food and decided on Basmane. It’s elegant with ornate décor of intricate wood, mosaic designs, candles and ceramic accents.
I ordered the mint tea and vegetable couscous (as recommended by the locals I met earlier). The couscous was light and fluffy, containing flavourful chunks of potato, cabbage, zucchini and squash. The serving was so large I could just barely eat half of it. I would literally book a layover in Casablanca just so I could eat here again.
Overall, my Casablanca layover was a success, even as a solo female in Morocco! While one day in Casablanca is not ideal, it was just enough time to explore and photograph the stunning mosque and get some Moroccan cuisine for dinner. I hired a taxi driver to take me around on my layover in Casablanca independently of a tour agency, but if you prefer to book a tour ahead of time, you can find a full-day guided tour of Casablanca via GetYourGuide. They also offer day trips to Marrakech from Casablanca.
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