Why You Should Skip Casablanca on Your Morocco Vacation

mosque in morocco

When planning our trip to Morroco, Casablanca seemed like a must-visit. I mean there’s a classic movie about it so it must be cool right? Wrong! We should’ve listened to the advice of literally everyone we met. When we would tell someone we were going there (even local Morrocans) they would ask why. It is a big, filthy city with little tourism. We had a friend who had just visited and had lots of nice things to say about it so we went into it with open minds and optimism only to be super let down. But it’s not fair to be all negative to Casablanca so here are some of our likes and dislikes.

(Sort of) Funny Story: Our “doorman” at our Airbnb lived in a cardboard box and appeared to be squatting in the seemingly abandoned building. But hey, he did always open the door for us!

What We Liked About Casablanca

Hassan II Mosque

This mosque is super famous as it is the only one that non-muslims can visit. We’ve been in too many cathedrals to count, but never before a mosque! It was super cool. The architecture was beautiful and the design was quite impressive with features like heated ocean view floors and lotus-shaped cleansing baths. I forgot my scarf but the staff was very helpful and let me borrow one to wear during the tour so I could be dressed appropriately. This was a very cool experience and we learned a lot about the building itself and a bit about Muslim culture.

hassan II mosque

morocco casablanca mosque

mosque in morocco

Organic Kitchen

This super trendy cafe specializing in healthy fare was a nice reprieve from the dirty city. We almost felt like we weren’t in Casablanca anymore! We sat here all day and worked on our laptops.

La Bodega

We went to this Spanish tapas style restaurant the first night we arrived and it was a fun choice to switch up the typical cuisine.

Dar Beida

We decided to go out for a night of belly dancing entertainment at the Dar Beida restaurant inside of the Hyatt Regency. Granted the food was overpriced and the belly dancer looked like she wanted to be somewhere else but it was something fun to do!

Hotel Transatlantique

This old-school hotel was a cool place for a drink. The bar is more or a nightclub so we opted for the classic lobby. The waiter was super kind and the service was great!

hotel transatlantique

What We Did Not Like About Casablanca

Getting Robbed

On our walk home from the aforementioned Organic Kitchen we were mugged and Grant’s laptop was stolen. Again. If you’ve been following our journey you’ll know this is laptop number 3, yikes! Per usual the other bystanders were very kind and helpful and the police were fairly cooperative to work with (aside from us witnessing slight police brutality at the station!)

Our Airbnb

We love Airbnb and often prefer them over hotels. The one I found in Casablanca was decorated super cute and had great reviews. It’s not that they were entirely inaccurate. Sure the apartment itself was as described, but the building it was located in looked like it was out of a horror movie. It was completely abandoned with graffiti and guarded by our “doorman”. We had a similar experience with our Airbnb in Bulgaria. Just be aware when booking.

The Trash

The city is literally filthy. Piles of trash line the roads and it reminded me a lot of Santiago. Trash grosses me out and can make an otherwise pretty city feel super seedy. Why can’t all cities be as clean as Tokyo?

casablanca trash

Rick’s Cafe

I was excited to go to Rick’s Cafe since it is supposed to be a replica of the cafe in the city’s namesake film. The decor was timeless classy and very Gatsby-esque. The waiters were dressed to the nines and the piano music was the perfect backdrop.

ricks cafe morocco

We sat down at the well-stocked bar and tried to order a drink. At this point in our Morrocan journey, we were aware that most places do not serve alcohol but this bar had every liquor bottle available. We just wanted a glass of wine. The bartender looked at us like we were crazy and said they only have mint tea and orange juice. I’m not sure if this is all staging to look like the actual movie or if we were there at the wrong time, but it was very strange. And of course, it made us feel like American jerks for ordering it!

The Medina

We loved all of the medinas we went to in Morocco, even the crazy Fez one! But Casablanca was an exception. It was super sketchy feeling.

There you have it, our thoughts on this crazy city. I know what you’re thinking, I’m jaded because our computer was stolen and I’m painting an unfair picture of Casablanca. I’m not. It’s gross, don’t go.

To read about the rest of our Morocco trip (which was awesome!) click here.

Creeped out in Casablanca,
-Ray

Ps. Check out the video from our Morocco trip below! 

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