Casablanca, Morocco: A Travelers Guide
Perhaps introduced to the rest of the world as the 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, Casablanca is more than just a trip to memory lane.
It is a significant part of northern Africa; it is Morocco’s economical and cultural capital and is more welcoming to Western ways than the rest of the country.
When to go:
Casablanca has a temperate climate, so it can be visited comfortably year round. It is most popular in the warmer summer months, July and August. Spring and autumn are beautiful, and have the fewest crowds, but with a population nearing four million people, it is always busy.
Places to visit:
- Hassan II Mosque: This is the only mosque in Casablanca that non-Muslims may visit. It is a breathtaking example of Moroccan architecture.
- Rick’s Cafe: An exquisite fine-dining restaurant, named from the movie “Casablanca,” with Humphrey Bogart. It is conveniently located, only minutes away from both Old Medina, and the Hassan Mosque.
- The Old Medina: A labyrinth of narrow streets, this is the heart of ancient Casablanca. The streets are a market where the vendors offer their wares, such as hand-woven rugs, dishes, and leather goods. Do not visit at night.
What you need to know before traveling to Casablanca:
- It is a Muslim country, and while many of the young woman wear Western dress, it is of most importance not to dress provocatively. Woman should show very little flesh.
- Men should not wear shorts.
- Women with long hair should wear it up.
- Women should not walk alone; they are vulnerable to assault by men. It is best to not make eye contact with men.
- Homosexuality is a crime in Morocco, punishable with a several year sentence. DO NOT show any sign of homosexuality whatsoever, even when back at your hotel. Hotel staff are known to call the police if two men are suspected of being gay.
- Heterosexual couples must not have public displays of affection. Some hotels do not allow couples to share a room without a marriage certificate.
- Don’t carry your passport and all of your money with you; leave at the hotel for safekeeping.
- Drink only bottled water that has an intact seal.
- Obtain permission before taking a picture of someone, and offer a small tip.
- Taxis in Morocco are generally safe, but city buses should not be used.