Casablanca and Rabat, separated by scarcely an hour's drive along the beautiful Atlantic coast, are Morocco's twin cities of misconception.
Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco, the wealthiest, the economic driver: the largest port in Morocco, immortalized by Hollywood and home to the country's principal international airport. Most travellers to the country land there, and either make a quick stop in the city or carry on altogether. The airport itself is a good 45 minutes outside Casablanca (or more, depending on traffic), and is in the direction of Marrakech, so one could certainly land there and be in Marrakech in less than two hours.
Rabat is the country's capital, an imperial city, full of grand boulevards, parks and beaches. In a country full of royal palaces, this is the one where the King actually lives most of the time. The two cities are less than an hour apart, easily accessible off the main expressways and connected by high speed train.
And yet, they are the two major cities often passed over by travellers, or at best given an hour or two before heading out towards Chefchaouen, Fès or Marrakech.
The Destination Morocco podcast recently addressed that reality, as it does often feature on Destination Morocco tours. It comes down to how much time you have, what your priorities are and often having to make tough choices.
A lot of questions come in about, "Is there more to do in Casablanca?" and, "Should I give Rabat more time?" The answer is of course, "Of course!" if you choose to. There is lots to see, and both cities are distinct and unique experiences in their own way, unlike anything else in Morocco.
Casablanca is the modern, bustling city where you can find anything - a city on a different scale than any others in Morocco.
Rabat's pace and grandeur, a combination of the historic and modern, you won't find anywhere else in the country.
Casablanca has a historic Jewish Quarter, great public squares for people-watching, art galleries, restaurants and the best night life in the country.
Rabat has beautiful museums, reflecting its stature as national capital and a stately city. It offers a more calm, quiet ambience than Morocco's other big cities, and that alone is a nice change of pace.
The episode is an overview of things to see and do in these two cities, whether you have a short amount of time or can add an extra day or two to your itinerary. You won't regret it.
Sights Mentioned in this episode: