Saint Pierre Cathedral, Rabat Morocco
Rabat (الرباط) literally "Fortified Place" is the capital city of Morocco. The city is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg. On the facing shore of the river lies Salé, Rabat's bedroom community. Together with Temara the cities account for a combined metropolitan population of 2 million. It is an easy going city by Moroccan standards.
Rabat is well served by train and you can get frequent connections to most places. Marrakesh is a pleasant 4 hour journey, Fez 2.5 hours (if you take one of the new express trains, and 3.5 hours on other trains) and Casablanca 1 hour. There are two stations in Rabat - Centre Ville (Medina/Downtown) and Agdal. A tram and a taxi station are located just next to the downtown train station. Be warned that some travelers report that trains are frequently delayed by over an hour.
It's possible to get a bus from almost any town in the country to Rabat. Note, however, that the buses often do not stop at the central bus station, but instead go through the city. It may be a good idea to ask someone which is the correct stop, or use a decent street map to work out where you are. It is easy to miss the main stop and find yourself heading out into the suburbs again, which is not too bad - about a 20-25 MAD ride in to downtown.
The Rabat International Airport is in the nearby town of Salé. The city has limited international connections, with most tourist flying into nearby Casablanca and then coming into Rabat by train or coach. The airport itself is very tiny, possessing limited facilities (only one runway, one conveyor belt, etc.) so it's definitely not the best way to get into the city. However, the airport is undergoing some major renovations, with the hope of relieving all the flights from Fez, Marrakesh and Casablanca, so it should improve in the not too distant future.
- Tram: There are two lines between Rabat and Salé. The lines were launched in May 2011, the tram is supposed to be completely launched before the end of July 2011. It costs only 7 MAD for one use and it works from 7am to 9pm from Monday to Friday for the moment, it's supposed to work from 6am to 11pm every day of the week before the end of July 2011. There is a tram every 15/20 minutes on the first line (the most used one). Maps and help are available in French and in Arabic in every station. One of the stations is located exactly just in front of the downtown train station.
- Petit Taxi: All blue in color, mostly Fiat UNO. This inexpensive way to get around town usually won't exceed 25 MAD, the minimum far is 5 MAD. Be sure to check the meter is running to avoid being over charged at the end of the trip, although this is much less of a problem than in other cities. Don't be surprised if the taxi stops to pick someone else up.
- Grand Taxis: Avoid the white, mercedes, Grand Taxis when traveling around Rabat, they are much more expensive and less safe than blue petit taxis.
- Buses: There are now official bus routes listed and bus stops have signs showing at least the bus ligns that stop there. Costing only 3.60 MAD (50 US cents) they are a cheap way to get to know the several layers of Rabat. The buses can be of very variable quality, but it could be worth taking the chance given the cost-saving and experience of what many locals with low income experience. Bus # 4 goes from Ocean, to Bab El Had to Avenue Fal Oueld Omair (one of the major streets in the Agdal neighborhood) all the way to its terminus in the upscale and calm new development of Hay Riad. If the bus is crowded watch out for pickpockets.
- Car: Driving around yourself is not recommended. Insurance rates are high and most drivers will avoid hitting you at all costs; however, Morocco does have the second highest rate of car accidents in the world, and most drivers do not abide by the traffic laws. Driving doesn't necessarily mean you are going to have an accident but as a Moroccan I recommend you to be very careful !
- Walking: If you aren't in a hurry, walking around the area of Centre Ville, Agdal, The University, the Medina, the Ocean/River and the monuments is easy and pleasant. The new Corniche on the river, leading to the Oudaias, has recently been re-done, and there are expected openings of cafes soon. The route cotiere, or coastal road, past the cemetery and the Oudaias has dramatic ocean-side views, especially charming at sunset.
Inside Mausoleum Mohammed 5 in Rabat
- Hassan Tower and the Royal Mausoleum
- Chellah - old city founded by Carthaginians, conquered by Romans and later passed under Arab rule, just to be abandoned and settled again by unbelievable numbers of birds. This breeding ground bubbles with bird life in spring, including stork nest on the top of old minaret. Also, historical layers are visible, with outstanding Roman and Moroccan parts.
- National Archaeological Museum
- Royal Palace : It's pretty huge, you can't really visit it (but it's a nice walk !), the armed guards might allow you walk from one entrance to another especially if you look like a tourist.
There are many things to do here, as with most Moroccan cities it is enough just to wander around and adventure where something takes your fancy.
In the Kasbah (Oudaia) there is an amazing cafe that looks over the sea, where you can drink mint tea and eat sugary treats. The staff are very friendly and you can stay as long as you like soaking up the atmosphere.
There is also a large and tranquil park next to the Hotel Sofitel, where people run and play football etc. You can also use the pool at the Sofitel for a charge. The park is a 10-15 Dirham taxi ride (10 minutes) from la gare central.
- Theatre Mohammed V Theatre in Downtown Rabat, nothing absolutely outstanding but there are performances each month.
- Jazz au Chellah is a jazz festival organized each year in june by the ministry of culture, the city and the european delegation. The website might have some issues.
- Mawazine is a festival of world music that takes place annually in Rabat featuring Arab, African and international music icons during May. It is controversial as some of the country's Muslim politicians have criticised the event for "encouraging immoral behaviour". Artists such as Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Elton John or B.B. King have performed at Mawazine. There are various scenes around the city.
- Amnesia 18, Rue Monastir, Downtown Rabat. If you like clubbing then dress up, this is the hippest club in Rabat.
- Royal Golf Dar Es Salam The domain is spread over 440 hectares of trees, flowers, and water. If you have enough money, a car and are desperately looking for a quiet area to walk around or to play golf you will like it.
- Rue des Consuls an interesting place to wander. This street is so named because étangers diplomats were required to reside in the seventeenth century until 1912. At that time the main activity of the area was piracy and taking slaves. These were auctioned . Under a treaty with the Sultan, they were to be redeemed by diplomats from their countries who then had a budget for such purchases. For convenience, these diplomats were thus a few tens of meters from the place of "negotiation". This street was already very active one of the few to be paved. Louis Chenier, the father of the poet Andre Chenier was there representing the King of France from 1768 to 1781. Trading in the redemption of captives was his main activity and he excelled so much that even the Sultan, exhausted, sent him back to France by military force. From the Rue des Consuls, opens a number of alleys housing small shops, enabling craftsmen to maintain their expertise and their art, in often difficult circumstances.
- Although the medina here is not as extensive as that of Fez or Marrakesh there are still some bargains to be had. You will find the normal array of baboshka shoes, baggy pants, ornate mirrors and plates etc! Interestingly all the Moroccans can be found in the section of the market that sells imported western style clothing from Asia and all the tourists can be found in the 'traditional' section. The lovely woolen paunchos are well worth a look and the carpet shops near the end of the medina are also very nice.
- MegaMall : One modern mall with shops and a food court
In a restaurant add a 5-10% tip to the bill if you are satisfied with the service.
- Patisserie La Comedie on Mohammad V. Fancy pastries. Croissants, 4 dh. Ice cream, 6 dh per scoop.
- Cafe 7eme Art next to the movie theater. Has fake movie posters with meals as the stars. Light lunches, popular with business people and the more well-off. Miniature models of local scenes surround the outdoor patio. Pizzas, 35 to 40 dh, bland and tough. Friendly staff, stray cats beg for food.
- Pizza Hut You can eat a pizza here.
05 37 68 13 00 for the Agdal neighborhood, 05 37 63 02 00 for the one in Souissi (a rich suburb with many embassies and a mall).
- Villa Mandarine Quite expensive, considered as one of the best restaurants in the city
- Le Petit Beur/Dar Tagine Delicious bstilla. Intimate setting.
- El Rancho Tex-Mex restaurant. Good food and one of the few places where you can get a decent beer.
- Mega Mall Food Court Free Wifi Hotspot
- Paul's Tradional French bakery that serves as a restaurant. Can be quite pricy, but the food is magnificent. Worth a visit for their Olive bread.
- La Mamma One of the oldest pizzeria in town
If you find yourself in Agdal, try the brochettes at 'Sucre et Sale'.
- Old Medina: In the centre there are often inexpensive food stalls around the medina, serving delicious fish and salad sandwiches. Especially found right around the perimeter of the Marche Centrale, these places also serve fresh and simple salads, hot bowls of lubia (beans) or lentils, rotisserie chicken, and home-made tagines. There are also lots of stalls selling pancakes and pain au chocolat.
- Hotel Balima, Ave Mohd V.
- Upstairs, 8 Avenue Michlifen. Irish/ English theme pub in Agdal. Women will feel comfortable here as it's not men-only. The food is typical pub-grub, with some vegetarian options. A pint costs 50 dirhams. Live music is on every now and then (check their facebook page)
- Le Bistrot Pietri, Place Pietri.
- Las Tapas.
- Le Deux Palais, (Between Sofitel and Interior Ministry). 31 dh drafts and 17 dh small beers. Good food and the perfect place to watch a football match, both inside or on the patio. Food is pretty good as well, 10 dh for a plate for fries.
Most budget accommodation is found in the Old Medina of Rabat. Walking on Mohammed V street, you’ll see a lot of signs pointing to hotels. On some days these fill up quickly, so it’s good to be early. A double room will set you back about 120–150 Dh.
- HI Hostel Rabat, 43 Rue Marassa Bab El Had (Medina). A worn-down hostel on the edge of the medina walls. Four large dorm rooms with 16 bunks each ensure that groups large and small can bunk down here. With peeling paint and some rather noxious odors in the bathroom, the place is past its prime and not a great value. A 10 minute walk from the train station. Breakfast is included. Dh 65 per bunk.
- Hotel Splendide in the Ville Nouvelle, an easy walk from the train station. Large rooms and big windows, lots of light, around a central courtyard. Quiet and clean. They offer meals which are just food from the place across the street brought across on a tray. The shared bathrooms are generally clean. 100dh / night. Showers 10dh, hot water only after p.m.
- Hotel de la Paix in the Ville Nouvelle. Dingy and dank. 150 dh. Warning: If you don't get a room with an in suite shower, you don't get to take one at all.
- Hotel Central, 2 Rue Al Basra (Ville Nouvelle). checkin: July 2009. Bright room with shower and sink, toilet outside. 10 minutes walk to Medina. 2 minutes walk from Rabat Ville Train Station. Next to main street Ave. Mohammed V. Dh 120 single.
- Golden Tulip Farah Rabat, Place Sidi Makhlouf 10, 10.000 Rabat (Take along the Mohammed V Avenue and then turn right on the Hassan II Avenue.), ☎ +212 5 37 73 47 47, . 192 rooms located on the banks of the Bourgreg river. Practically within the city centre, next to two of the most recognized monuments within Morocco: the Hassan Tower, and the mausoleum of the late King Mohamed V. However keep in mind that it's located next to an extremely busy and noisy area From 1796dh / night.
- Hotel Sofitel Jardin Des Roses, . 5 star hotel located close to the Royal Palace and a park, considered by some the best (and one of the most expensive) hotel in the city
- Villa Mandarine, . Set in an exotic orange grove hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city, quite expensive .
Rabat is considered a safe city. Just use some common sense : Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or looking flashy, do not flash large quantities of cash, avoid unfamiliar and deserted areas at night. If you walk in the crowded streets of the Medina or use a bus keep a hand on your pockets. Women should avoid low-cut tops, midriffs, or shorts to avoid harassment (which almost always consists of comments, but nothing physical.) although this is less of a problem than in other cities. Don't feel the need to be polite--no Moroccan woman would put up with behaviour like that.
Rabat is served by all of the mobile companies that can be found elsewhere in Morocco. Wana, Meditel, and Maroc Telecom are the most common. Mobile phones can be bought in any of these store's stands, and most do not run on calling plans. Rather, recharge cards can be bought in corner stores that contain a number to call. When that number is called, the company adds the price of the card to your account's balance. Alternatively, more than one SIM card can be bought and changed in and out of the phone, if users need more than one phone number.
- Internet cafes : Internet access is available in cyber cafes around the city (not in residential neighborhoods though). Service is usually around 1€ per hour.
- Wifi : You'll find wifi access in a some places such as Bert's or Megamall food court, usually those labelled a bit "trendy".
- Mobile Internet : Phone companies offer mobile internet services that plug into the USB port of your computer (currently, there are no mac-compatible devices.) These services can be had without signing a contract, and are recharged in the same manner as a telephone.
- Canada, 13, bis rue Jaâfa-as-Sadik, Agdal, ☎ +011 212 537 68 74 00 (email@example.com, fax: +011 212 537 68 74 30), . M-Th 8AM–noon and 1:30PM-5:30PM, F 8AM-1:30PM. The Canadian Embassy also provides services to Australian citizens in Morocco. Call collect from any country at (613) 996 8885 to reach the Emergency Operations Centre.
- Portugal, 5, Rue Thami Lamdouar Souissi, ☎ +212 537 75 64 46/7/9/50 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +212 537 75 64 45), . M-F 9AM-12:30PM and 3PM-4:30PM. On the same street as of the embassies of Mali and Mauritania.
- Serbia, 23, Ave Mehdi Ben Barka B.P.5014 Souissi, ☎ +212 537 752 201 (fax: +212 537 753 258).
- United States, 2 Ave Mohamed Al Fassi (formerly Ave de Marrakech), ☎ +212 537 76 22 65 (, fax: +212 37 76 56 61), . M-F 8AM-5PM.
- Great Britain, British Embassy 28 Avenue S.A.R. Sidi Mohammed Soussi 10105 (BP 45)., ☎ +212 537 63 33 (fax: 0537 75 87 09), .
- Spain, Rue Aïn Khalouiya, Route des Zaërs, Km. 5,300 Souissi.-Rabat., ☎ +212(0)37633900 (Emb.Rabat@maec.es), .
- China, 16, Avenue Ahmed Balafrej Souissi, .
- Germany, 7,Zankat Madnine, B.P. 235, 10 000, Rabat, ☎ +(212)(0)537218600 (email@example.com, fax: 0537-70 68 51), .
- Netherlands, 40 Rue de Tunis PO Box 329,Quartier Tour Hassan, Rabat, ☎ +212537219600 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +212(0)537219665), .
- Salé is on the right bank of the Bou Regreg river, opposite the national capital Rabat. Founded in antiquity as a Phoenician colony, it became a haven for pirates as an independent republic before being incorporated into Morocco. Modern Salé is a more polluted than Rabat, badly planned, and rapidly expanding town because of an important rural exodus. The city is now a large "dormitory town". Most of its influential and wealthy inhabitants moved to Rabat on the other side of the river. There is a bridge and a tram line between the two cities.
- Skhirat is a small town located 28 kilometers away from Rabat, known for its beaches, the area around Skhirat has recently begun developing and property and land prices have increased greatly.
- Casablanca is Morocco's largest and wealthiest city, it hosts headquarters and main industrial facilities for the leading Moroccan and international companies based in Morocco, Casablanca is also the most liberal and progressive of Morocco's cities. However poverty prevalent in slums on the city's outskirts and an extremely important rural exodus, has led to high rates of crime, drug use ,prostitution and the rise of islamism. Casablanca is a mixed bag of Moroccan extremes.