Casablanca (Arabic: الدار البيضاء), almost universally referred to as 'Casa', is the cosmopolitan, industrial and economic heart of Morocco and its largest city, as well as perhaps one of the less obviously endearing cities in the country. With a small, unassuming medina and a busy ville nouvelle, travellers arriving via Casablanca may be tempted to find the first train out to nearby Rabat. The awe-inspiring Hassan II Mosque and happening nightlife, however, are worth at least a day of your Moroccan itinerary. And if you are the more adventurous, independent sort of traveller who wants to go beyond what is 'pretty', this is North African big city life in all its grit and glory, with its cultural diversity (there are immigrants here from many other parts of Africa), and its many neighbourhoods of vibrant day- and night-life.
The modern city of Casablanca was founded by Berber fishermen in the 10th Century BC and was subsequently used by the Phoenicians, Romans, and the Merenids as a strategic port called Anfa. The Portuguese destroyed it and rebuilt it under the name Casa Branca, only to abandon it after an earthquake in 1755. The Moroccan sultan rebuilt the city as Daru l-Badya and it was given its current name of Casablanca by Spanish traders who established trading bases there. The French occupied the city in 1907, establishing it as a protectorate in 1912 and starting construction of the ville nouvelle, however it gained independence with the rest of the country in 1956.
Casablanca is now Morocco's largest city with a population of almost 4 million and also boasts the world's largest artificial port but no ferry service of any kind . Casablanca is also the most liberal and progressive of Morocco's cities. Young men flirt brazenly with scantily-clad women, designer labels are the norm in the chic, beachfront neighbourhood of 'Ain Diab and many young Moroccans speak to each other exclusively in French.
But not everyone is living the Casablancan dream. Tens of thousands of rural Moroccans who fled the drought-ravaged interior to find work in the city are struggling under high unemployment rates and expensive housing. The poverty, prevalent in slums on the city's outskirts, has led to high rates of crime, drug use and prostitution.
Casablanca has a mediterranean climate with warm summers, pleasant winters and moderate rainfall (415mm or 16.3 inches). Despite being at the same latitude with Shanghai and Atlanta, the city's winters are much warmer, with the average daytime temperature is 12.6°C (54.7°F), while Shanghai's is 4.8°C (40.6°F) and Atlanta's is 6.3°C (43.3°F). Nighttime lows hover around 10°C (50°F) and while temperatures can occasionally temperatures can drop to 5°C (42°F), everything below this mark is extremely rare, as is frozen precipitation. Beware though that strong westerly winds can make the city feel much colder than it actually is. The record low is -2.7°C (27.1°F). Casablanca is blessed with very good summers, due to being located in the west coast of the Atlantic, which gives very refreshing breezes. Temperatures range from 21°C (70°F) to 26°C (79°F) and the record high is 40.5°C (104.9°F). Overall, one can visit Casablanca year-round without any significant problems.
Mohammed V International Airport (IATA: CMN) is the busiest gateway to the country and is well-connected to Europe. Royal Air Maroc flies to New York JFK,Canada, many cities in Europe, and has connecting flights to all northern and many other African countries such as Nigeria, Central African Republic, Senegal.
To get from the airport into Casablanca or vice versa, the most efficient way is to take the ONCF train, the airport train station name is Aéoport Mohamed V, which is at the airport basement level. The trains depart hourly to the city starting from 04:00 to 23:45 of the day (if going from city to airport, it's from 03:00 to 22:00). The train schedule is available at the ONCF website in French. A single 2nd class ticket is 43 Dirhams (as of January 2017). There are 5 stations at this airport train line: Aéoport Mohamed V, L'Oasis, Mers Sultan, Casa Voyageurs and Casa Port, full journey takes 45 min.
If you arrive too late for the train, a taxi into the city is a flat rate of 350 DH (as of February 2018).
Note: there are 2 ATMs once you exit the arrivals area of the airport, past the customs and immigration area, but right before you go outdoors. You may have to walk to the left by 50 meters to find the ATMs.
Buses to the center leave regularly (~4 Dh).
There is also Casablanca Airport Car Service  +(212) 676-768-189.
Casa Port station is close to the center, Casa Voyageurs station is on the outskirts of the city central and then a fairly long walk or petit taxi (circa 15DH) into the centre. Maps are available at the Train Chief's office. ONCF trains including the airport line are often delayed, so it's better to plan your departure time at least 2.5~3 hours before the flight taking off, and also, please double check with the station staff the destination of the incoming train to avoid taking the wrong direction.
On arrival at Casa Voyageurs you should expect like at many train stations around the world to be besieged by touts and taxi drivers offering outrageous fares and refusing to use their meters. Even if they say they will use the meter, they will subsequently announce a 10 dirham surcharge per person or per bag applies. For destinations in the central city you will be lucky to get the fare below 30 dirhams - two to three times its likely true value. If your luggage is not heavy, simply ignore them all and walk away from the station where you are far more likely to find an honest driver who will use his meter. Alternatively, if you know the tram runs close to your accommodation, it is only 7 dirham to buy a rechargeable ticket at the stop immediately in front of the station. **Also please see the Taxis section below for a guide on how to safely and economically use the two kinds of taxis in Casablanca**.
The most convenient way to reach major Moroccan cities is by train. The downtown station Casa Port only has a couple of trains, while all others pass through Casa Voyageurs station, which serves trains to Meknes/Fes/Oujda, Marrakech or Tangier with stops in between. The trains are comfortable, the stations easy to navigate, and boards display the time of departure/arrival. Be sure to check the schedule  for express trains; for instance, the train that leaves Casablanca at 7:05AM daily takes 3 hours to reach Fes, as opposed to the normal 5 hour journey. Trains for Rabat leave half-hourly.
Trains are divided into first and second-class compartments; the first-class ones generally cost an extra 50%, but have more room and guarantee a seat. Boarding second-class compartments during peak hours may mean that you have to stand until a seat is free.
CTM coaches (intercity buses) and various private lines run services to most notable Moroccan towns as well as a number of European cities. These run from the Gare Routière on Rue Léon l'Africain in downtown Casablanca.
The main Gare Routière (Ouled Ziane) is in the outskirts of the city and serves the same (and more) destinations as CTM. This is definitely not the best place to be around at night (as most train/bus stations in the world), but noone will try to bother you once you get inside the station. The fares are slightly cheaper and busses tend to leave more frequently, however their quality might be lower and some do take longer for the trip (always ask if they take the highway (autoroute) if available on your route). Most busses don't leave acording to a fixed schedule, but when all the places in the bus are sold out. If buying a ticket there, make sure you don't pay anyone untill you see the bus and you are sure there is a place for you to sit on.
A taxi from downtown/Casa Voyageurs should cost you no more than (12 Dh/8 Dh) or 25 Dh with a taxi meter (as of August 2013), although you may have a hard time getting this fare (especially from downtown). Bus number ten used to go there, but seems to leave from another place now, as a tramway is under construction. There is a grand taxi rank about 200m south of Place des Nations Unies running there for 6 Dh per person.
Gare Routière is so far the only place in Casablanca where you can have your luggage stored for a small fee (as of August 2013).
The minimum driving age in Casablanca is 18. Always carry your driver's license and passport while driving. Avoid driving if possible-- car rental prices are high as is the accident rate. If you are leaving Casablanca by car, make sure to fill up in the city. Gas/petrol stations becomes scarce outside Casablanca.
Be aware: In Marocco there are frequently police controls for speeding (with laser gun). These are on all main roads between the coast and cities (Rabat, Agadir, Essaouira, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Casablanca). So be aware particuler on the roads where the maximum speed is 40 or 60 km/u.
A government department puts out an exhaustive map of Casablanca in book form called Carte Guide de Casablanca that you can find in bookstores or online; in all likelihood, though, it isn't necessary. Other than that, the centre of Casablanca is like a European city: the streets (mostly) have signs, and passersby are extremely helpful in French or Arabic and, more rarely, Spanish or English. The Medina can be hard to navigate, but it's so small that no matter how blindly you wander into it, you're never more than ten minutes from an exit.
The tram opened in December 2012. The tram works from 6 AM to 22:30 PM during the week. End-to-end journey times are put at 60/70 minutes. The 31-kilometre line links some of main neighbourhoods of the city, and includes 48 stop stations.
Two of the stations, Gare de Casa-Voyageurs, and Gare de l'Oasis are located in front of train stations.
A rechargeable ticket costs 7 Dh for the first time (like 1 DH more to get the Tram-card), and a one-way trip costs 6Dh, regardless of distance. Trams run frequently, with at least one train every ten minutes during daylight and early evening hours.
Going by bus is the cheapest way to get around (5 Dh). Now that many if not all of Casablanca's bus routes have been plotted on Google Maps, it proves a quick, cheap way to get around especially if your journey is longer than a few km. It may be hard to get on a bus that is already en route, however if you begin your journey where the bus begins its route (e.g. the 84, 9, 9E and many others start at Casa Port), you are guaranteed a seat, and an unbeatable vantage point of local life. There is also an app on the Google Store that lists bus routes, as well as downloadable Google Maps that you can overlay on your normal google maps app.
There are two kinds of taxis in Casa: the Red taxi (labelled Petit Taxi across the luggage rack on their roof), and the White Taxi.
The Red Taxi is a shared taxi service that is an excellent, fast way to get around town, even for very short distances. This is how the pricing works, very easy once you get the hang of it: There are 4 concurrent meters in a red taxi, one per passenger, and of course you may be the only passenger at times). When you get in, the driver will start the meter for your assigned number (say number 1). If, one km later, he picks up another passenger, he will start meter number 2 (this is all on one electronic meter with a toggle-able display). So at this point you (passenger 1) have a meter running that has started when you boarded, and passenger 2 has meter 2 running for her starting from where she boarded. Night charges (after 9pm?) are 50% higher. No driver will ask for anything more than what is displayed on the meter. Charges start at 2Dh and go up in .2 Dh increments. This is the best way of getting around Casablanca, as these taxis are everywhere, even plying the smaller streets. As an example, in June 2017, a ride at night from Casa Port (the centre) out to Oulfa in the suburbs, around 12-15km, with the 50% surcharge, was just 80Dh! Within central Casa where most tourists may restrict themselves, the normal charge will only be between 5 and 15Dh.
The White Taxis act somewhat like buses. They have a set route and a set price, of 6Dh (June '17). The end point tends to be about 6 or 7 km away, and the ride is much, much faster than buses. This fare turns out to be cheaper than Red Taxis, however the catch is that the White Taxis leave only after they have either filled up completely, or filled up partially but the driver feels confident that he will get more passengers along the way. Another catch is that 'full capacity' is 2 in the front (apart from the driver) and 4 in the back: a bit of a squeeze even for those used to travel in dense countries, and unsuitable if you have anything more than a daypack with you. Remember you pay your 6Dh to the driver at the start of your trip! (this way you do not delay him when you are getting off at for e.g. a busy traffic junction).
Hammam (Turkish Baths)
Swimming in Ain Diab or anywhere on Moroccan Atlantic Coast can be hazardous because of rip currents. Water is usually cold even in the summer months, but there are exceptional days when the water is warm and free of rip of currents.
Restaurants in Morocco don't open until around 7pm at the earliest, and most people don't eat until much later. Be sure to call first and make sure your restaurant of choice is actually open.
Located in the center of Casablanca, this restaurant offers a variety of Spanish dishes, very good rice and paellas dishes and a great selection of authentic Spanish tapas and local and imports wines and beers. Open from noon until midnight without interruption, its nice decor and friendly service make it a must in Casablanca.
Nightlife in Casablanca has mixed reviews. Women might feel a bit uncomfortable with the mostly male crowds in many bars and nightclubs. But if you dig a bit, you'll find some excellent spots to drink, dance and people watch. Certain clubs are flooded with prostitutes at night. It is not advised to bring a girl back to a hotel.
If you want a drink in your hotel room, supermarkets like Acima and Marjane carry a wide variety of liquor and wine, though the beer selection is fairly stunted. The best places to drink are either European-style restaurants, which usually have a decent selection, or hotel bars, which are inevitably safer and more relaxed. Many western-style nightclubs exist in the Maarif and Gironde neighborhoods. Pubs will cost around 100 dirhams per head, it will be half if visited in the happy hours from 7PMto 11PM. Pubs to visit Tiger House, La Notte.
There are some Budget options (150-300 Dirham for a double room) near the Tram Station "Station marché Central". You may take a Taxi from Casa Voyageur directly to this station for about 10 dirham metered fare.
Casablanca 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.
SIM cards from Marco Telecom and Meditel are given out for free (at the airport, and by promoters who you can find standing around in the city wearing company uniforms). The free SIM cards come with a little bit of calling/texting/internet credit. However, these must be activated before you can use it, by calling 555 (automated system is in French only), or asking them to help you activate so you can call and use internet. You can add data to the plan for 10DH for 1GB of data. These can be purchased at stores, or ask for help from the telecom people.
Almost all of the things to see in Casablanca are in the north of the city; very few maps even show the southern end of this sprawling metropolis. Common sense will alleviate 99% of problems; try to look as little like a tourist as possible, do not flash large quantities of cash, and so on. Faux guides are much less of a problem here than in the rest of Morocco and are limited mainly to the area around the Old Medina. It is inadvisable to walk alone in Casablanca at night. Women, as in all Moroccan cities, should dress modestly to avoid harassment (which almost always consists of lewd comments, but nothing physical.)
Casablanca is unlikely to provide North American or European travellers with any headaches. Despite being a major population center and seat of commerce, the majority of the town is less than 50 years old and could easily be mistaken for Los Angeles or Madrid. Food is as European as it gets in Morocco, with pizzas and hamburgers as frequent as tajines and couscous. In some areas, such as the Maarif and Gironde neighborhoods, seeing a man in a djellaba or a donkey pulling a cart of vegetables are rarities. If even the trappings of Moroccan culture such as these are too much for you, any hotel bar or restaurant is going to be just like home for a few hours.
The majority of travellers leaving Morocco from Casablanca will leave from the Mohammed V airport (accessible by train  Leaving Casablanca for other Moroccan cities is likely to be by rail: the main train station is Casa Voyageur (as opposed to Casa Port, which is a special side stop not served by many trains.) Grand taxis are the best way to exit the city for smaller outlying villages. There are no boat or ferry services available in Casablanca. You may take Supratours or CTM coaches that travels through out Morocco.