Casablanca or Marrakech – Which Is Right for You?
The largest city in Morocco lying on the border of the idyllic Atlantic Ocean waters, Casablanca is the eighth-largest city in the Arab world and one of the largest financial centres in Africa. Boasting one of the largest artificial ports in the world, it is considered to be the economic and business centre of Morocco. It is also the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.
Marrakech is now the fourth largest city in the Kingdom of Morocco and one of four former imperial cities. It is one of the busiest cities in Africa, serving as a major economic centre and a hugely popular tourist destination. As the host of the largest traditional market in Morocco, Marrakech’s real-estate and hotel development have grown dramatically in the 21st Century in spite of recession, elevating it as a popular and prospering part of the world for globetrotters.
Getting to Casablanca
Casablanca is served by Mohammed V International airport, the busiest in Morocco. As well as having regular linking flights throughout Morocco, it is also well served by European and North American destinations, meaning visiting Casablanca is feasible for all from these locations.
Getting to Marrakech
Marrakech is similarly served by an airport, the Marrakech Medina Airport. It is easily accessible from the UK with a number of airports offering direct flights. It also has regular flights from other European countries, meaning connected flights are an option.
Which Is More Expensive – Casablanca or Marrakech?
Little separates Casablanca and Marrakech price-wise once you consider the cost of living. Typical accommodation In Marrakech will cost you more than you can expect to pay in Casablanca, but generally speaking food, transportation and entertainment will be cheaper.
If you are looking for a more luxurious travel style, Marrakech will become significantly more expensive than Casablanca, predominantly due to the price of accommodation. Bottled water is also more expensive in Marrakech.
Things to Do in Casablanca
Casablanca as the business capital of Morocco has a much more modern feel to it than other parts of Morocco. However, its bustling streets are home to some real gems that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world, can accommodate over 100,000 worshipers. It dominates the Old City for sheer size and its intricate decorations attract visitors from around the globe. Its impressive minaret stands at over 200 metres tall, making it not only a culturally significant place to visit, but architecturally spectacular too.
Though not as impressive as counterparts in other areas of the country, Casablanca’s Old Medina is still worth a wander in its own right. A throwback to life before French rule, it remains an authentic experience for the visitor looking to combine a bit of history and culture with a more modern feel.
Quartier Habous is a well looked after, quiet neighbourhood with subtle French influences in its design. It is the ideal place for picking up typical Moroccan souvenirs and taking a morning stroll soaking in its unique personality.
The Corniche running along the coast is the place to go for visitors looking for a good walk, jog or simply relaxing time with soothing sounds of the Atlantic Ocean. Many fantastic restaurants and stunning views await, with a combination of beautiful, natural scenery and all the amenities you could need making Corniche a must-visit for all.
Casablanca’s central market is a hive of activity and the perfect spot for experiencing local life. Whether looking to pick yourself up a piece of memorabilia for your trip, seeking a bit of fun or that perfect snapshot, the central market will provide you with a lasting impression of the Moroccan way.
The Parc de la Ligue Arab offers downtime and escape from the bustling streets where you can take a picnic, soak in the sun and simply relax. Towering palm trees make it a beautiful spot, and easily recognisable too.
Place Mohammed V, a popular meeting spot, houses many of the most important public buildings of Casablanca including the Palace of Justice, French Consulate and the main Bank of Morocco building. Striking architecture and well-kept gardens make the area a popular place for tourists and locals.
Things to Do in Marrakech
Marrakech is home to a great number of historical monuments. The ancient imperial city is visually captivating, tourist-friendly and abundant in dining, entertainment and traditional experiences.
Marrakech Museum, at the heart of the city, is an art museum hosting contemporary and historic world-class art. The building alone is worth a visit, with delicate designs and classical Moorish architecture at every turn.
Stroll among exotic plants and delightful pools at the Jardin Majorelle. Covering nearly two and a half acres and taking over forty years to create, the stunning gardens celebrate the uniqueness of each of its collections. A treat for all senses in ways beyond imagination, the gardens are a welcome and blissful retreat from the busier areas of the city.
Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th Century with the intention of being the grandest palace of its time. It is a peaceful hangout with great history and overflowing grandeur.
No trip to Marrakech is complete without a visit to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the square and market place in the medina quarter. Food, entertainment, music and even snake charmers all play a significant part in the popularity of the square, where many locals and tourists gather each day. Peak times are in the evenings when you can catch a stunning sunset.
Close to the Atlas Mountains are the Menara gardens. Established in the 12th Century, the tranquil gardens offer an escape from city life to bask in the glorious sunlight surrounded by many olive trees. Expect to find few tourists and a more authentic African experience here than in other gardens in the city.
The Saadian tombs, dating back to the end of the 16th Century, promise an unforgettable experience thanks to their spectacular decoration and design. Previously sealed off for hundreds of years, the tombs were built to house the remains of significant Saadi dynasty rulers.
If a venture further out of the city takes your fancy, check out the dramatic Ouzoud falls and visit typical Berber villages along the way. A full day’s worth of fun and excitement, expect cascading falls and brilliant wildlife, and perhaps even a wild monkey or two!
For the more adventurous traveller, gain a whole new perspective on Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains with a hot air balloon ride. With additional extras available, such as camel rides and refreshments, you can be sure that this experience will live long in the memory and provide the most breathtaking pictures and memories.
Best for Culture
Markets are a really significant part of daily Moroccan life. It is possible to visit authentic markets in both cities. You will have no problem finding that perfect souvenir or gift in either. Casablanca’s Central Market is a hub of activity, but Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa is one of the best markets in all of Morocco famed for its varied inclusions and how it enthrals every sense.
Casablanca hosts the Hassan II Mosque, which held the claim of Africa’s largest mosque for a number of years. It is a hugely popular place for both tourists and locals. Some of the country’s top buildings are also found here, such as the Palace of Justice and the French Consulate.
Marrakech has the Marrakech Museum, housing fine, world-class art. The Bahia Palace is a grand creation too and having been recently restored to its former glory is well worth a visit.
A cultural experience awaits you in whichever choice you make.
Casablanca has a more modern feel and has many buildings significant in Morocco today. You will encounter fewer tourists than in Marrakech and are more likely to see the industrial side of the country.
On the other hand, Marrakech puts a much greater emphasis on tourism, so you are more likely to encounter crowds of visitors. That said, much of the city is set up to give visitors an authentic experience of the lives of locals. In the markets and plentiful gardens, you will see Moroccans going about their everyday lives in and around tourists, creating a unique and diverse atmosphere.
Best for History
Both cities are historically impressive, though more subtly so in Casablanca’s case. Many attractions have traditional architecture, while french influences are plentiful. The Old Medina allows you to get a taste of Moroccan life before the French colonisation and is the best place in Casablanca to experience traditional Moroccan life.
Classical, Moorish architecture is prominent in Marrakech. Gardens dating back to the 12th Century can be found, as well as the Bahia Palace. A true delight for history fanatics is the Saadian tombs from the 16th Century.
If you are looking to combine history, culture and adventure, tours leaving Marrakech heading for the Ouzoud falls can take in traditional Berber villages learning all about their history. Here, you can get a taste for Berber life, and for true Moroccan food. Book a tour that includes lunch with the locals for a heartwarming experience.
Best for Nature
The Corniche makes Casablanca a good choice when considering a visit that includes beach time. The beauty of the setting is matched by the convenience of things to do, making your visit stress free and a welcome treat for all your senses. You can then rest under palm trees in the Parc de la Ligue Arab with a picnic appreciating the laid-back atmosphere.
Marrakech offers the stunning Atlas Mountains and waterfalls, as well as the Menara gardens where you can take a peaceful stroll. The Jardin Majorelle, though man-made, houses many exotic plants and trees, streams and pools. The enchanting garden is a delight for all senses, impressing both young and old alike.
Best for Adventure
Marrakech is full of adventure with the Atlas Mountains, hot air balloon rides and the Ouzoud Falls. With good transport links out of the city and many venues offering pick-ups for organised activities, Marrakech represents a great destination for the thrill-seeking traveller.
Best for Relaxing
Spas are common in both Casablanca and Marrakech. The traditional Moroccan deep-cleansing treatment Hammam is increasing in popularity around the world. Experience the centuries-old treatment in its home, widely available in both cities.
Once you’ve finished at the spa, Casablanca offers the quiet neighbourhood of Quartier Habous, where you can leisurely wander and take in any shops for souvenirs you need to find.
Marrakech also offers the Jardin Majorelle, where you can be dazzled by a stunning show of exotic plants, or simply stroll around the gardens for a soothing experience.
Casablanca or Marrakech – Which Is Right for You?
A stunning country with a fascinating history and culture, Morocco offers varied opportunities and something to suit all.
Casablanca is a more modern, business-oriented location. It still holds an enormous amount of history and interest, but combines that with bustling streets and a title of Morocco’s business capital.
Marrakech is a more popular tourist spot, combining phenomenal scenery and architecture with a remarkable history. A true Moroccan experience can be found here, with the added bonus that much of its industry is geared towards welcoming tourists. A place that is growing as a destination in the 21st Century, Marrakech amalgamates must-see Morocco holiday tour essentials with unexpected adventure and memorable gems.
If you are seeking something more modern with good business-links and international trade, Casablanca is the place to head. Its streets will be bustling, but you will encounter more locals and fewer tourists. You will get an insight into modern-day Moroccan life with opportunities to visit places of great significance not only to Moroccans, but people throughout the Arab world.
On the other hand, you have Marrakech. A more traditional Moroccan experience is available here. If you are seeking adventure and trips away from the main city of your stay, Marrakech has fantastic links and unforgettable activities close-by. Though you will encounter more tourists, the city is well-suited to accommodate the needs of visitors and combines this with offering authentic experiences enjoyed by both locals and travellers alike.
Be sure that both locations have plenty to offer; you can have a truly sensational experience in either. With a jam-packed schedule or plenty of downtime to relax, Casablanca and Marrakech will leave you with stories to tell and experiences that will intrigue others for years to come.
Can I visit both in one trip?
Absolutely! Less than 250km separates the two cities, meaning driving between the two is a possibility. Trains are a frequent, affordable option and you are able to fly between the two airports too.
Which is warmer?
Marrakech and Casablanca follow the same weather patterns throughout the year, but Marrakech is warmer. Temperatures peak from June to September, averaging as high as 29°C in Marrakech at these times and 23°C in Casablanca. Rainfall also follows a similar pattern: June to September are the driest months for both.
How much time do I need?
If you are well-organised, you can catch the highlights of either destination in 3-4 days. However, if you are planning more excursions away from the city, or fancy more time to relax and soak up the atmosphere and African sun, then allow yourself around a week.