Rabat, capital of Morocco since 1912, is a large, clean, orderly and very ‘European’ city. Often missed out on Morocco itineraries, we decided to start our trip there as it was the cheapest flight route from London.
We weren’t expecting too much, but actually, we found ourselves very pleasantly surprised. What it lacks in frenetic pace and the Moroccan culture, Rabat makes up for in just being a pleasant and easy-going city with quite a good array of things to do and see.
Peace and calm really are the order of the day. Rabat was the perfect stepping stone into the country and as a starting point to any Moroccan trip, we couldn’t recommend it more.
Visiting Rabat in One Day: Essential Things to Know
How to get to Rabat
Rabat, as the official capital of Morocco, receives many international flights a day. From the UK, we arrive on a direct flight from London Stansted. From the airport to Rabat city centre, you can take the airport bus for just 22 dirham and it takes around 15 minutes. The bus times are fairly irregular though and they often wait for the bus to fill up before departing.
If you’re going to Rabat from another destination in Morocco, chances are you will arrive at (or depart from) the main train station or the bus station.
What time of year is best to go to Rabat?
Morocco in general makes a good year-round destination. Even in the winter, it experiences pleasant sunshine and highs of around 20 celsius.
In the summer months (June to September), it is very hot in Rabat and the whole of Morocco. If you don’t like the heat, it would not be wise to visit Morocco in the summer.
Getting around Rabat
Fortunately, Rabat is easy to explore on foot. The city’s compact size means most of the best attraction are within an easy walking distance. There is however an efficient and clean tram system if you do get tired. The city has strong French influences and the language is widely spoken in Rabat, so basic French is very useful to get around on public transport in Rabat.
Where to stay in Rabat?
As Rabat is a pretty compact city, anywhere that looks fairly central will be a good place to start. If you have travel plans that involve using public transport in your Turkey itinerary, it might make most sense to stay somewhere near the train station in Rabat.
Here are some of the best hotels in Rabat:
Best Things to do in Rabat, Morocco
Despite Rabat being far less visited than other destinations in Morocco such as Marrakech and Chefchaouen, the capital city offers some of the Morocco’s most interesting historic and architectural monuments. Best of all, Rabat is significantly calmer and more relaxed than other cities like Fes or Marrakech. If you have one day in Rabat, or even a couple of days, here are some of the best things to do in Rabat.
The Hassan Mosque and Mausoleum of Mohammed V
Much of the old medieval city of Rabat was destroyed by the Portuguese during raids in the sixteenth century. The once exquisite Hassan Mosque is sadly just ruins now but is still well worth a visit. Interestingly, at one time, the Hassan Mosque was the second largest mosque in the Islamic world but now only the tower stands. Visitors are free to explore its grounds, the adjacent Mausoleum of Mohammed V and the surrounding area.
You’ll need to cover your arms and legs to enter.
Kasbah des Oudaïas
Kasbah means a settlement behind high walls. The Kasbah des Oudaïas is worth visiting in Rabat, as it is fairly small and manageable. Dating back to the 12th century, this ancient medina area is very enjoyable to explore. As Rabat was the first place we visited in Morocco, and this was the first kasbah we visited, we realise now we definitely didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. After visiting Fes and Marrakech, we realised it is much, much calmer. The complex stretches down to the sea, through a labyrinth of bluey white-washed lanes and is a real delight to explore.
If you’re using a map to get around Rabat, the kasbah is best entered through the Bab Oudaïa gate.
The Port of Rabat
Whilst not lined with cafes as with seaside ports in European cities, it is a pretty waterfront and a great spot to watch daily life go by. We saw fathers and sons sitting on the wall fishing together, mums and children walking along the promenade, and groups of friends catching up. We were the only tourists around the port area, but we felt perfectly safe.
The Ville Nouvelle
‘Ville Nouvelle’ means new town.
This newer part of town is particularly European and the French influence is noticeable. This part of Rabat is spacious and peaceful, with tree lined boulevards and Parisian style cafes serving up French, Spanish and Moroccan food. Home to some great coffee and some great street art, it’s a great place to explore in Rabat. Seek out ‘Place Pietri’, a large square that is bathed in sunshine for most the day. This square is home to some of the best cafes in Rabat.
One idea is to see Rabat with a local tour guide, who can ensure you visit all of the top sites in one day. GetYourGuide have some great tours:
Rabat is the perfect Moroccan city to spend one day or a weekend in, either as a standalone break or as part of a longer Moroccan itinerary. It’s calm, relaxing and pleasant and so totally different to the frenetic pace of Marrakech.
If you are planning a longer trip around Morocco of a week or two, you might find some of my other blog posts useful. I’ve written detail guides to Fes, Chefchaouen, spending 3 days in Marrakech, Essaouira, exploring the Sahara desert and enjoying a beach break in Taghazout and Paradise Valley. I’ve also written some more specific blog posts on hiking the Rif Mountains in Morocco, visiting La Mamounia in Marrakech as a day visitor, visiting Le Jardin Majorelle and a guide to some of the best places to eat in Marrakech.
I do hope my post on all of the best things to see and do in Rabat, Morocco has been useful. Feel free to ask any further questions and I’d love if you shared on any of the below links!
Disclaimer: This visit to Rabat in Morocco was entirely paid for by myself and there was no involvement from the tourism board or a hotel. This is an independent guide.
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