The southern port cities begin south of Kenitra and go to the Moroccan/Mauritanian border. These cities all border the Atlantic coast and have a varied mix of colonial influence. The northern cities have heavy French/Spanish influence while the southern cities have a French/German influence. Several of these cities are best known for their ocean activities and lively nightlife.
Rabat and Sale
Rabat is the capital of Morocco and Sale is the twin city opposite Rabat. While primarily serving as the head of the government there are a few unique tourist opportunities. The Hassan II memorial and mosque on the Atlantic Ocean are a quick visit. Outside of Rabat are the Chellah and Sala Colonia. These are ruins from the Roman period. The ruins can be toured and yearly there is a jazz festival held at the site called Jazz au Chellah. If you are looking to spend some time in the area Sale might be a good place to put down roots. This city is mostly a commuter city but accommodations will be cheaper than in Rabat proper. On a historical note, Sale served as a haven for the infamous Barbary pirates who formed The Republic of Sale. Sadly, little exists documenting this time.
Casablanca is the largest city of Morocco and the chief port for incoming and outgoing shipments. One of the grandest sites of Casablanca is the Hassan II mosque which can hold 25,000 people on the interior and 80,000 more in the courtyard; it also boasts the world’s largest minaret. Morocco has a history of tolerance and a visit to Casablanca should include a visit to the impressive Casablanca Cathedral as well as the Jewish Museum (the only Jewish Museum in an Islamic country). Casablanca has a medina that is smaller in scale than those in Fez or Marrakech. A few unique stops in the old medina are the horsemeat market and the skala (or fortress) opposite the port. You may also encounter “Rick’s Café,” but don’t be fooled – this is not the filming location from Casablanca. You won’t find that in Casablanca as the movie was completely shot in Hollywood.
This southernmost port on the Atlantic Ocean is most well known for its beaches. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast or beach-lover this is the place to go. If not, then Agadir might not be very appealing. There are many horseback and camel riding tours that leave from the area, as well as “quad” tours. Agadir is also known for surfing and music festivals.
Safi is a small city on the Atlantic coast. If you’re a ceramics or pottery enthusiast this city is a must visit.
Located on the Atlantic coast directly west of Marrakech and north of Agadir is Essaouira. The medina of Essaouira is small but has fantastic ramparts. The fish market and port are known for their characteristic blue wooden boats. Much like Agadir, there are plenty of outdoor activities like horseback riding and golf to enjoy. A major draw to this area is kite surfing. While very tourist friendly it does not feel overrun like many cities.
More information about Morocco’s northern port cities.
Written by Amanda Mouttaki.
Photo by [email protected].