Rabat: Morocco’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Morocco is home to four so-called Imperial cities. Rabat is not only one of them, but also the capital. Because of its location on the sea, it stands out amongst the other Imperial cities Marrakesh, Fez, and Meknes. But Rabat is also fascinating thanks to a combination of traditional Moroccan oriental flair and modern skyscrapers.
We can’t wait to tell you about all the beautiful sights – we’ve listed our top 10 favorite places here. But first, we’ll give you the most important facts for your trip to Morocco.
Rabat in a Nutshell
Morocco is located in northwest Africa, right between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. This country can be reached very easily from Europe, which is why it is called the gateway to Africa. Morocco borders Algeria as well as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to the south – though the latter is occupied by Morocco.
The landscape is characterized by the Atlas Mountains range. Thanks to its position, the northern part of the country has a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Being closer to the Sahara Desert, the south is much drier. If you want to know when to best visit Morocco, check out our climate guide!
Morocco is home to over 36 million people. Only a little over half a million of them live in Rabat, the country’s capital. If you include the entire Rabat metropolitan area, however, the population rises to 1.7 million.
In Morocco, a wide variety of cultures come together. This is reflected in its many festivals. During the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, national and international musicians perform all kinds of different styles and genres. You will certainly find something to your musical taste!
This diversity makes up the city’s character. Just imagine – every year, around 2.5 million people travel to Rabat in order to participate in this festival. In Rabat’s neighboring town of Salé, a different but no less special event is held every year. During the Candles Convoy, men carry a wide variety of wax lanterns through the city while dancing. This show marks the start of a big market. You mustn’t miss out on this spectacle!
You also shouldn’t miss out on the delicacies of Moroccan cuisine. In fact, you may have already prepared one of them at home: couscous. After all, it is a very versatile ingredient and is often served with vegetables. In Morocco, couscous gets a unique flavor thanks to the traditional oriental spices. The most popular is probably ras el hanout: a mixture of about 35 different spices.
In Rabat, trams or busses will take you to the most important sights. And there are a lot of them! That’s why we want to show you our top ten favorites.
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Rabat
Morocco’s capital attracts fewer travelers than Marrakesh, but it has amazing sights, especially thanks to its position on the Atlantic coast. We’re curious to know if our top 10 places of interest will make it to your must-see list for Rabat. Let’s go!
The Historic Center of Rabat
The historic center of Rabat, the medina, is exceptional. You better make it your first destination! It is located right in the center of the city and is therefore the perfect starting point for your adventure. Here you can immerse yourself in the flair of the locals’ everyday life. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Let’s talk about the most important landmark of the city: the Hassan Tower. With its 44 meters of height, the tower is quite impressive. It was actually supposed to be twice as high and complete the mosque that was planned in the 12th century. However, the building was never completed and most of the existing parts were destroyed by an earthquake.
You can still visit the ruins and the Hassan Tower. In addition to that, you’ll find the Mausoleum of Mohammed V – the current king’s grandfather.
If you’re at the Hassan Tower, you can already see our next favorite place in Rabat. We really recommend you visit the port at the river Bouregreg! How about a stroll along the riverbank promenade? There you’ll see modern yachts and nice shops. Of course, there are also plenty of restaurants and cafes to unwind.
We recommend you take the ferry from Rabat over to the neighboring city, Salé. Alternatively, you can walk across the bridge or take the bus – all roads lead to Salé. The city is known for its craftsmanship, pottery district and historical buildings. We highly recommend you take a trip to the city!
Jardin Exotique de Bouknadel
Since you are already in the area, the Jardin Exotique de Bouknadel is not far from Salé. After all, the hustle and bustle of the city can be a bit too much sometimes. That’s why a visit to such a peaceful place is just perfect. Amongst palm trees, climbing plants, and beautiful ponds you’ll feel like you are in a whole other world!
Kasbah des Oudaias
Next up is another district of Rabat. Just like in the medina, we couldn’t limit our itinerary to just one landmark. The entire district is a work of art in and of itself, and one of the most beautiful sights in Morocco. Kasbah des Oudaias boasts beautiful blue and white whitewashed facades, colorful doors and other decorative elements – it reminds us of Greece.
As we’ve said before, we can’t choose just a single landmark to visit in this district. We recommend you stroll through the picturesque narrow streets and wander about. Be sure to check out the fortified walls – from there you’ll get a view of the city and of the oldest mosque, Jama al Atiq.
In many countries, the king’s residency has only a symbolic purpose. In Morocco, the royal family actually lives in the king’s palace. That’s why this majestic building can’t be visited.
Still, even the view from the outside is worthwhile! White marble pillars and elaborate mosaics embellish the building. Every two hours, the changing of the guards takes place – be sure to watch this intricate procedure.
Outside the city walls, you’ll find the ruins of a necropolis. In earlier times, important people were buried here. The Chellah ruins are both of Roman and Islamic origin. Nowadays, the tombs and other buildings are overgrown with plants, giving the whole setting a mystical and quiet atmosphere.
Museum Mohammed VI of Modern and Contemporary Art
We think it’s about time for the first museum visit on your trip through Rabat. We suggest you visit the Museum Mohammed VI of Modern and Contemporary Art. It is the country’s first national museum of modern art. The collection holds more than 400 pieces – from photographs and paintings to installations and sculptures. It’s very exciting!
Beach of Rabat
Rabat is not only the perfect place for a city trip. Thanks to its location on the Atlantic coast, you’ll have the chance to go to the beach! However, when temperatures rise, it’s a very popular place to relax.
So if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, go to the beach of Skhirat. It’s about 16 kilometers south of Rabat – a manageable distance. You can also take the bus or a train to get there! The reefs protect the beach from open sea currents and waves, which is why some parts of the water are really calm, perfect for a cooling dip.
Rabat is the perfect city to learn more about Oriental culture without being completely overwhelmed. In comparison to the other three royal cities, there isn’t as much tourism in Morocco’s capital city. We really don’t understand why it isn’t as popular. There is so much you can experience there!
Be sure to visit the beautiful buildings and landmarks, especially the Hassan Tower! It’s probably best to just stroll through the historic center and the Kasbah des Oubaias district. Along the way, you’re sure to discover one or two sights completely by chance.
If you’re up for some relaxation, visit the Jardin Exotique de Bouknadel or spend the day at the beach. After all, you have to take advantage of the city’s great geographical position on the Atlantic Ocean!
As you can see, there is plenty for you to experience here. So stop waiting and start planning your trip to Rabat! Feel free to use our WebApp to plan your trip!