With direct flights from the UK to Rabat taking just over three hours, Rabat the Imperial city, the cosmopolitan centre of commerce and the capital of Morocco, is the perfect destination to spend a long weekend or enjoy a midweek getaway. Here is our suggested itinerary for a full three days of fun and exploration.
Start your visit by heading to the Kasbah Oudayas, a medieval fortress built by Arab soldiers to watch for corsairs from Sale, the neighbouring city of Rabat. A city within a city, it is full of charm with its blue and white buildings, quiet flowered alleyways, mild ocean breezes and the scents from its Andalusian gardens. After a tour of these beautifully designed gardens and the small art galleries along the way, drink mint tea at Café Maure, which has a panoramic view of the mouth of the Bou Regreg.
Rabat also has a well-developed ocean front, so make sure you get to the beach while you are here. The sands are clean and well kept, so take a long walk on the beach to enjoy the sunset and do not miss the chance to enjoy local cuisine at one of the nearby restaurants.
Take a trip to Rabat’s sister city Sale. Separated from Rabat by the Bou Regreg River, it’s a city with an many historic treasures. Here you can find plenty to engage you, including the 11th century Great Mosque which shows the architectural grandeur of the Almohades, the madrasa which is one of the wonders of the Merinids dynasty, and also the white medina with its Borj (fort) overlooking the Atlantic.
Afterwards, pay a visit El Oulja Potters village. It’s perhaps the best place in Morocco to see ceramics being made and to buy some to take home. You may find that the craftsmen will make you your own bespoke pot if you don’t see anything you’d like.
The Rabat medina has a different feel to many others in Morocco thanks to its Andalusian heritage, which is reflected in the buildings, especially the large wall that surrounds it. It’s a fantastic place to walk round: when you’re there, don’t miss the Jewish quarter, the covered souks and the colourful spice market. Make sure to walk to the leather bazaar, where a large selection of stalls and shops sell high-quality leather goods, including poufs, shoes, bags, and wallets. And don’t forget to stop at the craft and antique shops of Berber carpets and embroidered fabrics.
You can then head to the Hassan Tower, a must-see. The tower was built by Yacoub El-Mansour around the year 1,200, and was planned to be part of the largest mosque in the world. The building was never completed, but the tower and the two hundred columns surrounding it give testimony to the ambition of El-Mansour, and the site is now part of the world heritage
Opposite the tower is the Mohammed V Mausoleum, a national landmark and another attraction that is worth to visit, It is a revered place that contains the tombs of King Mohammad V and his two sons, King Hassan II and Prince Moulay Abdellah. Step inside, be peaceful, and marvel in the beautiful gilded interiors, ornate furnishings and the Alaouite Dynasty’s architectural style.
Rabat is also a city that celebrates arts and music, so if it meets your interests plan a visit to the Museum Mohamed VI of Modern and Contemporary Art, the first museum in the country devoted entirely to modern and contemporary art; or if your visit coincides with a music festival like Mawazin or Jazz at the Chellah, do not hesitate to join the locals and enjoy the joyful sounds and rhythms from around the world!