"Rabat" Top 5 Page for this destination Rabat by kit_mc

Rabat Travel Guide: 513 reviews and 1,230 photos

French Colonial City

Fes - Chefchaouen - Tangier - Asilah - RABAT - Fes


Getting back to Fes from Asilah proved more difficult than expected, so we opted to spend a night in Rabat, the administrative capital of Morocco. Rabat still has the trappings of Morooco's previous incarnation as French colony and as a result there's a feel of a decaying European mediterranean city. There's certainly a hustle and bustle, wider streets, bigger buildings, the collonades and pillars of the French era that you'd associate with a colonial capital, but still that slightly 'in-progress' feel to streets and architecture of a job not quite finished.

Notably, Rabat is one of the more cosmopolitan cities in Morocco, possibly as a result of the higher number of ex-pats, where you're most likely to see women pushing what would be the accepted Moroccan norms of modesty. So you'll see more women on the streets and in cafes, women smoking and socialising with men.

While we still stuck out as foreigners, we certainly received the least amount of hassle in Rabat, with perhaps one exception, which made me pleased to have stopped off here.

Rabat in a Day

As we had only one day, and really only a few hours at that, the itinerary in Rabat was fairly pushed for time, so we relied heavily on taxis to see the sights. On locating a hotel in the Ville Nouvelle, we dashed out and hopped in a taxi straight to Le Tour Hassan (The Hassan Tower) and the Mausoleum of Mohammad V that are both perched on a hill above the city. The tower looms up like a great big block with its top lopped off. Construction of what was to be the biggest mineret in the world stopped abruptly when that sultan died midway through construction in the late 1190's. The Mausoleum is packed with visitors, both Moroccan and foreign, paying respects to the bodies of the present King's father and grandfather.

From here we were back in a taxi to Kasbah des Oudaias, a small Kasbah with some impressive walls and huge gate (Bab Oudaia) all built to protect from pirates in nearby Salee. This is where you're most likely to encounter faux guides. Ignore anyone who says that the Kasbah is forbidden to foreigners. You do not need a guide here.

After the Kasbah and a look across the bay to Sale from the Plateforme du Semaphore, we walked back through the Bab Oudaia gate and took a look in the hall to the side there that also houses temporary art exhibitions. From here, we crossed the road and took the main Ave Mohammed V through the Medina. The Medina here is very different to what we'd experienced in Fes and Chefchaouen, we weren't approached by anyone and were free to just wander around. In some ways it's maybe a little sanitized, so if you're looking for 'The Exotic' you're unlikely to find it here. From the Medina, we followed the Ave Mohammed V until we were back in the Ville Nouvelle.

Rabat is a really easy city to navigate, though if you've limited time, getting round fast you should be fine with taxis. Arriving by bus can be a bit of a pain, as it felt that we'd just been dumped in some side street so we really had no idea where we were. You'll probably be left off somewhere south of the main Ville Nouvelle so your only option will be to take a taxi north - I must admit that our first taxi ride in Rabat was a bit of a nightmare, clinging on for dear life and with the taxi driver bumping up the price a bit, but he did at least get us to where we wanted in, just about, one piece. Leaving, we took the much easier option of catching the train from the Gare Ville in the centre of town.

All in all, Rabat is one of the easier Moroccan cities to negotiate, with a certain European feel and generally less hassles. However, if you're searching out 'exotic colour', you may not want to spend that much time in Rabat. It makes a good stopping off place if you need a fix of burger, pizza, or just a few days sans the touts.

  • Last visit to Rabat: Nov 2006
  • Intro Updated Nov 6, 2007
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Reviews (15)

Comments (4)

  • charles-quint's Profile Photo
    Aug 10, 2009 at 4:02 AM

    We can add something else, never trust unknow people calling themselves Guide or having knowledge of the city. In much case those people have bad intention. In the best case you'll pay for a service in the worst you'll be in trouble.

  • xuessium's Profile Photo
    Dec 21, 2007 at 6:37 AM

    Thanks, was hunting for hotel reviews and saw yours....useful.

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2006 at 4:51 PM

    great page!

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Dec 5, 2006 at 8:51 PM

    Nice page! I am amazed that the guards at the Mausolée Mohamed V asked money. That never occurred me. You were unlucky with the Faux guides: I was bothered several times in Marrakech but never in Rabat. But have a look at my Tourist trap Wil de Fes page!

kit_mc

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