Looking for a new weekend or Eid travel destination? Rabat, Morocco.
We always read about Marrakech, Essaouira or Fez but rarely we read any stories about Rabat. Voted by CNN as top 20 destination in 2013, Rabat is definitely a fantastic city to visit in Morocco.
I remember the first time I said to people I was travelling to Rabat. "It must be for business?" I heard. "What's in Rabat?" Well, business for sure. But does anyone know that Rabat is listed as UNESCO world heritage site? I was charmed by the city the moment I left the train station. Finally I could easily see foreigners buying old riads as a secondary home as they did back in the days in Marrakesh. The only difference is that this city has kept its authenticity. Don't take me wrong I like Marrakesh but I prefer simplicity. I took the train from Marrakesh. It is only 4-5 hours. A very easy travel.
If you are looking for a nice weekend away from the touristy crowd you see in Marrakesh I suggest you head to Rabat. The city is located by the sea and everything is at walking distance. Ryanair, Easyjet low costs airlines fly directly to the city. You can also fly to casablanca and take 2-hours train.
There is a few options of nice hotels or airbnbs. The first time I stayed at the Airbnb riad in the Kasbah and run by one of our Moroccan suppliers. It felt like "L'Auberge Espagnol" movie. (if you have not see it, I suggest you do.) Such a variety of people were staying at the riad. We all had breakfast together.
So, what to know about Rabat? A few facts.
Once a reputed corsair haven, Rabat served as one of the many ports in North Africa for the Barbary pirates, who were particularly active from the 16th through the 18th centuries.
Rabat is the capital of Morocco and its seventh largest city.
The city is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg. On the facing shore of the river lies Salé, the city's main commuter town. In addition, tourism and the presence of all foreign embassies in Morocco serve to make Rabat one of the most important cities in the country.
What to do?
2/3 days are perfect to visit most of the city on foot.
The Kasbah de Oudayas is definitely a must. So instagram-friendly. Blue and white narrow streets reminding you of Greece and overlooking the river. Apparently some celebrities have their residence on the remparts.
The Andalousians gardens are equally beautiful. It must be my Spanish blood and my pirate ancestor but this is where I felt the most the "pirate" past of the city.
Take a stroll at Marina Bouregreg (the uprising part of the city with fancy hotels and view to the marina), visit Hassan Tower and the Mausoleum of Mohamed 5, take a cab to Chellah (a former Roman city), visit the medina (don't do your shopping in Marrakech...), take a boat trip to Salé and visit the fish market (part of the conurbation and old pirate city) and have a fancy dinner at the new part of town "ville nouvelle".
The music festival Mawazine that started in 2001 is hosted every year in Rabat. This year it will be in May 2017 and over 3 millions people will be attending during 8 days. Amongst other artists the spectators will be able to see: "the biggest British star in the Middle East" Sami Yusuf, renowned world music band Amadou & Miriam, French singer Charles Aznavour, the famous Calypso singer Calypso Rose and more.
Pack your bags. Rabat will surprise you.
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