Rabat Morocco is a fantastic city to take a trip on your travel plan. Holiday accommodation there can be extremely affordable and also there is a lot of groceries stores where you can buy inexpensive vegetables and fruits. It’s also a really secure Moroccan city.
People from Rabat are incredibly welcoming and enjoyable as well as the city itself has lots of awesome places to see. Rabat is also a really liberal city where Rebati “population of Rabat” are extremely open-minded.
If you’re searching for an enjoyable city with excellent food, stunning palaces, gardens loaded with awesome plants, as well as a zoological park, Rabat is the great one!
Where is Rabat Located in Morocco
Morocco’s capital is located near to Casablanca around 80 Kms as well as quickly accessible from major cities Such as Fez (2 hours), Kenitra (30 min), Tangier (2 hours), Marrakech (3 hours), and Essaouira (4 hours). It likewise functions as a terrific base to discover Salé, Casablanca, Chefchaouen “blue city of Morocco”, Fez, and Meknes.
Rabat, the Capital city of Morocco!
Rabat, Morocco’s capital has had something of a roller-coaster history, climbing at one point to the status of imperial capital! Only to descend to the level of a backwater village, before finding favor again. The great walls enclose a largely modern city, but there remain several quarters to remind you of Rabat’s rich past; including Salé “home to the corsairs” across the river, the Oued Bou Regreg.
A brief history
The capital city of modern Morocco lies at the mouth of the Bou Regreg river. The site was probably occupied by the Phoenicians as early as the 8th century BC, and the Romans built their southernmost port, Sala Colonia, here in the 1st century AD. But it was not until the 10th century that a local Berber tribe founded the city of Salé on the right bank of the river mouth; and built a ribat (fortified camp) on a bluff at the western extremity of the estuary’s south bank.
The Almohad sultan, Abd el Moumen, made the fortress his base for raids into Andalusia and called it Ribat el Fath (Ribat of Victory). His son, Yacoub el Mansour, began to build an Imperial City here in the 12th century AD! But when he died, the place became a backwater while Fès, Meknès, and Marrakech prospered.
With the establishment of the Franco-Spanish Protectorate in 1912, Marshal Lyautey made Rabat the administrative capital. When Morocco regained its full independence in 1956 the city became the capital of the new kingdom.
What is the Meaning of Rabat?
The Almohads founded this imperial city in 1150, who developed there a castle (which ended up being the Kasbah of the Oudayas), a mosque as well as a residence. It was after that what is called a ribat (“citadel”). The existing name originates from Ribat Al Fath, “the Triumph Camp”. Later on, Al-Mūmin’s grandson Ya’qub al-Mansūr bigger and also completed the city, including bordering it with wall surfaces.
What is the best time to visit Rabat, Morocco?
The best time to visit Morocco and Rabat is in the spring season and fall season, then the best months are March, April, May, September, and also October. In these seasons see the least precipitation and the accommodations are inexpensive.
Modern Rabat “new city”
The new city is comparatively quiet and, although its people appear as cosmopolitan as their counterparts down the coast in Casablanca. Rabat lacks the gritty, big-city edge of its economic big brother.
Rabat Morocco has many attractive public buildings, open squares, and tree-lined boulevards, and is also characterized by a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. Avenue Mohammed V, the main artery of modern Rabat! Cuts a wide and sunny swath through the town, down past government buildings, banks, the railway and tramway station, and the main post office. Pedestrians throng the shady shopping arcades on either side, a pleasant place to stroll and browse, or to sip mint tea and plan your day’s sightseeing.
About the most interesting medina street is Rue Souika. Starting out from the corner of Rue Sidi Fatah and heading northeast, you will find mainly food, spice, and general stores until you reach the area around the Great Mosque.
From here to the Rue des Consuls (so-called because foreign diplomats lived here until 1912), you are in the Souq as-Sebbat, where jewelry is the main item for sale. If you continue past the Rue des Consuls you end up in a flea market before emerging at the river.
If you head north along with the Rue des Consuls on the way to the kasbah, you will find yourself surrounded on all sides by carpet and rug shops! Along with the occasional leatherwork, babouche (leather slipper), or copperwork place. On Thursdays, women gather here to sell their hand-woven Moroccan rugs and carpets. There are some bargains to be had but get here early before the carpet dealers.
The street ends in a fairly broad, open area lined with craft shops, and leads up the hill to the kasbah. In the days of the Sallee Rovers, this was the site of the slave auctions.
Must Read: 13 crazy adventures to have in Morocco
Things to do and see in Rabat Morocco “best places”
Kasbah des Oudaias
The Kasbah des Oudaias, built on the bluff overlooking the estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, dominates the surrounding area and can be seen from some distance. It is unfortunate that a much-used city circular road runs right past the entrance. You can only guess at the long-term damage done to the buildings by the passing traffic.
The main entry is the enormous Almohad gate of Bab Oudaia, built-in 1195. This is one of the few places in Rabat where you will encounter ‘guides’. Once through the gate, there’s only one main street, Rue Jamaa, so it’s difficult to get really lost.
Plateforme du Sémaphore
Most of the houses here were built by Muslim refugees from Spain. There are great views over the estuary and across to Salé from what is known as the Plateforme du Sémaphore (Signal Platform), at the end of Rue Jamaa. On your left, as you head towards the viewpoint is the oldest mosque in Rabat Morocco, built in the 12th century and restored in the 18th (closed to non-Muslims).
From the platform, steps lead down to the beach, or you can head south down to Café Maure (see Places to Eat). From the café, an entrance leads into the Andalusian Gardens – actually laid out by the French during the colonial period – and a 17th-century palace built by Moulay Ismail, which later became a medersa.
Both now serve as part of the Musee Oudaia, two galleries are built into the walls of the kasbah and two more are in the palace. The museum was being renovated at the time of research but you can expect good exhibitions on traditional musical instruments and costumes, Fès ceramics, and jewelry. The gardens stay open later than the museum.
Le Tour Hassan & Mausoleum of Mohammed V
Le Tour Hassan (Hassan Tower)
Rabat’s most famous landmark is Le Tour Hassan (Hassan Tower), which overlooks the bridge across the Oued Bou Regreg to Salé. Construction of this enormous minaret – intended to be the largest and highest in the Muslim world! Was begun by the Almohad sultan Yacoub al-Mansour in 1195, but abandoned on his death some four years later.
Meant to reach a height of more than 60m, it only made it to 44m. The tower still stands but little remains of the adjacent mosque, which was all but destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. Only the re-erected, shattered pillars testify to the grand plans of Al-Mansour. Sometimes it is possible to ascend the minaret for a fee.
Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Rabat Morocco
On the same site is the Mausoleum of Mohammed V (admission free), in which the present king’s grandfather and father (the late Hassan II) are both laid to rest. Built-in the traditional Moroccan style and richly decorated, the tomb of these kings is located below ground in an open chamber. Above, visitors enter a gallery from which they can see the tomb below. Visitors must be dressed in a respectful manner.
Beyond the city walls, in the south of the city, are the remains of the ancient Roman city of Sala Colonia. It’s enclosed by the walls of the peaceful, half-overgrown necropolis of Chellah, built here by the Merenids in the 13th century.
The city of Rabat had by this time fallen on hard times, and this pretty spot south of the city gates was as close as the Merenids came to taking an interest in it. The site is surrounded by defensive walls built by Sultan Abu al-Hassan Ali. The complex suffered damage in the 1755 earthquake.
After entering through the main double gate, Paths lead through the ruined base of a triple-arched entrance and past the ruins of the Jupiter Temple to the left. At the end of the main street is the forum. Behind the baths is the Islamic complex, topped by dozens of storks’ nests. Enter through the ruined mosque to reach the tomb of Abou al-Hassan Ali and his wife, graced with lovely zellij ornamentation.
As you exit the mosque complex, on the far right are the tombs of several saints and a walled pool (marked Bassin aux anguilles’).
Of the four remaining Almohad gates in Rabat’s city walls, by far the most impressive is Bab ar-Rouah (Gate of the Winds)! Which forms the northwest corner of the walls around the Royal Palace complex.
There are several entrances into the palace grounds. The main one is off Ave Moulay Hassan, a little way inside Bab ar-Rouah. It takes you south towards the Mechouar (parade ground), on the east side of which is the mosque Ahl al-Fas (People of Fès). However, it makes a pleasant walk on the way from the center of town out towards the Chellah.
Visit Archaeology Museum
Although dusty and under-funded, this is a good museum dealing with the country’s ancient past. It’s tucked away close to the Hôtel Chellah, off Rue Moulay Abdel Aziz.
The ground floor is given over to displays of implements and other finds from the oldest known civilizations in Morocco. Some of the material dates back 350,000 years to the Stone Age period. In a courtyard to the right are some prehistoric rock carvings.
On the 2nd floor, you can see finds from Rabat Morocco’s history, from the Roman era to the Middle Ages, with explanations in French and Arabic.
Try a Boat riding, on the BouRegreg River
The BouRegreg River sinks on the sea between Rabat and Salé. You can go boat riding in the BouRegreg river. It is likewise a wonderful adventure to take and enjoy the sunset in the river. They’re additionally a fantastic method to see the fortified Kasbah from a different viewpoint.
Explore National Zoo Rabat Morocco
The Rabat zoological park is remarkably large. The dimension of this zoo and the large numbers of various species that can be observed below (Up to 140 various species of animals)! Makes this Rabat zoo an amazing place to explore.
This zoo additionally has a few of the wild animals that we would certainly love of seeing on Savanah safari, and Africa such as hippopotamus, elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, and also Giraffes. A wonderful idea of this zoo is that all the animals live in the same landscape and environments like a simulated hill, desert, jungle habitats, and Savannah for example.
Sports activity in Rabat
Surfing in Rabat
Oudayas Surf Club is housed in a modern building above the breakers of the Atlantic coast, between the kasbah and the lighthouse.
Nonmembers can use the café for Dh15 per day (this includes a free soft drink), while full membership is Dh1300 (130$) in (3 months) to 2000 Dh (200$) in (6 months). Surfing courses cost up to Dh160 for two hours, including the use of equipment.
While there are some good waves to be had right in front of the clubhouse, a lot of club meetings and tuition sessions take place near Temara, 6km south of Rabat Morocco.
Golf in Rabat
Royal Dar-Es-Salaam Golf Course, 10km out of central Rabat along the road to the Forest of Zaer, is the best and most modern of Morocco’s courses. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, the center has three courses and hosts the annual Hassan II Challenge Cup.
Where to stay in Rabat
Rabat has a decent selection of budget hotels in the medina and the Ville Nouvelle, though you’ll get the best value by paying a little more for rooms with bathrooms in the latter. There’s also camping and a hostel.
Camping in Rabat
From the beach at Salé, Camping de la Plage is the nearest camping ground. It’s well signposted from the Salé end of the bridge over the Oued Bou Regreg. There’s very little shade, but it seems reasonably secure.
There are several more camping grounds on the road south towards Casablanca. The closest of them is the Palmeraie, about 15km south of Rabat, on the beach at Temara. Other ones south, are Camping Gambusias and, Camping Rose Marie. Both are OK and the locations are pleasant enough.
Hotels in Rabat, Morocco
Hotels in Rabat Medina
There are several basic budget hotels on or just off the continuation of Ave Mohammed V as it enters the medina. Few make any concessions to creature comforts (such as showers)! And an extra dollar or two will buy you better accommodation outside the medina : (Hotel Chaab, Hotel du Centre, Hotel France, Hotel d’Alger, Hotel Darna…).
Hotels in Ville Nouvelle in Rabat “Downtown”
West of Bab Al Had, on the southwest corner of the medina, there is a small clutch of hotels on and around Ave Hassan II. The area is nothing special, but it’s close enough to the action if you are having trouble getting a bed elsewhere. “Hotel d’Alsace, Hotel Al Mamounia, Hotel Central, Hotel Velleda, Hotel Splendid, Hotel la paix, Grand Hotel…”
Hotels in Rabat Morocco – Mid-Range
For those in search of a tad more comfort, there are a few decent two-star options, mostly in the city center. “Hotel Royal, Hotel d’Orsay, Hotel Balima, Hotel Bou Regreg, Hotel Majestic…”
Place to stay – Top end
L’Amphitrite Palace Resort & Spa is the best beach ressort in Morocco, located in Skhirat around Rabat! And Ther is another Best hotels in Rabat, Morocco like Hotel Bélère, Hotel Chellah, Hotel Sofitel Diwan, La Tour Hassan Meridien, Dar Al Batoul, Riad Oudiya, hotel farah rabat …
Where to eat in Rabat “ Restaurants & Café ”
Rabat Morocco is a cosmopolitan place, the seat of government, and home to hundreds of wealthy Moroccans and ex-pats. Consequently, there are a number of excellent, if expensive, restaurants all over the city and in the upmarket suburb of Agdal. But those on a budget need not despair as there are a number of cheap eateries in the medina.
Restaurant in Rabat medina
The best budget bets are in the medina on Ave Mohammed V
Café de la jeunesse : has unbeatable prices and is a popular place. You can be close to the action at ground level or eat upstairs. However, the Tajine across the street at Café Restaurant Afrique du Nord probably has the edge and the Moroccan soup “Harira” is often good.
Restaurant de la liberation just up the road, is another good, though slightly more expensive, place. It does an acceptable Moroccan couscous on Friday.
Restaurant El-Bahia, is a pleasant restaurant built into the outside of the Rabat medina walls. You can sit in the Moroccan-style interior upstairs, in a shaded courtyard, or outside on the terrace.
There are also Restaurant Dinarjat in the heart of the medina, and better food can be found at the beautiful Riad Oudiya.
Restaurant in Rabat Ville Nouvelle.
Decorated in 1980s style, Equinox Snack is a friendly, relaxed place. The mains are unremarkable, but the set menus are of better value.
Restaurant La Koutoubia is a colorful place with a fragile-looking, mock Andalucian extrusion at the entrance. The house’s specialty is tajine and couscous, there’s a good selection, although it’s a bit on the pricey side.
La Petit Beure Dar Tajine is licensed. Good Couscous with vegetables or Tajine.
Restaurant chez el-Ouazzani on the edge of Agdal district, is a great place for brochettes. The lovely zellij and cedar ceilings are genuine, and the place is packed with locals. Brochettes are the main thing on offer and a dozen with chips. It’s a lively place.
There are also restaurants La Mamma is a candlelit restaurant for a romantic night out, Restaurant la clef, Café Weimar, Autome D’or…
Shopping – What to buy in Rabat
Rabat Morocco is well known for its carpets. Ensemble Artisanal, by the Oued Bou Regreg, is the first place to try if you are interested in buying a carpet. It has its very own Banque Populaire bureau de change. There is also a carpet factory in the Kasbah.
Rue des Consuls, not far from the Kasbah, is one of the best places for purchases, from lamps and woodcarving to pottery, particularly around the upper end. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings the whole place becomes a kind of carpet souk, with local women bringing their wares into the city to sell. Try to get there early.
How to get to Rabat & Away
The offices of RAM and Air France, both near Rabat Ville train station, have flights twice daily to Paris from Rabat-Salé Airport, 10km northeast of town. The tiny airport is not used for internal flights. However Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport is linked to Rabat by an express rail service.
The intercity bus station is inconveniently situated about 5km southwest of the city centre on the road to Casablanca. Fortunately, there are local buses and petits taxis into the centre. There is a left-luggage service at the station open from 6am to midnight.
All the bus companies have their offices in this cylindrical building. There are 13 ticket windows stretching around to the left of the main entrance to the CTM and Eurolines window.
There are many departures each per day to Casablanca, Tangier, and Fès and vice versa. The numbers of services for other destinations are variable.
Tickets for these and many more destinations can be bought cheaper from companies at the following ticket windows.
This is the best way to arrive in Rabat Morocco, as Rabat Ville train station is in the centre of town, on Ave Mohammed V at Place des Alaouites. (Don’t get off at Rabat Agdal train station to the west of the city.)
Services There are more than 34 trains between Rabat Ville train station and Casablanca every day (MAD 40) and vice versa. About half are shuttle services that link Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport, via Casablanca’s Casa-Port train station; with Rabat and the other half are long-distance rapide services, though these usually only stop/leave from Casa-Voyagers train station.
Al Boraq the high-speed train takes just 1h30 from Tangier to Rabat and vice versa, Kenitra is the unique stop station between Rabat and Tangier. There are 8 departures from Tangier ville station to Rabat agdal Station (in the moment there is no stop for “Al Boraq” in Rabat ville Station).
Grands taxis leave for Casablanca from just outside the intercity bus station. Other grands taxis can be found between the city’s main local bus station and the Hôtel Bou Regreg on Ave Hassan II. They leave for Fès, Meknès and Salé.
You can’t take petits taxis between Rabat and Salé because they come under separate city jurisdictions.