Tourists flock to Marrakech for the Medina and Fez for the surf and beach, but often unfairly neglect Morocco’s less well known capital, Rabat. The city centre of Rabat is compact and walkable. It’s seaside location, at the mouth of the River Bou Regreg, means that there are miles of unspoilt beaches. And if history is your thing, the 12th-century kasbah looking down over the ocean is enchanting.
Across the lagoon, easily reached by foot or tram, is Rabat’s pretty sister city, Salé. Inland, you will find fine historic buildings, a bustling medina and an elegant new town with palm-lined avenues and cosmopolitan restaurants.
Early summer is an excellent time to visit Rabat. There is also a “Rhythms of the World” festival in the summer with big names in pop headlining, which gives you an extra reason to pop over to this fascinating city.
Ryanair has direct flights from Stansted to Rabat airport and there is a shuttle bus that takes you right into the centre. Alternatively, fly to Casablanca, on British Airways, Royal Air Maroc or easyJet. The journey to Rabat from Casablanca airport takes just over two hours by train, with a change at Casablanca Voyageurs station (cost is around £6).
To Do & Eat
When in Rabat, you must visit the Kasbah. Enter through an intricate rose-stone gate, Bab Oudaia, which leads you inside. Explore flower-filled alleyways, flanked with blue and white houses, and the Andalusian gardens of the Kasbah’s former 17th-century palace. Climb the ramparts to get stunning views over the Atlantic.
From the Kasbah, it’s a short walk to the walled medina. Arcaded by a roof of stained glass buy colourful rugs, leather goods and embroidered slippers. For lunch, the stalls in Salé’s fish market will grill you a couple of fresh sardines on a paper plate for pennies.
In the afternoon, take a short taxi ride to the Chellah, the ruins of a former Roman city on the outskirts of town. Set in beautiful tropical gardens of bamboo, bananas and figs. Watch the numerous storks perch on ancient walls and feed hard-boiled eggs to sacred eels if you are in need of a fertility charm. Even if you aren’t this remains a magical sites to visit.
As the sun sets, waterfront cocktails are a must before grabbing a meal at one of the beachfront restaurants below the Kasbah.
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