Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, is a blend of the old and the new, featuring historical sites, modern architecture, and beautiful gardens. It is located along the Atlantic Ocean and the Bouregreg River, making it a picturesque destination for travelers seeking both adventure and relaxation.
The city is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Hassan Tower and the Kasbah of the Umayyads, which showcase the rich history and culture of the region. Additionally, Rabat boasts a vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and festivals that celebrate both traditional and contemporary Moroccan art.
Rabat is not only a hub for culture and history but also a center for politics and diplomacy, housing the royal palace and various foreign embassies. The city offers a variety of dining options, from traditional Moroccan cuisine to international dishes, and has a lively nightlife with bars, clubs, and live music venues.
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Attractions & Things to do in Rabat
1. Hassan Tower
Hassan Tower, or Tour Hassan, is an iconic landmark in Rabat, Morocco. It is an unfinished minaret of a mosque that was intended to be the largest in the world but was never completed. The tower stands as a symbol of the city and is a must-visit spot for tourists seeking a taste of Moroccan history and architecture.
Travel Tip: Be sure to bring a camera to capture the beautiful views from the tower and the surrounding plaza.
2. Mausoleum of Mohammed V
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is a historical building located on the opposite side of the Hassan Tower. This mausoleum contains the tombs of the Moroccan king and his two sons, late King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah. The building is a masterpiece of modern Alaouite dynasty architecture, with its white silhouette, topped by a typical green tiled roof.
Travel Tip: Proper attire is required as it is a religious and very respectful place; women should wear long skirts or pants and have their shoulders covered.
3. Royal Palace of Rabat
The Royal Palace of Rabat, also known as Dar-al-Makhzen, is the official residence of the King of Morocco. The palace complex includes several beautifully designed gardens, a mosque, and the King’s private residence. Although the inside of the palace is not open to the public, the exterior architecture and the surrounding gardens are worth a visit.
Travel Tip: Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds and have a more peaceful experience.
4. Kasbah of the Udayas
The Kasbah of the Udayas is a small fortified complex located at the mouth of the Bou Regreg river in Rabat. This ancient fortress offers narrow streets lined with white and blue houses, beautiful gardens, and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a perfect place to take a leisurely walk and soak in the history and beauty of the area.
Travel Tip: Try to visit the Kasbah during weekdays as it can get quite crowded on weekends and holidays.
5. Rabat Archaeological Museum
The Rabat Archaeological Museum is the main archaeological museum in Morocco. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts from prehistoric times to the Roman period, showcasing the rich history of Morocco and the region.
Travel Tip: Allow at least 2 hours to explore the museum properly and consider hiring a guide for more in-depth information on the exhibits.
6. Andalusian Gardens
The Andalusian Gardens, located within the Kasbah of the Udayas, are beautifully manicured gardens that provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. With its well-maintained pathways, fragrant flowers, and orange trees, it is a perfect place for a relaxing stroll.
Travel Tip: Visit in the morning when the gardens are quieter and the weather is cooler.
Chellah is a medieval fortified necropolis located on the outskirts of Rabat. It is a complex of ancient Roman ruins and medieval structures, making it a fascinating site for history enthusiasts.
Travel Tip: Be sure to bring a hat and water as there is limited shade in the area.
8. Moroccan Parliament
The Moroccan Parliament is the legislative branch of the government of Morocco. The building itself is a fine example of modern Moroccan architecture and is located in the center of the city. While the inside of the building is not open to the public, the exterior is worth a visit.
Travel Tip: Take a walk around the nearby gardens and squares for a glimpse into local life.
9. Rabat Beach
Rabat Beach, located along the Atlantic Ocean, is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The beach is clean and well-maintained, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the sun and surf.
Travel Tip: Be aware of the strong currents and consider staying closer to the shore if you are not a strong swimmer.
10. Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
The Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is a museum dedicated to modern and contemporary Moroccan and international art. The museum features a wide range of artworks, from paintings and sculptures to video installations.
Travel Tip: Check the museum’s website for current exhibitions and any special events.
Unique Activities in Rabat
1. Walking Food Tour
Tantalize your taste buds with a walking food tour in Rabat. Over the course of four hours, sample a variety of local delicacies and traditional dishes. As you eat your way through the city, gain insights into Rabat’s culinary scene and its rich food heritage.
2. Cooking Class in a Family Home
Dive into the world of Moroccan cuisine with a cooking class held in a local family home in Rabat. Learn the secrets behind traditional dishes, get hands-on experience preparing meals, and enjoy the fruits of your labor with a delicious feast at the end.
Day Trips from Rabat
Chefchaouen, also known as the Blue Pearl of Morocco, is a small town located in the Rif Mountains. The town is famous for its blue-painted streets and buildings, stunning mountain views, and relaxed atmosphere.
Travel Tip: The journey from Rabat to Chefchaouen is around 4 hours by car, so consider spending a night there to fully enjoy the town.
Fes is one of Morocco’s imperial cities and is home to one of the world’s oldest and most impressive medinas. It is a city steeped in history, with its labyrinthine streets, ancient madrasas, and stunning palaces.
Travel Tip: The train ride from Rabat to Fes takes around 2 hours and is a comfortable and convenient way to travel between the two cities.
Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city and its economic hub. The city is a blend of modernity and tradition, with its impressive skyscrapers, bustling markets, and historic sites such as the Hassan II Mosque.
Travel Tip: The train ride from Rabat to Casablanca is around 1 hour and is a convenient way to travel between the two cities.
Where to stay in Rabat
Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture. The city is home to a plethora of hotels that cater to a diverse range of travelers. Whether you’re looking for luxury, budget-friendly options, or something tailored to your specific needs, Rabat has a hotel that’s just right for you.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
ONOMO Hotel Rabat Medina (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located in the Hassan district, this hotel is a mere 2-minute walk from Mawazine’s Mohammed 5th Theater Stage.
- Price: €73 per night
- Rating: 7.7 (Good)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Sofitel Rabat Jardin Des Roses (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Nestled in the heart of Rabat, this hotel is set on a luxurious site spanning over 7 hectares, complete with 3 swimming pools and a mini-golf area. It offers stylish rooms with balconies.
- Price: €265 per night
- Rating: 8.4 (Very good)
3. Budget Hotel
- Description: Situated in Rabat Medina, Hotel Darna is a short 10-minute walk from the Kasbah of the Udayas and a 5-minute drive from the Mausoleum of Mohammed V.
- Price: €32 per night
- Rating: 6 (Review score)
4. Hotel for Family
Rihab Hotel (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located in the Hassan district, this hotel is an 8-minute walk from Mawazine’s Chellah Stage and offers air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi.
- Price: €84 per night
- Rating: 8 (Very good)
5. Hotel for Couples
Hotel des Oudaias (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Offering a sun terrace with sea views, this hotel is located a 5-minute walk from Mawazine’s Bouregreg Stage. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant.
- Price: €62 per night
- Rating: 8.9 (Fabulous)
6. Hotel for Solo Travelers
Ibis Rabat Agdal (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Situated 3 km from The National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco, this hotel offers a terrace, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Price: €71 per night
- Rating: 7.5 (Good)
Did you know? Facts about Rabat
- Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, opposite Salé, the city’s main commuter town.
- It was founded in the 12th century by the Almohads and became a haven for Barbary pirates in the 17th century.
- Rabat, Temara, and Salé form a conurbation of over 1.8 million people.
- The Moroccan capital was ranked at second place by CNN in its “Top Travel Destinations of 2013”.
- It is one of four Imperial cities of Morocco, and the medina of Rabat is listed as a World Heritage Site.
- The name Rabat comes from the Arabic word الرباط (a-Ribāṭ) meaning the ribat, an Islamic base or fortification.
- The Kasbah of the Udayas, the citadel built by the Almohads, is one of the main attractions of the city.
- Rabat and neighboring Salé united to form the Republic of Bou Regreg in 1627, which became a base for corsairs.
- When Morocco achieved independence in 1956, Mohammed V, the then King of Morocco, chose to have the capital remain at Rabat.
- The city is accessible by train through the ONCF system and by plane through the nearby Rabat–Salé Airport.
FAQ about Rabat
What is the best time to visit Rabat?
The best time to visit Rabat is during the spring (April to June) or fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and pleasant.
Is it safe to travel to Rabat?
Yes, Rabat is considered to be one of the safest cities in Morocco. However, it is always advisable to take normal precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
What are the must-visit places in Rabat?
Some of the must-visit places in Rabat include the Kasbah of the Udayas, Hassan Tower, Mausoleum of Mohammed V, and the Chellah Necropolis.
Do I need a visa to travel to Rabat?
Visa requirements vary by country, so it is advisable to check with the Moroccan embassy or consulate in your country before planning your trip.
What is the official language of Rabat?
The official language of Rabat is Arabic, but French is also widely spoken and understood.
What is the currency used in Rabat?
The currency used in Rabat is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD).
Is it expensive to travel to Rabat?
Rabat is relatively affordable compared to other major cities in Morocco. However, the cost of travel can vary depending on your preferences and travel style.
What is the local cuisine like in Rabat?
The local cuisine in Rabat is similar to other parts of Morocco, with dishes like couscous, tagine, and pastilla being popular. Seafood is also commonly consumed in Rabat due to its coastal location.