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Once an old pirate lair, Casablanca is now a vibrant city that combines high-rise buildings with its French colonial past and Arabic heritage. This combination of cultures formed the town's distinctive Moorish architecture that sits alongside Art Deco structures in downtown Casablanca and the traditional winding alleys of the medina. The city is also home to one of the largest mosques in the world, as well as beach clubs and designer-filled malls. There are water sports in the Atlantic to fill your days with and bars and clubs for the nights.
Among the hostels in Casablanca, you can stay in an ornate Arabic house surrounded by ancient gardens with a patio for barbecues. You could also wake up in the heart of the medina's maze. Some have a rooftop terrace to unwind on while overlooking the medina and the harbour. For a traditional Moroccan experience, choose a Casablanca hostel with its own hammam and aromatic sauna, as well as an outdoor pool. Casablanca youth hostels offering free breakfasts help you save on budget.
Travel through time by wandering Casablanca's neighbourhoods, from the colonial-style buildings and wide boulevards of downtown to the glamorous beach clubs of the Ain Diab district. Sitting on the Atlantic, La Corniche is the place to go to sunbathe or surf during the day, and to sip drinks at seafront bars at night. Behind the old city walls, close to the port, is the labyrinth of alleyways of the medina and the Habous quarter, where an entire souk sells only copper objects by local craftsmen.
The striking marble Hassan II Mosque, which sits partly over the ocean, is one of Casablanca's best-known sights. For shopping that's a little different, head to the huge Morocco Mall, which has an indoor souk, ice-skating rink and a fairground. To escape the hustle and bustle, wander along the palm tree-lined avenue in the tranquil Parc de la Ligue Arabe and stop by its deconsecrated Cathédrale de Sacré Coeur, a blend of Art Deco, Moorish and Neo-Gothic styles, now used as an exhibition space.
To reach the city centre from Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport, a taxi will take around 40 minutes or you can hop on the underground for 45 minutes to Mers Sultan, Casa Port, Casa Voyageurs or L'Oasis. There's also a bus line operated by CTM that will have you in downtown Casablanca in the same amount of time. Once in the city, you can get around using local transport, which includes buses and trams.