Rough Atlantic Ocean at Essaouira, Morocco.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ounagha, Morocco.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading south in Morocco.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Exploring Rabat, the capital city of Morocco

We planned a long walking tour of Rabat, leaving from our AirBnb apartment at just before noon. Clear blue sky all day, with a high around 28C (82F).

First stop was the nearby train station where we bought two more rail tickets for Sunday. We fly out of Tangier next Friday, so we decided to head directly there for five nights and do some day trips from Tangier.

This time, we bought first class reserved seating tickets. Schools are on a two week vacation right now, and we're traveling on a Sunday. Also, I believe the train from Rabat to Tangier originates in Casablanca, so the second class seating might already be full when the train arrives in Rabat. So it might be standing room only. That chance, we are not prepared to take.

So we paid 153 dirhams ($21.50 CAD, $16 USD) each for first class. I guess we'll be riding in style! We'll see...we've often seen that the difference between first and second class is pretty minor, although at least we have guaranteed seats.

And then we set out walking. The first part of our route was just a busy commercial district. And they were doing repairs to the sidewalks, so it wasn't that easy to walk. But, still interesting just watching the people going about their business.

A relatively clean city (until we got to the beach!), and there is a noticeable absence of graffiti. Strange, since graffiti is so prevalent in much of Europe. I should mention that Marrakesh was pretty much the same.

The ancient wall of the medina. It's huge!

In between the wall of the medina and the sea, there is a massive cemetery.

Rabat seashore.

There is a beach in Rabat, and another beach on the other side of the river at the city of Sale. Sale is more of a bedroom community and doesn't have much to offer visitors.

We walked to the Rabat beach and out to the end of the causeway. Unfortunately, our opinion of a relatively clean city was diminished. We couldn't believe the amount of trash in and around the beach. Probably one of the worst we've ever seen.

Rabat beach.

Trash along the causeway.

We just don't get it.

Why wouldn't the city clean this up? Why doesn't the average person just clean this up? Why aren't there any trash cans?

The beach on the other side of the river at Sale.

Ruth, with a view of the river.

We walked through the old section of the medina. It's quite interesting, and we actually saw a few other tourists there. There are not many tourists in Rabat! A very different experience compared to Marrakesh. The street and market vendors don't bother you at all. 

Remember the other day when I mentioned about the very expensive ice cream bars and popsicles that are sold to the tourists? Here in Rabat, we thought the prices might be more reasonable so we asked at one vendor who had an ice cream freezer outside her shop. The price for a chocolate and nut covered ice cream popsicle was 3 dirhams. Yes, 42 cents CAD. A far cry from the €2 to €3 euros they want for a similar item at the tourist stops on the way to the desert!!

Inside the medina, the walls are all painted white and blue. It's really quite pretty.

It's a real maze inside the medina, with many alleyways and dead ends. Fortunately, it's really not that big so even if you get lost it doesn't take long to get yourself back on track. 

There's also a really pretty garden inside the medina.

From there, we walked through the street market and on to the Hassan Tower. This tower was built in the 11th century and is another Unesco World Heritage site. The tower was meant to be part of the mosque, but the mosque was never completed and fell into ruin. The ruins have been pretty much removed, and all that remains of the incomplete mosque is parts of the original pillars.

Hassan Tower, built in the 11th century.

There are two guards like this.

At the mausoleum, there is a guard at each of the four entrances.

The mausoleum where Mohammed V is buried, along with the most recent king of Morocco who died in 1999.

Pretty fancy stuff for a dead guy!

The tower.

The fountain is beautiful...too bad it wasn't operating.

From there, we walked to the Royal Palace. Here are some things we saw along the way...

Big modern Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rabat. 
This is the rear view, because I couldn't get a decent view of the front!

Fantastic mural on this modern office building.

Flowers for sale.

There are several entrances to the huge grounds, but only one entrance can be used by tourists. You have to surrender your passport to the police office, and then you are free to roam the grounds. This also means that you must exit at the same gate to pick up your passport.

Unfortunately there's not much to see at the Royal Palace. The guards don't let you anywhere close to the palace itself, and you're not allowed in any of the buildings.

The Royal Palace of Morocco in Rabat.
With lots of Asian tourists!

Interestingly, there are a lot of Asian tourists in Morocco. Not sure why, but we were surprised by that.

Main entrance to the palace itself.

Guards. Representation from the four different protectionist services.

And then it was home!

Turns out we did 15 kms! (9.3 miles).

Our walking route in Rabat.

Gotta go...our train leaves in an hour and a half. See you in Tangier!

Thanks for coming back here before doing any of your Amazon shopping!


  1. If you see her say hello (she might be in Tangier) --Bob Dylan

    1. Not sure if we have heard that song or not, now we are going to have to look it up. :-)

  2. It seems thst Rabat is a bit easier to navigate. Too bad about the trash, it was the same in Greece, plastic everywhere.

    1. Marrakesh was pretty easy to navigate through it was just very busy, Rabat is definitely not quite as crowded in the medina/souk section though. We unfortunately see the problem with trash in more countries than we would like to see, some is worse than others though.

  3. Looks like a lot better than Marrakech for sure! Too bad they do not put trash cans along the beaches for people to use! Glad you bought first class to ensure you have seating on your next trip. Enjoy your stay and the weather!

    1. Rabat is definitely more modern and less congested than Marrakesh which makes it just a little more relaxing but it lacks the character that Marrakesh has.

      We think that if you keep things clean then people tend to keep it clean as well but as soon as something starts getting dirty then people don't seem to care. We think if they cleaned up the beach and put out lots of trash cans than they would probably get used more and the beach would stay much cleaner, not sure if our way of thinking would work here or not!

      For this next train ride we are glad that we bought the 1st class tickets as well.

  4. Nice walking tour. I find trash here in the states too so it's everywhere. Supply and demand is the reason for high ice cream prices in the desert and it will be the same with water. I believe it's the people's way of honoring a person if they have fancy bldgs. tombs for the dead...i.e. look at the pyramids. I respect that. Can't wait to visit Tangier tomorrow.

    1. Rita, I really wonder if it was the "people's" decisions to build those very expensive tombs. Probably, those tombs were planned in advance by the persons buried in them, and their family carried out their wishes at the people's expense. From the pictures, I see Cuba's Fidel Castro's ashes were interred in a small niche in a modest monument in his hometown; however, a wide boulevard was built to the cemetery so that his people could visit his grave.

    2. I don't know but most of my friends and relatives wanted to be cremated and their ashes scattered but that didn't happen. Their families wanted a viewing, a fancy casket, a burial ground with a statue. I too want to be cremated (too many burial sites anymore) and my ashes scattered or buried in a remote area hopefully to fertilize a tree or's in my will :-)

    3. Rita, your wish to be one with the earth when your number is up sounds like a beautiful plan.

    4. Yes, many countries seem to have a problem with garbage, even if it is only in certain areas. Some countries seem to have it under control more or less but others just don't care.

      As for the ice cream, I don't think it is supply and demand, I think it has to do with where the tourists are and aren't. I am sure that some of those towns that the tours drive through have places for the locals where they can buy the ice cream for much the same price that we paid in Rabat but at the places where the tours stop they know that the majority of tourists will pay the high price without blinking an eye. Not us though! ;-)

      Yep, I agree that it is just a fancy way to show the dead persons status, whether they paid for it themselves or the people paid for it.

  5. Great tour, thanks:) I was there when I was 19 for one day. Do not remember anything about it except the pushy vendors on the ship dock:)

    1. Glad that you enjoyed it! I don't think I would remember much of a place either if I was only there for one day when I was 19. :-)

  6. Great and interesting photos! I love the blue and white walls. A shame about the trash around the beach, though.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Emily! We really like that part of the medina too, I think they call that area The Kasbah of the Udayas, it was very pretty there.

  7. Another nice, long walk - loved the pictures - it's fun to see how others live!

    1. Thanks Connie and Barry! Yes, it is always interesting to see how other cultures live, guess that is why we love traveling so much.

  8. Hello from Idaho. Found your blog though Living Rich on the Cheap. Sure look like a place I like to visit.
    If you fine the time stop on in for a cup coffee

    1. Hi there Dora, thanks for stopping by! Morocco is a very interesting country and full of contrasts. There is so much to take in here, the colours, the smells and the action. Definitely a different culture than the much quieter one at home.

  9. Rabat certainly seems less hectic than Marrakesh and the fountain, tower and mausoleum are lovely. While I understand precaution and safety measures are important I dislike handing over my passport for any reason!

    1. Definitely less harried! We felt much more relaxed here and not constantly on our toes watching for traffic and the touts. Yes, that whole Hassan square was very interesting, loved the buildings and the detail. At one time you could go up in the tower but it looks like that isn't allowed any more. They also had some nice gardens in front of the tower which were closed off for some reason, which was a shame.

      There times when we feel ok with handing our passports over and times when we would just walk away, we felt they were secure here.


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