Last week I wrote a story about Rabat for the Sydney Morning Herald’s Traveller lift-out, about how it’s the Canberra of Morocco – as in a political capital that’s not as boring as everyone thinks, and that’s having a bit of a renaissance. As an add on to the story I wrote a breakout about five other things to do there. It sadly ended up on the cutting room floor, but I’m reviving it here in the name of never letting hard work go to waste, and giving you guys some more tips for your next Moroccan adventure.
Mohammed VI Contemporary Art Museum
Completed in late 2014, this is Morocco’s first public gallery of contemporary art. Wander the three floors, taking in works of Moroccan artists from the 19th century to the present, and the lovely architecture of the new building, which fuses modern and Moorish traditional elements. Entry 40DHS (about $5.50).
Explore the medina
The rambling Rabat medina has a distinct Andalusian vibe, since most of the architecture dates back to the 17th century when Muslims from Spain’s Andalusia region arrived. Check out the shopping streets of Rue Souka and Souk es Sebbat, the Jewish quarter for its interesting flea market, as well as the Merinid Fountain and the Grand Mosque.
Set on the Bouregreg river, with views to the Hassan Tower and Mohammed V mosque, French-style brasserie Marco is one of Rabat’s must-eats. Dig into chef Kandil’s menu which revolves around seasonal, organic produce and fresh fish. The tomatoes with wild crab remoulade is particularly delicious, as is the decor which uses vintage 1930’s objects, and the very full wine cellar featuring both local and French wines.
Oudayas Surf Club is one of Morocco’s original surf clubs, that offers lessons and board hire and has a swish clubhouse facing the waves. Morocco’s youthful King Mohammed VI (known colloquially by the people as ‘Sa Majetski’ after his love of jet skiing and water sports) was a founding member. There’s also the Club Nautique below the kasbah, which offers lessons and equipment hire for surfing, body-boarding, windsurfing and kayaking.
Rabat’s Mawazine (or Rhythms of the World) annual music festival is one of the biggest music festivals in the world, drawing huge international names from Rihanna and Kanye West, to Stevie Wonder and Kylie Minogue, as well as major Arabic music stars. It aims to promote tolerance and respect by offering “a musical journey to the four corners of the planet.” This year’s festival runs from May 20-28.