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Rabat (Arabic الرباط), sometimes called Rabat-Salé, is the capital of Morocco and has an estimated population of about 1.7 million inhabitants. It is located along the northern coastline of the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River, close to Casablanca. Although the latter is more important from an economic point of view, Rabat is the administrative capital and is also one of the four so called Imperial Cities, together with Fez, Meknes and Marrakech. People have been living here since well over 2,000 years and today it is popular among travellers who wish to see something of the Islamic culture of the country. As a consequence, there are good facilities and transportation to all places in Morocco.
The old Medina and the Ville Nouvelle are divided by the busy Ave Hassan II which follows the walls of the Medina to the Oued Bou Regreg. The twin cities are called Salé and Rabat.
One of the must-see attractions is the Medina of Rabat, which is in the older part of the city and the best way to enter it is through Souika Street. Before the French arrived in 1912 and expanded the city, creating new quarters the small medina was all there was of Rabat. This original section of town was created when Andalusian Muslim refugees fled from their hometown of Badajoz in Spain. In the medina of Rabat there are lots of traditional shops and cafes that you can visit and explore. Rabat's medina is a pleasure to walk around in as it is relatively hassle-free in comparison to other larger medinas in Morocco.
One of the popular shops you can expect to see is a leather footwear bazaar where you will find interesting leather shoes, leather bags and wallets at a good price. There are lots of Moroccan craft shops that contain a variety of items, like the well-known Rabat and Berber carpets and embroidered fabrics. It is also good to look out for the shops that sell a number of copper items since it is here that you will find some very interesting buys. Then there are the usual souvenirs and curiosity shops, which sell lamps, fabrics, jewelry, antiques, rocks and wooden items.
There are also stalls on Green Street in the Rabat Medina that sell plastic bags full of mentha leaves which are used to make meantha tea. This particular type of tea is sometimes called Moroccan vodka because it is the cheapest drink you can buy in Morocco. There are lots of bargains to be found here at Rabat's medina and so you are assured of coming away with a couple of well priced items to take home with you.
Surfing is quite popular in Rabat and you can visit one of the surfing schools here. You have the choice of:
When in Morocco it would be useful to learn a bit of Moroccan Arabic or French - especially if you are planning on staying in the country for a while. The following places offer tuition and intensive language courses in both languages:
Rabat is home to a number of events and festivals every year including the most popular of all whichis the Oudayas Jazz Festival which is held in Rabat on the last weekend of May every year.
Also held in Rabat is the Festival Mawazine which is a great festival to attend if you are a fan of the World music scene. Every year the festival, which is held in May, attracts big names.
The other festival to mention is the Festival International de Rabat which happens annually in late June and early July. The festival, which in English means the International Festival of Rabat attracts lots of film and music lovers to the city every year and is definitely worth a visit if you are around the capital at that time of the year.
Rabat has a typical mediterranean climate, with warm dry summers and mild but wetter winters. Temperatures average between 24 °C and 28 °C between May and September and 17 °C to 20 °C during the other months. Nights are around 20 °C in summer, dropping to 8 °C in January. June to September is almost completely dry, while December is the wettest month with around 75 mm of rain.
Rabat-Salé Airport (RBA) is a small airport with Royal Air Maroc JetAirFly and Air France serving Paris directly. Royal Air Maroc also serves Agadir, while JetAirFly also flies on Brussels and Charleroi.
Other destinations include direct flights to Cairo and Tripoli.
ONCF trains run every 30 minutes or so between Rabat and Casablanca and to Kenitra. Other trains include those to Fez (3.5 hours), Meknes (2.5 hours), Oujda (10 hours), Tangier (4.5 hours) and Marrakech (4.5 hours).
There are many places in Rabat to hire a car and the majority of the local companies are a lot cheaper than the international companies.
If you would still like to rent a car with one of the International companies in Rabat you can try the following:
Bear in mind that there are parking restrictions within Rabat city centre. The restrictions apply from 8:00am - midday and then 2:00pm - 7:00pm from Monday to Saturday. The meter will cost you 3 dirham per hour. If you go the the junction of Ave Hassan II and Ave Mohammed V there is a car park where you can park your car which is close to all the attractions and main sights.
The following buses are good for moving onto a different destination:
The easiest way to get around the city is by the blue ‘petit taxis’ you’ll see driving around everywhere. Trips cost between 10 dirham and 20 dirham to most of the sights within the city. Make sure you agree on a price beforehand. Get the petit taxi to drop you off at the impressive Kasbah Oudaias on the edge of the old part of the city (the medina), and then continue on foot.
The following buses will take you around Rabat and will cost you 4 dirham:
Bus 2 & 4 - If you are wanting to go to the Chellah then get the bus from Ave Moulay Hassan to Bab Zaer.
Bus 3 - Goes from Rabat Ville train station to Agdal.
Bus 12 & 13 - Goes from Melila place to Sale.
Bus 17 & 30 - Both buses go from near Bab al-Had to Rabat's Gare Routiere. The number 17 continues onto the zoo and Temara beach.
Bus 33 - The bus goes from Bab al-Had to Temara Beach.
There are some great places in Rabat to stop for some cake, coffee, tea or even some ice-cream. Some places recommended to try are:
La Dolce Vita- 8 Tanta - The place to go if you would like some ice-cream! They make delicious home-made ice cream in over 40 flavours so there will be a flavour for everyone.
Patisserie Majestic - Corner of Rue Jeddah Ammane & Ave ben Abdallah - This is an extremely popular patisserie and it is the perfect place to go if you are after a cake and a coffee. It is also in the centre of town so it is really easy to get to.
Paul - Ave al-Oumam al-Muttahida - This is a French bakery and very highly recommended. They serve delicious croissants which are a great start to your morning. They also serve tasty sandwiches and salads which are a great choice for lunch or a light snack.
If you are looking for something cheap and quick to eat than try the Mohammed V Ave, just inside the Medina gate. Here you can find all types of delicious food including tagines, brochettes, chicken and salads. The food here is very cheap and tasty and if you don't know which place to go for then I recommend watching out for where all the locals are eating as they tend to know which stall serves the tastiest food!
Another good place to go for a quick bite to eat is the Rue Tanta in the ville nouvelle of Rabat. Here you will find a selection of fast food joints offering all kinds of delicious burgers and pizzas.
Rabat is a fantastic place to go and grab a coffee and watch the world go by. Some of the best places to visit are:
Cafeteria du 7eme art - Ave Allal ben Abdallah - This is a great little cafe which is situated in a shady area (perfect if you are wanting to get out of the sun for a bit). It is quite popular with students and workers and attracts quite a crowd. The only downside is that it is near the traffic so it is not the quietest of places but it is still worth a visit.
Cafe Maure - Kasbah des Oudaias - This is the place to go to try a glass of traditional mint tea. They serve you the tea on beautiful silverware and the tea is accommpanied by delicious almond biscuits. The cafe itself is speas across the Andalusian gardens in a very peaceful and tranquil lcation and it is the perfect place to relax.
If you are a female then going to some bars might be a little bit intimidating but I have visited the following and found them to be good places to visit if female (or not!):
El Rancho - 30 Rue Mischliffen, Agdal - This is a lovely Tex-Mex restaurant and bar where you will find young, well dressed Moroccans heading for a drink and some food before heading out to go clubbing. They play world music and it is a very lively place with a fantastic atmosphere.
Hotel Balima - Ave Mohammed V - This is a bar within one of the nicest and friendliest (in my opinion) hotels in Rabat. The bar is very female friendly and has a really great atmosphere. The hotel is popular with travellers so it is a great place to meet other people and chat about your Morocco trip.
|La Felouque||plage des sables d'or 12100 Temara||HOTEL||78|
|Royal Hotel Rabat||1 rue amman bp 175||Hotel||82|
|House of Sara Rabat B&B||67, rue Tetouan Harhoura, Temara, Rabat||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|MEDINA SURFING ASSOCIATION||Dar Elharim 3 rue Porte Maoun Ferrane Znaki Avenue Laalou Ancienne Medina Rabat Ville||Hostel||86|
|Riad a la Belle Etoile||Saniat Sabounji, 14 Bab Bouhaja, Sale medina||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Riad Marlinea||27 Derb Hrarta||GUESTHOUSE||-|
There are plenty of Cybercafes in cities and small towns and accessing the Internet won't be a problem. The price is around 4 to 10DH/ hour. If you have a laptop while traveling then you can buy a USB key for wireless connection from one of the 3 main telecommunication companies (Maroc Telecom, Meditel, and Inwi). Credits are available starting from 10DH/24 hours (starting from the time you use it, if you start at 2:00am then next day at 2:00am you will have to recharge it again). Wifi is getting more and more common in places like hotels, shopping malls and in restaurants and coffee places in larger cities. The wireless connection in some areas might be slow, that depends on the signal as not the whole of Morocco has 3G coverage.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Morocco's country code is +212, International Call Prefix is 00. The telephone numbering scheme is changed starting March 2009. All fixed telephone numbers have a 5 inserted after the 0, and all mobile telephone numbers have a 6 inserted after the 0. All numbers are now ten-digit long, counting the initial 0. Useful numbers are Police: 19; Fire Service: 15; Highway Emergency Service: 177; Information: 160.
Public telephones can be found in city centres, but private telephone offices (also known as teleboutiques or telekiosques) are also commonly used.
The GSM mobile telephone network in Morocco can be accessed via one of two major operators: Meditel or Maroc Telecom. Prepaid cards are available. It is very easy and cheap to buy a local GSM prepaid card in one of the numberous phone shops showing a Maroc Telecom sign.
Post Maroc is the national postal service of Morocco and has details on their website (French) regarding the sending of letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically and internationally. The postal service in Morocco is very efficient and the post offices are generally open Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 12 noon and 2:30pm to 6:30pm. On Saturdays it is open from 8:30am to 2:00pm. Some might keep longer hours though, especially in larger tourist cities and central areas. You can post your mail at one of the post offices or otherwise in the yellow post boxes you'll find throughout the country. For packages, you can also use international courier companies like TNT, DHL or UPS. They offer quick, reliable services and competitive rates.
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