A couple summers ago, my husband and I took our 3 young girls to Rabat, Morocco to visit friends. We flew into Casablanca (from Paris), rented a car at the airport and drove into Rabat for the week. We explored the city and took a day trip into Fez (which was magical and I will write about another time). We all fell in love with Morocco – from the towering Muslim mosques, to the medina full of spices, mosaics, foods and artisans to the gorgeous beaches to the ancient Chellah ruins – we explored and played; ate and discovered. We spent a lot of time with our friends simply playing in the backyard and cooking wonderful meals with local ingredients, but we also explored this exquisite city and learned a lot too. Below, I’ve shared some of our favorite places we went with our girls & friends. But first, a little history and kid-friendly information about Rabat that my kids & I appreciated learning about!
- Rabat is the Capitol of Morocco located on the Atlantic Ocean. The country is ruled by King Mohammed VI who lives in Rabat. Morocco is one of only three kingdoms left on the continent of Africa—the others, Lesotho and Swaziland, are small, southern African countries. The king has two children – a son (who will be 14 next month) and a daughter (10).
- Morocco is a Muslim state and the legal system is based on Islamic law. There are mosques throughout the country (and city) with towers called minarets. Five times throughout the day, you will hear the community being called to prayer by an announcer – almost humming and then chanting – usually through a loud speaker (at first, my kids were bewildered by this, but after a couple days they looked forward to hearing it and everyone would get quiet to listen).
- Moroccan money is called dirham. My oldest daughter lost a tooth while we were visiting and she received a 2 dirham coin from the Moroccan tooth fairy – which works out to about .25, ha.
- Morocco and Rabat have a lot of French influences and so there are a lot of French foods available and also many of the citizens speak French as well as Arabic. We loved seeing the blend of these two cultures. Also, my girls enjoyed seeing, hearing and learning just a bit of the Arabic language.
Some favorite places we explored:
- Ruins in Chellah – The Chellah is a medieval fortified Muslim necropolis which also houses Roman ruins. It is surrounded by a stunning stone wall and impressively looks down on the river. There is a small entrance fee payable at the site allowing plenty of time to wander around. The kids were able to run and explore and as the sun began to dip in the afternoon, the changing light brought the ruins to life. Also, it is home to a colony of storks that nest on the top of the ruins – a huge nest is perched atop the minuet which was fascinating for our crew. There are lots of beautiful architectural doors, pillars and ruins that made for lovely photographs. (Tip: Bring plenty of water and snacks for you and your kids and also some change to pay the men in the parking lot).
- Kasbah of the Udayas – also known as Oudayas Kasbah. Originally built in the 12th century and renovated many times since throughout the centuries, it has been home to Arab tribes, Andalusian immigrants, and some of Morocco’s most powerful sultans. We spent some time playing on the steps and admiring the walls and views. At the top of the steps is the gate of Bab Oudaya and begins the winding streets of the Kasbah that will take you to Rabat’s oldest mosque, beautiful gardens, and a museum.
- Plage de Rabat (Beach) – We spent a day at the beach before leaving to prepare us for long days of travel. The beach was beautiful and not too crowded. The girls loved that the locals sold fresh donuts on the beach!
- Medina of Rabat – The Medina’s in Morocco are where I feel you get a taste of the local culture most prominently. And in Rabat, they have wide paths (stroller accessible) and are relatively hassle free compared to other Medinas around the country. We spent a day wandering the streets and observing all of the wonderful goods for sale – from food to rugs, leather goods to jewelry. We bartered a bit, ate a lot and enjoyed exploring this bustling and historic part of the city.
Have you ever been to Rabat…or Morocco? What did I miss? Stay tuned for our city guide of Fez, Morocco soon!