The Mohammed V International Airport is where you'll fly into when you have a stopover in Casablanca, Morocco. It's a relatively small airport compared to those which rank among the world's busiest, with only two runways and an equal number of terminals. But that said, the ten million passengers passing through the facility every year make it one of the busiest on the African continent.
The airport is thirty kilometers outside of Casablanca. There is a train station, Airport Med V, located in Terminal 1 which operates from three in the morning until ten at night, but trains into the city only depart five times a day and the trip takes forty-five minutes. Using the service on your layover can prove to be risky as the trains are renowned for being delayed. Be sure to leave plenty of time to make your next connection.
There is no connecting bus service either, so the best option to get into Casablanca is taxi or private hire. If you're on a short Casablanca layover even a taxi won't get you into the city quick enough to go sightseeing, as the journey by cab takes on average forty-five minutes to an hour.
A longer layover gives you more options to enjoy the city. You’ll have a far easier time of it if you drop off your bags at a Casablanca luggage storage. Knowing your things are safely looked after will be a load off your mind as well as off your back.
6 hour layover in Casablanca
With a distinct lack of efficient public transport services operating out of the Mohammed V International Airport, the only option you'll have on a short layover is to pass the time at the airport. There are a couple of lounges that are available to all passengers in transit regardless of which airline they are traveling with. A nominal fee will see you with a comfortable seat, a shower, unlimited drinks, and a selection of buffet food to pick at.
- Food, drink, and entertainment options at Casablanca airport are limited so if you have specific dietary needs it's a good idea, although not the most convenient, to carry food and a good book for your layover with you.
- There is free wifi at the airport but log-in sessions are limited to thirty minutes.
8 hour layover in Casablanca
Because of the lack of facilities at Casablanca Airport, an eight-hour layover there will seem endless unless you drop your bags at the airport luggage storage service, grab a cab and head for the trails of the nearby Bouskoura Forest. It's around a twenty-minute drive so won't eat into your layover time too much. There are several kilometers of hiking trails running through a grove of eucalyptus trees which are ideal for a jog or sedate stroll.
- Make sure to re-book the taxi to pick you up before they drive off or you could be stranded in the forests while your Morocco connection takes off without you.
- There are no amenities in the forest so take a bag with sandwiches and some drinks with you. You can purchase these types of items from the vending machines or a cafeteria in the terminal.
10 hour layover in Casablanca
With a lack of reliable public transport available, even a ten-hour Casablanca layover can be classed as a short one. You can optimize your time by hiring a private driver-guide who will collect you from the airport in an air-conditioned vehicle then take you on a four-hour tour of the city's main sights. You'll be able to see places like the Hassan II Mosque, drive around the Mohamed V Square, see the Notre Dame de Lourdes Cathedral as well as visit the Quartier Habous, and still have time for a quick coffee in Rick’s Cafe made famous in the 1942 film.
- Brave the public transport and meet a guide in the Old Quarter for a four-hour walking tour. It'll be an introduction to Moroccan culture with a special stop for a glass of refreshing mint tea.
If you decide to go on a walking tour of the Old Quarter make sure to leave all your valuables and your passport in a luggage locker at the airport.
12 hour layover in Casablanca
When you're on a twelve-hour stopover in Casablanca you'll have more time to explore the city or even head further afield to somewhere like Tangiers. All you have to do is plan accordingly. By hiring a private driver-guide you'll be collected at the airport, can head straight to Tangiers along the coastal road, and do some sightseeing there before returning via Casablanca to take in the main sights. It does mean spending your layover on the road, but it's worth it as you'll see lots.
- Alternatively, head inland from the airport and go to Fes, but make a detour to see the ancient Roman ruins in Volubilis first and maybe pick up some souvenir pottery on the way.
- For a spicy layover head down to the Habous district where you'll find an open market with endless pop-ups offering an incredible array of traditional dishes and plenty of stalls where you can buy a variety of spices.
- Do something totally different and learn to surf in Casablanca. You can take a surfing lesson on your layover at the About Youride Maroc Surf School or if you're no good at balancing, take a kite-surfing lesson instead.
24 hour layover in Casablanca
When you have an overnight Casablanca layover, you may want to consider visiting another of Morocco's famous cities. Marrakesh is just a two-hour drive from Casablanca, but stop off in the Agafay Desert before you get there and you can swap your four-wheeled vehicle for a ship of the desert. Take a one-hour camel ride across the sands and you'll feel like Lawrence of Arabia as you plod through the dunes while glimpsing the peaks of the Atlas Mountains through the distant haze.
- For excitement combined with peace and tranquility, exchange the camel ride for a hot air balloon ride. Getting up early and doing it as the sun rises over the desert makes it even more spectacular and totally unforgettable.
- If camels and hot air balloons don't sound quite exciting enough, plan to go dune bagging on a quad. You can ride through the desert on an ATV and discover a secret oasis where you can jump in the water for a refreshing, and dust-removing, swim.