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Revel in Rabat: An idyllic winter escape filled with history and sunshine

Rabat, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, offers a mesmerizing mix of modern art, mouthwatering cuisine and memorable views. | By Paul Oswell | December 2, 2022

When you think about a vacation to Morocco, you’ll likely conjure up images of Marrakesh, Fes or Casablanca. However, the capital, Rabat, is a cultured, cosmopolitan city that offers an alluring mix of historical architecture, intriguing culinary experiences, wonderfully warm beaches and tranquil parks. Here are some suggestions for a sun-drenched winter escape to this dynamic destination:

  • Adore ancient history: Travel back in time and see Roman ruins and the colors and sounds of the medina

  • Explore authentic cuisine: Tajine, couscous and a world of spices await, as do some of the country’s most majestic dining rooms

  • Combine culture and nature: Discover a treasure trove of modern art and memorable landscapes along the glorious Atlantic coast

Explore the past

Upon arrival in Rabat, explore the capital’s maze-like medina (old town), on the shore of the Bou Regreg River. Wander through its spectacular cliff-top kasbah (fortified quarter) and the elegant tree-lined boulevards of the French-designed center. Rabat is a surprisingly navigable city, and its fascinating past is on display all around.

There are a few must-see sights, the first being the majestic Mausoleum of Mohammed V. Upon approach, you’ll see the beautiful porticos of Moorish arches and the striking pyramidal green roof. The mausoleum is the final resting place of the father and grandfather of the current king of Morocco, but the building, which is open to non-Muslims as well, also houses a mosque and a museum. The public chambers are intricately decorated, with colorful flourishes by some 400 craftspeople.

Across from the mausoleum, the Hassan Tower is regarded as the symbol of Rabat and one of the city’s most famous sights. Built in the 12th century, the Hassan Tower was meant to be the largest minaret in the world — and although it was never completed, it remains an impressive piece of Moroccan history.

Equally historic is the cliff-top Kasbah des Oudayas, a picturesque walled village filled with white houses and brightly colored doors reflecting the Andalusian heritage. The imposing grand entrance, called Bab Oudayas, is a beautifully adorned gate with a series of chambers, formerly staterooms, that are now used regularly to house art exhibitions.

After a day of sightseeing in the sun, unwind at Conrad Rabat Arzana, situated along the city’s scenic Atlantic coast. Enjoy water views from the resort’s restaurants and guestroom terraces, or indulge in a spa treatment while the children play at the kids’ club. The chic rooms and suites offer a serene haven to retreat to during your tranquil Moroccan getaway.

Enjoy local flavors

Rabat has a diverse and dynamic culinary scene. For a magical experience and authentic Moroccan cuisine, reserve a table at Dinarjat. Servers in traditional clothing lead you by lantern through the elaborate doors to a palatial dining room replete with marble pillars or to the beautifully lit open-air patio. Try the bel ghalmi kebab, lamb tajine with tfaya (Moroccan garnish of caramelized onions and raisins) and almonds, couscous kedra (stew) and Moroccan pastries.

Rabat also has a strong French heritage, seen at spots such as Restaurant Cosmopolitan, a sophisticated villa decorated with modern art. Oysters, snails and fine cuts of beef are among the specialties here. There are also French themes found across the various dining options offered at Conrad Rabat Arzana. Visit the resort’s La Brise brasserie a contemporary and elegant space with an open kitchen and chef’s cooking counter featuring the best of Moroccan and French dishes. For a relaxing and luxurious teatime experience, slip into the Feuillage tea lounge for signature Moroccan mint teas, tea-based cocktails or coffee along with freshly baked pastries, salads and gourmet sandwiches.

Culture and attractions

There are compelling attractions both natural and man-made throughout the city, making Rabat an attractive destination no matter what your predilection. Rabat’s biggest contemporary cultural draw is the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Bright murals envelop the exterior of this colonial building, and the museum is home to the best of Moroccan modern art, as well as pieces from around the globe. Also in the mix are examples of traditional Moroccan artisanal crafts, including everything from sculpture to furniture.

Rabat’s warm winter climate is a highlight to be enjoyed as well, and there are numerous beautiful beaches to discover. Just south of the city is the wild beach of Tamara Plage, where some of the capital’s well-heeled residents have their beach houses and a wide stretch of unspoiled sands and gentle turquoise waters await. Closer to the city center, the equally picturesque coastline around Plage Guy-Ville and Plage la Falaise is a bit more developed, but in the quieter winter months you can bask in relative tranquility as you take in those Atlantic Ocean views.

Rabat may be one of the lesser-visited Moroccan cities, but as you can see, it has more than enough to attract travelers in search of authentic and memorable experiences. With a thriving foodie scene, modern art and historic architecture, you’ll love exploring this sun-drenched capital city.

Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”

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Conrad Rabat Arzana

Along the Atlantic coast, our inspired resort in Temara is next to a water park and close to beaches. The water views are everything – from our restaurants and outdoor event space to the terrace in your spa treatment or guest room. Enjoy our kids’ club plus family and adult pools. Rabat’s Royal Palace and Hassan Tower are 20 kilometers away.

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