Are you wondering where to stay in Rabat? Deciding where to stay in the Moroccan capital is wholly dependent on an individual’s interests and expectations. In this post, we look at the best areas and neighborhoods to stay in Rabat.
Flanked by the Atlantic ocean, the Moroccan capital of Rabat is an oft-overlooked destination that has much to offer the curious travelers who make their way to this historic city.
Only a short distance up the coastline from Casablanca, the relaxed atmosphere and unique offerings make it a desirable stop for those wishing to experience Moroccan life beyond that of its most famous cities.
Flights into the small international airport shared by Salé and Rabat are primarily domestic with several arriving from destinations throughout Europe, making it a quick and easy port of entry.
Proximity to not only Casablanca, but also Meknes, Fes, and Tangier, also make the city a desirable stop for those planning a long trek through Morocco.
The city of Rabat was officially redeclared the capital of Morocco in 1912, taking the title from Fes and keeping it even after the country regained independence in 1956.
But it wasn’t the first instance of the city holding the title; during the 12th century, Rabat was declared the country’s capital under the rule of Yaqub al-Mansour who would begin work on a mosque intended to be the largest in the world.
The ruins have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the site stands as one of the most popular attractions in the city. Just beyond the city’s center, travelers can also visit the Chellah, where the ancient Phoenicians and Romans settled centuries before.
Inhabited and built upon by many other civilizations afterward, the ruins at Chellah are also a popular historic attraction, one that also hosts a yearly jazz festival
As with many other cities throughout Morocco, visitors flock to Rabat’s Medina, which stands in stark contrast to other medinas throughout the country.
Within the ancient walls, shoppers can purchase authentic Moroccan wares — including the unusual Rabati rugs that look more like Turkish rugs than Moroccan ones — without the forceful push from stall owners that is so common in other cities throughout the country.
The relaxed atmosphere makes Rabat a desirable destination for purchasing Moroccan handicrafts, while the Complexe des Ouija, just outside of the city, offers visitors the opportunity to not only purchase authentic Moroccan pottery and other crafts but also experience the craftsman’s workshops.
Although technically not part of Rabat proper, neighboring Salé, which is located just across the Bou Regreg River, also offers a fascinating counterpart to Rabat, both geographically and historically.
Salé existed as an independent republic until the 17th century when it was incorporated into Morocco after a long history as home to the famed pirates of Salé, who ruled the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
The city stands as a glimpse into the working-class of Morocco, and in addition to a handful of attractions and events, such as the Pirate Slave Prison and the Mawazine Music Festival, it is a fascinating place to visit — and even stay — for those who wish to partake in an authentic Moroccan experience.
Where to stay in Rabat: Best areas to stay in Rabat
1. Medina, where to stay in Rabat for first time visitors
The ancient medina of any Moroccan city is popular with travelers, and the same holds true within Rabat. Rabat’s Medina is the pulse of the city — it is the image that many visitors conjure in their imaginations when dreaming of visiting Morocco — and it is one of the best places to stay in Rabat for travelers who come alive at night.
While Amnesia the country’s most popular nightclub, located here, is a major draw, it is the frenetic energy that defines life inside the city walls, which is especially fascinating to behold.
Travelers who stay within the Medina will appreciate being walking distance to many of the city’s best attractions in neighboring quarters while still experiencing the vibrancy of daily life within the old city.
Cafes and restaurants come alive as locals and visitors scamper through the narrow streets, stopping for a bite to eat or something to drink. Because Rabat is the country’s capital, the stark contrast between the old city and life outside the walls is especially noticeable.
Pressed against the Bou Regreg River, it is easy for travelers staying here to make the short boat ride across to Salé.
The neighborhood is also flanked by the Nouzhat Hassan Garden, the National Craft Museum, and both the Bab Laalou and the Bab Diouana, all points of interest for many travelers.
Also only a short walk from the neighborhood, travelers will find the Hassan Tower, Rabat Beach, and the Lighthouse Rabat.
Restaurants within this bustling neighborhood tend to be small and intimate serving traditional Moroccan fare, and many are located within riads and dars.
Public transportation stops also line the border of the Medina, providing easy access to other neighborhoods as well as attractions in the more modern parts of the city.
Accommodations within the Medina include riads, dars, and hotels, many of which boast stunning rooftop terraces, on-site hammams, relaxing soaking pools, and a handful of other small luxuries to enhance any traveler’s stay.
Many of these places are highly rated for the attentive service and intimate atmosphere that can be provided in smaller, boutique-style lodging options such as these. Breakfasts are typically inclusive of the rate, and the on-site restaurants often serve other meals as well.
Several of the riads offer multi-bedroom options, as well, ideal for larger parties. By Moroccan standards, the cost for these places is on the high end, but of the most popular Rabat neighborhoods, the Medina is the only to offer a hostel, one that is both well-located and cost-efficient.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN RABAT IN MEDINA
2. Hassan – Quartier des Orangers, close to everything and calmer than the Medina
While the Medina is one of the most popular areas to stay in Rabat, the Hassan and Quartier des Orangers neighborhoods provide a more updated glimpse into the city’s everyday happenings.
These central neighborhoods are calmer than the Medina and home to a number of popular attractions.
The Hassan district of this neighborhood is one of the best areas to stay in Rabat for travelers who spend much of their time visiting museums; many of the city’s best museums are located here.
The neighboring Quartier des Orangers, although lighter on attractions than Hassan, makes for an ideal base for travelers who prefer a quiet place to return after a day of sightseeing.
The main train station is also located in this neighborhood, enabling visitors to easily access Casablanca as well as many other destinations throughout the country.
After visiting the Jardin d’Essais Botanique and the Rabat Archaeological Museum, travelers can relax and enjoy the plentiful restaurants in the neighborhood, including a handful of international eateries as well as some of the best tagine in the city.
This region is also home to a tour group that offers Saharan desert tours, making it an ideal destination for those making the trek from Rabat.
While there are no hostels outside of the Medina, the Hassan and Quartier des Orangers is home to a handful of budget hotels and dars ideal for travelers looking to stretch their budget.
Conversely, those wanting to splurge on a luxury experience will find several five-star accommodations in the area, including apartment-style accommodation, ideal for larger groups or simply those who prefer more space.
Mid-range to luxury lodging options in this area often include breakfast, as well as access to on-site spas, shuttles, and other little bonuses; while the prices still tend to be on the high end for Morocco, they are typically lower than comparable accommodation options in the Medina.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN HASSAN – QUARTIER DES ORANGERS
3. Quartier Administratif, where to stay in Rabat in a quiet area
The administrative quarter of Rabat is a neighborhood just east of the Hassan and Quartier des Orangers neighborhoods, and visitors staying in this neighborhood will find their experience to be very different from travelers who stay within the Medina.
Government buildings and embassies dot the area, and several schools are also spread throughout the neighborhood. Business travelers may find this one of the better areas to stay in Rabat if they are working while traveling.
Because of this, transportation in and out of the area is made easy with plentiful bus stations as well as airport transportation options.
A number of casual eateries serving moroccan and international foods are also readily available in the neighborhood, making it easy for travelers staying in this area to grab dinner before heading to their accommodations.
Lodging options in the Quartier Administratif are relatively limited, and what options are available are priced somewhat higher than other areas outside of the Medina.
While there are a handful of hotels and dars in the area, travelers may have more luck renting condos and apartments through home-sharing websites.
These options tend to be self-catering, but they provide ample space for groups, kitchens for cooking meals, and more reasonable prices than the few hotels in the area.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN QUARTIER ADMINISTRATIF
4. L’Ocean, where to stay in Rabat near the Atlantic ocean
Southwest of Rabat’s Medina, the neighboring L’Ocean district offers surfers and beach lovers one of the best places to stay in Rabat.
Proximity to the market stalls of the Medina, the museums and National Theater of the Quartier Hassan, as well as the Palace Kabbaj enables travelers to easily visit top attractions before retreating to quiet accommodations near the Atlantic ocean.
Fort Rottembourg also hugs the coastline just outside of the district, making for one of the closest historical landmarks to the neighborhood.
Intimate cafes dot the area and offer visitors a place to stop for an afternoon of coffee and people watching, while a handful of eateries populate the neighborhood, ensuring visitors have easy access to a quick dinner after sightseeing or surfing.
Much of the terrain directly hugging the L’Ocean neighborhood is rocky, and it provides picturesque views of the waves crashing against the rugged landscape, particularly for those lucky enough to score a table at one of the local cafes that offer ocean views.
Just up the coast, Plage de Rabat offers a more traditional beach, and the surf shops and schools can provide everything visitors need for a day among the waves.
Incredible views from the room are just a bonus when staying in the Quartier L’Ocean, and one of the best ways to get a great view at an affordable rate is to book an apartment or private room available through home-share websites.
The prices in this neighborhood, as a whole, tend to be much lower than the Medina and Hassan neighborhood, while even whole apartments with multiple bedrooms can be more affordable than staying in some of the more luxurious riads within the old part of Rabat.
While flats and apartments take precedence in this region, there are several hotels and traditional riads in the neighborhood that offer comfortable accommodations with more services and amenities than self-catering options.
Quartier L’Ocean also sets itself apart with a local surf camp and lodge, offering one of the best places to stay in Rabat if learning to surf is a bucket-list item.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN RABAT IN L´OCEAN
5. Agdal Ryad, where to stay in Rabat to get an authentic local experience
Visitors wondering where to stay in Rabat to get an authentic experience will want to check out the Agdal Ryad, a bustling local neighborhood south of the Quartier des Orangers.
Within the neighborhood, visitors will find the Royal Palace of Rabat, a popular place for taking photographs in the city, as well as the Urban Forest Ibn Sina, a tranquil, tree-lined park perfect for enjoying a stroll or a picnic.
Food tours and tastings in this region make it an excellent place to stay for foodies visiting Rabat, although accessing the abundant restaurants in the Medina from this neighborhood can take more time than other surrounding neighborhoods.
Eateries in the neighborhood are typically casual, serving traditional food at affordable prices, while several laid-back bars are also available to grab a cocktail.
The neighborhood is an excellent base for budget travelers because it is, at any given time, primarily populated with locals, and the prices at shops and spas lining the neighborhood reflect the region’s absence of tourists.
As a local neighborhood filled with residents, it should come as no surprise that the most popular type of accommodation in the Agdal Ryad is self-catering apartments.
Many of these include separate living spaces and full kitchens, perfect for budget travelers hoping to cook their own meals while traveling.
What these places lack in services and amenities, they make up for in space and affordability. And because the neighborhood is home to many affordable spas, restaurants, and grocery stores, it’s easy to access these services only a short distance from the apartment.
For travelers who prefer the benefits of on-site restaurants and a staff who can help with recommendations and transportation, there are several hotels in Agdal Ryad, although the prices are typically a bit higher than the self-catering apartments in the area.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN RABAT IN AGDAL RYAD
6. Bouregreg Marina, where to stay in Rabat for picturesque riverfront views
Located at the mouth of the Bouregreg River in Salé, the Bouregreg Marina is the flagship project in the development of the surrounding valley.
The marina offers a fuel station and WiFi available for sailors arriving here, as well as a handful of waterfront dining and shopping options that will continue to multiply as the marina develops.
High-end steakhouses only a short distance from fast-food joints speaks to the Westernized feel that permeates the region. It is easy to access Rabat across the river, and the Plage de Salé Ville to the west provides visitors with a nearby beach.
Several gardens between the waterfront and Salé’s Medina offer pretty green spaces to relax any time visitors are looking for a change from the marina’s picturesque riverfront views.
Although there are big plans for this neighborhood’s development, accommodation options at present are relatively scarce.
The marina itself can accommodate 350 boats, and travelers who arrive by boat will find it easy to stay on board within the marina, negating the need to find accommodation on land.
Until the planned entertainment district and riverfront hotel is constructed, the limited options here include spacious luxury apartments and a luxurious resort hotel with an array of upscale amenities that command nightly room rates that are much higher than other neighborhoods throughout either Rabat or Salé.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN RABAT IN BOUREGREG MARINA
7. Salé, history and affordably priced dars and riads
When deciding where to stay in Rabat, it may seem counterintuitive to choose accommodation in another city, but neighboring Salé is actually a popular choice for many travelers who want to see the local side of life in this region.
Primarily inhabited by working-class Moroccans, Salé offers an authentic Moroccan experience with lower price tags than many places in neighboring Rabat.
Its location just across the river means that top Rabat attractions are only a quick boat ride away, while accommodations here provide a quieter and more tranquil retreat.
Salé was once home to the famed Salé Rovers, a dreaded band of pirates, including the famous Jan Janszoon.
Today, visitors can explore the city’s fabled history at the Pirate Slave Prison before venturing into the city’s winding but compact Medina, an area primarily visited by locals, ensuring lower prices and a more authentic experience.
The relaxed atmosphere makes Salé a desirable neighborhood to call home when visiting Rabat, and visitors will find a handful of riverfront restaurants, including some that serve Berber and Spanish specialties.
Because Salé is primarily a city of locals, accommodation options are fewer than across the river in Rabat. Although the few riverfront options near the Bouregreg Marina are costly, these luxury options are not reflective of the majority of accommodations in Salé.
Affordably priced dars and riads clustered around the city’s medina account for the majority of lodging options in Salé.
As with most accommodations within Rabat and even Morocco as a whole, breakfast is typically included with the room rate, which is often as much as one-third the price of options in Rabat.
Rooftop terraces are also common at even the smaller dars, and many offer outstanding views from the other side of the river.
Another benefit of these cozy accommodations is that they are closer to the airport than lodging options in Rabat, with many offering airport shuttles, particularly useful for individuals needing to catch an early morning flight.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SALE