Casablanca evokes thoughts of Bogart and Bergman’s love in the Oscar-winning 1942 film. Other stories of piracy, foreign occupation, and struggles of liberty echo in this port city. Since its independence from France, the city’s affluence has blossomed and it remains the economic capital of the country. Once a place to trade wool and grain with Europe, today it is the biggest city in the country and is bustling with activity.

The coastal breezes from both the Atlantic and Mediterranean make the climate here mild year-round. Fishermen and sunbathers flock to the shores, and Berber culture and European influence mingle at every turn. This dual personality is most evident in the city architecture, where Spanish and French designs can be found with Moorish details.

This is also a modern city where young Moroccans come to seek their fortunes and where businesses prosper. There’s a combination of grit and style here. Art Deco mixes with UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Hassan II Mosque, the largest in the country, which took 10,000 artisans to complete. Its towering minaret punctuates the sky as locals meet around to chat and kids run and play on its expansive grounds. Stroll along the Boulevard Mohammed V, lined with palm trees, to get a glimpse of this everyday scene.

Wander through the archways of Quartier Habous, home to hundreds of shops selling leather, copper, and textiles. For a more historical peek at Casablanca, get lost in the Old Medina with its narrow streets. Dance the night away in the buzzing clubs of the beach side suburb of Ain Diab, or explore the galleries and museums housed in Art Deco villas.

Take in the salty air on La Corniche, the waterfront boulevard. Sit in one of the many cafes overlooking the Atlantic and dine on the catch of the day. Try a traditional tagine, a savory stew, in one of the chic restaurants as the stylish residents go by. More adventurous types will dip their feet into the waters of the Atlantic or surf the crashing waves.