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Morocco by high-speed rail

A new high-speed links up some of Morocco's most beguiling cities, making them more accessible than ever

By Connor McGovern
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:03 BST, Updated 14 Jul 2021, 16:35 BST
Carcaba and Gambri players, Tangier

Carcaba and Gambri players, Tangier

Photograph by Robert Harding

For travellers looking to explore Morocco's cities, train travel through the country is about to become easier than ever before. From November 2018, double-decker, LGV (high-speed line) trains will charge out of Tangier in the north, through Rabat and Kenitra before pulling into Casablanca — and there's an extension to Marrakech set to open by 2030. Designed in France with Morocco's challenging climate in mind, the trains have special filters that prevent sand interfering with the engines and, thankfully, powerful air con to boot.

What to do in...

Not only is Morocco's capital home to the country's first contemporary art gallery, the Museum Mohammed VI, but it's also now busy building the Zaha Hadid-designed Grand Théâtre de Rabat complex for 2019: a sleek complex of theatres, museums and national archives.

Just a short ferry hop from Spain, Tangier's welcoming a crop of new hotels. A new Hilton Garden Inn has just popped up near the high-speed rail station (and also the beach, by the way), and the luxurious Tazi Palace Hotel is due to open its doors in 2020.

A decidedly low-key feel makes Kenitra a refreshing antidote to Morocco's bigger cities. The imperial Kasbah and the Thamusida ruins are worth visiting, but if you're stopping off, don't miss a gentle hike through the lush Lac Sidi-Boughaba National Park or surfing at the Plage de Mehdia beach.

Channel your inner Bogart or Bergman at Rick's Café, inspired by the 1942 film that shares the city's name. Fancy a tipple? Grab a martini at Sky 28, the rooftop bar at the Kenzi Tower Hotel, and admire the metropolis sparkling beneath you.

The opening of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum last year turned heads in the art world, but all eyes are now on the relaunched Museum of Contemporary African Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) — a not-for-profit museum with exhibitions showcasing the diversity of artists across the continent.

Follow @connorjmcgovern

Published in the September 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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