Best Things to do in Essaouira | Morocco
The beautiful city Essaouira is located on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and is considered to be a true paradise for surfers, beach lovers but also Morocco travellers. This seaside town offers plenty of lovely places to visit: pretty lanes with blue doors, cozy cafés, oriental souks, the unique fish market and an ancient citadel with tall city walls. Inside the ancient medina are so many hidden places and details waiting for you to be explored. Also, the beach at Essaouira is wildly romantic. There is always a breeze coming from the Atlantic. Therefore, it is a popular holiday destination for surfers, kiters and beach addicts.
In this travel guide we give you all the important info and tips for a perfect holiday or day trip to Essaouira. We will share exclusive insider tips, show you the most beautiful places to visit and the best things to do.
Best things to do in Essaouira
Essaouira, one of Morocco’s oldest cities, offers a great selection of beautiful things to do and unforgettable attractions. Here, we have summarized all wonderful places and highlights of the city:
As you stroll through one of the 3 city gates (Sbâa, Bab Marrakech, or Bab Doukhala), you’ll find yourself inside the Old City, Essaouiras main attraction. Best place just for getting lost inside the streets, marvel at the contrast between the white walls of the house and the many pretty blue doors and shutters. Countless small shops and galleries offer their goods or great art – so for those who love shopping, the souks of this city are a real paradise. Or you just drink a delicious peppermint tea and taste a “Tajine Souiri” the national food, in one of the countless cozy restaurants.
Shopping in Medina
Compared to the other large cities of Morocco such as Marrakech or Fez, the souks of Essaouira are much more tranquil. There is less traffic and hectic inside the streets, the salesmen are very cordial and not so intrusive. Although not everywhere, but in some shops, there are things to buy for fixed prices. But still, in many places haggling is still a must in Essaouira. At the souks you will find colorful clothes and chic scarves, hippie clothing, bags, jewellery and beautiful accessories, as well as spices and argan oil or argan oil products. Particularly lovely are the pretty ceramic ware, some of them are displayed on the walls of the city house. Between the shops, stalls and art galleries always hides a restaurant or a cozy café where you can rest your tired feet and eat delicious Moroccan food.
Haggling is one of the main activities in Morocco. Best you inform yourself in advance about the national prices. The more patient and persistent you negotiate, the more you will be accepted as a business partner and the better will be the price. If you do not like bargaining, you should shop there, where fixed prices are offered.
Tip: In case you like art, we recommend visiting the Art Gallery Center d’art Le Real Mogador. Not only the pictures are beautiful, also the gallery itself with its pretty courtyard, the atmospheric music and the great rooms invites for a visit.
The Medina of Essaouira is the oldest part of the city and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2001. During a walk you can marvel at historic buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries and shoot incredible pictures of the city. In the 1960s, the hippies came to the picturesque city and no one other than Jimi Hendrix was a long-time guest here. The relaxed atmosphere has remained until today, and can hardly be compared to the hectic bustle of other Moroccan cities.
Tip: On a city walk a visit to Moulay Hassan Square should not be missed. It is almost the heart of the old town and with its old trees and the city wall a very lovely place for having a coffee.
Citadel & City walls
The city walls and the citadel are another top attraction of Essaouira and a must see if you are visiting this coastal city. The citadel dates back to the Portuguese colonial era. From the top visitors are spoilt with a fantastic view to the deep blue sea and the beautiful blue and white medina of Essaouira. The path over the city wall is lined with numerous cannons that still showing towards the sea. Without question, the photo opportunities of the fortress are unique and the fishing port with its famous blue boats make your travel photography perfect!
Tip: For all Game of Thrones fan: Did you know that some parts of the cult series Game of Thrones were filmed here in Essaouira? When walking along the city wall maybe some of the scenery will be familiar to you.
Harbor & the Fish Market
As already mentioned above, the old town of Essaouira is surrounded by a large wall. Outside this wall is the harbor with the many blue boats and the local fish market. Especially in the morning, when the daily market takes place, a visit is really recommended. Then you watch fishermen bring their prey ashore, repair their nets and bring their catch fresh to the man. The sky is full of screaming seagulls and also cats are looking to get a bite.
Tip: It is best not to visit the fish market in flip-flops!
The approximately 5 km long Essaouira Beach is another highlight of this holiday destination. In addition to extensive beach walks and sunbathing horseback riding and camel riding are the most popular activities on site. Especially for windsurfers and kite surfers, the sea in front of the coastal town is a popular surfing spot. So in case you are looking for a place to surf in Morocco, Essaouira is the place to be. During a walk along this beautiful, wide and almost endless beach you can watch hundreds of these water sports roar across the sea. Hanging out at the Beach and enjoying the idyll is one of the best things to do in Essaouira.
Tip: Especially from March to September are the ideal wind conditions for surfers and kiters!
Why not explore the beach on the back of a camel or a horse and enjoy the spectacularly beautiful beach during a romantic ride. Also, if you like you can swim on the beach of Essaouira all year round, but you should be okay with water temperatures of 17 to 20 degrees Celsius.
Places to visit near Essaouira
The famous red city of Marrakech is a real contrast to the white & blue city of Essaouira. Again here, many amazing attractions are waiting for you. If you have some time, you should definitely make your way to Marrakech! Here you can find out more about the most beautiful things to do in Marrakech.
At the Moroccan Atlantic coast Surfers will find several famous spots for surfing. Sidi Kaoki is located south of Essaouira and is one of the surf meccas in Morocco. On an excursion you can enjoy on the Sidi Kaoki also as a non-surfer, a great beach atmosphere!
Essaouria is also a great destination for day trips from Agadir and Marrakech. If you are looking for special travel experiences, you should get yourself a guided tour. Whether with the quad on the sand dunes, exploring the area on the back of a camel or a guided city tour, here you will find great deals on excursions and day trips from Marrakech and Agadir.
Best travel time
All year round Essaouira is worth a holiday. The best climate is from April to October, but also in winter you can expect nice weather. For swimming or for a beach holiday, the coastal city is best from July to October. In winter, from November to March, the temperatures are pleasantly mild compared to Central Europe, but you have to expect rain from time to time. You can always feel a sea breeze, which is why Essaouira is also known as the “City of the Wind”.
The nearest airport is Essaouira Airport (ESU). Unfortunately, there are hardly any international flights. Therefore, it is best to book a flight to Marrakech (2.5 hours distance from Essaouira) or Agadir Airport (3 hours distance). Cheap flights to Morocco can be found at Skyscanner and Kiwi. From there you can get to Essaouira either by taxi, bus or rental car.
If you are traveling by rental car, you should definitely plan the coastal city in your Morocco itinerary. Cheap car hire with optimal insurance can be found here.
Where to stay
In Essaouira there are a variety of lovely riads, Hotels and accommodations. We would like to introduce you to 3 very recommended places to stay:
- Riad Dar Loulema: This charming riad is located right inside the medina and just 200 meters from the beach. Especially amazing is the cozy roof terrace, from where you have a great view of the harbor and the old town.
- Riad Chbanate: This beautiful Riad is another great tip for a unforgettable holiday in Essaouira. In the wonderful Moroccan rooms you feel like 1001 nights and also the breakfast is extremely delicious!
- Heure Bleue Palais – Relais & Châteaux: This dream hotel offers a rooftop pool with beautiful views of the medina. Here you will find an absolute luxury hotel and at a relatively low price.
Conclusion: Whether beach, art, culture or shopping – Essaouira offers its visitors a full program of great activities. Particularly enchanted is also the relaxed atmosphere of the city, the cozy squares and the many great Moroccan cafes. Staying some days is a great chance to dive deep into the atmosphere of Essaouira.
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