Essaouira

Essaouira is known as the city of wind although I would call it the city of cats. It is a costal town famous for the nice local and European mix architecture not as chaotic as Marrakech or Fes as well as its very chill vibes. Great place to take it easy and not be harass by vendors.

How much time?
People come here as a day trip from Marrakech but if you have a night to spare it’s worth your time because most tourist are day trippers and when they leave town because just lovely and relax. Make sure to go exploring on the morning to avoid the crowds.

Areas of town.
Town is not very large. You can split it into four parts:

  • the medina which is the main attraction
  • the port area for a panoramic view of the old town and some sea food which is the local specialty
  • the beach for surfers and summer days
  • the newer part of town is modern but lacks the local cultural touch so nobody visits here unless they come for spending weeks on an apartment to enjoy their days just relaxing at the beach.
Best panoramic view of the Medina of Essaouira.
Medina of Essaouira from Sqala du Port

Medina of Essaouira

World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
“Essaouira is an outstanding and well preserved example of a mid-18th century fortified seaport town.”

  • Medina: old town, usually fortified. Nowadays it’s basically the historical neighbourhood of a town. Known for its remarkable narrow paths like mazes.

The Medina of Essaouira is among the most pleasant of all in Morocco. It is not as chaotic as the others around the country. The architecture really gets the essence of the place all in whites and light colors which makes you feel that nice summer vibes. To complete the picture, shop owners are nowhere as pushy and won’t harass you until you have to run away like it’s done in the rest of the country.

There is no manual on how to explore the medina other than getting lost on its alleys. Just start with the idea that it is a fortress town so there is a limited numbers of entrance gates which connects to the main internal roads then just move forward into smaller roads until you end up on tiny alleys.

Some references points to visit are: the City Walls [map]. The Fish Market [map] for something very local although it scares more than a few but it should be safe. Lastly Rue Boutoil [Taraa Café Area] a restaurant alley with plenty of street performers and nice atmosphere. Ideal for lunch.

One of the main street inside the medina.
One of the main street inside the medina
One of the many alleys of the medina of Essaouira.
Random alley
Rue Boutoil, a small alley full of restaurants.
Rue Boutoil [Taraa Café Area]

Port Area

The Port itself has not much to offer other than some boats, seagulls and the food. You can buy fresh sea food on the stalls, take it to another guy at the port who will cook whatever you give him. Sounds greats, sounds local, I love this kinda of things but in this case it felt a bit like a tourist trap in my opinion. Not too bad just not really that special feeling of seeing locals doing it too much.

  • Sqala du Port is a fortress you can climb to get the best panoramic view of the medina. You can get a similar view from outside (free) but I didn’t regret paying the price.
  • 30 mins.
  • everyday from 9 to 17 hrs.
  • 50 MAD = 5 USD | General Admission
    20 MAD = 2 USD | Infant/Student
  • Google Maps
Best panoramic view of the Medina of Essaouira.
Medina of Essaouira from Sqala du Port

The Beach

The beach is wide and sandy but it’s more famous for the strong winds that attracts surfers and kitesurfers. I visited in February (winter) so it was empty.

  • Don’t waste money on the camels. There are better places to enjoy a camel experience like on the desert.
Empty beach of Essaouira.
The Beach

Tree Climbing Goats

Those coming on a tour from Marrakech usually stop on the road near Essaouira where you can see the Argan Tree Climbing Goats. They climb these trees to get the fruit.

Alternative you can do this as an excursions from Essaouira. You can find them in other places on the area as well such as Agadir. I missed this experience. 

Plan your trip to Essaouira

  • Best Hotels in Essaouira
    Budget | Dar Liouba
    Midrange | Villa Garance | Riad Emotion
    Luxury | Riad Chbanate | Heure Bleue Palais
    Hostel | The Chill Art Hostel
  • No taxis inside the medina!
    Every nice hotel is inside the medina. Taxis won’t go inside city walls.
  • Cart pushers (baggage carriers)
    You can find cart pushers at the “Bab” (gate) who will try convince you to to let them carry your luggage and guide you to your hotel. If you decide to hire them (I don’t recommend it) make sure to set the price beforehand and have exact money to pay them. After you get to your hotel you will explore on your own so it’s pointless on the guiding side, just hire them if you have a ton of luggage.
  • GPS Works!
    You can get to your hotel by yourself. GPS works better than expected even on narrow alleys but if you do get lost just keep walking until you get to a larger street and you will be fine again.
  • Getting to Essaouira
    The main way to get here is by bus.
    There are two stations, one for each bus company.
    Supratours (map) is right outside the medina.
    CTM (map) is further away. You will have to take a taxi to one of the city gates (check your hotel location on Google Maps and find the closest gate to it, it will be named as “Bab xxx”) or just ask your hotel which gate to go.
  • How long?
    Day trip is a popular option but I don’t recommend it.
    1 night is better.
  • When?
    Anytime including winter.
  • Where next?
    Marrakech or Casablanca if you must for flights.

Best of Morocco

  • Best trips
    Morocco Loop
  • Best places
    Casablanca | Marrakech | Essaouira | Merzouga | Fez | Chefchaouen
  • Best local food
    Tagine | Couscous | Kefta | Bastilla
    Lamb | Camel
  • Best local drinks
    Mint tea | Coffee
  • Best experiences
    Stay at a Riad | Marrakech or Fes
    Ride a Camel | On the way to the desert camp
    Souk market | Marrakech pretty | Fes more genuine
    Hammam (Turkish bath) | At a nice hotel
  • Best hotels and riads
    Casablanca | Kenzi Tower
    Marrakech | Dar Mo’Da
    Essaouira | Riad Chbanate
    Desert Camp | Sahara Majestic
    Fes | Riad Maison Bleue and Spa | Riad Fes 
    Chefchaouen | Dar Jasmine