This is a comprehensive Things to do in Essaouira Morocco guide to Essaouira, Morocco, including information on everything you should see and do as well as transportation options, dining options, and accommodations.
Essaouira has a special allure, and it’s difficult to say just what about this city appeals to me the most.
Perhaps it’s the youthful, backpacker- and a surfer-heavy populace that gathers there throughout the year, the odd Portuguese architecture of the city, or the little alleyways lined with exquisite goods made by nearby craftsmen.
We fell in love with this city the instant we set foot on its streets, that much is certain. It’s a hip city with a lively and enjoyable vibe.
Essaouira is notably different from other Moroccan towns in that it has its own walled ancient Medina, incredible food, and a vibrant and trendy attitude.
Using the Lumix G90, I traveled to Morocco.
In addition to being conveniently close to Marrakesh, the city is also accessible via other coastal towns including Casablanca, Rabat, and Agadir.
In this guide, I’ll go over everything there is to do and see in Essaouira, as well as where to stay and dine while you’re there.
The Top 14 Things to do in Essaouira Morocco
Essaouira is a vibrant city where there is always plenty to do, no matter what time of year it is or if you go alone, with friends, or with children.
Here is a list of all the exciting Things to do in Essaouira Morocco to fully experience the city and get a feel for it.
1: STAY AT THE RAMPARTS OF THE SKALA PORT
When you visit the historic Medina in Essaouira, you’ll see why the fortified fortifications were utilized as a location for the hit television series Game of Thrones.
Essaouira’s ramparts are incredibly lovely, and they give the city a medieval feel.
To transform this modest fishing town into a royal port and commercial hub, they were constructed in the 1760s.
The city’s defense from sea intruders was provided by the fortifications, which are still in place today.
Even better, you can perch atop an old Portuguese cannon and gaze out over the Atlantic Ocean.
3: Travel to the port to see the Fortress Tower Borj el Barmil.
Although there is a little admission charge, this stronghold tower is the ideal site to observe the whole city. On one side, you can see the harbor and the ancient town; on the other, you can see the ocean.
Take a stroll around the cliffs and ocean rocks.
You may wander close to the stunning cliffs and rocks that surround Essaouira’s historic district at low tide.
It’s very lovely to stroll there when the sun sets!
You must exit the old city via Moulay Hassan Square and go toward the harbor to reach there.
You may access the start of this rocky route on your right as you get to the end of the plaza.
You may get fantastic views of the city’s outside walls from the rocks if you go approximately a kilometer to the right along them.
5: GO TO THE MUSEUM OF SIDI MOHAMED BEN ABDALLAH
It is worthwhile to visit this iconic history museum. It has the name of the city’s founder and is housed in a 19th-century home in the heart of the ancient city.
It showcases exquisite historical relics from the area, including woodcraft, weaving, jewelry, musical instruments, and antique ceramics. The museum also has a wealth of fascinating information on the local Berber tribes.
You must find Rue Laâlouj, a major thoroughfare in Essaouira, to access this museum (see map above).
6: Check out the Sunday open-air market (SUNDAY SOUK)
You should definitely explore the experience of going to a local souk in Morocco. They often resemble little labyrinths of booths and businesses, and their aromas and colors will overwhelm you. The greatest way to discover Moroccan culture is to go to these open-air marketplaces.
Although a souk is conducted practically every day in Essaouira’s market district, the one held on Sunday near Bab Doukala is especially noteworthy.
This one is a flea market where you may purchase used furniture, clothing, books, jewelry, and household goods.
You’ll need to exit the old city through Bab Doukala in order to get there. Once you pass the petrol station and continue straight, you will notice a street lined with booths and sellers. Continue straight along with the horse-drawn carriages.
7: DISCOVER THE BEACH BY HORSE, CAMEL, QUAD, OR ON FOOT
There are several Things to do in Essaouira Morocco huge beach. Swim and unwind in the afternoon at one of the many cafés by the water while sipping Moroccan tea.
You may even ride a horse down the sandy shoreline if you want something a little more daring. On the beach, there are many horses and camels that you can ride for a reasonable fee.
You might also visit the horse ranch at Diabat, a little coastal community 3 kilometers from Essaouira.
Throughout the whole year, they provide a variety of equestrian tours on the beach and in the nearby sand dunes for a very reasonable fee.
On Essaouira’s beach, you may engage in the following enjoyable outdoor and Things to do in Essaouira Morocco:
8: Travel to Diabat and see the Jimmy Hendrix Sandcastle (Dar Sultan Castle).
Pass the camels, horses, and a rock that protrudes into the water on your way to the far end of the beach. You may see a river that empties into the ocean there.
You will find a route leading to the renowned “Jimmy Hendrix sandcastle” if you follow this river to your left through the sand dunes.
This palace, known as “Dar Sultan,” is truly a “sand castle.” It was constructed outside of the city close to the ocean and was decorated in a traditional European manner.
According to legend, Jimmy Hendrix reportedly spent the whole day there, drinking and smoking while penning his well-known song “Castle Made Of Sand.”
9: BE SURPRISED BY THE COLORFUL ARTISTIC PRODUCTS OF LOCAL ARTISANS.
The sheer volume of handcrafted goods I discovered in Essaouira surprised me.
Handmade pottery and ceramics, leather goods including handbags and shoes, handwoven carpets, musical instruments, lamps, and many more exquisitely crafted items may be found at the city’s souks.
I was shocked by the sheer number of handmade items I found in Essaouira.
The city’s souks provide a wide variety of handcrafted products, including handmade ceramics and pottery, purses, shoes, rugs, musical instruments, lamps, and many more wonderfully designed objects.
10: Get your buddies some locally made presents.
Without purchasing some presents and keepsakes for your loved ones, a journey to this city would not be considered complete. In Essaouira, you can be sure that you’ll find something for everyone, from artisanal Argan soap to classic pastries.
11 Take a seat and unwind at one of Essaouira’s cafés.
There are several adorable and trendy tiny eateries in this thriving seaside city. On a busy day, I particularly liked simply relaxing on the patio of one and seeing the activity on the streets of the ancient medina.
12: Visit an Essaouira hammam.
A trip to a Hammam is the epitome of Moroccan culture. There are two ways to visit a Hammam in Essaouira, as there are in other significant Moroccan towns. Either go to the well-liked neighborhood hammam where most residents go or go to a hammam that resembles a spa.
Personally, I think the first variety is preferable to the second. The popular, affordable local hammams are an important aspect of Moroccan culture.
All you need to do before leaving is get your cleaning cloth and some natural Argan soap. Once there, you’ll be given a bucket and instructed to undress as locals talk about their everyday lives while cleaning one other’s backs.
In the Hammam, taking photographs is not acceptable. Here is a photo showing the Argan nut’s production method for oil and soap as an alternative.
13: Have henna tattoos applied on your hands
Henna tattoos on the hands are a custom that is often related to weddings and other rites of celebration.
After any significant occasion, such as a wedding, a birth, or a victory in combat, henna was applied.
In Essaouira, you may now participate in that custom as well! In practically every major street in Essaouira’s historic Medina, local women can henna-paint your hands or feet in exchange for a little price.
Reading Tip: How to avoid 12 typical scams in Morocco
14: Practice kiteboarding and surfing
Because Essaouira is a windy seaside city, kite and surf enthusiasts go there in large numbers. There are more surfers there in the winter since the waves have a considerably larger surge.
In Essaouira, you can find several surf stores, surfing schools, and windsurfing schools. Essaouira is the ideal location to learn water sports if you’ve always wanted to:
The further end of Essaouira’s main beach, where camels and horses congregate, is the greatest place to surf.
Reading Suggestion: The top beaches and surfing schools in Morocco
WALKING AND CULTURAL TOURS IN ESSAOUIRA
If you wish to understand more about Essaouira’s rich history and lively culture, I like to suggest a few guided trips.
The Essaouira Discovery Tour comes first. You will see all the city’s historical attractions during this 4-hour trip, and your guide will provide more context and anecdotes about each location you see.
People who like food will also enjoy visiting the city! The Essaouira Food Tour takes you on a 3-hour guided walking tour of the city where you’ll not only learn more about its history but also get a taste of local culture and cuisine.
Another option is to enroll in a cooking class at a neighborhood family’s house. You initially accompany them to the grocery store to get seasonal foods and flavorful seasonings. The family then shows you how to prepare a classic supper in their kitchen. It will be an excellent experience!
Visit the Argan Forest, which is another activity I’d suggest. Only located in the southwest of Morocco, argan trees are a legendary symbol of the Essaouira area.
The guide will provide you with insightful information on the ecology of these trees during the journey. You will also have tea with a Berber family and visit a little town with a “Marabout” (saint’s shrine).
You will visit a women’s cooperative at the conclusion of your walking trip to see how the renowned argan oil is produced.
WHERE TO RESIDE IN ESSAOUIRA
In Essaouira, there are two places to stay. You might choose to stay within the ancient city (near the lovely souks and streets lined with stores) or outside the protective walls.
Essaouira is a city that is well spending some time exploring. You should stay there for a night or two at the very least since it has so many enjoyable things. We ended up staying there for about two weeks since we were so in love with it!
For tourists on a tight budget who wish to save money and exchange tales with other backpackers in the common kitchen or bar at night, Essaouira offers a wonderful range of hostels.
For those who want a more opulent, restful experience of the city, there are also several stunning Riads, guesthouses, and hotels.
The most affordable hotels in Essaouira
The Hostel for Chill Art
One of the best hostels in Essaouira is this one, in our opinion. A couple times, we went there to take in the live music and have dinner with some of the visitors in the main lobby.
It was constructed within a historic Ryad that had been repaired, and the location’s architecture is intriguing. Like its name implies, the Chill Art Hostel is awash with gorgeous paintings and art.
Every morning a delectable breakfast is offered. Additionally, it has a terrace with a 360-degree view of the water.
Check out “The Chill Art hostel’s” pricing and availability by clicking.
ESSAOUIRA’S BEST RIADS AND HOTELS Hôtel El Kasbah Souiria
This is the place to go if you want to feel like royalty and have a more upscale experience!
With its lovely colorful tiles and verdant garden, Hôtel El Kasbah Souiria’s architecture brought to mind classic Moroccan riads.
One entrance to the ancient city is about one minute away from this hotel, and there are two others that are approximately a five-minute walk away.
The hotel’s mattresses are quite comfy, and the area around the structure is extremely peaceful. Don’t hesitate to make a reservation at this hotel right away if you want a comfortable but opulent stay in Essaouira.
Click to see “Hôtel El Kasbah Souiria’s” prices and availability.
Hotel Cote ocean Mogador
This hotel features four stars, a private beach area, an outdoor pool, and a garden. It also faces the water.
Additionally, it has a front desk that is staffed around-the-clock, a common area, and extremely strong internet. A desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, air conditioning, and a wardrobe are amenities included in every room.
Click to see “Hotel Cote Ocean Mogador’s” prices and availability.
RESTAURANT OPTIONS IN ESSAOUIRA
There are several delectable eateries in Essaouira. Nearly everything in the city serves traditional food like harira soup and tajines.
It’s also feasible to have a Mediterranean supper at one of the few upscale restaurants with a view of Moulay Hassan plaza if you’d like something a little finer.
The Square of Moulay Hassan
There are several sandwich shops and creperies to choose from around the old city. It would be hard to name every single restaurant here; still, I’ll suggest a handful of my all-time favorites.
1: TARA CAFE
The location and ambiance of this eatery are its outstanding features. Cynthia and I really liked the atmosphere there since it’s on the edge of a little, peaceful courtyard. Sardines and other local seafood are delicious options for supper.
They also provide a great breakfast that includes coffee, fresh orange juice, crepes, yogurt, and mouthwatering jams and honey to spread over toast.
This eatery serves Moroccan cuisine as well as a few European appetizers and is surprisingly affordable.
2: TRISKALA CAFE
This restaurant’s interior is styled in a very hip and modern manner. It’s the ideal location to have a lovely, romantic candlelight supper without going bankrupt!
The limited menu is seasonal and fluctuates according on what fresh fruits and veggies are available. Excellent vegetarian and vegan alternatives are available, including delectable falafel dishes.
3: PATISSERIE CHEZ DRISS
Although Patisserie Chez Driss isn’t strictly a restaurant, I had to put it on my list since it is where I had the tastiest pastries and sweets ever.
This is THE location to go if you love pastries! I just wish I had the opportunity to taste all that was available. A variety of cakes, delicious biscuits, chocolate eclairs, and pastries with genuine cream and almond paste are available there.
You should visit this location to have a drink and take in the live music on the patio. It is situated in a corner of Moulay Hassan Square. Taros combines elements of a bar, restaurant, and club.
Its patio is among the highest in the neighborhood, making it the perfect spot to watch the sun set.
The costs are really affordable, and it’s also the ideal location to unwind with a bottle of wine, some delectable seafood, and some excellent music.
LIBRE SERVICE LIQUOR STORE
After a day of surfing or getting lost in Essaouira’s narrow alleyways, you may purchase some wine or beer at your hostel (first confirm that your hostel accepts alcohol on the premises). You can find these items right outside of Bab Doukala.
Just beyond the ancient city gate, there is a store selling alcohol with the name of “Libre Service.” There is a vast assortment of alcoholic beverages, and the wine is often relatively affordable. The store shuts at 8 p.m. on Fridays as well.
GETTING TO ESSAOURIA MOROCCO
HOW TO GET FROM CASABLANCA TO ESSAOUIRA
The majority of tourists will begin their journeys across Morocco from Casablanca, therefore I thought it would be helpful to add information on how to get between the two towns. Casablanca is a beautiful seaside city located north of Essaouira.
HOW TO TAKE A BUS FROM CASABLANCA TO ESSAOUIRA
The most effective method to travel by bus from Casablanca to Essaouira is with the help of the CTM bus operator.
I’ve taken many bus companies in Morocco, but CTM is the only one I would suggest, despite being a little more costly. In comparison to the ones utilized by other businesses, the buses are always newer and far more pleasant.
It will cost between 215 and 275 MAD to travel between the two cities, and it will take around 7 hours. There are 13 buses available, with the earliest departure time at 7:15 and the latest departure time at midnight.
The Casablanca CTM bus station is located in the heart of the city on Rue Léon (see map down below). At the bus terminal or online, you may purchase your ticket in advance.
Make sure to come a little early since even if you purchase your ticket online, you must still visit the CTM office to pay for your baggage on the day of departure.
You may walk 10 minutes from Bab Doukala, the city entrance, to the major bus terminal in Essaouira, called “Gare Routiere” (see map below). You can almost say that you will be in the ancient Medina and in the heart of the city from there.
The restrooms at this bus stop are close to a few little stores and eateries.
HOW TO GET FROM CASABLANCA TO ESSAOUIRA DRIVER YOUR OWN VEHICLE
Given that both of these places are near the shore, it could be a good idea to drive between them. You may stop anytime you want to snap photographs along this route, whether you’re driving your own vehicle or renting one. The scenery is stunning.
This is indeed a beautiful trip, and you’ll pass through El Jadida, a charming tiny seaside town, along the way (see below, “Other places to explore near Essaouira”).
Essaouira is 371 kilometers away from Casablanca in driving distance. The southern city should be reached in around 4 hours.
Follow highway A1 southward along the coast until you reach a roundabout for the city of Bouguedra if you’re traveling from Casablanca to Essaouira by car. Take Bouguedra as your starting point, then go south-west on the N1 until you reach Essaouira.
HOW TO GET FROM MARRAKECH TO ESSAOUIRA
HOW TO TAKE A BUS FROM MARRAKECH TO ESSAOUIRA
It’s not difficult to board a bus to leave Marrakesh.
At the main Marrakesh bus station, you may board a Supratour or a CTM bus to Essaouira. In Marrakesh, this bus terminal is almost next to the railway station.
The CTM schedules and ticket costs are available here, and the pricing for these 2 bus operators’ tickets are almost identical.
From Marrakesh to Essaouira, the bus ride takes three hours, with a twenty-minute stop somewhere in the middle.
HOW TO DRIVE YOUR OWN CAR FROM MARRAKESH TO ESSAOUIRA
Following the routes A7, N8, and R207 from Marrakech to Essaouira is the quickest route if you have a vehicle.
You must go on the A7 from Marrakesh until it intersects with the N8 and R207 in the northwest. To get to Essaouira, use the R207 westbound.
Essaouira is 191 kilometers from Marrakech, and traveling there will take around 2 hours and 40 minutes.
HOW TO TAKE A SHARED TAXI FROM MARRAKESH TO ESSAOUIRA
If you don’t have a vehicle, using a shared taxi is the most convenient method to go from Marrakech to Essaouira. A shared cab should cost between 85 and 220 MAD per passenger.
HOW TO GET TO ESSAOUIRA FROM AGADIR Reading Tip: Agadir and Things to do in Essaouira Morocco.
HOW TO TAKE A BUS FROM AGADIR TO ESSAOUIRA
With CTM, Supratour, or any of the other bus companies that depart from Agadir, you may travel by bus from that city to Essaouira. The ticket may be purchased at the bus station or online.
The distance between the beach and the city’s Gare Routiere in Agadir is about 2.5 kilometres. It will cost between 10 and 15 MAD to take a cab from the beach to the bus terminal.
This bus station is relatively simple to navigate, with stations properly signposted with platform numbers and bus operator names.
The CTM and Supratour terminals are situated in Agadir as follows:
HOW TO DRIVE YOUR OWN CAR FROM AGADIR TO ESSAOUIRA
Driving down the coast from Agadir to Essaouira is wonderful and will make you feel completely liberated.
Follow highway N1 northward if you have your own vehicle or are hiring one. The journey should take roughly 3 hours since there are 175 kilometres between the two cities.
HOW TO TAKE A SHARED TAXI FROM AGADIR TO ESSAOUIRA
From the main bus terminal, shared taxis are available to transport you to Essaouira. A shared cab will cost between 90 and 200 MAD and travel the trip between the two cities in roughly three hours.
HOW TO GET TO THE ESSAOUIRA BUS STATIONS
In Essaouira, there are two bus terminals; CTM uses one of them exclusively, while Supratour and a number of other bus companies also use it.
The CTM terminal is a little bit further away from the old city than the Supratour terminal. Just southwest of the Bab Marrakesh plaza, you may find the Supratours bus station.
TRAVEL DIRECTIONS TO ESSAOUIRA
Essaouira is not a huge city, making it simple to walk around the historic Medina. All taxis in the city have the same flat fee, which is 7 MAD, if you need to be in the new section of Essaouira (to get to the bus terminal, for example).
Therefore, there is no need to haggle before you board the cab; just let the driver know your destination and make payment when you get there.
OTHER CHARMING LOCATIONS NEAR ESSAOUIRA
While you’re on the Moroccan coast, we advise visiting two other coastal communities to the north and south of Essaouira. Taghazout and El Jadida are the names of these cities.
Both of them are rather distinct, and because they are close to Essaouira, they are the perfect places to visit after your time there. You should definitely go to Paradise Valley, a stunning canyon east of Taghazout that is dotted with water pools.
Surfers go from all over the globe to Taghazout to experience the waves throughout the winter.
It is sometimes cited as one among Morocco’s top winter surfing locations. Wintertime water temperatures seldom fall below 16°C, and even in January, the air is often 18–20°C.
This town has a fantastic atmosphere, just how you would expect a surfer paradise to have. There are many of affordable hostels where you may meet amusing visitors looking for waves.
HOW DO I GET FROM ESSAOUIRA TO TAGHAZOUT?
You may board a bus headed towards Agadir out of Essaouira (either with Supratours or CTM).
The cost of traveling from Essaouira to Agadir is around 65 MAD, but you must make arrangements with your driver to be dropped off at Taghazout, which is located 20 minutes north of Agadir. To ensure that you will be dropped off at the proper location, you should do this as soon as you purchase your ticket.
You may drive along highway N1 till you reach the surfing center if you possess a vehicle or are renting one.
The journey should take about two and a half hours since there are 154 kilometres between the two seaside cities. You may stop at a lot of overlooks along the trip to take fantastic shots of the shoreline.
Palm palms and crystal-clear blue water are abundant in the limestone canyon known as Paradise Valley. It is 40 minutes east of Taghazout in the highlands.
HOW TO GET FROM ESSAOUIRA TO PARADISE VALLEY
You must first go to Taghazout in order to get there from Essaouira. You may go there on a bus or your own vehicle (see above).
Take a bus to Aourir after arriving in Taghazout. A roundabout leading to Paradise Valley may be found there.
If you take a short stroll up this road, you’ll come across several shared taxis that will take you all the way to Paradise Valley for between 25 and 50 MAD (this is the price per person, not for the full taxi).
This little town to the north of Essaouira is well known for its aesthetic appeal. It has substantial Portuguese defenses and distinctive architecture that sets it apart from other Moroccan cities.
Despite not being a very popular vacation spot, Moroccans like visiting there for the little resorts that front the sea.
HOW DO I GET FROM ESSAOUIRA TO EL JADIDA?
There is a CTM bus that travels to El Jadida every day from the Essaouira CTM terminal. The trip takes around 4,5 hours, and the ticket costs 110 MAD.
If you have a vehicle and wish to go there, just head north on the N1 motorway. The travel should take 3 hours and 45 minutes due to the 255 kilometres between the cities.
At the conclusion of this guide, I just want to mention how helpful an Arabic phrasebook has been for me in navigating Morocco.
Obtaining a copy of the Lonely Planet Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook is strongly advised.
Almost every circumstance you can think of is covered in this book, from choosing a hotel room to ordering tajine to participating in local celebrations. It is jam-packed with all the key terms and phrases you will need on your trip to Morocco.
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