Essaouira Travel Guide

Photo of Essaouira

Essaouira Overview

Out on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, just over 100-miles west of Marrakesh, is one of the most enthralling coastal towns of North Africa. A favored destination on the traveler route, yet somehow still successful in avoiding overcrowding, those who do land here are taken in by the laidback spirit, bohemian vibe, picture-perfect vistas and growing surf culture. Add to this a vibrant music scene, mouth-watering cuisine and fine collection of hotels and guesthouses and it is easy to see why the town is being considered as more than just a daytrip.

 
Essaouiras main action revolves around the 18thC fortified ramparts of the medina. Granted UNESCO World Heritage status as recently as 2001, the medina combines a unique array of European and North African architectural influences stretching from the port right the way through the souqs and back alleys. Grand enough to attract the likes of Cat Stevens and Jimi Hendrix, this is the place to glimpse prevailing local customs and shop hassle free, in particularly at the vibrant souq market and woodcarving workshops nearby at Skala de la Villa.
 
Only 3-hours by bus from Marrakesh and 5 from Casablanca, Essaouira will seem a whole world away from the frantic tourist hubs. Before setting foot inside the ramparts, take a deep breath, let all anxieties run free and prepare to marvel at the towns beauty.
 

Things to do in Essaouira

Skala de la Kasbah - Commanding a dominant position in Essaouiras medina and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean are the 18thC ramparts that protect the medina itself. A popular hangout for youngster and courting couples who come to enjoy the laidback atmosphere and sunsets. Be sure to climb to the top of the wall platform which is blessed with old Portuguese brass canons.

 
Essaouira Port - Take a stroll around the condensed fishing port for a glimpse of the towns traditional life and a chance to sample the myriad sights, sounds and smells. Pass by in the morning or early evening to see the fishermen bringing in the daily catch ready to sell to the locals or just sit and watch fishermen repairing and preparing their old wooden boats. At the port is Skala du Port, well worth climbing for the views out towards Ile de Mogador and across the ocean.
 
Ile de Mogador - Also known as the Iles Purpuraires (Purple Isles), Ile de Mogador - a haven for Eleanoras falcons - is a group of 2 islands and small islets situated just off Essaouiras coastline. After obtaining a permit from the port office, for a negotiated fee it is possible to arrange a trip with a local boat owner out to the islands.
 
Gnaoua Festival - The last weekend in June welcomes the festival of gnaoua music, a celebration of its heritage and showcasing its blend of African, Arab-Muslim, meditative trance influences.
 
Nightlife in Essaouira
Le Patio - Trendy and intimate candlelit restaurant-bar offering delicious plates of tapas and fine fish dishes in the tree sheltered restaurant.
Riad al Baraka - The best spot in town for music with the best of the local bands performing nightly.
Taros Cafe - Excellent food and drinks served up on a sea facing terrace.
 
Other places worth checking out are Les Chandeliers and La Triskalla in the heart of the medina and the beachside wine bar of Le Chalet de la Plage.

Hotels in Essaouira

Budget Hotels Essaouira

Hostel Essaouria - Sociable boutique hostel where travelers meet on the rooftop terrace.
Riad el Pacha - Ever popular budget digs in the heart of the medina.
 
Midrange Hotels Essaouira
Dar Alouane - Colorful hotel, courtyard garden and rooftop terrace close to Skala de la Kasbah. A small kitchen is available for self-caterers. Tel (212) 524 476 172.
Riad Marosko - Spacious split level rooms with some suitable for large groups and families. The friendly owners ensure a pleasant stay. Tel (212) 524 475 409.
 
Luxury Hotels Essaouira
Ocean Vagabond - French owned hotel a stones throw from both the beach and medina offering rooms decked out in furnishings from Bali, Borneo, India and other Asian countries. Tel (212) 524 479 222.

Ryad Waiter - 10 charming rooms housed in the towns original Islamic school building in a quiet spot of the medina. Tel (212) 574 476 204.

Essaouira Weather

Essaouira Travel Resources

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