Essaouira, Morocco – a captivating coastal gem that effortlessly weaves together rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. As you wander through the UNESCO-listed Medina, get lost in a maze of narrow, winding streets lined with vibrant markets, local crafts, and the aroma of delectable Moroccan cuisine. Beyond the city’s ancient walls, the shimmering Atlantic Ocean awaits, offering golden sands, cool breezes, and a plethora of water sports. From the enchanting sounds of Gnawa music to the unforgettable sunsets painting the sky, Essaouira promises to leave an indelible mark on your heart and create memories to last a lifetime.
Best Time to Visit Essaouira
The best time to visit Essaouira, Morocco, is during the spring and fall seasons, specifically between April and June or September and October. During these months, the weather is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C), making it comfortable for sightseeing and outdoor activities. The summer months of July and August can be warm, with temperatures reaching up to 80°F (27°C), however, summer is also the peak tourist season, so expect more crowds and higher prices for accommodations.
The winter months, from November to February, are the coolest and can be quite rainy, with average temperatures ranging from 50°F to 65°F (10°C to 18°C). Although tourism is less intense during this time, some travellers may find the weather less than ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
A Few Facts About Essaouira
- Essaouira is nicknamed “The Windy City of Africa” because of the strong and consistent trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean, which make it an ideal destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts.
- Essaouira served as a filming location for the popular TV series Game of Thrones. The city’s ramparts and historic streets were used to represent the city of Astapor, where Daenerys Targaryen acquired her army of Unsullied.
- The region surrounding Essaouira is home to the endemic argan tree, which produces argan oil, a valuable and versatile product used in cooking, cosmetics, and skincare. The extraction of argan oil is an essential part of the local economy, and the production process is often carried out by women’s cooperatives.
- Orson Welles filmed parts of his movie “Othello” in Essaouira in 1949. In his honour, a small square near the port has been named Place Orson Welles.
- Essaouira’s fishing port is known for its striking blue boats, which have become an iconic symbol of the city. The vibrant blue colour is not only visually striking but also serves as a practical measure, as it is believed to help deter flies and other insects from landing on the boats.
What to do in Essaouira in 24 Hours
To make the most of your 24 hours in Essaouira, follow this suggested itinerary that covers key attractions, local experiences, and dining options:
Start Your Day at Essaouira Medina
Visit the UNESCO-listed Essaouira Medina to explore its narrow streets, vibrant markets, and unique shops selling local products like argan oil, textiles, and pottery.
This is a great opportunity to experience the local culture and architecture. The Medina is an excellent example of an 18th-century fortified seaport town, showcasing a blend of Moroccan and European architectural influences. The Medina is an excellent example of an 18th-century fortified seaport town, showcasing a blend of Moroccan and European architectural influences. As you walk through its narrow, winding streets, you’ll be immersed in the local culture and atmosphere. We recommend having breakfast at Cafe Sicillia!
People Watch at The Moulay Hassan Square
At the heart of the Medina, you can enjoy the bustling atmosphere, take photos with the iconic blue boats, and listen to the music of Gnawa musicians. As a bustling hub, the square brings together locals and visitors, creating a unique blend of cultures and experiences. Spend time at one of the outdoor cafés, sipping on traditional Moroccan mint tea or freshly squeezed orange juice, as you watch street performers, musicians, and children playing.
Marvel at the vibrant colours of the iconic blue boats lining the nearby port and the skill of artisans as they weave their crafts nearby. Moulay Hassan Square is the perfect spot to immerse yourself in the essence of Essaouira, capturing unforgettable memories of this enchanting Moroccan coastal city.
Have a Seafood Lunch at Essaouira Port
We highly recommend having a seafood lunch at Essaouira Port when visiting this enchanting coastal city. The port, teeming with life and activity, offers an authentic glimpse into the daily lives of local fishermen as they haul in their catch and prepare it for sale. Stroll through the area and explore the diverse seafood stalls where you’ll find an array of freshly caught fish, shrimp, squid, and other seafood delights.
Choose your preferred meal and watch as it’s grilled to perfection right in front of you. Complete your lunch experience by pairing it with a fresh Moroccan salad and a cool, refreshing drink. The Essaouira Port not only serves up delectable seafood but also provides a unique, immersive culinary experience that you’ll treasure long after you’ve left the city’s shores.
Spend Some Time at Essaouira Beach
Grab a taxi and head out to the beach! Spending some time at Essaouira Beach is a delightful way to unwind and embrace the natural beauty of this charming coastal city. With its golden sands, clear waters, and refreshing Atlantic breeze, the beach offers the perfect setting for relaxation and a variety of outdoor activities. Bask in the sun, take a dip in the ocean, or try your hand at windsurfing or kitesurfing, taking advantage of Essaouira’s famous winds.
For a unique experience, embark on a guided camel or horse ride along the shoreline. Beachside cafés and restaurants invite you to enjoy a refreshing drink or a light meal while gazing at the ocean, and friendly beach sports create a lively atmosphere. For a lively atmosphere with friends and a drink, head to Beach & Friends!
Watch The Sunset at Skala de la Ville
As the day comes to an end, don’t miss the chance to take a leisurely sunset stroll, soaking in the breathtaking views as the sun dips below the horizon. Skala de la Ville is an 18th-century seafront fortification that features impressive ramparts, historic cannons, and a panoramic lookout. As you wander along the ramparts, you’ll be captivated by the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the picturesque Medina with its iconic blue boats and white-washed buildings.
The Skala also provides excellent photo opportunities, particularly with the row of cannons overlooking the sea. Take your time exploring this historic site and immersing yourself in the unique atmosphere that Skala de la Ville has to offer. Don’t miss the chance to discover the small maritime museum nearby, which showcases the history of Essaouira’s fishing industry and the evolution of its naval defences!
Wrap up The Night at One of The Bars
For a fancier dining experience, try Dar Baba or Taros; while Taros may get crowded on weekends and have repetitive music, you can still enjoy the view and a drink there. To catch mesmerizing sunsets, visit a rooftop bar where you can sip your favourite beverage while taking in the scenery. For delicious pastries, don’t miss Patisserie Driss. When it comes to food, opt for local eateries for a more authentic taste. Salut Maroc offers a stunning beach view and engaging weekend entertainment, though it can get crowded. Il Mare is a super cool place to hang out in the city. They’ve got the best champagne around, and when you add in the awesome views from the rooftop and live entertainment, you’re in for a seriously great night.
Where to Stay in Essaouira
Hotel Dar El Qdima
4, Rue Malek Ben Rahhal, Ahl Agadir, 44000 Essaouira
This hotel, situated in the heart of Essaouira’s Medina and just 500 meters from the beach, offers a 24-hour front desk and free Wi-Fi access throughout the property. Unwind in the inviting patio adorned with outdoor furniture or head to the terrace for breathtaking sea views. Each of the cozy, heated rooms at Hotel Dar El Qdima showcases traditional Moroccan design elements. All rooms have a private bathroom, complete with complimentary toiletries and a shower. Select rooms boast views of either the Medina or the patio. Guests can start their day with a daily continental breakfast served in the dining room, which is tastefully decorated with Moroccan furnishings and a warm fireplace. Located just a 19-minute drive from Essaouira Mogador Airport, Hotel Dar El Qdima offers convenient airport shuttle services at an additional charge.
N°4, Rue Oum Rabii , 44000 Essaouira
Suite Azur Hotel, situated in the heart of Essaouira, offers a fantastic stay with an outdoor swimming pool, a terrace, and an on-site restaurant. Located in the Old Medina district, the hotel is a short 700 meters from Plage d’Essaouira and only 6.2 km from Golf de Mogador. With a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service, and free WiFi, this hotel offers all the amenities necessary for a comfortable stay. Each of the rooms at Suite Azur Hotel includes a wardrobe, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, bed linens, and towels. Guests can choose from rooms with or without a patio, and some even offer stunning city views. Start your day with a delicious à la carte, continental, or vegetarian breakfast served every morning at the property.
Riad De La Mer
7-9, Rue Khalid Ben Oualid, Kasbah, 44000 Essaouira
Nestled within the charming medina of Essaouira, Riad De La Mer offers a prime location just a 5-minute stroll from the harbour and a 10-minute walk from the beach. Take in breathtaking panoramic sea views from the rooftop terrace of this exquisite property. Riad De La Mer features self-catering apartments adorned with antique furniture, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the local culture and ambience. Start your day with a delectable continental breakfast served daily at the Riad. Each apartment has access to a cozy living and dining area, as well as a fully equipped kitchen, providing guests with the freedom and flexibility to prepare their own meals. Located just a 30-minute drive from Essaouira-Mogador Airport, Riad De La Mer offers convenient airport transfers at an additional cost.
Day Trips From Essaouira
Step into the enchanting world of Marrakesh, Morocco, where the magic of the ancient city intertwines with the pulsating energy of modern life. This vibrant metropolis, known as the “Red City” for its iconic red sandstone buildings, invites you to explore a maze of bustling souks, marvel at stunning palaces, and unwind in lush gardens. As the sun sets, the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square comes alive with storytellers, musicians, and tempting street food, capturing the essence of Moroccan culture. Embrace the allure of Marrakesh as you journey through a kaleidoscope of colours, scents, and sounds that will leave you spellbound and longing for more. Find our detailed one-day in Marrakesh guide here!
This hidden gem boasts an expansive stretch of golden sand, refreshing Atlantic waves, and a laid-back atmosphere that invites you to unwind and embrace the beauty of nature. Renowned for its consistent winds, Sidi Kaouki is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, offering opportunities for surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing. Off the water, you can explore the surrounding countryside on horseback or camel, or simply soak up the sun as you watch local fishermen bring in their daily catch. A visit to Sidi Kaouki is the perfect escape for those seeking tranquillity, adventure, and a taste of authentic Moroccan coastal life.
Rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1960, Agadir boasts a beautiful promenade lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops, as well as a pristine beach that stretches for miles along the Atlantic coast. Bask in the sun, take a refreshing dip in the ocean, or partake in various water sports in this vibrant coastal paradise. Venture into the city’s lively souks, where you can shop for traditional Moroccan handicrafts, savour local cuisine, or explore the remnants of Agadir’s ancient Kasbah perched on a hilltop, offering panoramic views of the city and coastline.
Extra Tips for Visiting Essaouira
- Essaouira is known for its association with Gnawa music, a rich African musical tradition that combines elements of Berber, Arab, and sub-Saharan African rhythms. The city hosts the annual Gnaoua World Music Festival, which attracts musicians and visitors from around the world.
- As a traveller in Morocco, it’s important to be respectful of local customs and etiquette when it comes to taking photos. While some locals may be open to having their picture taken, many Moroccans prefer not to be photographed without permission, particularly women and religious leaders. It’s always best to ask for permission before taking a photo, and if someone declines, it’s important to respect their wishes.
- When visiting Morocco, it’s important to note that while many mosques across the globe allow non-Muslims to explore at least a portion of their interiors, most mosques in Morocco are not accessible to non-Muslims.
- In Morocco, various languages are spoken, but Modern Standard Arabic and Amazigh (Berber) are the country’s two official languages. French is the second most commonly spoken language among Moroccans. While English is not as widely spoken, those who don’t speak French may encounter communication difficulties at times. It’s always helpful to learn a few key phrases in the local language to make the most of your travels and connect with locals.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Romi is a llama coach from Split, Croatia. This sounds made up but it’s true. She lived in Toronto, Canada for about ten years, give or take, but she wasn’t working with llamas. She was working in PR, restaurants, daycares, one yoga clothing store. She doesn't know how she got that job as she has never done yoga at that point. She taught English in Colombia and Vietnam. Traveled the world for two years. Then she got into writing. Actually, she was always writing, but then someone paid her to write. Then more people paid because they saw she was making them money. Then it became a thing she does for a living. And here we are now. Specializing in travel, real estate, and digital nomad guides, familiar with SEO, and always ready to learn something new so she can branch out and take over the world.