QUICK GUIDE OF THINGS TO IN ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO

These days, Essaouira is most famous as a Game of Thrones location – but it’s so much more than that. The medina oozes charm and buzzes with energy. Local markets favour a traditional way of life and the now famous port sings to the hubbub of fishermen hauling in the morning’s catch.

And yet beneath the energy, a chilled vibe spreads throughout the small town. Art galleries hide down narrow side streets and cafes line shaded pavements. It’s a mile away from the chaos of other Moroccan cities, and all the better for it.

Here’s our quick guide of things to do in Essaouira.


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ROAM

MEDINA & THE WALLS

The medina in Essaouira is a whole different world away from Marrakech or Fez. It’s less big-ticket sights and more strolling authentic market. Essaouira medina is a chilled, relaxing and fun affair.

LOCAL MARKET & SOUKS

Head up to the northern end of Avenue Mohammed Zerktouni and you will be rewarded with a fascinating market. This is where locals do their shopping. Vast quantities of fresh fish accompany a staggering array of exotic seasonal fruit. Go in the morning for the best atmosphere.

SKALA DE LA VILLE

In the west of the medina, the Skala de la Ville protects Essaouira from the Atlantic. The views from its fortress-like walls are excellent. An energetic wood-workers market, selling all sorts of practical (and not so practical) goods, is tucked beneath.

SKALA DU PORT

Just beyond the southern gate to the medina lies the buzzing harbour. Hundreds of blue boats make the daily journey into the Atlantic to return packed with fish. Some of which is sold right on the harbour wall. Looking back at the medina walls will give you that iconic Game of Thrones image.

ROAM

MEDINA & THE WALLS

The medina in Essaouira is a whole different world away from Marrakech or Fez. It’s less big-ticket sights and more strolling authentic market. Essaouira medina is a chilled, relaxing and fun affair.

LOCAL MARKET & SOUKS

Head up to the northern end of Avenue Mohammed Zerktouni and you will be rewarded with a fascinating market. This is where locals do their shopping. Vast quantities of fresh fish accompany a staggering array of exotic seasonal fruit. Go in the morning for the best atmosphere.

SKALA DE LA VILLE

In the west of the medina, the Skala de la Ville protects Essaouira from the Atlantic. The views from its fortress-like walls are excellent. An energetic wood-workers market, selling all sorts of practical (and not so practical) goods, is tucked beneath.

SKALA DU PORT

Just beyond the southern gate to the medina lies the buzzing harbour. Hundreds of blue boats make the daily journey into the Atlantic to return packed with fish. Some of which is sold right on the harbour wall. Looking back at the medina walls will give you that iconic Game of Thrones image.

DO

TOP ACTIVITIES

While simply strolling around the medina is the most beguiling aspects of this Moroccan gem, there are plenty of other great things to do in Essaouira. Here’s our selection.

PERUSE ART GALLERIES

For decades Essaouira has attracted artists from all over Morocco and they have built a worldwide reputation. There are numerous galleries dotted about the town but make sure you check-out the paintings and sculptures in Galerie Espace Othello and Galerie Damgaard. Also, Institut Francais often has free rotating exhibitions.

GET ON THE WATER

There is a fierce wind that rushes off the Atlantic and batters Essaouira relentlessly. There are not many days you can lie on the beach without being sand-blasted. So instead hire some kite-surfing equipment and head out into the vast blue ocean. Just make sure you can get back!

SEE GOATS IN TREES

They don’t do it often, but goats can climb trees. In Morocco, where food can be scarce, it can become a necessity to survive. Head 15km out of town towards Marrakech to find goats perched on the branches of argan trees trying to score some fruit. / Location: 15km outside of town on the R207

DO

TOP ACTIVITIES

While simply strolling around the medina is the most beguiling aspects of this Moroccan gem, there are plenty of other great things to do in Essaouira. Here’s our selection.

PERUSE ART GALLERIES

For decades Essaouira has attracted artists from all over Morocco and they have built a worldwide reputation. There are numerous galleries dotted about the town but make sure you check-out the paintings and sculptures in Galerie Espace Othello and Galerie Damgaard. Also, Institut Francais often has free rotating exhibitions.

GET ON THE WATER

There is a fierce wind that rushes off the Atlantic and batters Essaouira relentlessly. There are not many days you can lie on the beach without being sand-blasted. So instead hire some kite-surfing equipment and head out into the vast blue ocean. Just make sure you can get back!

SEE GOATS IN TREES

They don’t do it often, but goats can climb trees. In Morocco, where food can be scarce, it can become a necessity to survive. Head 15km out of town towards Marrakech to find goats perched on the branches of argan trees trying to score some fruit. / Location: 15km outside of town on the R207

EAT

ESSAOUIRA FOOD

The food in Essaouira was the best we had in Morocco. It branches out beyond the usual tajine and offers a wide array of delicious tastes in cute and cosy venues.

MANDALA SOCIETY

This cool venue decorated with vintage books and intellectual / philosophical writings serves up the best breakfast in town. Grab an Orwell or Dostoevsky and graze on homemade muesli, avo on toast and fresh fruit salads. The coffee is the best we had in Morocco. / Bookings: +212 80-8506784

TRISKALA

Sit at the tables on the pavement outside or huddle in one of the nooks and crannies in the higgledy-piggledy interior. The traditional Moroccan food is flavoursome and sumptuous and changes daily. / Bookings: +212 643-405549 | Price: Fixed price dinner is 260 Drh

THE LOFT

This little restaurant fitted out using reclaimed wood and vintage furniture has an excellently diverse menu. Moroccan inspired pasta, fresh fish and creative meat dishes occupy the menu, while 60’s memorabilia and gadgets occupy the walls. Go early or book in advance. / Bookings: +212 5247-84462

EAT

ESSAOUIRA FOOD

The food in Essaouira was the best we had in Morocco. It branches out beyond the usual tajine and offers a wide array of delicious tastes in cute and cosy venues.

MANDALA SOCIETY

This cool venue decorated with vintage books and intellectual / philosophical writings serves up the best breakfast in town. Grab an Orwell or Dostoevsky and graze on homemade muesli, avo on toast and fresh fruit salads. The coffee is the best we had in Morocco. / Bookings: +212 80-8506784

TRISKALA

Sit at the tables on the pavement outside or huddle in one of the nooks and crannies in the higgledy-piggledy interior. The traditional Moroccan food is flavoursome and sumptuous and changes daily. / Bookings: +212 643-405549 | Price: Fixed price dinner is 260 Drh

THE LOFT

This little restaurant fitted out using reclaimed wood and vintage furniture has an excellently diverse menu. Moroccan inspired pasta, fresh fish and creative meat dishes occupy the menu, while 60’s memorabilia and gadgets occupy the walls. Go early or book in advance. / Bookings: +212 5247-84462

DRINK

NOT ONLY MINT TEA

One of the best things to do in Essaouira is absolutely nothing. Find a quiet spot, grab a drink and soak up the atmosphere of this refreshingly relaxing Moroccan town.

CAFÉ L’ESPRIT

A tiny café tucked into the narrow lanes below the towering medina walls, Café L’Esprit is a great spot for afternoon tea. Grab one of the simple wooden tables and chairs that spill onto the pavement and chat to Anis the super friendly owner.

YOO HEALTHY FOOD

If you have your daily sugar intake from too many cups of mint team, head to Yoo and try out their local fruit juices, yoghurts and smoothies. It’s a cute colourful café also serving sandwiches and salads with vegetarian and vegan options.

TAROS

As the evening comes around, the best thing to do in Essaouira is to score a spot on the terrace at Taros. Pull up a seat, order a cocktail and join the storks to watch the setting sun light up the medina walls before dipping into the sea.

DRINK

NOT ONLY MINT TEA

One of the best things to do in Essaouira is absolutely nothing. Find a quiet spot, grab a drink and soak up the atmosphere of this refreshingly relaxing Moroccan town.

CAFÉ L’ESPRIT

A tiny café tucked into the narrow lanes below the towering medina walls, Café L’Esprit is a great spot for afternoon tea. Grab one of the simple wooden tables and chairs that spill onto the pavement and chat to Anis the super friendly owner.

YOO HEALTHY FOOD

If you have your daily sugar intake from too many cups of mint team, head to Yoo and try out their local fruit juices, yoghurts and smoothies. It’s a cute colourful café also serving sandwiches and salads with vegetarian and vegan options.

TAROS

As the evening comes around, the best thing to do in Essaouira is to score a spot on the terrace at Taros. Pull up a seat, order a cocktail and join the storks to watch the setting sun light up the medina walls before dipping into the sea.

SLEEP

WHERE TO STAY?

There’s a growing selection of accommodation options to suit every budget in Essaouira. While it’s fast becoming a settle-down place for digital nomads, there’s still plenty of cool riads and modern apartments.

RIAD DAR AWIL

Perfectly located just inside the medina this cosy riad has lovely rooms overlooking a peaceful courtyard. A shared terrace upstairs is a great place to either begin the day with breakfast or cool down in the evening. / Bookings: check prices here

CHEMS BLEU

A light and airy house in a perfect location just inside the medina walls. Enjoy the best of Essaouira with the help of the friendly staff. Breakfast is served on the terrace with superb Atlantic views. / Bookings: check prices here

RESIDENCE LOUZANI

These large modern apartments close to the beach have a kitchen, tv and balcony. A shared terrace with beach loungers has great views of the beach. It’s only a ten minute walk to the medina and spotlessly clean. Free parking is available on the street. / Bookings: check prices here

SLEEP

WHERE TO STAY?

There’s a growing selection of accommodation options to suit every budget in Essaouira. While it’s fast becoming a settle-down place for digital nomads, there’s still plenty of cool riads and modern apartments.

RIAD DAR AWIL

Perfectly located just inside the medina this cosy riad has lovely rooms overlooking a peaceful courtyard. A shared terrace upstairs is a great place to either begin the day with breakfast or cool down in the evening. / Bookings: check prices here

CHEMS BLEU

A light and airy house in a perfect location just inside the medina walls. Enjoy the best of Essaouira with the help of the friendly staff. Breakfast is served on the terrace with superb Atlantic views. / Bookings: check prices here

RESIDENCE LOUZANI

These large modern apartments close to the beach have a kitchen, tv and balcony. A shared terrace with beach loungers has great views of the beach. It’s only a ten minute walk to the medina and spotlessly clean. Free parking is available on the street. / Bookings: check prices here

MAP / THINGS TO DO IN ESSAOUIRA

You can find all the locations in this guide by clicking on the icon to the left of the title on our Things to do in Essaouira map below. If you want to hit the ground running when you arrive, click on the star to the right of the title and this map will be saved to: YOUR PLACES -> MAPS in Google.

HOW TO GET TO ESSAOUIRA

Essaouira has a small airport with flights arriving from Casablanca, Bordeaux and Paris, but most travellers visit during a trip around Morocco. The two nearest large airports are Agadir and Marrakech. Check flights here.

CAR / Essaouira is a 2 hour 45 minute drive from Marrakech and 3 hours 20 from Agadir on easy paved roads. Read our driving in Morocco post to see if hiring a car is for you. Check out the latest hire car prices.

BUS / Regular buses run from Casablanca (7hrs), Marrakech (3½hrs) and Agadir (2½ hrs) and arrive at the Essaouira bus station – a 10-minute walk north of town. Supratous (run by ONCF the national rail network) also provides comfortable coaches from Marrakech train station but book in advance at peak times.

DAY TRIP TO ESSAOUIRA

Essaouira is one of our favourite places in Morocco. It’s relaxed, interesting, and the restaurants serve up some delicious Moroccan goodness. We’d definitely recommend unwinding here for a few days at least. However, if time is of the essence, Essaouira can be done on a day trip from Marrakesh.

DAY TRIP FROM MARRAKESH / Including hotel pick up

WHERE TO NEXT?

Firstly, if you found this guide useful, follow us on Instagram to stay up to date with our travel plans.

Secondly, if you love getting off the beaten track a little, here some more Morocco reading you might enjoy.

THINGS TO DO IN AÏT BOUGUEMEZ

OUR WALKING TOUR OF FEZ

COMPLETE MOROCCO ITINERARY

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below – we always reply. To keep up to date with our travels, sign up to our monthly NEWSLETTER.

Essaouira is a seaside town that in Morocco that has retained its cultural charm. Unlike many other Moroccan cities exploring the medina is a relaxing affair. The cool sea breeze add to the chilled nature of this beautiful town. Here’s our quick guide of what to see, do and eat while exploring this Moroccan gem. / #essaouira #morocco #moroccotravel / Best things to do in Essaouira

Essaouira is a seaside town that in Morocco that has retained its cultural charm. Unlike many other Moroccan cities exploring the medina is a relaxing affair. The cool sea breeze add to the chilled nature of this beautiful town. Here’s our quick guide of what to see, do and eat while exploring this Moroccan gem. / #essaouira #morocco #moroccotravel / Best things to do in Essaouira

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