Situated around 3 hours drive away from Marrakesh, Essaouira is a one the must-see places while visiting Morocco. Formerly known as Mogador (meaning safe anchorage), the peninsular city is a port to the Atlantic Ocean. However, when the tides are high, it almost becomes an insular city.
We booked the trip from our hotel (Riad Shemsi - we totally recommend staying here) which was the easiest thing to do, since they arrange everything for you. The way it works is simple – there is a driver coming to pick you up in the morning and drops you Essaouira. Just a word of advice – they drive like crazy, so the road will seem a bit of a challenge. Once there, you have 4-5 hours to walk around by yourself and have lunch, which is more than enough.
The place is very beautiful – you start your journey walking down the beach towards the city. My advice is to eat at one of the restaurants around the beach. We had a fantastic lunch at La Coupole Essaouira beach.
Because of its strong winds, the Alize, the beach is a great destination for surfers and kite surfers. As you walk around you might spot groups of surfers on the beach. As a piece of advice – have a light jacket with you. Sometimes the wind gets quite strong, so it gets a bit chilly.
Walking towards the city you can go visit the port. Be aware of the strong fish smell. The place is full of fishermen and their boats. It’s a very interesting sight in the morning when the fish market is open
Going inside the city, you will walk towards the medina (city center), which is protected under UNESCO World Heritage. Built in a the late 18th century, since its foundation, Essaouira served as a of the main trading port, linking Morocco to the rest of the world. Its medina si protected by seafront ramparts, also known as Skala de la Kasbah.
As the city is known for its artisan industry, you will spot many cute boutiques on the main street. However, my advice is to go also a bit out of the main touristic street, so you can experience the real city live as well. Though it might seem different, don’t worry, the place is safe, and the advantage is you can get better prices than on the main street.
Before you go back to Marrakesh, have a cocktail at one of the beach bars and take a moment to relax and enjoy the sea breeze. Simply beautiful