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Best Things to Do in Essaouira Morocco- 2023 Ultimate Travel Guide

Looking for the best things to do in Essaouira Morocco? Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Morocco’s picturesque coastal town, Essaouira.

Essaouira Morocco travel guide

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My Essaouira Essentials

This post is all about the best things to do in Essaouira.

About Essaouira

Once a popular trading point founded by ancient civilizations, Essaouira is now a popular vacation destination for tourists.

Essaouira is a coastal city located in the western part of Morocco, along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s about a 2.5-hour drive from Marrakech. The city is famous for its beautiful beaches, historic medina, and vibrant arts and music scene.

Essaouira’s Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a well-preserved walled city with narrow winding streets, bustling markets, and stunning architecture. I personally found the shopping in Essaouira even better than in Marrakesh!

If you love water sports, the city is also known for its strong winds, making it a popular destination for windsurfers and kitesurfers.

Is Essaouira worth a visit?

Essaouira is certainly worth a visit! In fact, Essaouira was one of the most memorable points of my Morocco vacation.

The historic architecture, picturesque blue boats, and fresh seafood left me craving more time in this beautiful city.

While I spent a few days in Essaouira, many tourists just visit for a day. Hey, if that’s all you have time for I say go for it! Even if you can only see Essaouira for a few hours, I can almost bet you it will be worth it.

How to get to Essaouira

There are a few different ways to get to Essaouira.

  1. Fly to Essaouira Mogador Airport (International).
  2. Take a 2-hour taxi ride from Marrakesh. I booked Med Taxi and would highly recommend them. As always with transportation abroad, establish the flat rate before booking the taxi.
  3. Take a bus from Marrakesh.
  4. Book an all-inclusive day trip.

Best Time to Visit

While April & May are technically the best months to visit, Essaouira can truly be a pleasant visit any time of year.

I personally visited in December, and while the wind caused it to be chilly in the evenings, it was gorgeous weather and we felt like the only tourists there.

Fall (September & November) is also an ideal time to explore Essaouira due to the mild weather.

How Long to Stay

I recommend spending 2 full days in Essaouira.

Check out my 1-week Morocco itinerary to help you plan your trip.

Don’t Forget Your FREE Marrakech Printable

Here’s your free Marrakech printable to take with you on your Morocco trip so you don’t miss a thing.

Marrakech Printable

Where to stay

Best things to do in Essaouira

If you’re new to learning about Moroccan culture, you’ll likely want to stay in a Riad.

A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior courtyard or garden. These traditional homes are typically found in historic medinas in big cities such as Marrakech, Fes, and Essaouira.

Riads are characterized by their unique architectural features and typically have intricately designed courtyards and decorative tile work. They offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Morocco.

In recent years many boutique hotels in these famous Moroccan cities blend riad aspects so if you get confused about hotels vs riads – odds are it may be a little of both!

The best location to stay in Essaouira is in the old town.

$ – The Chill Art Hostel

$$ – Riad Marosko

$$$ – Hotel Le Médina Thalassa sea & spa

Best things to do in Essaouira

Where to Eat –

Gusto Italia is not traditional Moroccan food, but offers some delicious Italian, which you may be craving after eating traditional Moroccan dishes all week!

Triskala is another fantastic option. This restaurant is beautifully decorated and offers tasty traditional Moroccan cuisine.

What to do in Essaouira

Whether you are looking to explore the historic medina, marvel at the local art, or bask in the sun, Essaouira has something for every type of traveler.

1. See the Essaouira Citadel

This iconic landmark of Essaouira is a historical fortress that was constructed during the 18th century. Located at the northern entrance of the city, it was initially built to protect the city from potential attacks by foreign invaders.

Consisting of thick stone walls, watchtowers, and cannon emplacements, this picturesque building is one of the most prominent landmarks of Essoauira and now stands representing the city’s history.

best things to do in Essaouira
Essaouira, Morocco

2. Visit the Port

Sardines, crabs, lobsters, oh my!

Essaouira’s fishing port is a bit smelly but wow is it exciting, If you’re a lover of all things fish, try buying a fresh catch from one of the fishermen. You can even have it cooked at one of the nearby open cooking stalls on the port.

3. See the Famous Blue Boats

Essaouira’s famous blue fishing boats are perhaps the most known aesthetic of Essaouira.

While these vibrant blue boats are beautiful, they aren’t just for looks! The bright blue color is supposed to offer protection to fishermen from any evil spirits, and also bring good luck to the fisherman during their expeditions. Additionally, the beaming color makes it easier to see the fisherman at sea.

4. Shop in the Medina.

Wander through the narrow cobblestone alleys of Essaouira’s historic Medina.

Visitors will find an array of vibrant souks offering handwoven rugs, carved wooden treasures, colorful ceramics, and so much more. Not sure what to get? Moroccan scarves are beautiful and classic souvenirs to remember your trip by.

best things to do in Essaouira

5. Visit Moulay Hassan Square

Located just steps away from the historic medina and the picturesque harbor, is Moulay Hassan Square. Known for its European architecture, the square is famous for its creperies and cafes.

best things to do in Essaouira

6. Go to the Beach

Essaouira is known for its tranquil and windy beaches. They are the perfect city escape from the bustle of the city whether you are looking to kite-surf or people watch.

Here are a few of the best beaches in Essaouira:

Plage d’Essaouira: This is the main beach in the city, easily accessible from the medina and the main square.

Sidi Kaouki Beach: Located about 25 kilometers south of Essaouira, this beach offers a more remote and peaceful setting.

Cap Sim Beach: This beach is known for its rugged cliffs and stunning natural beauty.

Iftane Beach: For those looking to escape the crowds and find a more secluded spot, Iftane Beach is just a short drive from the city.

best things to do in Essaouira

7. Watch the Sunset

Of course, no list of ‘best things to do in Essaouira’ would be complete without a few recommendations on where to find the most epic sunsets in Essaouira.

Here are some of the best sunset-watching spots in the city:

  • Beach
  • Taros Rooftop Bar
  • City Walls
  • Salut Maroc Hotel Bar
  • Essaouira Ramparts
best things to do in Essaouira

8. Get a traditional Hammam

Book yourself a massage and traditional hammam to end your busy trip feeling relaxed. A traditional hammam is a classic cleansing technique of Middle Eastern culture.

Azur Spa was so beautiful! You’ll be greeted with delicious mint tea while you gaze at rose petals and fountains decorated throughout the lobby.

best things to do in Essaouira

9. Go Kite Surfing

Essaouira is one of the top kite surfing destinations in Morocco, attracting kite surfers from around the world due to its consistent winds and stunning coastline.

kite surfing Essaouira

10. Roam the Essaouira Ramparts

The Essaouira ramparts (city walls) are one of the city’s most iconic features and serve as a significant historical and architectural landmark.

best things to do in Essaouira

Discover my secrets for scoring cheap flights

After I discovered Scott’s Cheap Flights (now officially called GOING) I have never paid more than $600 for a roundtrip international flight. Take advantage of their free trials and you will be obsessed! This is the only way I ever book flights and how I am able to budget travel so efficiently.

What NOT to do in Essaouira

This might be a controversial addition to my ultimate best things to do in Essaouira travel guide. However, as this is my blog and my voice, I thought it would be worth a friendly mention:

1. Don’t Ride the Horses and Camels

While I, of course, have unknowingly participated in animal tourism in the past due to my own ignorance, I have since learned that most of the time it is not ethical for tourists to ride ANY animal. The grim reality of animal tourism: horseback riding, tiger parks, elephants, etc. is animals are being exploited and overworked for a flashy Instagram post to please tourists.

2. Don’t Wear Revealing Clothes

As anywhere in Morocco, wear breathable clothing that covers your skin to respect the local culture.

3. Don’t drink the tap water

The tap water is not safe for tourists to drink in Essaouira. In Essaouira and many other parts of Morocco, tap water is not purified to make it safe for consumption.

4. Don’t Pay Full Price

When shopping in the medina and markets, never pay the first price offered! Bargaining is a big game here (especially with the tourists). It will take a few tries to get good at it, but you’ll get the hang of it.

5. Don’t Support the Goats in the Trees

One of the most famous photo ops near Essaouira is unfortunately inhumane towards animals. At the time when I saw the goats in the trees, I was young and ignorant not thinking about the reasoning behind how the goats got there and why I was being asked for money for taking photos of them.

If you look closely, you can see the goats are roped into the trees so they can’t move. How cruel! Can you imagine being tied to a tree all day not moving and having people take photos of you?

best things to do in Essaouira

This photo is just for reference and education so I hope you will ignore the photo op when you see it. As I stated I was so uneducated at the time of animal tourism and do NOT support it.

I hope you found this list of the best things to do in Essaouira helpful! Click here for more Morocco travel tips.

This post was all about the best things to do in Essaouira.

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  1. I went to Marrakesh for my birthday last year and absolutely loved it! I can’t wait to go back again and explore other parts of the country like Essaouira! Save this to Pinterest for future reference!

  2. Essaouira has been on my list of places to go FOREVER. Been to Morocco a couple of times yet never make it here. Thanks a lot for the detailed info, I might just have to go next time!

  3. That photo of the goats in the trees is too funny! I haven’t been to Morocco yet but it’s one of the places I hope to visit next. Essaouira looks amazing!

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