Essaouria, about a three-hour drive from Marrakech, is one of Morocco’s most popular excursions and is probably the one we recommend most if your stay here will be quite short.
Essaouira, often referred to by its ancient Portuguese name Mogador,is a beautiful town overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. White and blue are the colors of its ancient and tangled Medina, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What you may read most about this beautiful seaside town concerns its ancient eighteenth-century Qasba with crenellated walls from which brass cannons spring up in the direction of the sea.
But apart from all this historical information that you can read about on the Internet or any Lonley guide we want to explain to you why visit Essaouira.
The Medina of Essaouira
Completely different from the Medina and the souk of Marrakech, essaouira’s, although tangled and chaotic, is more airy; the streets where you find bags, baskets, ceramics and leather goods are undoubtedly more spacious and obviously very bright, unlike the souks of Marrakech, where the sunlight manages to filter rather weakly.
It will probably also be easier for you to do business with merchants and to go into lengthy negotiations and you will find that the insistence here is less than that of Marrakech; here to insist are mostly drug dealers, fishermen and some guy who will want to rent you a house there.
What to Eat in Essaouira
We suggest you follow the advice of our trusted friend Mohamad: don’t stop at the first super chic restaurants you find on the waterfront promenade. At the entrance of the Medina, in fact, you will find some very small restaurants, nothing chic, rather good places; Choose the fish you want to eat, caught fresh and often still alive on the counter, agree on the price and then sit back and enjoy your grilled seafood lunch.
How much will you spend? So to give you an idea we can tell you that we were 5 people, we ate prawns, muscat, sea cicadas, sea bass and sea bream, accompanied by soft drinks, bread and salad of onions and tomatoes and in total we spent about 70 euros.
Also don’t miss one of the best pastry shops in the city: it is located right at the entrance of the Medina and inside, in addition to the exquisite sweets, you will also find exhibitions and works by contemporary artists. Another small note about this pastry shop: here we have tasted excellent chocolate sweets, which may seem trivial, but remember that in fact in Morocco cocoa you will see very little of it.
The Sea of Essaouira – how to rent a house
There are many people who choose Essaouira for their beach holidays in Morocco, moreover the crescent of white sand, bathed by the Atlantic and surrounded by palm trees is really a dream place, while the winds that often caress this city make it a paradise for surfing and water sports enthusiasts. Along the road that runs along the sea you will often see boys showing you keys: they are the keys to the apartments that you can rent and that are often really a stone’s throw from the beach.
Where to shop in Essaouira
You can’t leave town without buying something. Here too you will find the most classic souvenirs and typical handcrafted productions: carpets, glazed and hand-painted ceramics, rope objects, leather bags and shoes. Don’t miss the little jeweler “il Corallo”,a secret place in the heart of Essaouira where the cute Neapolitan Stefano creates beautiful creations in silver and stones. Here you can find a different, refined and highly sought after gift.
How to get to Essaouira
You can get to Essaouira in various ways: we, being 4 people, booked the taxi for the whole day, paying a total of 120 euros.
Otherwise you can:
- book a private or group excursion with your riad or tour operator: generally a private tour, with an English-language guide, costs 70 euros per person, for group tours, the price is around 35 euros.
- renting a car : we can’thelp you about the costs but we can tell you that some roads in Morocco are really very dirt and isolated
- take the bus from Marrakech: the ticket will cost you around 5 euros and the trip will always last about two hours.