This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you book or purchase through these links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.During our 16-day trip to Morocco, we had a total of 4 nights in Marrakech. Because we flew into Marrakech yet needed to be back in Marrakech to depart on our excursion through the Sahara Desert, we divided those 4 nights up with a getaway to the coast. We were pleasantly surprised by this beach town and so I’m sharing the best things to do in Essaouira!
Essaouira, a Moroccan Beach Town
Essaouira (pronounced “Essa-we-rah”) was called Mogador until the 1960s and is a port city located in the middle of Morocco’s Atlantic coastline. It is a walled city protected by seafront ramparts from the 18th century. The views of the city from the walls were absolutely gorgeous; however, what we found inside the walls was even better: a relaxed, bohemian lifestyle filled with colorful ceramics, beautiful doors, delicious food, and friendly people!
Best Things to Do in Essaouira
Skala du Port
Skala du Port is a popular tourist location. This is where the Portuguese defended the coast so long ago. Climb the stairs that lead to the top of the wall to see beautiful views of the water…
as well as outstanding views of all of Essaouira.
Built in 1793, it retains some of its original structures, including these canons!
TIPS: It does cost 10 MAD (1 USD) to climb up to the top. Also, for those who are fans, this is a popular Game of Thrones filming location (Astapor).
Essaouira Citadel (Port)
TIP: Be ready for a “fishy” experience. Might want to bring some mint leaves with you 😉
Skala du Ville
The Skala du Ville is the section of the wall found in the medina. You just have to walk up the ramp and then there is a long row of cannons and beautiful views out to sea!
I mean you can’t visit a beach town and not actually visit the beach, right?? Only a short walk outside the medina, Essaouira Beach is a very large, public beach with plenty of food stalls if you get hungry!
Meander the Medina
As with any city in Morocco, you must meander through the medina here in Essaouira. It actually was my second favorite medina behind the one in Chefchaouen!
We walked down so many colorful corridors…
and saw many cute kitties napping! 🙂
Okay, see the rug on the ground in the left-middle? The multi-colored checked one? I know, it’s pretty right?
Sigh…it was supposed to go home with me. But, I’m notorious for “thinking about it”. While this is a great way to be most of the time, it has cost me a few items I’ve really wanted in the past. One of them was this rug. When I passed by the next day with the intent to buy, it was gone and it was the only one.
Lesson learned. Lesson I say is learned but I will be a repeat offender in the future just as I have been in the past. So what I will say here is…Heads up! If you find something in a foreign country that is unique and “is the one” get it as long as it’s affordable. Don’t “think about it” or “get it tomorrow”. Tomorrow it might not be there!
As usual, the color astounded me. Morocco is so very colorful as evidenced by all of these pretty ceramics we found.
But it was these doors that were probably my favorite of all. How cute are they!?!
Watch the Sunset
Find somewhere to watch the sun set over the water in this beautiful seaside town. We took these photos from the rooftop of our riad, but you could also go to the rooftop of a restaurant such as Il Mare or watch from the walls of Port Essaouira.
TIP: To help give you an idea of when sunset is, this photo was taken around 7:40 pm in the middle of June.
You might also like: THE ROYAL MANSOUR: A ROYAL EXPERIENCE AT THE BEST LUXURY HOTEL IN MARRAKECH
How to Get to Essaouira
We came from Marrakech via bus which was a 3 hour trip (one way) with a 15-20 minute stop for snacks and the restroom. Supratours and CTM are two popular bus companies used in Morocco and they run several trips per day between Marrakech and Essaouira.
We used both companies during our trip and both are nice. However, for the Marrakech to Essaouira route the better company is Supratours only because it drops you off closer to the medina. We took CTM on the way to Essaouira and then had to take a taxi once we arrived because they drop you off much further outside the city. On our return back to Marrakech, we took Supratours.
For both companies, we couldn’t buy tickets online as they had to be purchased at the bus station. In Marrakech, our riad bought the tickets for us so definitely see if this is a service your riad or hotel offers. Once you arrive in Essaouira, you can purchase your return tickets right then. 🙂
TIPS: Buy your tickets at least one day before you travel to be sure your chosen time is available. Arrive at the bus station at least 30-45 min prior to your scheduled departure. You will have to check your luggage (other than small bags like purses and backpacks) as you would at the airport and the line can be long. There is a cost to check luggage but it’s only 4 MAD (50 cents USD) per bag.
Where to Eat
La Table by Madada
The first night we ate at La Table by Madada. It came highly recommended to us and we were told it was the nicest place in the city. Let’s just say we approve! And while we didn’t visit everywhere to know if it was the nicest in the city, we wouldn’t be surprised. The experience was fantastic and the food so delicious we wanted to make Morrocan food at home!
Appetizer: Spider Crab and Avocado Tartare with Argan Oil
Entrees: (left) John Dorry Filet and (right) Salmon Filet Special
Dessert: (left) Moroccan Milk Pastilla and (right) Caramel Flower of Salt and Amlou Ice Cream Duo
TIP: Reservations are usually needed. Our riad made ours for us and thankfully since we were willing to go when they opened, we got a table!
La Table by Madada is open daily (except Tuesdays) from 7-10:30 pm and is located at 7 Rue Youssef El Fassi, Essaouira, Morocco.
One afternoon, we had gotten thirsty and decided to try to find a rooftop restaurant with a view. Il Mare offered these rooftop views…
and had a fabulous drink menu to boot. We thoroughly enjoyed our piña coladas while we relaxed listening to the waves with the wind blowing through our hair!
Il Mare is located at Rue Yemen 43, Skala 44103 Essaouira, Morocco
On our last night in Essaouira, we really looked hard for a good place to eat. Not that there aren’t plenty, but we were just wanting to have as great of an experience as we had the night before at La Table. Finally, after searching and reading reviews, we decided on Le Sirocco.
We were quite happy with our choice! We both decided on the Chicken Pastilla as pastilla is a typical Moroccan dish. When they came out, we discovered they were huge and that we could have split one. Both of these statements were the absolute truth.
But because they were so yummy, we both finished every. single. bite. and needed to be rolled out of the restaurant! Totally worth it though and wound up being the best meat pastilla we had in all of Morocco! I distinguish it as such because we had the best veggie pastilla in Fes.
Le Sirocco is open daily from 6:30-11:30 pm and is located at 15 Rue Ibn Rochd, Essaouira 44000, Morocco
TIP: We walked in early and got a table immediately without a reservation, but by the time we left, it was busy. If you typically like to eat later at night, a reservation would probably be a good idea.
Where to Stay
Riad Perle d’Eau
We stayed at the charming Riad Perle D’Eau. It was a typical riad with cute Moroccan decor and we enjoyed it there.
Probably the best asset was its yummy Moroccan breakfast with these views each morning!
Convenient location (inside the medina)
Fantastic rooftop breakfast (with gorgeous views) included
Long walk (with luggage) from the taxi area to the riad
No air conditioning (cool air coming in off the water sufficed for us)
Riad Perle D’Eau is located at 64 Rue Koweit, Essaouira 44000, Morocco
What to Wear
I will be putting together a “what to wear” packing post for Morocco soon, but until then I can say that the single most useful thing I wore was this caftan. It was light and airy for the month of June but kept me covered and respectful of the Moroccan culture.
Oh, and it was popular. And by popular, I mean we were constantly being stopped and asked (by both men and women alike) where we got our dresses! Everyone wanted to buy them and were sad to find out we had bought them before we left the US and not here in Morocco!
And to think we were trying to blend in. Ha! Nope. But at least we were standing out in a positive way!
Here is my map with all locations marked and labeled by things to do, where to eat and where to stay. They even have photos attached to help you identify them! 🙂
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and highly recommend a visit to Essaouira. It really is a cool, laid-back beach town and is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle (not to mention heat) of Marrakech.
Have you visited? If so, what were your favorite things to do in Essaouira? Do you have anything to add to my list?
If you missed them, catch up on my other Moroccan adventures!
‘Til next time…
Leave a Reply - I Love Comments!
Wow everywhere you go in Morocco it is so colorful! Just curious, because of the Portuguese presence are there any Portuguese restaurants? All the food looks so good, but I was just wondering!
Hi Andi-You aren’t kidding. When one thinks about most colorful countries Morocco probably isn’t their first answer, but it should be! On the Portuguese restaurants…I’m not sure to be honest. I’m betting there were but now that you mention it, I don’t remember seeing any obvious ones. I will admit I’m not very familiar with Portuguese food and I’m a notorious “non-noticer” so it might have been right in front of my face. In Chefchaouen there was a lot of Spanish influence though. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Jenn and Ed Coleman says
I like the name Mogador, but I can fully understand removing the names of Portuguese invaders. The medina was so colorful. I bet it gutters you every time you see the picture of the rug that should have been yours. Such a classic travel story. I believe one day you’ll find a rug even more beautiful and, this time, get to take it home with you.
Hi Jenn and Ed-True on Mogador. That rug…sigh. I’ve done that two other times before and still haven’t gotten those items so we’ll see. The first time okay, but why didn’t I learn the 2nd and 3rd time? Facepalm. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Janiel Green says
OMG! I”m a HUGE GOT fan! So the fact that this was filmed there, argh, makes me want to go there! I use to date a Moroccan man, and he would talk about Pastilla’s all the time and how good they are, and how long it takes them to make them, lol. The photos are beautiful, really enjoyed reading about all the different eateries you were able to try.
Hi Janiel-Thank you! And those pastillas are for real! He’s right! So glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for reading! 🙂
Juliann Jones says
I want to go!!! The beach there looks so different than other beach spots I’ve been to. And I LOVE the blue boats. I’d definitely be down there at the port. I appreciate you sharing which bus companies offer trips there and how to book one. I keep thinking about a trip to Morocco and know that I’ll want to add a side trip to Essaouira now.
I’m like you, Heather. I see something I want and then hesitate. I need to learn my lesson, too, and buy it then and there. I’m getting a little better… 🙂
Hi Juliann-Essaouira is pretty nice! Glad you found the bus tips helpful. It can sometimes make a big difference for people. Glad I’m not alone…this hesitation thing (when I KNOW it’s the one) has got to go! Thanks for reading! 🙂
I really cant wait to get to Essaouira when I do a road trip of Morocco which was suppose to be in January but now thinking of leaving it until December 2019 (as I am now heading to the coldness of Belarus and Ukraine!). I know I need a few days of beach and Essaouira looks like the ideal stop off. Fantastic read and got a few pointers here too.
Hi Danik-Glad you found the post helpful. It’ll definitely be nice to get to Essaouira no matter when you go to Morocco. Have fun there and in Belarus and Ukraine and thanks for reading! 🙂
Mm that crab and avocado tartare looks YUM!! I love those ceramic bowls!! When I was in Taiwan and Japan, I brought some back. I have a feeling hat I would not be able to resist in Morocco 😛 The question would be if I will have any luggage space to bring them back!!
Hi Cat-Right?? And I didn’t have much room. I had packed for 3.5 wks in Morocco and France in a carryon. Could’ve gotten that rug in though! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Looks like an amazing trip! I was sad that we didn’t go to Essaouira when we were in Morocco a couple years ago. However that’s just another reason to go back! Your photos of the medina are particularly beautiful… I would for sure be coming home with some of that pottery!
Hi Sarah-Thank you! The pottery was really beautiful and colorful. Definitely add Essaouira to your itinerary if you ever visit Morocco again! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Nicola Hilditch-Short says
What an incredible place, the colours here are just so wonderful and vibrant. It reminds me a little of Galle in Sri Lanka, we loved it there so much so I imagine we will love it here when we eventually get round to visiting!
Hi Nicola-Thanks! I haven’t been to Sri Lanka so that’s interesting to know! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Laura G says
I love the colors of Essaouira, so so much! I am quite obsessed with doors too 🙂 and totally photograph them when I find cute ones 🙂 And that food… that makes me crave North African food!!
Hi Laura-The doors in Morocco are SO SO fun!! Thanks for reading! 🙂
I have not heard of Essaouira before this, but it’s a beautiful place. I love beaches so this beach town would be perfect for me. The pictures are lovely. Love the colorful ceramics and doors in the media. And that sunset was gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Karie-It definitely is a beautiful place! If you love the beach, colorful ceramics and doors, Essaouira is the place for you! Thanks for reading! 🙂
AMAZING colors! We went to Marrakesh and I was SO disappointed we didn’t make it to Essaouira that time. Looks like your experience was wonderful. Hope i can go soon!
Hi Eileen-I definitely recommend it on a trip back to Morocco! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Ashley Hubbard says
I’m a Game of Thrones nerd so Essaouira has been on my radar for that. The colors are absolutely stunning as it seems most of Morocco is and I’d be going around taking pictures of all the cats. Omg, now I want to do a cat treasure hunt in places I visit. Your Morocco content is consistently making me want to go there sooner rather than later.
Hi Ashley-You will LOVE Morocco then if you are a GoT fan-not just Essaouira but there are other filming locations too! Lots of cats also. Hope you get to go soon, glad you like my posts and thanks for reading! 🙂
I haven’t even heard of this place before but it is so bright and colourful. Love it. The architecture also reminds me of Puerto Rico. I could definitely explore here. Great post.
Hi Helena-I haven’t thought about it before but it does kind of look like Puerto Rico a little bit! Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for reading! 🙂
First of all, I must say, I am totally sold out for this place after seeing those door photos. I would love to take thousands of pictures with them. I am definitely adding Essaouira in my Morocco travel itinerary as it is a very colorful town with lovely blue waters.
Hi Yukti-Thank you! Aren’t those doors beautiful?! There are so many more like it them that I didn’t get and it’s that way all over Morocco. Hope you get to go soon and thanks for reading! 🙂
Mei and Kerstin says
Essaouira seems like a wonderful place to explore! The beaches look stunning, and everything is so colorful! It’s good to know about La Table by Madada, and that they serve such beautiful fusion food, since we’re not so much into Moroccon food. Thanks for sharing this post!
Hi Mei and Kerstin-The color everywhere is what made me fall in love with Essaouira La Table’s food was SO yummy!!! Thanks for reading! 🙂
This is such a great suggestion for a quick trip from Marrakesh! I love all your suggestions of things to do as well as restaurants and the riad. That crab and avocado tartare looks amazing!
Hi Kelly-Thanks, hope you get to visit! Thanks for reading! 🙂
I absolutely love how colorful all the pictures are that I see of Morocco and Essaouira is no different! From the boats to everything at the medina to the decor at the riad or the chair covers on the rooftop restaurant, there’s an explosion of color everywhere! I would love to visit one day, and from everything you describe here, I think Essaouira would be the perfect spot to chill out and relax with those beautiful water views… and a couple cocktails, of course!
Hi Cynthia-I think you are correct! I hope you get to go, it’s beautiful there! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Carmen Edelson says
Love all the bright colors and charm! I can see why it’s a popular place. Also, I’m loving how clear the water is…wow!!
Hi Carmen-The water was definitely clear and it is very charming. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Mel Butler says
Essaouira Morocco is such a pretty colourful place, I never knew it looked like this. Essaouira is definitely a place that I would love to visit one day and by the sounds of it I can do it over a long weekend from the UK. You have some good tips to which I will make not of especially the one about Skala du Port 10 MAD (1 USD) to climb up to the top is worth the money to climb to the top
Hi Mel-It is definitely colorful and yes I imagine you could do it over a long weekend from the UK! The view is SOOO worth it! Thanks for reading! 🙂