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.
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 delicious!
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…