Essaouira Travel Guide
On the wild Atlantic coast of Morocco, the laid-back fortified town of Essaouira lays claim to Morocco’s most likable resort. An eighteenth-century town, enclosed by picture-postcard ramparts bracing the sea and trailed by a vast expanse of fine sands and lovely curving beaches, Essaouira is a firm favourite on the traveler’s trail.
The town’s true strength lies in the fact that it has managed to avoid the package tourism of Agadir further south. The unspoiled Medina with its whitewashed blue houses is a World Heritage Site and the port remains a hive of activity, where fishermen carry nets of gleaming fish and barbecue them in stalls facing the ocean; much as they have for centuries. This is a place where you can sit nursing a coffee for hours, enough to shrug off your guarded attitude and just soak up the atmosphere!
Essaouira Travel: Getting There
Essaouira Airport, Aéroport de Mogador, is 15 kilometers south of town. There are direct flights to Essaouira from Paris, operated by Royal Air Maroc. From the UK, you can take a Flight to Marrakech and then a taxi or a bus from there to Essaouira. Alternatively, you can take a Flight to Casablanca which has a connecting flight to Essaouira Mogador Airport.
Essaouira Travel: Sights and Activities
There are a few formal sights in Essaouira, but it’s a wonderful place just to ramble around and explore the medina, ramparts, souks and harbour or wander along the wide, sandy beach.
An obvious place to start your rambling is at the ramparts surrounding the Medina. From here, you can get an overview of the labyrinth of streets lined with whitewashed houses. At Skala de la Ville, an impressive sea bastion built along the cliffs, you’ll also get wonderful views out to the sea and great sunsets. Down by the harbour, Skala du Port, are more magnificent ramparts and battlements that offer picturesque views over the fishing port and the Ile du Mogador. The large working port bustles with life, with boat builders busy at work and fishermen hauling their nets from colourful wooden boats. The stretch of grill stands is a must: you can try anything from sardines and lobster to sea urchin and octopus.
The wide, sandy beach is a wonderful place for walking; camel and horse rides. However, the wind and swell are strong enough to attract surfers even in the southern stretches where the water is shallow and clean. For swimming and bathing, you may prefer to have access to a pool. Back to the Medina; wander down into the souks where the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly – less hectic than Marrakech. You can bargain for spices, jewellery but more importantly the exquisite marquetry created by the town’s skilled craftsmen.
Essaouira Travel: Accommodation
The growing popularity of Essaouira has seen the recent addition of a few hotels and riads to the accommodation space in town. There is now a good selection of properties to choose from at all price levels, most within the confines of the medina within a walking distance of everything you need. In summer, book ahead or arrive early to ensure the accommodation.