The Morrocon coastal town Essaouira is charming, laid-back and picturesque. It offers small local eateries, with amazing tajines, a 2,5 km long honey-colored beach, and windy weather for surfing.
Calm down in Essaouira
After spending some days in Marrakech, we were ready to breathe clean ocean air and headed for Atlantic coastal town Essaouira. An 18th century fortified city located three hours south of Marrakech.
Essaouira is a great, less-touristy alternative to Marrakesh, and the weather is perfect all year round. When we came in February it nestled nicely around 22 degrees.
5 best things about Essaouira
- We loved to hang out at the spacious Moulay Hassan Square and watch the local life. Go there in the afternoon where the cafés fill up with locals having tea and chatting while the kids are playing on the square.
- We took long walks on the endless sandy beach. Essaouira is often very windy, so the beach conditions are better for playing, running or surfing, than sunning.
- Essaouira can be covered by foot and is easy to find around/ not so big you’ll get lost for real.
- The medina is really beautiful, with the main colors white and blue. When you wander around you will also find some amazing colorful doors.
- The shopping for Moroccan decor is great. Essaouira’s medina is more peaceful than in Marrakech, as the medina is a lot smaller and less busy.
Places to Eat in Essaouira
- In the middle of the Medina, behind the Jewellery souk, we found a little area with tiny, hole in the wall eateries. The daily menus are written on blackboards and they serve the most authentic no-nonsense and delicious food in town. Most places have tables both inside and outside. Many places had specific days, where you can get homemade vegetable couscous for around 15dh (approx 1,5 eur), as it’s a cumbersome process to make.
- The rooftop bar called Taros cafe has an alcohol license and gives you the best sunset view, why the place is particularly popular around sunset.
- For panoramic views of the bay, citadel and the Atlantic Ocean, go for lunch at the roof terrace of Villa Maroc both a boutique hotel and restaurant, which also serve a 3-course menu in the evening, served in alcoves next to an open fire.
- For a more local and cheap eating experience, go to Chez El Ouazzani. It’s more and less a counter and a few chairs, but it offers authentic Moroccan cooking by a sweet couple. Tajines cost 25dh and a soup 4dh.
- You can also visit the harbor of Essauoira to get cheap, fresh seafood at on of the many stalls with outside tables. Prepare for a souk kind of feeling, and probably some need to bargain on your meal, as the competition between the stalls is big.
- For a minor break from the Morrocon food, visit Restaurant Elixir. The cuisine is a mostly Italian, the decor of the restaurant is extravagant with a laid-back atmosphere, the place offers a cozy fire in winter and a roof terrace in summer.
Places to Stay in Essaouira
- The French-owned resort, Riad Baoussala, on the outskirts of Essaouira, is both pretty, relaxed and authentic, and it has a pool.
- The local family owned Riad Chems Bleu is located in a quiet backstreet of the medina. The rooms have nice decor and relaxing patios to sit and enjoy the sun. Some rooms have a private terrace. The staff is amazing and the breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace with an ocean view. We stayed here and loved the place.
Essaouira was a great place to travel with kids. The locals generally love kids and are so helpful if you have any needs.
Getting to and from Essaouira
It’s cheap and easy to get to Essaouira from Marrakech, but you can also go directly there.
Bus From Marrakech to Essaouira
We took a taxi to the bus station and got tickets for the local and cheap bus Supratours, (75 dirhams). http://www.supratours.ma.
The bus takes 3 hours and makes one stop at a nice eatery along the way. It arrives just outside the wall of the medina in Essaouira, where many hotels and riads are located.
Fly Directly to Essaouira
You can catch a direct flight from Paris, Orly, and London, Luton to Essaouira Mogador airport, It’s about 150 dirhams by taxi transfers and 8 dirhams by airport shuttle bus.