Things To Do In Essaouira

It might seem a just a coastal city on the map in the center of Morocco, but it has a lot to offer, Essaouira was originally called Mogador especially at the Portugese conquest that’s why you can find a lot of the Portugese and the European touch, you can also notice the African touch as the city represents the spiritual art of Gnawa which is considered a Moroccan version of Raggae to the world, 3 days at the last week of July when the Gnawa Festival takes a place and offers lots of Music to the Gnawa fans from around the world, so no wonder to find a huge number of Hippies at this city.

The Old Medina And Its Historical Fortress

When you first arrive it be a nice experience to discover the old Medina ‘city’ on foot the tiny narrowed streets are lively until the night you can walk through and explore every detail at the town; not away of the Medina lays down the oldest Kasbah at the city as it was protecting the city from the the sea invaders and pirates, you can accees into it with some entrance fees to be paid, the site is well equipped with European cannons during the Portugese colonisation.

The Fishing Port

At the midday you can enjoy a nice experiece at the the local port Just-As-The-Moroccans-Do-It, walk into the the port, bargain the prices and purchase the freshest raw fishes as you will be amazed of the large varaiety, choose a seat at one of the stalls close to the port and hand your fishes to one of the guys to grill it for you for as little as 10 MAD.

Afternoon will be a great time to walk or lay down on the beach it offers a picturesque scenery to the Islands those were considered as a quarantine Islands on the middle ages, If you are a fan of the watersports you can learn Surfing? Essaouira is considered one of the best coasts for it in Morocco.

There are still several exciting activities you can do during your visit to Essaouira:

Wine tasting – No wonder Morocco has become the second producer of Alcohol in Africa after South Africa, not far away of coast right the village of Onagha you can discover the grapes fields and how the wine is made and enjoy a good quality wine tasting in addition to a lunch at the ranch.

Camel ride – As you put your foot on the Moroccan soil the first thing comes accross your imagination is camel riding, it would be nice to take a ride on a back of a camel on the beach for 30 minutes or more.

There are still many few more activities that you would love to try.


Essaouira is the town we almost didn't make it to. 

Before arriving in Morocco, and in our first few days in Marrakech, many people said it wasn't worth a visit. For them, this outpost on the Atlantic coast was windy, a little ugly and, if you did decided to make the journey, then a day was really enough.

Within minutes of arriving at the old city walls, we knew they had made a mistake; this was our sort of place. 

A guide of things to do in Essaouira Morocco

Here, within the blue and white confines of Essaouria's medina, is a different side of Morocco. A place for men to fish, for lazy afternoon strolls and steaming pots of mint tea enjoyed overlooking the ocean. After five days amongst the frenetic souks and streets of the country's biggest tourist draw, the peace and tranquillity that oozes from the pores of this delightful seaside town is as intoxicating as it is soothing.

We planned for two days - we left, reluctantly, after four. 


THINGS TO DO IN ESSOUAIRA

EXPLORE THE MEDINA

Essaouira's medina may be small, but that means it's perfect for exploring without fear of getting lost! Small shop lined streets full of colourful blankets and rugs, wooden handicrafts, and delicious food shaded by the tall whitewashed buildings for which this town is known.

A guide of things to do in Essaouira Morocco - Explore the medina

We also discovered that this is a great place for buying souvenirs or unique pieces for your house - especially if you don't enjoy the haggling process. Lots of stalls have fixed, advertised prices and even the ones that don't begin their bargaining at a much more reasonable position. We got a beautiful blanket for a fraction of what we were quoted in Marrakech.

Although a Moroccan medina is very much best discovered without much of a plan, to orient yourself in the first day or two, it's worth knowing that the two main streets within the medina are Avenue Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah and Avenue Mohamed Zerktouni (which is where you'll want to head to stock up on fruit and veg too). 

 

SIDI MOHAMMED BEN ABDALLAH MUSEUM

Housed in an old riad, the Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum may not be a must-do in Essaouria, but the collection of old musical instruments, ritualistic devices, weapons and traditional dress is a pretty good excuse to get away from the sun for an hour - and if nothing else, that staircase is made for the 'gram! 

A guide of things to do in Essaouira Morocco - Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah Museum

Opening times: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. | Cost: 10Dh | Rue Laâlouj

 

CHECK OUT THE FISH MARKET

Wizened old men and giant nets, the salty smell of the ocean and icy fish spread out across old wooden tables. Long before the tourists arrived, people were making a living here off of the sea - for many, times have not changed.

A guide of things to do in Essaouira Morocco - Fish Market

Visit in the early hours of the morning for the chance to see the fishermen returning with the catch, or meander down to the harbour before lunch to witness the daily haggle for the fruits of the ocean. 

Even if not in the mood to buy, this is an excellent place to people watch, and a dream for photographers like us - check out our Essaouira fish market photography post, and discover why you'd be crazy to forget your camera!

To avoid confusion, we have to let you know there are actually two fish markets in Essaouira. Our favourite to experience was by the harbour, but there is also an indoor one on Avenue Mohamed Zerktouni. Many visitors to the town love to buy a fresh fish from either market and take it to a restaurant who will grill it for a small fee. 

 

GO SNAP HAPPY FOR THE BLUE BOATS

Search google images for Essaouira, and the results you get back will almost certainly be full of the most picturesque little blue boats! 

A guide of things to do in Essaouira Morocco

Yet, this wonderful shade of colour is not an accident, or there purely to create a pretty tourist picture. No, the blue that covers the hull of every boat and adorns the shutters of every window here speaks of 3,000 years of history, and of the colour harvested from the shells found on the Purple Islands that protect Essaouira from the open sea.

 

SPEND SOME TIME AT THE BEACH - JUST BE PREPARED FOR THE WIND!

Arriving into Essaouira, it's clear that this is a place popular with tourists. What isn't so clear however, is why it hasn't become just another resort. To answer that, we'd recommend you spend a few hours at the beach. The trade winds that keep this town pleasantly cool during the hot summer months are the same that will ensure that you leave the beach with sandy second skin.

A guide of things to do in Essaouira Morocco - The beach

Still, on a beautiful sunny day, there will be few better places to sit and relax - and drink a covert brown paper bag covered beer.

A guide of things to do in Essaouira Morocco - The beach

If you're into watersports however, then- in fact, die-hard windsurfers come from all over the world just to enjoy the constant wind that Essaouira enjoys. If you're unable to bring your own equipment, you'll be pleased to hear that renting it is incredibly easy with several reputable companies in town. One week rental starts at £160 GBP (dependent upon time of year), and discounts will be given for longer periods. 

 

TAKE A DAY TRIP TO SIDI KOUKI

Cheap fresh seafood, roaming donkeys, wide, never ending beaches and excellent surf (for both beginners and pros) - we almost don't want to tell you about this wonderful little surf village, just half an hour outside of Essaouira. 

A guide of things to do in Essaouira Morocco - Visit Sidi Kaouki

SCALE THE SKALA DU PORT

Essaouira has gained modern notoriety - so you can imagine how disappointed we were to discover that the ramparts were closed for building works at the time of our visit (completely scuppered Andrew's plans to don a long blonde wig and pretend to be Daenerys for the day!).