If you share our love for travel, we invite you to dive into yet another exciting journey where you can meet new people, try fresh foods and have a memorable time. I can’t explain the whole experience of the sensory overload we had a chance to undergo in Essaouira. At least not yet. But I know it was one of the best five days that we ‘ve ever spent.
When planning the trip to Northern Africa, we had our hearts set on enjoying the sunshine, surfing the North Atlantic waves as well as exploring breezy Essaouira’s little streets. We imagined the place full of exotic aromas, colourful language, friendly locals and inexhaustible ocean vistas.
Once we arrived and wandered through sun-soaked streets to make our way to the old medina, we knew we were in the right place. Thank you Essaouira, you were a dream.
Although, for a moment we didn’t think we gonna make it to Northern Africa as precisely one day before our departure Storm Emma hit Ireland, covering everything in white fluffy snow blanket which led to closed airports, flight cancellations and a good few nerve-wracking moments.
Even though we didn’t give up and found ourselves on a plane to Luton Airport 3 days later than initially planned, it didn’t end there. Thanks to the torrential rainstorm in Essaouira, three shaky and failed to descend attempts, our plane rerouted to Agadir instead. From there we travelled for five long hours during the night with a bus to the final destination.
Useful Tips For Visiting Unique Essaouira, Morocco For The First Time
Are you looking for enjoyable things to do in Essaouira? Do you want to know how to get there, what to expect and what to wear to a Muslim country? Then this guide to Africa’s windy city should have you covered! Just keep on reading!
How to get to and from Essaouira
We travelled with the low-cost carrier EasyJet from London Luton to Essaouira-Mogador airport in less than 4 hours (Tuesdays and Saturdays only). You can also get a direct flight from Paris or take a daily bus travelling from Casablanca to Essaouira.
Essaouira airport is located 15 kilometres from town, and it cost around 6 dirhams to use the airport shuttle bus for the transfer.
If you are staying in Marrakech, you can escape the heat of the city and opt for a day trip using one of the local bus companies. Journey time is around 2.5 hours each way, and the buses are very comfortable and inexpensive.
Two bus companies that operate on this particular line are Supratours and CTM. The coast is 70 dirhams per person plus extra 5 -10 dirhams for each piece of luggage.
Dress code for Essaouira
Morocco is a Muslim country, therefore, dress respectfully. Our advice: try to cover your upper arms, shoulders, and avoid anything above the knee. Dressing modestly, however, doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish at the same time.
Pack long skirts combined with long sleeve blouses and bring maxi dresses. As the wind brings in the breeze, don’t forget a warmer jacket or a cardigan, the coastal towns can get a bit colder, especially in the springtime.
Best time to go to Essaouira
The best time to visit Essaouira town would be from April to October as there is almost no rainfall. We travelled in early March and experienced heavy rainstorms for two days straight, although the weather was very mild, with temperatures ranging from 15 -18 ‘C.
In general, springtime, as well as autumn, is an enjoyable time to visit. From the beginning of July throughout the August weather in Essaouira is scorching hot.
Gnawa World Music Festival, which is one of the most critical events in the country, takes place in June. With free admission and hundreds of musicians taking part in the gathering, it draws in large crowds of people, so the town is packed.
What to see and do in Essaouira
If there is one thing to do in Essaouira, its to be in a present moment and to make the most of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage town has to offer. Absorb every little architectural detail, smell the fresh bread before you take a bite, let the wild wind tangle your hair and calmly drink all the mint tea you can.
Even after five days of exploring Essaouira town, (literally from dusk till dawn) we left with slight hesitation. Completely infatuated we desired to stay for more. We wanted to see more, to taste more and to photograph more.
So here’s a short list of places to check out while in town!
#1. Wander around the fish market
Ignore the smell, take a deep breath and absorb the morning madness with fishing boats coming and going, seagulls trying to snatch a catch from hardworking fishers and people yelling on top of their voices to sell the fresh fish.
Just don’t expect your general Europian style market, where everything is neatly stacked on pretty looking stalls. In the Essaouira fish market, you’ll find displays of eel-like creatures, enormous lobsters and fresh sardines; all piled on top of the upturned plastic boxes and sheets of paper.
#2. Visit the historic Scala du Port
As we ambitiously made our way towards the Port, I recognised it right away. Its soaring tower surrounded by famous blue boats was tough to miss.
Designed by the French architect and constructed in the 18th century with a purpose to protect the town from barbarians and pirates, this place is lined with Spanish canons, offering an incredible view over the port and surrounding coastline.
The uneven surface seems to be slowly crumbling away, and I managed to catch my shoe in one of the water-filled holes one too many times; however, the entrance fee is only 10 dirhams and the views of the city-nothing short of amazing.
#3. Explore the beautiful Medina and souks
Essaouira’s medina is hiding behind the crenellated wall, and it may be small if you compare it to the one in Marrakech, yet it offers vividly coloured rugs, scarfs and shoes for a very decent price. We found Medina itself is very easy to navigate, and the clear pathways are a joy to explore.
Make sure you visit different markets. We loved Essaouira’s food market as it was an excellent place to soak up the unique vibe as well as all the smells and the sights. This is where you can watch locals shopping around for meat, vegetables and dried fruit.
#4. Go to the beach
If you are anything like us, ocean-loving folks, you are in the right place. Leave your bathing suit for that next trip to southern Spain, grab your camera instead and head to the beach.
The beach looks very ordinary during the day but comes sunset, and you can enjoy an incredible array of colours. Forget about the constant blowings of the wind, pay attention to beautiful lines and cracks in the sand when low tide occurs.
#5. Go for a meal
And try at least one traditional dish. Food was one of our favourite parts of visiting Essaouira as it was completely different from anything we have tried before. Majority of the recipes are seafood-based, and it is easy to see why.
With Essaouira having the Atlantic ocean at its foot, the fish is always super fresh. Cooked with different spices and served with vegetables, it is a must when visiting the town.
Loads of tourist-friendly, open-air restaurants are scattered around the big square, Plaza Moulay Hassan. If fish is not your thing, give couscous or vegetarian tagines a try. You can also find little shops selling frozen yoghurts, fresh juices and vegan meals throughout the town.
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Now, over to you!
Have you been to Essaouira? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Essaouira and have travel-related questions!