When planning a trip to Morocco, your thoughts probably turn to the main tourist spots of Marrakesh, Chefchaouen, and Fes. As much as these are incredible places to visit, there is one city you should definitely add to your Morocco itinerary – Essaouira. Stunningly beautiful, laid-back and creative, Essaouira is the perfect respite from the bustling main cities. Here are 8 reasons to add Essaouira to your Morocco itinerary.
It has a chilled out vibe
Because of its lack of must-have-Instagram-photo sights and it being a relatively small place, Essaouira is the place where you go to relax. I'm not saying that Essaouira is dull as there is certainly plenty to do. However, you won't find yourself rushing around to fit everything in. The beach or the markets are where most people spend their day. Then, magical sunsets and delicious food are calling from the rooftop restaurants in the evenings.
Morocco's best fresh seafood and sunset views
Essaouira is filled with a plethora of amazing cafes and restaurants. Not only are there many of them, but there's also a vast range in the styles and cuisine of the restaurants. You'll find something whether you're looking for something cheap or upmarket, traditional cuisine or something more modern.
Essaouira is full of things to do
Lots of travelers head to Essaouira for the different activities you can take part in. The beaches here can get pretty windy, making for plenty of opportunities to go surfing, kite surfing, and windsurfing. In the surrounding areas of Essaouira you'll also find horse riding, nature and wildlife spotting, hiking, and off-road tours.
Barter practice for the big cities
Essaouira is hands-down one of the best places in Morocco to go shopping. The medina – the area within the old walls of the city – is brimming with shops and stalls. You'll find all kinds of wares including clothing, accessories, home furnishings, furniture, and much more. The best thing about shopping in Essaouira is the relaxed attitude of the shop owners. Of course, if you linger for more than a few seconds, they will go in for the sale, but they're not pushy like the sellers in other cities in the country.
Be mindful of whether there is a price tag attached to what you want to buy. The general rule of thumb is that if the item comes with a price tag, then the price is non-negotiable. If there's no price tag, it's perfectly fine to barter.
Essaouira has a stunning old town
If you're a Game of Thrones fan, you'll immediately recognize Essaouira as the city of Astapor. It's not hard to see why Essaouira was chosen as a set for the show. The medina was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2001 for being an exceptional example of a late-18th-century fortified town. The UNESCO-designated area includes the bastion and forts; Mellah, the Jewish quarter; several mosques and synagogues; an 18th-century Portuguese church; and many private houses. Game of Thrones fans will also recognize the cannons, located at the fort and on the sea walls.
Must do in Morrocco: Hammam
If you haven't experienced a hammam in Morrocco, then this is a must! The hammams inside the medina are geared more towards tourists. If you want a more traditional experience, there are also plenty of hammams which cater to the locals which you can also visit.
All year round sunshine
Essaouira gets sun nearly every day of the year. During the winter months, the temperature averages around 18°C / 65F during the spring, then has an average high of 21°C / 70F in the summer and autumn. This makes it an ideal travel destination throughout the whole year. The temperature is kept pretty stable due to the winds coming off the sea. While this creates a pleasant climate, just be aware that it might get cool on some winter days, so bring something warm to throw on.
Essaouira is easy to reach
If you want to fly straight to Essaouira, you can reach it from London Luton with Easyjet, and London Stansted with Ryanair. It's also possible to get non-direct flights. Try using a flight search website like Skyscanner to get the best deals. Alternatively, Essaouira is just a few hours' drive away from both Marrakesh and Agadir airports. Keep in mind that these distances don't make Essaouira an easy weekend trip. However, if you're planning on visiting Essaouira as part of a longer trip to Morocco, then these destinations are easy enough to combine.
Essaouira should be on everyone's list of places to visit in Morocco. It's the perfect mix of relaxation and active sports. A place to shop, eat, and recharge, while still retaining a distinctive Moroccan flavor. I'm so happy I added Essaouira to my Morocco itinerary, it was a nice insight from the rest of Morocco.
If you have any questions about Essaouira, please comment below!
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