Exploring Essaouira in 1 day — seeing the best of the city on the coast

Essaouira is that classic beach town where many locals and visitors head to in summer. Sitting on the west coast of Morocco, its sandy shores, markets, and seafood restaurants help to secure its reputation as a firm favourite.

The town is typically touted as an ideal day trip from Marrakech, and it’s easy to see why. There’s enough here to hold your attention for a day, but not necessarily for a full week. This isn’t counting of course the foreigners that have bought a home here, and return regularly. Speaking on my own experience, Essaouira was a stop during our road trip around Morocco, and 1 day was more than enough to see everything.

Travelling in October, the weather in Essaouira is pretty much perfect. The sun radiates the right amount of heat, and there’s a light breeze that keeps the temperature just right. Despite the good weather, we didn’t head to the beach like many, but instead spent our time exploring Essaouira.

The best sights to see in Essaouira

As with any new place — and on a short schedule — it’s always advisable to start early. This way, you’ll be able to squeeze in everything, and still have time for a leisurely lunch.  

Get lost in the streets and souks

I’m a naturally curious person, so the first thing I like to do is check out the local vicinity around my hotel. We stayed at the fabulous boutique Madada Mogador, which also happens to be right in the heart of the action. There’s plenty of excitement within the fortress walls, from restaurants and cafes, to the seemingly endless line of market stalls.  

No coastal town in Morocco is complete without having its own souks to explore, and Essaouira has a few. Even if the shopping doesn’t interest you, the energy, and atmosphere of the souks surely will. Moreover, the souks make for some colourful and exciting photos, and will sit nicely in your collection. Whether it’s clothes, crafts or traditional food, it’s very hard to leave empty handed.

 

Luxury experience in Vienna - Vienna State Opera
Luxury experience in Vienna - Vienna State Opera

“…the souks make for some colourful and exciting photos…”

FOLLOWING THE RIVERA

Luxury experience in Vienna - Vienna State Opera
Luxury experience in Vienna - Vienna State Opera

“There’s plenty of excitement within the fortress walls…”

FOLLOWING THE RIVERA

Luxury experience in Vienna - Burggarten
Luxury experience in Vienna - Burggarten

Buy some argan oil

For anyone familiar with argan oil, Essaouira happens to be in the region that’s full of argan trees. It’ll come as no surprise then, that there are many places selling it, with the souks full of signs. However, knowing whether you’re buying good quality argan oil isn’t easy. To be sure you’re buying the real deal, there are certain things to look out for. This includes checking the colour — it should be dull yellow in tone — as well as the price. A bottle costing 5 Dirhams may not have the same desired effect as one costing 200! To know exactly what to look for before buying, this useful article lays out all the facts. 

The ramparts of the city

The rampart are the defensive walls and banks that remind visitors of Essaouira’s fortress past. What’s more, the row of canons along the walls are an important part of the town’s history, and looks good in photos too. In addition, from here, you’re guaranteed to get unspoiled views of the sea, and with no interruption from tourists.

Eat some fresh fish and seafood

Given its location, it’s only right that a trip to Essaouira incurs some sampling of the fresh fish and seafood. The fish market’s a slight walking distance from the fortress walls, but the smell of the catch is far-reaching. If you can stomach it, and love fish, you’ll be in fishy utopia if you choose to dine al fresco. If not, well, you know where I’m heading with this!

Saying this, I’d still encourage to hold your nose, breath, whatever you need to do, and see the fishing boats on the shore. The row of bright blue boats against the backdrop of the water is an awesome and calming sight. It’s the perfect antidote for the chaotic streets of Marrakech, particularly if on a day trip.

If you really do struggle with the smell, yet still want to try the freshest catch of the day, there’s another option. La Table by Madada is rated one of the best seafood restaurants in Essaouira, and it’s indoors. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try the food as it was fully booked, but the positive reviews speak for themselves.

Sidi Mohammad Ben Abdellah Museum

Take in a spot of culture and find out more about Essaouira’s historical past, which was named after the city’s founder.

Luxury experience in Vienna - Kunsthistorisches Museum

“I’d still encourage to hold your nose, breath, whatever you need to do, and see the fishing boats on the shore.”

FOLLOWING THE RIVERA

The building itself dates back to the 19th century, and shows visitors artefacts as well as ancient crafts and jewellery. Also of great interest is the traditional Berber songs and instruments on display, reinforcing the people’s long-time heritage in Morocco.

In brief, our time in Essaouira was an enriching, though brief, experience. While 1 day may not be long enough for some travellers, for us, it fit in well with our schedule. Have you been to Essaouira? Did you see or do anything differently to the places I mentioned in the post? Let me know in the comments below, and safe travels to you all!

Looking for a place to stay in Essaouira? Why not consider the elegant Madada Mogador to complement your time in the city.

 

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