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, the coastal city has plenty to offer its many visitors. From the beaches, to the markets and the seafood restaurants, finding things to in Essaouira is easy.
The town’s typically touted as an ideal day trip from Marrakech, and it’s easy to see why. By car, it only takes around 50 minutes, and that’s depending on traffic in Marrakech. The maximum number of nights I suggest staying in Essaouira is 3.
There’s enough to do to hold your attention for a few days, but not necessarily for a whole week. This isn’t counting of course the foreigners that have bought a home here, and return regularly. Speaking from my own experience, Essaouira was a stop during our road trip around Morocco, and 1 day was more than enough to see everything.
Traveling 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 the sights.
As with traveling to 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 long, lazy lunch.
1. Things to do in Essaouira in 1 day — get lost in the streets and souks
I’m a curious person by nature, so the first thing I like to do is explore the local vicinity around my hotel. We stayed at the excellent boutique hotel, Madada Mogador, which also happens to be right at the heart of Essaouira.
Choose from individually-style rooms, or like us, one of the incredibly spacious apartments, ideal for 4 guests. In the morning, head to the rooftop terrace for a freshly-made breakfast accompanied by sea views.
The center of the city lies within the fortress walls. Here. you’ll find restaurants and cafes, not to mention the seemingly endless line of market stalls.
No coastal town in Morocco is complete without having its own souk to explore, and Essaouira has a few. Even if the shopping bit doesn’t interest you, the energy, and atmosphere of the souks surely will.
Moreover, the souks make for some colorful and action shot-like photos, and will sit nicely in your collection. Whether it’s clothes, crafts or traditional food, it’s very hard to leave the souks empty handed.
Booking a tour with a local guide is ideal for travelers visiting Essaouira for a short time. No matter your interest, there’s something to keep everyone happy.
“…the souks make for some colorful and action shot-like photos…”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
“Here. you’ll find restaurants and cafes, not to mention the seemingly endless line of market stalls.”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
2. Things to do in Essaouira in 1 day — buy some (good) argan oil
For anyone familiar with argan oil, Essaouira happens to be in the region that’s full of argan trees. This fragrant oil’s a natural anti-oxidant moisturizer that deeply absorbs into the skin.
It’s also said to have anti-ageing properties, which leaves your skin feeling noticeably softer and more radiant. It’ll come as no surprise then, that you’ll notice many places selling the much coveted oil.
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, read all the facts before buying.
3. Visit the ramparts of the city
The rampart are the defensive walls and banks that remind visitors of the city’s fortress past. What’s more, the row of canons along the walls are an important part of the town’s history, and they’re also great for Instagram too.
Also, from here, you’re guaranteed to get unspoiled views of the sea, and with no interruption from tourists.
4. Things to do in Essaouira in 1 day — tuck into fresh fish and seafood
Given its seaside 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, especially if you choose to dine al fresco. If not, there are plenty of good restaurants with indoor dining and no fishy fragrances. Take La Table by Madada.
It’s 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.
Even if you’re not keen on fish, I’d still encourage you to 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 complete opposite of the chaotic streets of Marrakech, and an insight into an important local trade.
“I’d still encourage you to see the fishing boats on the shore.”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
5. Sidi Mohammad Ben Abdellah Museum
Take in a spot of culture and find out more about Essaouira’s historical past at Sidi Mohammad Ben Abdellah Museum.
The building dates back to the 19th century, and shows visitors artifacts 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 travelers, for us, it fit in well within 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.
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Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience; a demographic (late 20s onwards) that enjoys glamping over camping, staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels, sampling the local food and wine, cultural activities, and indulging in a spot of wellness on their travels. Read more here…