In competition with Puerta Plata (Dominican Republic) for the nickname "The Bride of the Atlantic", the coastal city of wind and seaside delights in Essaouira, Morocco, awaits visitors.
Let's peel back the veil on this bride and explore some of Essaouira's unique foodie destinations, stunning vistas and colorful souks, and embark on a journey of discovery into Morocco's lesser known coastal charm.
In this article you will find:
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Essential Essaouira Entertainment
The streets of Essaouira are primarily pedestrian-only, adding to the charm of long artful lanes of souks and friendly avenues for strolls in the sea air.
The souks are numerous, of course, from the spice souk (Souk el Ghezel) to the jewelers souk (Souk des Bijoutiers), and can be best found by wandering. Leave the GPS at home.
La Joutia is the town's flea market, complemented by the nearby old corn market.
Perhaps you are interested in getting henna or a massage while you are in town? These are all great options for a relaxing beach vacation.
The beach is an obvious draw to visitors in Essaouira. Great for sunbathing, surfing and water sports, many tourists enjoy the sand and waves to fill their day.
For me, a camel or horse ride along the beach is a better way to experience the beach. Tours can easily be arranged on Viator, like any one of the below options:
Camel or Horse Rides
Many take you on a tour of the beach area, secret coves where Jimi Hendrix used to hang out, and a snack or tea stop as well.
You can also arrange for a boat ride if you want!
A trip to Essaouira must include a walk along the oceanfront ramparts at the Skala de la Kasbah, which you may recognize from the Game of Thrones series.
The Medina is a bustling area full of shopping opportunities, and the fish port is a fun place to see daily life at work.
You may also want to consider a cooking class while you are visiting Essaouira, or just have fun taking photos of all the many street cats!
Typically you will find all manner of French and European travelers looking to discover the secrets of Essaouira's seaside charms. Many are young backpackers looking for rooftop hangs and sunset views or late night parties.
Others are families seeking a quiet version of nearby Marrakech or maybe couples igniting romance and relaxation. No matter the type of traveler, we've rounded up some amazing options for dining and foodie sidebars for your stay.
Waterfront Seafood and Other Great Restaurants
Be sure to make time for Le Chalet de la Plage, a historic beachfront restaurant with excellent fresh seafood and beautiful atmosphere.
Enjoy a bottle of wine (or two, in our case) and watch a stunning sunset from your waterfront table.
Nearby you can also find Café Terrasse, a good spot for a cold drink and some olives.
For less than $15, Les Alizes Mogador offers a romantic atmosphere and fixed price menu full of Moroccan flavor. With candlelight and cozy tables, expect your meal to be a memorable one.
Or perhaps you prefer something more boisterous? In that case, head to the fish port for one of the many open-air grills serving up today's catch.
Lastly, La Mouette et les Dromadaires is a great place to visit in the afternoon hours or at sunset for drinks and nibbles along the waterfront.
Wine and Cheese
Just 15 minutes out of town, find French "La Fromagerie" - a spectacular haven for wine and cheese lovers. Bring lots of cash, because it is a cash only establishment as of my last visit.
Expect huge cheese platters, roving musicians, white plastered walls reminiscent of Greece, and a lovely courtyard for whiling away the afternoon.
You'll also want to make time to visit the Val D'Argan winery, where you can sample their wines in a tasting flight. Their focus is on whites and rose's.
On the road into town you can find the Coop Marjana Argan Oil, where you can see the process of making argan oil and pick up some argan oil souvenirs.
If you don't want to show up on your own, try some of these other argan oil experiences:
Suggested Places to Stay in Essaouira Morocco
I'll just let the photos of these places speak for themselves. Affordable, oh-so-Moroccan and super friendly, you'll want to add these to your list of potential places to stay in Essaouira.
Tips for Visiting Essaouira
Being a seaside town, things are more relaxed in the modesty department than in Marrakech. Expect to cover up shoulder and thighs out of respect, but in all honesty no one seemed to abide by this much. Opting for beachy sundresses and revealing clothing, I saw a lot more skin than I would have expected. Nonetheless, cover up with breezy tunic tops and linen pants and you'll feel happy that you did.
You can also expect to find alcohol much more easily than in Marrakech. Most establishments offer at least beer and wine. Hooray!
Lastly, you can get to Essaouira by bus or other transport, but the road getting out there was very good and just fine if you want to rent a car. Just be aware of the random checkpoints. We got pulled over and the policeman tried to shimmy us for some cash. We talked our way out of it, but please be aware that there are MANY of these checkpoints. When you see them, slow down every time.
More than anything, just enjoy the beautiful seaside retreat from the big city!