One of my favorite places in Morocco, among many others, is Essaouira. It is a coastal town in the south of Morocco, a few hours west of Marrakech. It once functioned as a major trading port to connect Morocco with Europe. I have had a significant number of volunteers and someone from home ask me about what to do in Essaouira. I keep a list on my computer and just copy and paste it to whoever wants it. Then I thought, “What if I could just send them a link instead?”
There are taxis pretty much all day that go straight from Marrakech to Essaouira. A seat in the taxi will cost you about 80 dirhams. There is also a CTM bus that leaves Marrakech every day at 08:30 for 90 dirhams.
If you are coming from Agadir to the south, you can take either a taxi or the CTM. The road is beautiful as it goes along the ocean but it has a lot of turns and the road sucks. The taxi is faster but if you are prone to motion sickness, go for the CTM. There are three a day and each take about three and a half hours and will cost 95 dirhams.
There are lots of options here but I’ve only personally used a few of them.
- Moga Hostel. I paid 100 MAD per night (about $10). I’m no expert on hostels but this one seemed fine. The rooms are a bit packed but clean. My room was backed right up to the bathroom so the light poured into the room all night and I could hear pretty much everything in the hostel. Each room fits eight people and the door has a combination lock on the outside. To get in the main door, you ring the buzzer and they unlock the door from the office. Breakfast is included and it was just a simple bread, boiled egg, yogurt, and tea Moroccan breakfast. Very nice staff.
- Airbnb. There are a lot of Airbnbs inside the medina and out. They sit around $30 per night per person in the medina.
Food and Drinks
- Ocean Vagabond. Wonderful restaurant at the end of the beach, super quiet*. It was nice to walk down the whole beach, stop for food and drinks, then walk the beach back. Very friendly people. There is a proper pizza oven for some excellent pizza.
- Asian Red Food. Thai food that is pretty cheap, only slightly more expensive than the taco places around town. It is in a small and quaint alcove in the middle of the medina. The people are super kind, the food is wonderful, and it’s a nice little relief from the busy streets. This is my go-to for a quick lunch if I don’t want to have a proper meal at Ocean Vagabond. Get the fried noodles.
- Gelato in the medina. Right next to Asian Red Food, this place causes lots of street congestion at night because everyone wants gelato. They’ve got all kinds of flavors but it is kind of expensive for what it is. Nonetheless, it is fantastic.
- Caffetteria Dolcefreddo. If you want some good gelato, leave the medina and head southeast, right next to the CTM station. There are lots of little restaurants and cafes here but I’ve never tried them.
- Taverna Bolognese. Nice little Italian place tucked into an alley in the medina. Good cocktails and wine.
- Taros. Cool little rooftop bar with a central place for live music. There was a lot of gnawa music when I was there.
- Megaloft. Another rooftop, the tallest one in town. At the very top there are rugs and pillows instead of proper tables. You can see basically all of Essaouira. Kind of expensive.
- D’Jazy. Nice little spot to stop by for a beer. The sign said there is usually live music but not when I went.
- The Hungry Nomad. I haven’t gone there yet but it looks like a cool rooftop restaurant/bar. Also a hostel down below.
- Sisterhood Cafe. Quaint little coffee shop on the north end of the medina. This has wonderful “quiet cafe” vibes that make you want to crack open a book.
Things to Do
- Go to the ramparts. Walk along the outer wall (along the ocean) and you will eventually reach the ramparts. You can walk on top of the wall and look out to the ocean. They filmed some episodes of Game of Thrones here. If the tide is low, you can walk on the beach underneath the ramparts. Absolutely beautiful.
- Chill at a cafe. Lots of options here but my favorite is the one by the beach, right outside of the southernmost gate, Bab Sbaa. It is called Cafe Terrasse. It’s usually not very busy and it is right on the beach so you can watch people swimming or playing soccer. There is also a big food/cafe area near Taros with lots of stuff going on. Great for peoplewatching.
- Go to the beach. The beach is wonderful in the summer. Sometimes, it is a bit windy but it is usually manageable. The water is nice and cold and there are people playing soccer and just hanging out. Farther down the beach, on a windy day, you can see people kite surfing.
- Go to the souq. Head out of the northernmost gate, Bab Doukkala, on a Sunday and there are people selling produce, knick knacks, and clothes for cheap.
- Go to a music shop. I wasn’t able to find this one on a map but I know where it is when I see it. There is a kind older man that makes Gnawa instruments and will gladly play something for you if you ask.