Things to Do in Essaouira: Your Ultimate Guide

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Tucked away on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, this place offers more than just a beautiful view; it’s an experience of a lifetime. From wooden fishing boats to UNESCO world heritage sites, Essaouira is a world in itself. Our local Moroccan pal couldn’t stop raving about it, and once we visited, we totally got the hype. Sure, it’s not all roses. You’ll encounter trash on the streets and the occasional whiff of fish thanks to its bustling fishing port, but hey, that’s life by the sea. 🎣

If you’ve had your fill of the hustle and bustle in Marrakech, Essaouira is your chill pill. It’s like Marrakech’s laid-back cousin who listens to live music instead. In this guide, you’ll find all the deets—from where to find that perfect mint tea to why kite surfing is the talk of the town.

A Brief History of Essaouira

Now, let’s hop into our time machine and take a quick trip back. 🕰️ Essaouira wasn’t always the cool, artsy town you see today. It has roots that dig deep into Moroccan history. This UNESCO world heritage site has worn many hats: a fishing port, a hub for argan oil, and even a strategic fort along the Atlantic coast. Its ramparts and Medina are like pages from an ancient diary, each stone whispering secrets of the past.

Why is Essaouira important in Morocco? Well, it’s not just another pretty face. It’s a cultural melting pot that hosts a world music festival and is home to fascinating places like the Haim Pinto Synagogue. So, in essence, Essaouira is both a relic and a trendsetter, making it a key player on Morocco’s must-visit list.

How to Get There

Ready to pack your bags? Awesome! 🎒 Getting to Essaouira is a breeze. If you’re coming from far away lands like North or South America, you’ll probably land in Marrakech first. From there, you’ve got options, buddy! You can take a day trip by bus, which is super affordable. If you’re up for some adventure, quad biking is also a choice. 🏍️

Top Places to Visit

Alright, you’ve made it to Essaouira! 🌞 So, what’s the best spots to check out? Glad you asked! Let’s break it down:

City Walls

First off, the City Walls. If walls could talk, oh boy, these would have some stories! Essaouira’s walls, also known as ramparts, have been the town’s guardians for ages. Back in the day, this place was not just a fishing port but also the diplomatic capital between the 18th and 19th centuries. Yup, these walls have seen it all—from wooden fishing boats setting sail for fresh fish to diplomats hashing out the deets of international treaties. They offer a stunning view of the Atlantic coast and are a testament to Essaouira’s importance in Moroccan history.

Medina of Essaouira

Next up, the Medina. Now, if you’ve been to Morocco, you might think, “Been there, done that!” But hold up! Essaouira’s Medina is like no other. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site with a twist—the Essaouira twist! 😎 You’ll find art galleries here that echo the vibe of the world music festival that the town hosts. And the argan oil? A-ma-zing! Don’t miss out on mint tea at one of the local cafes. It’s the real Moroccan deal.

City Walls
Medina of Essaouira

Sqala du Port d’Essaouira

Fan of “Game of Thrones”? Then, you’ve got to visit the Sqala du Port d’Essaouira. This isn’t just a castle with killer views of the fishing port and blue wooden fishing boats; it’s an actual Game of Thrones filming location. How cool is that? 🎬 Feel like Jon Snow or Daenerys for a day while you walk through the castle’s historical grounds. Fun fact: it’s right by the fisherman market, so you can swing by for some fresh fish afterward.

Moulay Hassan Square

Let’s also give a shoutout to Moulay Hassan Square. It’s the beating heart of the town. Live music fills the air, and the place buzzes with local life. It’s also your go-to for kite surfing info and gear. Yeah, you read that right, kite surfing! 🏄‍♀️

Sqala du Port d’Essaouira
Moulay Hassan Square

Port de Essaouira

Ready for a seafood bonanza? 🐟 Port de Essaouira is the heart and soul of the fishing community here. Admittedly, the place smells fishy—literally. It’s a working fishing port, complete with wooden fishing boats and fresh fish coming in all day. It’s not a beauty queen, but hey, we’re here for the food, right?

Take your pick from the day’s catch and head just a few meters to an open restaurant where they’ll cook it just the way you like. The prices per person are pretty reasonable, considering you’re getting seafood fresh off the boat. It’s an experience that’s as local as it gets.

Plage Tagharte

Hang ten, dudes and dudettes! 🤙 If you’re a surfer or want to become one, Plage Tagharte is your jam. It’s the main beach strip in Essaouira, a mecca for kite surfing and just plain old surfing. Now, if you’re thinking of a leisurely swim, you might want to skip this spot. The Atlantic coast here is more suited for riding the waves.

Even if water sports aren’t your thing, this beach is a lovely place for a morning stroll or simply hanging out. The windy city’s beach vibes are laid-back and soothing—perfect for letting your mind wander or getting lost in a good read.

Port de Essaouira
Plage Tagharte

NOMAD FRIENDLY CAFÉS AND CO-WORKS

Digital nomads, freelancers, and coffee lovers, listen up! 🎧 Essaouira is not just about wind, waves, and fishing boats; it’s also an up-and-coming spot for folks who love to work with a side of chill vibes and good coffee. Let me give you the lowdown:

Noqta Space

First up is Noqta Space. Imagine this—a cozy, ‘living room’ styled café where you can sip on some quality coffee while you work. Now stop imagining because it’s real and it’s right here in Essaouira! Noqta Space is new to the scene and one of the first co-work and co-living spaces in the city. Though it’s not a sprawling, multi-level space, it has its own kind of magic. It’s just a few tables set in a friendly atmosphere, perfect for getting into that work groove.

But get this—it’s also a fantastic way to meet new people! 🤝 With its co-living setup, you’re bound to bump into like-minded individuals. The cherry on top? You can enjoy a stunning view of the sunset right from the space, making it an absolute haven for nomads.

Mandala Society Essaouira

Now, if you’re craving a taste of the West along with your Moroccan experience, make a beeline for Mandala Society Essaouira. This is our go-to spot for a western-style breakfast and super chilled vibes. Heads up: it gets busy, so you might want to get there early to secure your spot.

Remember, both of these spots have Wi-Fi, and while it may not be as fast as what you’d find in North America or some parts of South Asia, it gets the job done.

Noqta Space
Mandala Society

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

So you’ve explored the city walls, surfed some waves, and maybe even got some work done. What’s next? Time to eat, drink, and be merry! 😋 Essaouira is bursting with fantastic spots that’ll make your taste buds dance. Let’s dive right in!

Restaurant ADWAK

Alright, foodies, buckle up. Restaurant ADWAK is a must-visit for amazing Lamb Tagine. Honestly, it could be the best Moroccan food we’ve ever tasted. 🍲 Operated as a family restaurant, the atmosphere is as cozy as it gets. Plus, the service is super pleasant. Imagine the perfect blend of flavors and spices in every bite. If you want a truly Moroccan experience, this is the place to be.

Dar Baba Restaurant & More

Looking for a ritzy night out? Dar Baba has got you covered. 🍸 From well-crafted cocktails to beautifully prepared food, it’s an experience you won’t forget. The staff? Absolutely lovely! Really, it’s hard to find anything negative to say about this place. Perhaps it was our best dinner experience in Morocco. And for those wondering about the music scene, live music often fills the air, harmonizing perfectly with the city’s world music festival vibes.

Restaurant ADWAK
Dar Baba Restaurant & More

Mega Loft OthmanChic

Talk about a place that’s designed to impress! Mega Loft OthmanChic is visually stunning, with huge potential. 🌟 Now, we have to be honest—the hamburgers didn’t quite hit the mark for us, and the service was a bit lacking. But hey, maybe we caught them on an off day. With its aesthetic appeal, we believe this place has seen better days and could bounce back.

Taros

Are you a live music enthusiast? Well, you’re in luck! Taros offers a unique experience with multiple terraces overlooking a stage where concerts take place. 🎵 While we haven’t tried the food, they do serve alcohol, making it a fantastic place to unwind with a few beers as the Atlantic coast breeze flows in.

Mega Loft OthmanChic
Taros

The Port Experience

Feeling adventurous? Then you must head down to Essaouira’s famous fishing port. Here, you can get up close and personal with the day’s catch. Yep, we’re talking fresh fish and seafood, straight from those picturesque wooden fishing boats. What makes it more thrilling is the haggling part. Trust us, negotiating the price is half the fun and an authentic Moroccan experience you won’t want to miss.

And here’s a tip: once you’ve got your seafood treasure, take it a few steps to one of the open-air restaurants nearby. They’ll cook it up for you, and voila! You’ll have a meal that’s as fresh as it gets.

Where to Stay

Hotels and Riads: For a touch of luxury, check out hotels near Moulay Hassan. Many offer killer views of the Atlantic coast, and they’re just a stone’s throw from the beach. Yep, that’s the beach where you can catch kite surfers doing their thing.

Hostels: If you’re on a day trip from Marrakech and just need a place to crash, hostels near the medina are your best bet. They’re affordable, social, and conveniently located. Plus, you get to experience the city vibes up close!

Guesthouses: Here’s where you get a more personalized touch. Many guesthouses in Essaouira are in beautiful traditional buildings with stunning views of the wooden fishing boats bobbing in the port. You might even find one with blue wooden fishing decor to really make your Instagram pop!

Co-Living Spaces: Drumroll, please 🥁… Meet Noqta Space! This spot is perfect for digital nomads. It’s cozy, styled like a living room, and offers quality coffee to keep those creative juices flowing. It’s not just a co-working space; it’s also a co-living space. So you get to meet like-minded folks and enjoy a stunning view of the sunset. Talk about a win-win, right?

Tips for Travelers

Hey there, savvy traveler! 🌍 Before you hit the windy city of Essaouira, here are some tips you’ll thank us for later.

Currency: Morocco uses the Moroccan Dirham. You’ll find plenty of ATMs around Essaouira, especially near the medina and Moulay Hassan. Always haggle when shopping; it’s a local custom!

Local Customs: Mint tea is a Moroccan specialty, and it’s often considered impolite to refuse it if offered. Also, when visiting public place, dress modestly to respect the local culture.

Fresh Fish and Seafood: At the fishing port, you can haggle for fresh fish that you can then take to a local restaurant to cook up for you. It’s a must-do Essaouira experience!

Kite Surfing and Quad Biking: If you’re up for some thrill, Essaouira is your playground for kite surfing and quad biking on the beach. If you’re new, there are places offering lessons too.

Music: Don’t miss out on the live music and world music festivals! The city is rich in music culture, often tied to its status as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Q&A

Q: How do I get to Essaouira from Marrakech? A: You can take a day trip by bus, or if you’re in a group, rent a vehicle. The journey is part of the fun, especially if you’re traveling along the Atlantic coast.

Q: Is it safe to travel in Essaouira? A: Absolutely! The city is generally safe, but like any tourist destination, it’s wise to take basic precautions.

Q: What is there to do in Essaouira? A: Oh, where to start! From the wooden fishing boats at the port to the live music at local bars, and from the historical ramparts to the windy beaches perfect for kite surfing, there’s no shortage of things to do.

Q: Is Essaouira a good place for digital nomads? A: Yes! With places like Noqta Space offering co-living and co-working options, it’s becoming a hot spot for digital nomads.

Q: What kind of food can I expect? A: Fresh fish from the fishing port is a must-try. Also, don’t leave without trying Moroccan staples like lamb tagine and mint tea.

Q: Is Essaouira Beach good for swimming? A: It’s more popular for kite surfing due to the windy conditions. But it’s great for a morning walk or just to hang out.

Summary

Well, we’ve reached the end of this Essaouira guide, but guess what? Your adventure is just about to start! 🚀 From the wooden fishing boats in the port to the cozy vibes of nomad-friendly cafés, Essaouira offers a unique blend of the old and new, tradition and innovation.

Whether you’re a history buff who wants to explore UNESCO world heritage sites, an adrenaline junkie looking for some kite surfing action, or a food lover eager to try the freshest fish right off the boat, Essaouira has something for everyone.

Let’s not forget about the magical sunsets you can witness, especially if you opt for co-living spaces like Noqta Space that offer not just a work environment but also stunning views of the sky turning shades of orange and pink.

So, don’t let this guide be the closest you get to Essaouira, Morocco. Pack your bags, board that flight, and live the Essaouira experience for yourself. It’s a day trip or an extended stay that promises to be anything but ordinary. Trust us, the mint tea tastes better when you’re sipping it by the Atlantic coast! 🍵🌅

Ready, set, Essaouira! ✈️🌍💖

Welcome to Nomadstwogo
A blog for digital nomad travelers. We're Roza and Yarden, an Israeli couple who chase our dreams and live all around the world while working online!
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