Essaouira sits on the western coast of Morocco in North Africa. With heat baked summer days and a gentle sea breeze it is a mecca for short breaks and city exploring. Only a couple hours drive from the main tourist hotspots of Agadir and Marrakech, it’s a relaxing day trip.
Essaouira is home to miles of beautiful beaches to welcome in locals and tourists alike. The name Essaouira or Tassort in Berber means the little fortress, when you see the fortified walls, ramparts and gateways you’ll see how fitting the name is!
The city still proudly sits behind it’s Scala which is most impressive from the port. Hundreds of bright blue fishing boats call this port home every day landing their finest catches. Seafood is a menu staple here in Essaouira so you know the fish is always fresh. The fishing industry feels like time has skipped it by, with wooden vessels being made there’s only a few dots of heavy industry visible.
You may well recognise the ramparts if you are a Game of Thrones fan as the city was used several times in episodes. I didn’t know that – I had to google the episodes as I don’t watch G.o.T!
Entrance to the main square, Place Moulay el Hassan, is dotted with fresh seafood stalls displaying their wares for the day and your lunch can go from boat to table all within 50m. Understandably the city is full of cute cats on the prowl for left overs for lunch. Even the street art is cat related. Each year an animal charity travels to Essaouira to look after the cat population. How do I get that job!?
The Essaouira Medina is a UNESCO site and while it is busy, it lacks the intimidation and frenetic energy of big medinas and souks like Marrakech. Easy to navigate, the narrow market streets make a heavenly escape from the mid day heat.
Whilst parts of Essaouira has a very greek feel to it with whitewashed buildings and blue doors (a left over from painting boats), Avenue Oqba Ibn Nafiaa, just outside the 3rd Gate has almost an almost laid back romantic vibe to it with the wide street and set back buildings, we visited during the day but at night the restaurants lit up would be so pretty!
The city has long been known as a hippy city as both Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens spent a lot of time here over the years. The cultural diversity was vast amongst the tourists and everyone just got along and went about their business with no worries.
We took lunch at a seafood restaurant just outside the Medina and tucked in to delicious freshly caught prawns with olives and dips for the delicious Moroccan bread. Nice and light in the heat after walking around.
Another great place to stop and have a break is the La Chalet de la Plage. A beach front café with terraces for city or sea views. Grab a chilled drink and watch the world go by. We whiled away an hour watching school trips and tour buses come and go.