This is my hiding spot, and please don’t tell anyone.
Since the day I first stepped in Essaouira, I knew it was one of a kind. Essaouira or Mogador as the Portuguese used to call it, is a small maritime city located in the South of Morocco, 2 hours from Marrakesh.
Historically, Essaouira, once known as the port of Timbuktu, was the heart of the trade and commerce transactions between Africa and Europe. In 2001, it was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Where to Stay
The city offers accommodations for all budgets, from youth hostels to luxury hotels and apartments, available on online booking platforms. I personally opt for hotels and Riads inside the walls of the Old Medina. I highly recommend Les Terrasses D’Essaouira and Dar Lakdima.
Where & What to Eat
FISH. I mean depending on what you fancy, eating fish is a must in Essaouira. There are lot of restaurants offering grilled or fried fish – I recommend grilled fish though; Or you can go in person to the fish market either at the Port or at the one inside the Medina.
There are lot of restaurants offering European cuisine, and traditional Moroccan dishes – some are vegan-friendly. My two favourites are:
La Fromagerie – About 10 minutes from Essaouira. Its menu is diverse, from Moroccan tajines (the bessst), grilled lamb, camel meat and fish and the house specialty, cheese, as dessert.
Mega Loft by Othman Chic – It is a concept store inside the Old Medina, its decoration and vibes give food another taste. Their Chicken Pastilla is heavenly.
Boulangerie Pâtisserie Patachou – This is for sugar cravings, I recommend this bakery: It is located outside the Old Medina (nearby CTM Agency); their meringue and four chocolate cake are pieces from heaven.
Ps. If it happens you stay up late and get hungry, there is a guy, known by “the bearded” in the Medina who makes yummy Pancakes (sweet and salty), starting from midnight onwards. You’ll need to get in line to get served. You are welcome 😉
Where to Shop & What to Buy
Moroccan Argan oil and Argan products, peanut and almond butter, spices, traditional clothes, rugs, and decoration items are available in the Old Medina. Also don’t forget silver jewelry. Bargain!
Where to Go out/Chill
I can list four places, amongst others, to check out if you are looking to chill and go out.
Beach and Friends and Ocean Vagabond are the spots to be at. Both facing the beach, with a lit playlist in the background at day and live music at night, they are great for hanging out with friends and chilling. Ps. Ocean Vagabond has a surfing school, if you’re interested.
Taros is also worth a stop-by. Located inside the Old Medina near the Port and Moulay Hassan Square, they play live music or have Dj performances in the evening .
Salut Maroc, Les Ramparts Restaurant and other restaurants inside the Medina offer live Gnaoua music, which one of the things Essaouira is famous for.
Where to Escape
I’d say Kaouki village, for its calmness and wild beach. It is located 12km away from Essaouira. Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix was rumoured to have visited this village.
My hiding spot when I want to relax. It used to be a fortress to protect the city from pirates and foreign attacks. You can still find canons there. During sunset, the view is just breathtaking: the sun, the seagulls flying above the remaining of the fortress nearby the port, amazing!
Where to Take Pictures
Essaouira altogether would come off great in pictures, especially the Old Medina, with its architecture and the colors from the rugs, leather handcrafts and jewelry shops turn great in pictures.
Sqalla is great during sunset and don’t forget the part of fortress by the port where one of the scenes from Game of Thrones was shot.
Salut Maroc and Mega Loft are very Instagram-friendly.
This is how I spend my weekend in Essaouira
I normally arrive around midday to Essaouira. After checking in my riad, I either go straight the fish market or the port to buy fresh fish. Sardines are a must for me especially from April to September along with other fish that I fancy. I then take them to one local restaurant in the Port facing the breakwater and the boats. Ps. feed your fish leftovers to the seagulls and watch 😀
After lunch, I tend to get sleepy, so I get seated in one of the coffeeshops at Moulay Hassan Square for mint tea and listen to the street artists performing; If I am lucky, I can watch Papis and his friends playing drums.
Dinner is often at La Fromagerie with my friends. Yummy food with oldie-but-goodies playing in the background, my friends and I eat until we have no room left and then we eat some more cheese.
The next morning, I like to wake up very early either to jog along the coastal line and workout, or to get lost in the Old Medina. I like the fresh air and the good vibes from the shops when they open.
For lunch, it’s either at Mega Loft or one of the restaurants by the beach that I mentioned above. Later on the afternoon, I hit the road back.
Ps. Most of the year, Essaouira is windy and humid. The best period to visit is September – October, it tends to be warm and not less windy.