Essaouira is not like most of the other tourist towns within Morocco. While in Marrakech or Fez, your days will be packed and there are throngs of tourists. In Essaouira, I enjoyed the more relaxed pace of life and getting to explore this beautiful coastal city. It was our 2nd to last stop in Morocco and was a great place to recharge. You should spend some time enjoying the nice relaxed pace of this town as you meander through all the colorful streets.
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How much time do you need to spend in Essaouira?
We spent 2 days in Essaouira and it was perfect. We drove from Marrakech which was about 3 hours, so it is not a place you just want to go for a day. Secondly, once you get to this town, you will see how amazing it is and likely want to stay longer. We went during February and it was cold. During the hot months, consider staying longer to enjoy the beach more while you are here.
Get lost in the Medina
Like most places in Morocco, the the majority of the time will be spent just wandering around the medina. Every town in Morocco has its own medina, which is what they call the main part or square of the town. There are so many narrow streets to meander through, we spent hours wandering the Medina in Essaouira. What makes Essaouira unique, is that the majority of the time you can walk through the markets without feeling like you are being hasseled, unlike many of the other cities in Morocco. Take some time to see all of the beautiful pottery, carved woods, carpets, and leather goods. Compared to other places in Morocco, I found that the shops in Essaouira were reasonably priced with less haggling and it was nice just being able to browse through all the beautiful products Morocco has to offer.
Explore the Fish Market
This was my favorite thing to do in the city. Essaouira is a coastal town and they still have an active fishing industry. You will likely have seen many photos of the blue boats this city is famous for. You should plan to spend some time exploring the market. We went late in the afternoon one night when it was packed with all the fisherman back with their spoils of the day. The next day we went in the morning, and it was much quieter. It was nice to see the market during the different times of day.
Walk the City Walls of Essaouira
Essaouira is a coastal town and its city walls are right on the Atlantic Ocean. In this town, you can actually walk up and explore the walls. It also gives you a great view of the Atlantic Ocean. We were there in February and we spent some time just watching the huge waves crash upon the wall.
Relax on the Beach
This is a beach town after all, why not spend some time on the beach. Essaouira is typically windy and depending on when you are going you may not actually want to go in the water or sunbathe. Despite that, you should still spend some time walking the beach.
Explore an Argan Oil Cooperative
One of the things this area is famous for is argan oil that is harvested from argan trees that only grow in this area. There are many shops within Essaouira that sell the argan oil, but you don’t know exactly what you are getting. If you get out of the city, on the drive from Marrakech to Essaouira there are Coops that give explanations about what the argan oil is and how they make it. We went to the Marjana Cooperative and it was great hearing the stories of the ladies and they had nice products for sale. This is also the place where you will see goats climbing in trees. While goats naturally climb trees to get the argan nuts, locals will place these goats into the trees and charge tourists to take photos.