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Morocco, a land filled with wonder has all that one can imagine-its colossal sand dunes, hustling cities like Marrakech, and of course its coastal towns that have attracted most of the hippie surfers around the world. But one particular seaside town is the charming Essaouira tucked on the western coast of Morocco inspiring avid travelers to experience a languid pace of life. This gorgeous town welcomed about 60,000 tourists before the pandemic and around 19000 tourists in 2020.

Unlike the red city of Marrakech, Essaouira is a real treat for those who wish to travel slow, while getting a taste of the local culture. Its unique scenery is composed of the ubiquitous blue fishing boats on the shoreline of the Atlantic sea, and the soaring white seabirds waiting to catch their next meal. Find out why many tourists come to visit Essaouira.


The Medina (Old Town)

From its sublime white architecture decked out with cobalt window shutters to its winding narrow lanes, the old town still retains part of its original construction dating back to the 18th century. During that time sultan Mohammed bin Abdallah ordered his talented architects including Ahmen al-Inglizi and Théodore Cornut to design the city, which attracted many foreign merchants. Visitors can still stroll along the narrow lanes of the medina protected by the seafront ramparts known as the Skala de la Kasbah.

No one can resist the charm of the old town abounding with antique shops, galleries, bars, cafes, and quaint alleyways. It’s a real feast for the senses especially when one visits the food market, where there are stalls of dried fruits, vegetables, and meats.

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Essaouira Fish Market At the Harbor

Seafood lovers might not want to skip the Essaouira fish market situated at the back of the big boats in the harbor. The market here is filled with locals, tourists, and seagulls. And then slowly the smoky scent of fish percolates in the air upon approaching the little restaurants which offer fresh seafood such as cuttlefish, prawns, and octopus. This bustling market is definitely for those looking for an authentic local experience.

  • A plate of smoky sardines and sea bass can cost $8

Surfing Spots In Essaouira

There is a very good reason why Essaouira is called the ‘wind city’. This seaside town is a hotspot for many surfers who like to chase the untamed waves. The strong Mediterranean wind known as sirocco, from the Sahara desert meets the seasonal trade winds from the Atlantic at the Moroccan coast creating great conditions for windsurfers and kitesurfers alike. Generally, in the summer months, the wind blows side shore from the right and can reach up to 6-7 Bft (Beaufort wind force scale).

Some of its renowned surfing spots include Essaouira beach, Tagharte beach, and Sidi Kaouki. Essaouira beach is an ideal spot for beginner surfers and is also popular among birdwatchers. The sublime Tagharte beach is located at the southern end of Essaouira. Surfers can expect to find more consistent and bigger waves compared to Essaouira beach. This place is particularly famous among kitesurfers who come (between May and September) to enjoy sliding across the water and experience the thrill of soaring in the air.

  • Surfers can find a range of surfing schools at the beach itself.
  • Rental gear can cost about $27, and $42 for 2 hours of surfing lesson (including gear).
  • The best time to surf is between May and September

Sundowners At Taros

Taros is a highly recommended rooftop spot to enjoy the panoramic view of the blue Atlantic ocean and the spectacular sunset over a delicious cocktail drink. The atmosphere here is pretty laid-back, and it’s also a great place to hang out with foreigners and locals. Enjoy the sublime view of the fortress, and the bay of Essaouira while relishing some local bites. There is also live entertainment during the weekends.

  • Address: Place Moulay Hassan, Essaouira 44000 Morocco
  • Opening Hours: 10:00 am - 12:00 am

Gnaoua Festival Of World Music

Those who are into jazz or reggae music can attend the annual Gnaoua Festival of World Music, which normally happens in the last week of June in Essaouira. The festival lasts for four days and attracts music fans across the world. The purpose of the music festival is to commemorate Gnaoua-style music and art, which originated from the Sahelian region of Africa.

The music festival brings together talented musicians from Essaouira, Tangier, and Marrakesh to perform the Gnaoua music at several places in the town notably, at the Place Moulay Hassan, Bab Doukkala, and Zaouia Gnaoua.

Venue: Essaouira

Date: End of June

Music Genre: Jazz, reggae, and Gnaoua-style music

Related: The 10 Most Charming Seaside Towns In The UK You Should Visit With Your Family

Whether it’s about the untamed waves of the Atlantic sea or the delicious seafood from the fish market, Essaouira is a place, unlike other Moroccan cities. Here, one can enjoy the breezy atmosphere, meet friendly locals, and venture along the narrow alleyways of the old town. This charming seaside town has the power to reel you back in time.