On your radar: Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira, Morocco | Photo by Ulf Huebner
Essaouira, Morocco | Photo by Ulf Huebner

On your radar: Essaouira, Morocco

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

If you are dreaming of escaping to Africa but are unsure of the crowds in Marrakesh, this is the place for you. Essaouira is nestled on the coast of Morocco in North Africa. It's packed with all of the culture, colors and cuisine you want, but not the excessive amounts of people. Though you may not have heard of this charming village, it certainly should be on your radar as a travel hotspot. 

Begin your exotic trip by flying into Marrakech (just three hours east) and get ready for an experience unlike any other! Essaouira is full of 18th-century fortifications, prime surfing spots and beautiful riads. Forget the usual hustle and bustle travel style when here. Essaouira is all about relaxation and laid-back days in the sun. 

Place Moulay Hassan | Photo by antonel 

Essaouira is known for its beautiful medina. Head here for a taste of the local market scene, including everything from the aromatic spices to brightly colored slippers. You can easily navigate the medina by using the main avenue as your guide. The avenue runs from the northern gate of the medina, Bab Doukkala, to the main square, Place Moulay Hassan, on the waterfront. Hit Avenue d’Istaqal for some fabulous shopping. Here you’ll find ceramics, leatherwear and brightly-colored fabrics. 

Once you’ve shopped to your heart’s content, head to Adwak for a taste of authentic Moroccan cuisine. Located in the medina, this restaurant has a cozy, home-like feel. You’ll find items like tagines and couscous on the menu. Other great options are the food stands, known as gargottes, along the water. At these blue and white stalls, you’ll have some of the freshest fish you’ve ever tasted! 

Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah at sunset | Photo by Elena Odareeva

To get a feel for the village’s history, head to Musée Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah. This 19th-century mansion was once a former pasha’s residence. Today you’ll find historical items like ancient pottery, coins, carpets, traditional garments and more. As you stroll through the halls, imagine living the life of luxury of the former rulers.  

The beach and lovely sea breeze are likely calling your name by now. Whether you want to lounge in the golden sand or hit the waves, there’s no wrong way to enjoy the coast. When there, don’t miss going to Beach and Friends. This hipster hangout has incredibly friendly staff, international and local dishes with reggae music to set the ambiance.

View from Skala de la Ville | Photo by Algirdas Gelazius

After you’ve relaxed on the beach for a spell, head to the walkway on Skala de la Ville. This cliff-top sea bastion couldn’t be more perfect for an evening stroll. This platform was once used to defend the harbor but is now the perfect place to take in the charming Atlantic Ocean views.  

When searching for lodging, you may notice the lack of conventional hotels. The best places to stay in this village are the riads, which are traditional homes built around courtyards. These riads have patios with breathtaking views, pools for endless floating in the sun and rooftop terraces. Pick the perfect one for you, whether close to the beach or in the middle of the medina. There’s no wrong option. 

Longing to experience the foreign coastline of Morocco can go from a far off dream to reality in a snap with a trip to Essaouira. Take in the culture wandering through the medina, eating on the coast and staying in a traditional riad. You’ll leave relaxed and completely satisfied with your latest travel adventure. 

Why go there

Plan the exotic trip of a lifetime in Essaouira! Explore the colorful medina, savor flavorful local cuisine and spend some quality time lounging on the beach. There's no wrong way to enjoy everything this lively city has to offer. Escape the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh and relax without a care in the world while you unwind in this African coastal city. 



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